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Matt Ladson

Anfield's atmosphere isn't a myth - just ask those who have experienced it

Anfield: Liverpool squad and backroom staff celebrate in front of the Kop after winning the UEFA Champions league semi-final second leg football match between Liverpool and Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on May 7, 2019.

“Anfield is not normal”.

“I’m not quite sure everyone appreciates how powerful Anfield is”; “It was like The Kop just sucking it [the ball]”; “The fans were amazing and it was probably difficult for the players to really concentrate”; “The atmosphere is unbelievable. There’s nothing better that you can do than play at Anfield against Liverpool.”

Some quotes, all within the last month, all from people who have never played for Liverpool Football Club, speaking about Anfield and its atmosphere.

Anfield is a 12th man for the Reds (Image credit: Getty Images)

The first, from Micah Richards, formed part of a discussion between the former Manchester City player, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker after the 1-1 draw between City and Liverpool, with Richards claiming, “There’s something about the atmosphere at Anfield, they just don’t let you play your normal game.”

"What they create there is something very different,” added Shearer.” Very unique. It’s such a difficult place to go and get a result. When the crowd are like they were yesterday, I know it’s an old cliche but they really are like another man there, they’re just unbelievable.”

“The energy [that the crowd gives],” enthused Richards. 

Richards, Shearer, Lineker, plus Luton Town manager Rob Edwards and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas aren’t the first to eulogise about Anfield’s atmosphere and uniqueness. 

Indeed, the list is pretty long. From Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho, to Pep Guardiola, Thierry Henry and Johan Cruyff. Any opposing player or manager knows the effect Anfield can have on them.

Micah Richards knows the power of Anfield (Image credit: Getty Images)

But, in this strange tribal, online world, apparently, Anfield’s atmosphere is a thing of the past. ‘Where’s your famous atmosphere’ tropes the travelling fans of away teams, or Barry from Colchester on social media, who has likely never been to Anfield, and even if so, it wasn’t a big game.

Here’s the irony, when an away crowd sing ‘where’s your famous Anfield atmosphere’ they’re literally pointing out that their team is so inferior, that Anfield doesn’t feel the need to even create an atmosphere against their side. The atmosphere cannot be at 100 per cent, full throttle every game. It never was, it never will be. Such is life, you need the spikes in emotion to create the greatest energy.

Also, whisper it quietly, but even for Liverpool fans who complain about the atmosphere in the less high-profile games nowadays, it wasn’t a volcano of fury every week during the 70s and 80s, either. Nights like Saint Etienne were different and unique for the reason of its importance and significance. Watch old games from the 1980s of most football matches in England and it wasn’t a sell-out crowd with an intense atmosphere. This might be a case of The Mandela Effect, when people remember the past differently to the reality.

In recent times, plenty of players and managers have fallen foul to it, too, sucked into thinking the atmosphere is flat. Mikel Arteta famously wound up the Anfield crowd so much that it completely changed the energy in the stadium and his team walked away with a defeat. Grant Xhaxa foolishly repeated the trick last season. Harry Maguire did it while trying to time waste with Leicester. Eddie Howe’s Newcastle did it with their theatrics and blatant time-wasting, only to go and concede a 98th-minute winner. 

“Right now, all the noise is Red”

Virgil van Dijk has called on the Anfield crowd to help the team (Image credit: Getty Images)

In his programme notes before the Man City title clash, captain Virgil van Dijk spoke of the effect the atmosphere has on the players who benefit from it, the home side. “We are really starting to feel – and hear – the impact of having thousands of extra fans in the new Anfield Road Stand,” he wrote, with Anfield recording it’s new record league attendance this month against City. 

Explained Van Dijk: “I noticed afterwards that the Luton manager, Rob Edwards, spoke about the impact that the atmosphere had on the game and I can only agree with what he said, but it also left all of us wanting more.”

This was in reaction to the Anfield crowd recognising the struggle the inexperienced, injury-depleted side faced against Luton when 1-0 down on 50 minutes, three days after an energy-sapping League Cup final that went to extra time. 

The supporters are huge for Liverpool (Image credit: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Anfield responded, the players felt a surge of energy, and Liverpool ran out 4-1 winners. It wasn’t even the first such example that week, either, of the impact supporters can have. Three days earlier, at Wembley, Sky Sports commentator Peter Drury was in awe as Liverpool fans inspired their young team with a superb rendition of Allez, Allez, Allez

“The sense of understanding from Liverpool supporters is unsurprising,” said Drury. “They get it, they know what they’re watching here. They’re watching some pups playing alongside the big dogs on a big, big day and they require encouragement and love and they’re getting it - and Liverpool are responding to it.”

“The energy you see from the Liverpool supporters now is in recognition of those young boys on the pitch,” replied Jamie Carragher. As the rendition continued, Drury simply let the atmosphere take the viewer, adding: “This is quite something.”

Advantage Anfield

Jurgen Klopp will draw from the fans in his final matches as Liverpool manager (Image credit: Getty Images)

What’s clear, is that the impact Anfield has on both the home side and the opposition. In this season’s title race, with 10 games to go, such a marginal gain could help the Reds, especially when in difficult situations.

After the international break, Jurgen Klopp’s side return with two home games in five days, against Brighton and Sheffield United. They end the campaign with Wolves at Anfield, and in between host Crystal Palace and Tottenham. It’s five fixtures that Klopp will be eyeing maximum points from.

The Anfield crowd might be claimed to be a myth by those who haven’t experienced it, but those who have, both for and against Liverpool, know that it’s real and the impact it can have.

The big question now is whether the Anfield crowd will get to see Klopp lift the Premier League trophy in front of them, something that was denied due to the pandemic. Regardless, May 19th will be an emotional day at Anfield. 

More Liverpool stories

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Liverpool preparing summer move for Mohamed Salah replacement: report

“I’ll never throw my toys out the pram” Trent Alexander-Arnold opens up about his England selection situation in an exclusive interview

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