The Liverpool fan standing on the Dublin curbside told a familiar tale on Monday night as he and many others tried to come to terms with events of the previous few hours.
With a bright red jersey on his back and frustration splashed across his face, it was easy to tell where his allegiances belonged on an evening of high drama in the Premier League.
His emotional state -- and that is being kind to him as he tried to stand up straight and failed -- was also indicative of a decisive night in the chase to land one of football’s top honors.
Two weeks ago Liverpool were “red” hot favorites to win the English title and offer a suitable tribute to the 95 fans who died so needlessly at Hillsborough all those years ago.
As suggested on this very page back then, a first ever championship win in the Premier League era was theirs for the taking and theirs to lose.
And sure enough, they blew it on Monday night thanks to an outbreak of recklessness that they may never recover from.
After Jose Mourinho parked the bus and taught them a tactical lesson at Anfield in Chelsea’s 2-0 win the previous weekend, Liverpool and their Northern Irish boss Brendan Rodgers really should have known better.
After that Chelsea setback, they simply had to win their final two matches to push Manchester City all the way to the Prem crown.
And leading 3-0 with 11 minutes to go at Crystal Palace on Monday night, they should have had enough about them – on the field and on the bench -- to see the game out and ensure a nail-biting finish to the season this coming Sunday. They didn’t.
It may not be the best league in the world -- that honor definitely belongs to Spain after their own weekend drama -- but the English Premier League is the most entertaining.
And Palace, whose manager Tony Pulis has been the best in the game this season, proved it after an inspirational goal from Irishman Damien Delaney set them up for a quite incredible three goal finale against a disbelieving Liverpool side.
By the end of the match the great Luis Suarez was in tears and his title dream was in tatters.
The draw forced the aforementioned Rodgers to concede the title to City after the game. And it drove many of their fans, like the one I encountered on the side of that Dublin street as I made my way home from work, to seek comfort in alcohol.
The sober reality on Tuesday morning, as I write, is that Liverpool have made progress this season, enough progress to challenge for the English championship but not enough progress to win it.
To go that step further next season – and that will be harder as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal will no doubt be strong after the summer transfer window – Liverpool’s players and management have to accept their naivety and learn from it.
Their manager, like Alex Ferguson many years ago when Leeds United snatched his title on the final day of the final championship season before the switch to the Premier League, must acknowledge that players have to learn how to cope with defeat before they can win.
If Rodgers and Liverpool do that, if they buy some decent defenders over the holidays, then their fans will have other reasons to turn to drink next season.
If they don’t, Liverpool may never recover from the trauma of this episode of Monday night football at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.
And they just cannot allow that to happen. Their club is too big for nearly things.
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)
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