Back On Our Perch

We’ll all have coped with last night in different ways. We’ll have had our own way of watching it and celebrating. No doubt each and every one of us will have had individual moments that resonated with us for our own reasons. Personally, I watched the entire trophy presentation with a massive smile on my face throughout. I was sat next to my dad, who had a heart-attack years ago and who I therefore worried I’d never get to watch Liverpool win the league with. Had the season played out as normal, I’d have had to decide whether to go to Anfield to watch the match and trophy lift or give up my ticket in order to sit alongside my dad at home and see it. The choice was taken out of my hands in the end, but for so many people that choice wasn’t available for far more tragic reasons. The mere act of seeing Jordan Henderson walk up and lift the trophy will have been an emotional one for them.

Not that it wasn’t emotional for the rest of us, of course. Yet there’s no question that last night will have hit those that have lost someone particularly hard. Each will have responded in their own way, but the most overwhelming one will almost certainly have been a mixture of joy at having seen it happen and sadness that they couldn’t share it. That is what football does, though. It marches on, relentless in moving from one season to the next. It’s why we need to enjoy this moment for what it is, because the next campaign will be underway again before we know it and we’ll be back to zero points along with every other team in the division. Don’t worry about transfers, points records or anything else; take the time you can to revel in what this team has achieved under this manager and remember the ones you love who couldn’t be here to watch it all with you. It was for them as much as it was for us.

Thanks, Jürgen

There are many people we need to thank for seeing the club to its first title of the Premier League era. The players will always be high on the list, producing performances of intensity week after week and blowing away every other team in the division. The owners also deserve a shoutout, even if a section of Liverpool fans are loath to hear it. They not only brought the German to the club, but they’ve given him the environment he needs to thrive and achieve. Such is the manager’s selflessness that he’d also be quick to point to Peter Krawietz and Pep Lijnders as inspirational figures. Yet there’s no question in my mind that one man more than any other deserves our immense gratitude: Jürgen Norbert Klopp. The Liverpool job was always going to be a tough one, let alone for someone with a middle name of Norbert. Yet the former Borussia Dortmund manager has made it seem like the easiest thing in the world.

From doubters to believers. That was Klopp’s cry when he was given the manager’s job. It wasn’t an immediate transformation. Plenty of people took time to fully buy-in to what the German was selling, but eventually he won over even the most cynical of supporters. Having come so close so many times before, it would have been understandable for the setbacks we faced under him to cause the players to think they were never going to achieve the greatest honours. Instead, we responded to losing out in the Champions League final in 2018 by going back and winning it in 2019, then by missing out on the title with ninety-seven points to winning it the season after. We wouldn’t have achieved that under previous managers, even if they’d had the exact same squad. Jürgen Klopp is a genius and one of the best football managers on the planet. He fits so well with Liverpool it was meant to be. Thank you, Jürgen.

The Backpack Has Been Emptied

When Jürgen Klopp arrived at Anfield he said many things that made headlines, with the aforementioned ‘doubters to believers’ quote being the one that caught everyone’s imagination. For me, though, the key quote was when he said, “It’s not allowed to take the history in the backpack.” The idea was that Liverpool players, fans and even the people in the boardroom were too weighed down by the club’s history. Rather than allowing that history to slow us down, we needed to release ourselves of its grip and make our own history. It’s fair to say that Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and the lads have now done just that. Over the past two seasons they have been crowned champions of England, Europe and the world. None of those trophies have been flukes or flashes in the pan. Both the European Cup win in 2005 and the title challenge in 2013-2014 papered over cracks, but no more.

I have no idea what is going to happen next season, not least of all because Pep Guardiola will be proving what an excellent manager he is by spending hundreds of millions trying to catch back up with us. But even if we struggle to defend our title, it won’t take long for the players to get back on track. The current Liverpool side isn’t like previous ones, built on sand. It is one that is built on rock solid foundations and will be hungry for more moving forward. Last night was brilliant, but I’m sure it felt like it was missing something for them just as much as it did for us. Given the manner in which the team has repeatedly responded to adversity, they’ll want to win the title again so that it can be celebrated with supporters in the stadium. They’ll doubtless also be keen to win it again so that they can prove that they deserve to be thought of as one of the best teams ever. For now, they’ll have to settle with being champions of absolutely everywhere.

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