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The jinx are on us - LFC as luck would have it

Note: The League (or EFL) Cup has had many sponsors, and therefore changes of name, currently the Carabao Cup. In this article I’ll follow the current practice of almost everyone not required to use the official name by retaining the title ‘League Cup’.

The debate

You’re listening on 5Live to the draw for the third round of the 2020/21 FA Cup, confident that Liverpool will progress further than last year when we fell in the fifth round after an own-goal scrape through in a fourth-round replay. We are, after all, currently champions of England and the World. “Number 22,” announces Alan Shearer when he draws Liverpool's number, and it is greeted as an unnecessary but nevertheless welcome boost to that confidence, as the game will be at Anfield. Then, a few seconds’ pause before the voice of Ian Wright offers up our victims, the away team. “Number 57.” Host Mark Chapman has to satisfy our curiosity – it’s not a number we had memorised. “Number 57, Réal Salford, newly promoted to League 2 this year.’ [Gasps of disbelief, and even the odd giggle are heard.] ‘Salford have a lucrative trip to Anfield in the third round, so if they can scrape together their fare to Liverpool, they’ll have a private jet on the return journey.” Young LFC fans throw their metaphorical caps into the air, seeing the result as a foregone conclusion, and are already looking forward to Round 4. Their parents, from whom they probably inherited their Liverpool DNA, know better. Pride in our current status is no defence against that automatic sense of foreboding as they remember Goliath’s jinx when confronted by David in years gone by. They remember the joy and laughter on the faces of visiting fans at the Anfield Road end, and the taunts of so-called ‘friends’, taking pleasure in our ignominy for weeks afterwards. Chapman, reinforcing that memory in case anyone had forgotten it, concluded, "Well, there’s no doubt who the giant-killers of Round 3 might be!"

The purpose of this article is to investigate whether Liverpool is, or has been, affected by such a jinx, whether it is 'real' in the sense of something malevolent, externally caused, which results in Fate’s denial of our club’s just deserts, and whether anything can be done to lift the curse, hoodoo, hex or whatever it be called. Could a so-called jinx have happened purely by chance? There is a middle ground (as ever) in which players' poor form could be triggered by the very knowledge of a previous sequence of bad results against a particular opponent, or even against clubs from a particular geographical area.

The protagonists

What do 1 May 1965 and 25 June 2020 have in common? Euphoria, of course, celebrating the ending of a long spell of bad luck, or undeservedly poor results, which gives rise to an elation far stronger than the normal winning of a cup, or a league championship. It’s like emerging into the daylight at the end of a long, increasingly dark tunnel, which probably started years earlier with a run of bad form or losing star players through injury or transfer, or a change of manager; then, adding two and two to make five (poor match results plus a fifth essential element - superstition), the identification of ‘bogey teams’ or ‘unlucky grounds’, the ‘elephant in the room’ which becomes a ‘monkey on your back’ when fans of opposing clubs begin to take advantage of your vulnerability. Eventually, because such prolonged adversity cannot be accepted as your club’s fault, it becomes a jinx, unfairly sending the sporting ‘level playing field’ out of balance.

There are other causes for a jinx, less obvious than a few consecutive losses. Among those affecting other clubs have been personal battles between rival managers (Mourinho/Wenger), Romany curses on Birmingham City and Derby County following building on land from which gypsies had been ejected, and on Sunderland who were prevented from winning the FA Cup until there was a ‘Scottish Lassie’ on the throne; wearing red and white stripes and black shorts for a promotion play-off; Mick Jagger’s World Cup match predictions, finalists being assigned the use of the South End changing facilities of the Millennium Stadium and Newcastle United playing on Monday nights. Not forgetting England's little difficulty in penalty shoot-outs.

On the other side, the more cynical fans, the doubting Thomases, who are unlikely to go along with this belief. A jinx to them is merely a figment of over-expectant fans’ imagination. However, whether they would, or even should, try to convince anyone across Stanley Park in that belief is another matter! Being a jinx to another club is a benefit to be cherished and carefully encouraged. Liverpool’s FA Cup hoodoo over Aston Villa was one of the longest jinxes in football as the Villans failed to beat us for well over a hundred years.

Does LFC have a real jinx problem?

Why could we not win the FA Cup between 1892 and 1965? How did we fare when we had a squad good enough to come first or second in the top flight? Is there any correlation between successes in the two competitions? Certainly not enough to come to a firm conclusion. During the pre-1965 era, we came first or second (never third) seven times in the First Division. In those successful years, we reached the FA Cup semi-final three times, but we were also knocked out of the FA Cup in our first or second rounds three times. (Division 1 clubs were first given a bye into the third round in 1925/26.)



The all-time classic jinx result for Liverpool was the third-round game on 15 January 1959. Admittedly we were still in Division 2, but our opponents were non-league part-timers Worcester City (eight had been at work that morning), who had already beaten Millwall in the Cup. In freezing weather on a pitch recently waterlogged, Phil Taylor decided to spare Billy Liddell the indignity and presented Worcester with the ‘greatest match in their history’ beating Liverpool 2-1. They were rewarded by a pitch invasion of ecstatic fans. Snatches of the great day can still be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBjcEEvKzVs, but happily our non-league Worcester debacle has never been repeated.

In 1900/01, we played the last half hour with ten men, during which Notts County scored their second goal, winning 2-0. Ten years later another loss, when the Ashton Gate pitch was described by the commentator ‘Redshirt’ as ‘one which gives the home team [Bristol City] a decided advantage’ as they knew every muddy hollow. In 1921, however, our strongest team lost 1-0 to mid-table West Brom at Anfield (WBA also beat us in the league that season.) It looks as though, in one or two matches, we had grounds for complaint, about the pitch, the referee, or whatever – but on the whole we were simply not good enough on the day and there should have been no need to invoke a jinx.

Yet, at the time, belief in the jinx persisted. In the early 1960s, it defied common sense to accept that a club which, over seven decades, had won the First Division six times could not have won even one FA Cup final – indeed, we’d been finalists only twice before. On that day in 1965, LFC won the Cup for the first time, managed by the charismatic Bill Shankly who had also led the club to the First Division title the year before. The beating of the formidable Leeds United suddenly removed the jinx, the monkey and the elephant in one glorious, 120-minute spell.

Until June 2020, LFC had not won the Premiership title since the league began in 1992/93; yet we had been first or second in the old First Division eighteen times in the previous twenty years. Even the otherwise rational fan’s confidence can easily be shaken by such statistics when used as the basis for a belief that there must be a real jinx at work and made even more intolerable by the average league position of MUFC for the next ten years. Such was the status of Steven Gerrard that we could not possibly accept that ‘the slip’ was his own fault – it was the jinx again, aided by a rather unsporting Demba Ba (a gentleman would have stopped and helped our hero back to his feet, rather than rush past him to score.) In extremis, it may require another superstitious act to end a jinx. Our own Bruce Grobbelaar removed a witch-doctor’s curse on Liverpool, which had prevented us from winning the Premier League for thirty years, by urinating on all four goalposts the year before we finally won it. Q.E.D.? Apparently, a witch doctor’s blessing on the ground at Grobbelaar’s 1993 testimonial had not worked. Barry Fry had tried the same solution to Birmingham City’s problem, after Ron Saunders put crucifixes on their floodlights! Both were unsuccessful.

Fans are naturally more interested in defeating whales than minnows - they are the competitors against whom we judge our own performances. We have met our rivals from Old Trafford a dozen times in the FA Cup, and have lost nine. If the better side won each time, would we describe them as even a ‘bogey’ team? Probably not – but then we’d never accept the premise anyway. Our record against Arsenal is a little better – thirteen meetings, five wins (one after a replay in 1923) including the 2001 final. We’ve faced Chelsea eleven times in the FA Cup; Shankly beat them twice (once in the 1965 semi-final) among our four wins. Last but not least among our regular competitors for honours over the decades, the luck of the draw has made us confront Everton eighteen times, winning ten (including the 1986 and 1989 finals). To my mind, those results collectively do not suggest that the FA Cup in itself is a jinx for Liverpool, though you have to wonder why Bob Paisley never won it – he won everything else.

*

Are we perhaps confusing the FA Cup with the League Cup? This was introduced in 1960/61, effectively removing the ‘open to all and sundry’ premise of the FA Cup, and the consequent expectation of maverick, giant-killing results, by now including only the top four tiers of English football. Matches over two legs were introduced to help the lower division clubs financially in the way only replays were available in the FA Cup. Unimpressed, Liverpool FC and five others at first refused to enter. The scheme was modified for the 1967/68 season, adding the lure of European qualification (nowadays just the Europa League) for the winner - even then, MUFC and Everton missed the odd year until participation was made compulsory in 1971/72. Liverpool decided to join the new competition in 1967/68, and has done well, being the club with the most wins (8 in the last four decades, plus four times runners-up).

Two rather unpublicised results of the new Cup were significant changes to the timetabling pressure on clubs, and to the scoring differential – the number of goals by which matches are won and lost. In order to accommodate the needs of European competitions, the League Cup starts shortly after the summer, with a bye facility for top Division places and European involvement, and for most clubs the competition is therefore over before they enter the third round of the FA Cup in January when pitches in bad weather have a greater potential to cause upsets. Even so, during the 53 years LFC has entered both competitions, we have played 240 matches in the League Cup but only 125 (including replays) in the FA Cup. Because of the considerable extra pressure on timetabling as well as on the players, the League Cup abandoned replays in 1986/87 in favour of penalty shootouts.

The League Cup has been arguably more exciting, as the scoring results of competing teams have been narrowed. In the FA Cup, Liverpool has experienced wins and losses by scoring an average 2.6 goals more (or fewer) than their opponents. In League Cup games, this has narrowed to an average of only 1.5. This can scarcely be due to the absence of teams below the fourth level, as we have met so few of them.

Our record against the big boys in the League Cup stands scrutiny. We’ve beaten MUFC three times, losing twice; Arsenal six times in nine meetings, Chelsea four wins in seven, and in three meetings against Everton we have won twice. Once again, LFC should not be afraid to meet anyone in this competition. The banana skins have not been dropped before us by our main competitors, even over a short time. However, the jinx sometimes finds a way round the question of which Cup to spoil by attacking both in the same season – using Bristol Rovers, Ipswich, Portsmouth, Peterborough and Port Vale in 1991/92, or Carlisle and Exeter, both League Two clubs, in 2015/16.


One of the greatest shocks in the history of the FA Cup when Wimbledon beat Liverpool 1-0 in 1988

The LFC jinx on trial – evidence for the prosecution

We seem to be slowly eliminating the possible sources of jinx from Liverpool’s record, and what’s left may give hope to any knowledgeable Réal Salford supporter. There is another feature of knockout play that needs to be investigated. Since 1967/68, we have lost twenty-one Cup games at Anfield without replays being involved, including ten to lower league clubs, which is bad enough. There are virtually no replays in the league, and they were abandoned by the League Cup 1986/87. Associated with FA Cup contests, however, is the number of occasions in which a round has gone to at least one replay. LFC has been involved in 85 replays during their 117 years fighting for the FA Cup, a surprisingly high number when you consider the relative quality of the opposition in this competition, and that second replays were replaced by penalty shoot-outs in 1991/92. I think that this is the most likely cradle for a jinx to be born, if not to flourish. The replay that strikes to the heart of the jinx problem is that it seems to cause our failure to beat lower tier opposition first time round.

It had not gone unnoticed, suggesting that the jinx had been at work before the advent of the League Cup. The Guardian commented (27 Jan 1968), ‘Throw a Third or Fourth Division club against Liverpool in the FA Cup and almost always there is a surprising result. ….. What makes Liverpool seize up when assailed by these small clubs is one of football’s little mysteries.’ Few gave Bournemouth any hope for the replay at Anfield, and the few were wrong – we won 4-1. A month later it was Third Division Walsall’s turn to give us a turn, this time with a frightening prequel to the Heysel disaster. ‘Before the start, with 21,066 shoehorned into the ground, Liverpool supporters …. uprooted two crush barriers and passed them down to the police on the touchline. A third followed later in the game. Small boys, in what had been their private pen behind the goal, were evacuated to a safer place. A shove by exuberant but irresponsible supporters at the back of the crowd sent their fellows cascading forward in an avalanche of bodies. First one section of the concrete wall at the edge of the pitch collapsed, sending spectators there sprawling. Then another followed it until some 35 yards were in rubble, and from the mass of bodies those with minor injuries were treated on the pitch while two lads were removed to hospital with fractured legs and suspected fractured ribs.…. [The 0-0 game itself] was drab, it was dismal. And it showed again in relief the extraordinary difficulty with which Liverpool surround themselves when they meet a small club in the Cup.’ (Guardian 17 Feb 1968)

Third Division York City took us to a 1-1 away draw in 1985. (Often forgotten is that, in the previous round, York City had knocked out Arsenal, having drawn with them ten years earlier!) Now it was played in ‘hard, slippy conditions’. York drew level in the 86th minute, the excitement stimulating their fans to taunt the away end, provoking a surely uncharacteristic response as the Liverpool fans jumped ‘over the walls of their cages’. A Guardian report, to its standard so often more memorable than the match itself, described the rival fans’ exuberant fisticuffs: ‘Now was the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by these sons of York’. Four days later, the replay on smooth, warm turf was a hat-trick Wark in the park for our 7-0 revenge. One year later, the Liverpool jinx struck again, and York twice came from behind, first in another 1-1 draw at home; at Anfield, LFC polished them off but needed to come from behind in extra time to do so.

Ricky Sbragia scored for York in a 1-1 draw in 1985

The jinx identified

There is, of course, an inconveniently long way to confirm that this indeed suggests a jinx on Liverpool by investigating what was happening to our three main competitors during the same half-century.

Arsenal have drawn with second tier teams 10 times, third tier 6 times and fourth tier 3 (Doncaster Rovers, Hereford and Sheffield United); they have lost seven times to the second tier, five times to the third, and twice to the fourth (Bradford City and Wrexham). Only nine of the embarrassments post-date Wenger’s arrival.

Chelsea have drawn with eight from the second tier, three from the third and none from the fourth; they have lost to 14 from the second tier, 4 from the third, and 5 from the fourth (Cardiff, Reading, Scarborough, Scunthorpe, and Wigan, all pre-Abramovich).

Liverpool have drawn with 23 second tier teams, 11 from the third, and four (Carlisle, Doncaster Rovers against whom a draw was saved by the width of the crossbar, Exeter, Plymouth) from the fourth; we have lost to ten from the second, four from the third and one (Northampton Town) from the fourth.

Manchester United have drawn with five opponents from the second tier, three from the third, and one (Burton Albion) from the Conference; they have lost to six from the second tier and six from the third. (They did not enter the League Cup, in 1967/68 and 1968/69, or the FA Cup in 1999/00.)

[For the sake of any Everton fan who has strayed into lfchistory.net by accident, the comparable figures for Everton are: drawn 16 from the second tier, seven from the third, one each from the fourth and non-league (Exeter City and Altrincham) and lost 21 from the second tier, 6 from the third, and 1 from the fourth (Shrewsbury Town).]

Liverpool’s record of losing to lower tier clubs is comparable to that of the other three, but the stats pinpoint where our jinx is hiding – we have been taken to replays thirty-eight times, our three competitors thirty-nine put together! Found him! THAT’s the jinx! Perhaps it should be referred to as the ‘bad luck of the draw’.

We can analyse the problem in a little more detail. Only twelve of the thirty-eight replays have been in League Cup games, strongly suggesting that our jinx prefers using the FA Cup against us. Eleven have been drawn first at Anfield. Thirty of the 38 replays have been won by Liverpool, and only second tier clubs have beaten us in replays at Anfield - Bolton (twice), Bristol City, Crystal Palace, and Reading. We needed two replays to beat Fulham (1-1, 1-1, 1-0) in 1983/84, but thumping LFC victories have been more normal – Bournemouth 4-1, Bristol, City 4-0, Carlisle 5-1, Luton 5-0, Port Vale 4-1, Swansea 8-0, Walsall 5-2 and York 7-0.

To put it another way round, lower tier clubs should pray to be drawn against Liverpool, as they are likely to gain financially and on the pitch, compared with being drawn against any of the other 'top four' clubs.

*

At this point, the jinx in the dock is looking decidedly worried about being thus identified and turns to its defence counsel for advice. More used to getting her client off by her philosophy expert deriding any belief in the supernatural, she also has a mathematician on standby (well, sitby) who has spotted a serious flaw in the prosecution’s case and whispers in her ear accordingly. Although the public does not really believe that a jinx could exist, they perforce accept ’luck of the draw’ as the operational basis for the choice of opponents in Cup games, because, over time, it should produce a level playing field. She now exploits this, even asking the judge to dismiss the case. A jinx, she argues, could only operate if it is assumed that all participating teams are, by chance, being treated equally; but her client will be exonerated if it can be shown that the FA and League Cup draws have thrown up far more ties for LFC against lower tier teams than it has for Arsenal, Chelsea or MUFC. Consternation on the prosecution bench as they had exhausted the budget for their research which now has to be done all over again, and the judge (suddenly and unusually interested in the case) grants them an adjournment.

When the court reconvenes several days later, the findings are presented with data from the FA Cup and League Cup merged.

Arsenal have been drawn to play tier 2 clubs 104 times.
tier 3 clubs 33 times
tier 4 clubs 17 times
below tier 4 clubs 5 times
Total clubs below top tier - 159

Chelsea have been drawn to play tier 2 clubs 93 times
tier 3 clubs 32 times
tier 4 clubs 21 times
below tier 4 clubs 2 times
Total clubs below top tier - 148

Liverpool have been drawn to play tier 2 clubs 89 times
tier 3 clubs 43 times
tier 4 clubs 19 times
below tier 4 clubs 3 times
Total clubs below top tier - 154

MUFC have been drawn to play
tier 2 clubs 69 times
tier 3 clubs 38 times
tier 4 clubs 15 times
below tier 4 clubs 3 times
Total clubs below top tier - 125

With this evidence, the judge finds in favour of the prosecution, there being nothing to show Liverpool FC has been faced with more than its fair share of lower league clubs.

Court hears a statement on behalf of victims of the jinx

Different generations of LFC players have experienced the same phenomenon over the decades, raising the problem of what’s causing it if it isn’t a jinx. It surely can’t be that all those players have been ‘just not good enough on the day’, can it? Furthermore, it should also be noted that Cup competitions are no respecter of LFC managers either, some of the best having been driven to distraction by their team’s inexplicable performances and even contributing in some way to their departure. Among those suffering embarrassment were Benitez, Dalglish, Houllier, Shankly, and Souness (twice).

Shanks, having seen his team’s 2-2 draw at Anfield with Doncaster Rovers, then bottom of Division 4 (Réal Salford note), observed with a forced smile that he was always surprised that people were still surprised by surprise results. The next round brought no respite, as his old club Carlisle parked a double-decker bus on our holy turf for a 0-0 draw. ‘Shankly,’ wrote the Guardian, ‘must have been bewildered by the ineptitude that reduces his team to the ordinary when they face sides of supposedly lower stature. He did rise to the bait by growling that Liverpool had enough chances to win three Cup ties, but it is of little value to keep hitting opponents if they refuse to lie down.’

Bob Paisley, notoriously a man of few words, had even fewer FA cups (zero) in his amazing trophy cabinet. Alan Hansen commented, 'it was hard to believe that for all the success achieved under Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan, the FA Cup was the one prize that had eluded the club since 1974. Somehow it had seemed as if there was a jinx on us.'

Who oversaw the York City saga of 1984/85 and 1985/86? Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish.

Graeme Souness’ reign, still judged as marking the start of Liverpool’s thirty-year league drought, did have Cup success in 1992 to remember. (The road to Wembley included a 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers’ temporary ground Twerton Park in Bath, where the travelling Kop was matched by their own sense of humour, as one glorious banner read ‘This is Twerton’.) But only a few months later, the Times recorded (13 Jan 1993) that, having conned the referee into allowing the drawn match to take place despite the awful conditions, ‘Bolton Wanderers caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of the FA Cup when they eliminated the holders, Liverpool, in a third-round replay at Anfield last night. The second division side left the Merseyside club with nothing but league respectability to play for this season and put the future of their manager, Graeme Souness, in doubt. Liverpool can rarely have suffered such humiliation.’ One season on, and his resignation followed the third-round home defeat by a Bristol City team which had been applauded off by the Kop. Anfield, in the Guardian’s memorable phrase, was ‘plunged into darkness’.



The ‘jinx’ (so called in British Soccer Week) gave us no respite after his departure, the Guardian returning to the regular theme in January 1995. ‘Ghosts continue to walk over Liverpool’s grave in the FA Cup. Elsewhere Anfield’s post-Souness convalescence is practically complete but at Turf Moor on Saturday the shivers down the spine of Roy Evans’s side were not entirely due to the wind chill. Another scoreless tie with another team from one of the lower divisions: another replay which Liverpool should win but one they will approach not entirely without misgivings. In the third round they managed to overcome Birmingham City, pushing strongly for promotion from the second Division [i.e.third tier], only on penalties. In the fourth they might easily have gone out to Burnley who are struggling to avoid relegation from the First [i.e. second tier].’

The lovely, affable Gérard Houllier was not spared embarrassment when second tier Grimsby beat Liverpool in extra time. ‘[Manager] Lawrence was getting his spot-kick shortlist drawn up, when a long ball from Coyne was headed down by Hyypia just inside the Liverpool half and picked up by Phil Jevons. The former Everton reject and Liverpool fan took a couple of touches and released the most fantastic 35-yard dipping shot ever seen at Anfield, past Kirkland and into the top corner. It was a wonder goal he must have spent nights dreaming of! Liverpool had been humbled, mugged by a lesser team and were out of the [League] Cup.’ In 2003, First Division Crystal Palace, with only ten men, knocked us out of the FA Cup 2-0 and the only thing worth rescuing from the scathing reports is that the blame lay fairly and squarely on our incompetence – no reference to the jinx in sight.

Another year on, and another manager on, and we were skillful enough to beat Yeovil Town, but in 2005 Burnley knocked us out in the third round. Enter what to the football old school purist is a bit of skullduggery. Rafa Benitez demonstrated his priorities through his team selection – the FA Cup fell below the Champions’ League and Premiership. There can be no need for a jinx if Goliath’s mind is really fixed in other directions, and no-one blamed Benitez for yet another FA Cup failure when Istanbul played out four months later. As if to compensate any disgruntled fan, Rafa led us to the West Ham final in 2006, but the effort was too much – we lost at home to Arsenal in the third round in 2006/07 and to Barnsley in the fifth round 2007/08, Everton at Goodison in the fourth round in 2008/09, and Reading (then 21st in the Championship) at home in a third round replay in 2009/10. ‘The magic of the competition has usually been at the expense of the Spaniard’ [Benitez]. The Liverpool Echo’s assessment of that match is too offensive to quote in polite company, the worst verdict I have ever read on an LFC game. We fared little better in the League Cup that year, but at least we went out to strong opposition.

High jinx - a twist in the tale

There is, therefore, a suspicion that, in our cash-enveloped Premier League world, the correlation between league and Cup success might be becoming negative on purpose. The cups do not hold the same pride of place as they once did, and more than one commentator has surmised that the elite clubs would rather blood their youngsters, especially in the early rounds, rather than risk injuries to their star players on potentially dangerous pitches. In the 2018/19 season, when we won our sixth European Cup, we bowed out of both FA and League cups in the earliest rounds possible, though the pitches of Chelsea and Wolves could hardly be described as threatening for our prized assets. ‘Jinx’ no longer has much meaning in those circumstances if indeed we acquiesce in, if not exactly plan, such results. We have come a long way from the days when pre-war Arsenal could be fined £250 for fielding a deliberately weakened team in the league in order to enhance their chances in the Cup.

Except for a penalty win in the 2011/12 League Cup final, another decade has passed without success in either Cup competition. Benitez introduced us to a new era in the management of European expectations which even Jurgen Klopp, with his instinct for what the fans want, espouses. Once again, the jinx thrived on fertile soil, this time for underdogs League 1 Shrewsbury Town who almost beat us when we lost a two-goal lead, and after we’d thrown five more first-team players at them off the bench. As we faced yet another unwanted replay, with Klopp unwilling to be at the match (having committed to a winter break for players too – not a first team player on the pitch or even in the bench), Paul Gorst summed up the new century’s view – ‘The FA Cup unashamedly represents the lowest priority for the Reds this season.’ The price of this pseudo-withdrawal was having to see the semi-final line-up for the 2020 FA Cup: Arsenal, Chelsea, MCFC and MUFC, none of whom appeared willing to adopt Liverpool’s policy of resignation before the likely outcome of another loss.


And yet …. relegating an FA Cup replay to what was, in effect, a Liverpool reserve team game turned the tables by forcing LFC to become David to Shrewsbury Town’s Goliath. The jinx didn’t know what to make of it, because it had planned another humiliating outcome by correctly assuming that Liverpool’s mind would be on the Premier and Euro titles. Thus disoriented, it continued to help the underdog! The ‘magic of the Cup’ returned to Anfield and it was our future doing a lap of honour watched by old man (but not has-been) James Milner, cheering in the crowd on his winter break. What an extraordinary solution to our jinx problem!

*

The coronavirus has changed the landscape. Changes to the scheduling of the League Cup will have little or no effect on the jinx; but abolishing FA Cup replays should concentrate the mindset of Liverpool FC, whether we’re drawn to play Réal Salford at home or away, and it will be interesting to see the team selection against such small fry. If we continue to make a real match of these previously so-called one-sided, giant-killing affairs, would the jinx then move to another club, because it could no longer affect LFC? To which club should Liverpool prefer pass it? To which club would Liverpool prefer pass it? Which curse should be programmed into it – against a specific club, a specific competition, a specific manager, a specific city…..? Wherever it lands, you can be sure that their fans will deny its power over their club – until it begins its insidious work all over again.

Written by Colin Rogers - Copyright LFChistory.net

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