Bring On The Banter Brigade Because The Reds Are Brilliant

That minute when us and Brighton were both ahead was glorious, wasn’t it? I was stood on the Kop with a DAB radio in my pocket but not listening to it because I wanted to concentrate on the match, then when news of the Seagulls taking the lead emerged I couldn’t help but turn it on. Weirdly, though, it was still 0-0 according to 5live. Moments later, Chris Hughton’s side actually did take the lead and it seemed as though the unlikely might just happen. The atmosphere around Anfield was both confused and electrified, with some thinking it was a second goal and that the Seagulls were 2-0 up even as City scored their equaliser. The atmosphere changed then and, whether it should have nor not, it disappeared almost entirely when Pep Guardiola’s team took the lead. It was always likely to be a tough ask for Brighton to get anything and as soon as the Cityzens took the lead it became impossible. The title was done and Liverpool’s domestic season was over.

Only this hasn’t just been about the domestic season for the Reds. The moment we made it past Bayern Munich and drew Porto in the quarter-finals it was evident that the Champions League would also represent a chance for this team to win some much deserved silverware. As much as some supporters spent January wishing that we’d remained in the FA Cup, neither that nor the League Cup offers the same draw to players that the biggest prize in club football offers. We don’t sign Alisson or Fabinho, two players that have helped to shape our season, because we beat Watford in the FA Cup. We bring them in because we made it to the European Cup final and had hard lines against a Real Madrid side that had won it in the two previous seasons. The Anfield atmosphere felt flat for a short time yesterday, then, but it didn’t last long for very good reason. Whilst the rest of the teams in the Premier League’s seasons are pretty much over, us and Spurs are gearing up for one more game and it’s an absolutely massive one.

I’m Gutted Today, But I’m Also Proud

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t gutted today. Rival supporters might want to paint a picture of Liverpool supporters crying themselves to sleep, but I’m more angry than upset. Angry that Manchester City are allowed to spend whatever money they want, be investigated by four different governing bodies and have nothing come of it when the dust on the financial misdeeds begins to settle. Furious that Greater Manchester’s Anthony Taylor failed to sent Vicent Kompany off for a red card tackle in our match against City at the Etihad. Filled with rage that we can boast two of the joint-top scorers, the Player of the Season, the Golden Glove winner, have conceded the fewest goals and lost the fewest games and yet not finish top because we came up against a phenomenal team being funded by an oil-rich country using it to boost their PR. Bitter? You’re damn right I am.

Yet I’m also filled with pride and excitement. Proud of this team’s refusal to give up when it could easily have just ceded to the reality of the inevitable. Every other club in the division did, so why shouldn’t Liverpool? The banter accounts on social media will be filled with posts about Liverpool ‘bottling’ something or other, but it’s completely nonsense. We racked up more points against the rest of the league than Pep Guardiola’s side, taking 96 points from them compared to the 94 that City took. We didn’t lose to a team that finished beneath us. We did all of that at the same time that we progressed in the Champions League despite seemingly insurmountable odds. We’re the second best team in the country not by a whisker, but by the twenty-five points that separate us from Chelsea. They’ll try to laugh at us, but we’re the ones laughing all the way to Madrid.

The Future Remains Bright

The key thing for me is that we’re not just a flash in the pan. That’s what we were in 2013-2014. We were a title challenging side built on sand. The goalkeeper wasn’t good enough, the defence lacked a leader and the midfield was a combination of the inexperienced and the captain who was on his last legs. The attack was astonishingly good, of course, but when you look at the numbers you’ll see it wasn’t as good as the one that Jürgen Klopp has at his disposal. The German has bolstered that with one of the best goalkeepers in the world, one of the best centre-backs in the world, two full-backs that are the envy of pretty much every team in the world and a midfield that can be rotated to suit the task at hand. The most important thing of all being the fact that they’re all still young enough to hit their prime in the coming seasons. Compare that to City’s talented but ageing squad and you’ll see that we’re not going anywhere any time soon.

That’s in the long-term, but when we look at the short-term we’ve got one more game to go; one more time to watch and cheer on these Reds. Tottenham Hotspur will be tricky opposition to face, make no mistake. They’ll be just as hungry as us to win that elusive trophy and Mauricio Pochettino is a superb manager. I think we’re favourites, but I think it’s 55-45 rather than the 70-30 it probably would’ve been had Ajax made it through. One-off matches are always something of a crapshoot, with the likes of the whims of officials and the mood of players on the day dictating the direction that the the silverware ends up heading. Yet what we all wanted this season was to take it all the way in the league and the European Cup, which is exactly what the players have done. We’re all right to be feeling disappointed, angry and frustrated today so let’s hope that the Reds feel the same way and are determined to win the trophy that they deserve on the first of June. Let the banter accounts have their fun; the supporters of every other team bar Spurs would kill to have our season. We’re off to Madrid.

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