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'It'll be a massive weight lifted to finally get over the line' - Watch our Premier League Zoom event in full

Jason McAteer and Gareth Roberts of The Anfield Wrap chatted to The42′s Gavan Casey and Gavin Cooney ahead of the restart.

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

TO MARK THE Premier League’s return, we sat down with two special guests to talk all things Liverpool yesterday. 

Former Ireland and Reds midfielder Jason McAteer and Gareth Roberts, co-founder of the hugely-popular podcast The Anfield Wrap, were joined on a Premier League Zoom event — brought to you by William Hill — by The42‘s Gavin Cooney and Gavan Casey, along with some diehard supporters.

McAteer remembered signing for a club that hadn’t won the title in five years back in 1995, and how the enormous pressure to return to the glory days weighed heavily on that group of players. 

“The expectation of playing for Bolton is big, but signing for Liverpool is a completely different animal,” McAteer said. 

“The pressure is there straight away. The history and the legacy of the club goes back to [Bill] Shankly and then onto the domination of Europe in the ’70s and ’80s. There was the demand from a crowd that just expected success. 

“When I got there, Roy [Evans] had taken over after a baron period of change under Graeme Souness, and he wanted to go back to a ‘boot room’ attitude. Graeme came with great ideas and was maybe a little bit ahead of his time, having been in Italy. 

“But Liverpool was very traditional. Even when I went there under Evo, Ronnie Moran was still there and they went back to the old ways and the attitude came back.  

“Being a young team, that pressure was a big burden to bear. We had a sprinkling of experience through John Barnes and Ian Rush, but it was very difficult and we were also competing against a very good Man United side, who had a manager who was hungry for success.”

leeds-united-v-liverpool-littlewoods-fa-cup-round-6-soccer McAteer (right) with Jamie Redknapp in 1996. Source: EMPICS Sport

Gareth spoke about the elation he will feel to see Liverpool finally crowned champions, having first visited Anfield for a Rumbelows Cup game in the autumn of 1990 — months after their last league triumph. 

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“I’ve seen us win everything else,” he explained. “I was in Istanbul for the European Cup final, I’ve seen us win the Uefa Cup, the FA Cup, the League Cup. I’ve also been there all those times that we got so close [to winning the league] but we’ve not done it. 

“In both 13/14 and last season, I was convinced we were going to do it. Jason mentioned the season under Rafa [Benitez], we had a decent crack at it under [Gerard] Houllier and even going back to Jason’s time under Roy Evans, there was a period of time when we were playing fantastic football but it didn’t happen. 

We mentioned curses, and my mates joke with me that ‘you’ve been there as a match-going supporter at every single season that we haven’t won it. Do you think it’s you, Gareth?’ 

“Well, I hope not! We were all planning the parties this time around, sitting 25 points clear. It was just a case of ‘where are we going to party, when are we going to party, how are we going to party?’, and then the pandemic kicked in and it was all thrown into chaos. 

“Then we didn’t even know if it would ever happen as there was talk of points-per-game and the season being null and void — mainly by Man United and Everton fans.

“Now we’re on the cusp of football starting up again and the chance to see Liverpool win it and, asteroids aside, you would expect them to pick up the necessary points to be crowned champions. 

“I know there are still people talking it down, saying there will be an asterisk next to it and that it won’t be as good without fans in the stadium. I’ll take a little bit of that on board, but it will be a massive weight off everyone’s back — the club, the fans, the players, the manager, everyone associated with Liverpool — to finally get over the line.”

liverpool-v-afc-bournemouth-premier-league-anfield Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. Source: Mike Egerton

“I also believe that this squad and this manager can kick on and win it again,” he added. “They’re not going anywhere and look how strong they are back to front. They’re only going to get better, so, for me, the idea that we win it and fall away isn’t going to happen this time around. 

“Liverpool’s problem in the past has been that we’ve challenged and then we’ve dropped away. This time, you look and think everything is in the right place now to challenge for a while and for their to be a real legacy around what Jurgen Klopp is doing. 

That’s the most exciting thing for me, almost as much as winning the league. I’m looking forward to going to the park with pyro and Peroni and jumping all over the place when we do it. But I’m also looking forward to when we can get back into stadiums again and return to true normality so I can watch a brilliant side week-in week-out, probably going on to even more success.” 

There were questions from attendees throughout and lifelong Reds fan David Delaney won a retro Liverpool jersey for the best one. David has kindly offered to raffle the prize up for charity and give the proceeds to Fans Supporting Foodbanks. DM him on Twitter for more information

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