Pre-season friendlies present an odd contradiction. They make us hate ourselves when we watch them. We have so many better things we could be doing. So many. But we can't look away. We are drawn to bad pre-season friendlies featuring 16-year-old academy players against fourth-division teams like moths to the floodlights at the Stade de France because we are soccer fans, and therefore we are masochists.
It's OK, though, because sometimes you catch a glimpse into the future. During Liverpool vs. Fleetwood Town, I had one: Marko Grujic is going to be the best footballer of all time. And by "the future" I mean "in like two weeks."
Grujic, a tall, gangly 19-year-old midfielder from Serbia, scored a goal and won a penalty, which Danny Ings selfishly took away from Grujic and prompty, karmically, had it saved. It's important not to judge players too much (or at all, really) on preseason friendlies against Fleetwood Town, but Grujic is the light and the salvation and he will lead Liverpool to glory and we will walk with him through storms with our heads held high and we are getting VERY carried away about Marko Grujic.
Such is the mindset pre-season friendlies put one in. It is not healthy, but that is something for Marko Grujic to solve when he inevitably becomes king of everybody. As fans, we must not put young master Grujic under too much pressure. The time for absurdly high expectations will come later, once Grujic has matured into Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano morphed into one perfect midfielder.
Check back in two weeks.
In the second half, I couldn't help but feel I had seen all there was to see. I had seen the light and its name was Marko Grujic and so where was I to go from there? Frankly, I was bored. Then 16-year-old academy product Ben Woodburn scored and that kept me from nodding off for a little while, AND THEN IT HAPPENED.
YEAH YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS.
MAMA THERE GOES THAT MAN.
Lucas Leiva, defensive midfielder extraordinaire, unnecessary yellow card-getter, shooter of shots that look like wounded ducks, scorer of six goals in nine seasons with Liverpool (nice), destroyer of Jordan Henderson in the Fairground Challenge, scored a goal and I snorted so loud people in the office glanced over to see if I was OK.
Showin' these academy kids and lower-league players how to dink it into the net like a proper defensive mid. What a man. What a leader.
If Liverpool's friendly against Tranmere Rovers taught us the perils of expecting players be awesome in pre-season friendlies, the friendly against Fleetwood Town will certainly teach us the perils of expecting players to be awesome because of how they played in pre-season friendlies.
Who knows what we'll learn on Sunday when the Reds play Wigan? Perhaps the meaning of life. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps whatever we want.
Probably nothing, though.
Contact The18 Staff Writer Sam Klomhaus at Klomhaus@The18.com or follow him on Twitter @SamKlomhaus