Liverpool deserve more than just cynicism: Neil Humphreys
They've brought much joy, but face an anti-climactic finish due to the coronavirus outbreak
Apart from Juergen Klopp's tribal fist-pumping, Trent Alexander-Arnold's terrific right foot, James Milner's old-school industry, the fabulous front three and the most joyous football in a year of crushing, unending misery, what have the Reds ever done for us?
Honestly, the Liverpool narrative is a sketch from an old Monty Python movie.
Any more of this and Klopp will have to whip his players in the town square and issue a public apology for being so unworthy of the English Premier League title.
Only he won't be able to whip his players in the town square as, by the time this season comes to a premature end, all public gatherings will be outlawed and trophy presentations will be conducted by men in hazmat suits.
Seriously, what is Liverpool's crime here? What have they done to deserve what is likely to be the most anti-climactic confirmation of domestic supremacy since President Donald Trump's inauguration?
There will possibly be no crowd for Liverpool's coronation and no trophy parade. No one knows when or how the current season will conclude.
What should've been the euphoric removal of a 30-year monkey threatens to become a petty post-mortem of ifs, buts and maybes, as perspective evaporates just when it's needed most.
Liverpool went out of the Champions League, thanks to a misplaced pass from a reserve goalkeeper and a forward line unable to finish off more of their 34 chances against Atletico Madrid.
That's it. Life goes on, as much as it can in this dispiriting period of uncertainty.
And yet, grumpy hacks are duty-bound to attack Liverpool's goalkeeping frailties, preferring to foam and froth over a dodgy pass, rather than the coronavirus.
If such vessel-bursting indignation was directed towards global leaders dithering over their virus containment policies, rather than Adrian's mistake, then Liverpool might not have to win the title in an empty stadium.
But that's a column for another section of the paper. This one can only focus on the baffling criticism being fired at Klopp's sitting targets.
Just three weeks ago, his critics lamented that Klopp's trailblazers were unbeaten in the EPL and on course to add the FA Cup and the Champions League.
But three weeks ago, much of the developed world wasn't facing a compulsory lockdown and a hysterical shortage of toilet paper. Priorities change, along with our perspectives.
The Reds have still lost only once in the EPL and will miss out on the Champions League final for the first time since 2017. They're hardly a dying horse limping towards the knackers yard.
What they are - what they have been for most of the season - are the purveyors of unbridled joy. In an era of wearying scepticism, they have been glorious beacons of untarnished football.
No whispers of Financial Fair Play irregularities, no sulking World Cup winners, no mutinies on the bench and no crass comments in interviews, just a band of brothers committed to the entertainment business.
We have been entertained, for eight long months. So why so many of us are now criticising and ridiculing such a magnificent side is bewildering.
The Reds haven't stolen our presents on Christmas Eve. They've lost a few matches due to circumstances mostly beyond their control.
The world's best goalkeeper, Alisson, got injured just before Liverpool's most important games of the season. It happens.
Their indomitable captain Jordan Henderson rushed back from injury and gave everything until his lack of match fitness betrayed him. It happens.
The most formidable forward line somehow squandered 32 of 34 goalscoring opportunities. It happens.
Football has always been a slave to the most fickle of fortunes and Klopp, it must be remembered, has the finest first XI but a squad that are still a work in progress. They have already overachieved in many respects.
And yet, there is no joy to be found among the joyless.
They can be currently found wallowing in a cesspool of spite, insisting that Liverpool's domestic success will be somehow hollow and inauthentic in a potentially shortened season.
Nothing about the Reds' swaggering football has been inauthentic.
It would be desperately cruel if their title triumph came with an asterisk of any kind or an anti-climatic trophy handover.
For these reasons alone, they deserve sympathy, not criticism.
A couple of lows cannot negate a campaign of irrepressible highs any more than Covid-19 can diminish the magnitude of Liverpool's accomplishment.
Their football made us smile. A lot.
In such a miserable year, there can be no greater achievement.