Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!It is the green-eyed monster which doth mockThe meat it feeds on.Iago, OthelloDo not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.Buddha
Envy blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly.
When Moses wandered back down off Mount Sinai with a pair of stone proto-iPads emblazoned with his surly deity’s house rules, he will have been struck by the extent to which the Big Guy was dead set against those who would covet. Coveting, it seems, was frowned upon to the extent that it featured prominently in a celestially patented top ten of things one should not engage in. Indeed, so rank an offence was this covetousness malarkey, that it was rated alongside stealing and, well, murder, in the list of divinely debarred human behaviours.
What is most interesting about that biblical tale, at least to this distinctly secular scribbler, is that it highlights the reality that envy has always been such a part of the human condition that it has pride of place in one of civilisation’s oldest stories. However, whereas Moses warned his fellow pilgrims about the evil of yearning for the manservant, ass (Steady!) or ox of a neighbour, nowadays the objects of desire have changed somewhat. Were the magnificently-bearded basket-fancier alive today, he would see ample evidence of rampant coveting being done by the rivals of Liverpool Football Club. Yesterday’s media was a veritable covet-fest, in fact, with the club’s new manager and its Brazilian superstar attracting the jealousy.
We shall come, anon, to the frenzy of embarrassing envy surrounding the imminent appointment of Jürgen Norbert Klopp (I’ll never tire of typing Norbert, by the way) but before that we must deal with the lascivious gazes of a certain pair of Spanish superclubs. Over the last 24 hours, as a mischievous counterpoint to the general mirth of Liverpool fans, media outlets have been gleefully running quotes from Kia Joorabchian, high-profile agent to our own Philippe Coutinho. Joorabchian, in what was categorically not an attempt to raise the subject by denying the subject’s existence, was at pains to point out that Liverpool’s magical unicorn of a number 10 was eminently happy on Merseyside and that those naughty stories linking him with Real Madrid were fabrications. These rumours follow some less-than-subtle public courting by Barcelona’s Neymar.
“Philippe is extremely happy at Liverpool,” Joorabchian insisted. “He signed a new long term contract towards the end of last season that represents his ambition and his feeling for Liverpool. Reports that I have been talking to Real Madrid about Philippe are not true. His aspirations are to qualify for the Champions League with Liverpool this season and to win a trophy. That is all that he is focussed on – and nothing else.”
The words of an agent are always scant solace but it is particularly unhelpful timing for Steven Gerrard’s latest autobiography, My Life, to have a passage in which he flags up the difficulty Liverpool will have in keeping the little maestro out of the clutches of Spanish suitors, just as they did with defender-nibbling genius, Luis Suárez. The Reds legend has been dropping grenades everywhere of late and his characteristically gloomy vision of an inevitable departure for Coutinho will hit some fans hard.
“Before Luis Suarez left Liverpool’s training ground for the last time he spoke to me about Philippe Coutinho,” Gerrard morbidly recalls. “But I also know that the Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, will come looking for Philippe in a few more seasons, just like they did with Luis. And that’s when it will get tricky for Liverpool because the lure to go to one of those two clubs is so strong for any South American or Spanish player. Until that happens, Liverpool should really treasure Philippe.”
Cheers for that upbeat portrait of the future, Steven. Now, normally such an assessment of the likelihood of misfortune would cast a grim shadow over us, dear reader. Today, however, is different. Today, Liverpool fans are that rarest of things – unified. Today, the embarrassing in-fighting and the overwhelming pessimism have been almost uniformly shelved, as Anfield awaits a new guru in the form of bearded German mentalist, Jürgen Klopp. No matter how entrenched one’s innate cynicism, it is impossible not to be excited by what appears to be a perfect union of club and manager.
Whilst the likes of Harry Redknapp and Danny Murphy seemed unconvinced as to whether the former Dortmund man was up to the task, Klopp’s appointment has been lauded by such Teutonic luminaries as Franz Beckenbaur, Stefan Effenberg and Lothar Matthäus, with Mats Hummels, Dortmund’s classy defender, insisting his old boss was “a great coach” who “lives, breathes and thinks football day after day.” (I think I’ll go with the German lads on this, myself.) Even the current boss of Der Mannschaft, Joachim Löw, was particularly taken by the apparently simpatico union of Liverpool and Klopp.
“I think there are strong parallels between Dortmund and Liverpool with the passion and size of their support,” opined the snug shirt enthusiast. “I think it is a good fit. I’m not party to the negotiations between Liverpool and Mr Klopp so I don’t know how they are progressing, but if an agreement can be reached it will be good for both. Mr Klopp, if you look back, was fantastically successful, exceptionally successful at Dortmund. He unleashed a lot of emotion in Dortmund supporters and [he can do the same for Liverpool.]”
Klopp is most certainly unleashing a lot of emotion amongst Liverpool’s rivals, with Manchester United fan forums particularly peevish in their envious observations. Arsenal fans too, seemed particularly stung, with noted Gooners, John Cross of the Mirror and priggish television twonk Piers Morgan particularly vocal. Cross has used his Mirror column to suggest that Klopp may not be the manager everyone thinks and that his resources at Dortmund were far superior to what he will have at Liverpool. These observations might have validity if the same journalist hadn’t previously publicly expressed his heartfelt admiration of the ball-cap sporting gaffer.
Meanwhile, it is hard not to savour Morgan’s metaphorical tears. Indeed, surely given their recent travails and the new Deutsch influence at Anfield, Liverpool fans might be entitled to revel in a little Schadenfreude, especially when it involves a man who once had to apologise for flagrantly xenophobic headline following the German elimination from the 1996 European Championships.
So depressed about Jurgen Klopp. He should be ours. Instead, Liverpool will get all the fun, excitement & rewards. #afc
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) October 7, 2015
How lovely it is to be the object of envy, fellow Reds. Let us savour the viridescent hue in our rivals’ eyes. It may last. It may not. Either way, the fun is only beginning. Possibilities, potential, passion, all lie ahead.