Is Liverpool’s Season Over?

It wasn’t a 3-0 match. Anyone who knows anything about football will have watched that last night and been amazed that Barcelona emerged not only with the victory but without conceding a goal. Liverpool did themselves proud, taking the game to the Catalan side and asking serious questions of them. In the wake of the two legs against Manchester United I said that I thought both teams were beatable but that we’d have to take our chances when we were presented with them, so I can’t say that I was delighted to be proven correct. We had more than enough opportunities to not only get on the scoresheet but even emerge with a win, especially as I don’t think Ernesto Valverde’s side would have got the second and third if we’d managed to convert one of our chances. When it’s not your night, though, it’s just not your night and when Mohamed Salah misses an open goal from about five foot it’s fair to say that it’s very much not your night.

Ultimately you simply can’t pass up as many massive chances against Barcelona as Liverpool did last night. It feels as though it’s going to prove to be a microcosm of our season: absolutely dominant but ultimately leaving with nothing. I did say to my mate who I was watching it with that I couldn’t quite figure out how much we were controlling the game and how much they were letting us, but I do feel it was the former because if their plan was to hope we missed sitters then it wasn’t much of a plan. Who dominates and controls a game isn’t as relevant as who wins it, of course, and whilst Liverpool will leave the Camp Nou with their heads held high they will also feel that it was an opportunity missed. We went to Spain full of hope and belief that we could cause Barcelona problems but we might also have been guilty of underestimating them and then being punished for it. The only question is, is that our season over?

Stranger Things Have Happened

There are any number of clichés you could trot out about Liverpool’s season right now: it’s always darkest before the dawn; we don’t do things the easy way; it’s not over until the (usually) fat referee blows his whistle. Yet it’s difficult to look on the bright side when you’re staring at a 3-0 deficit against one of the best attacking teams in the world in one competition and are dependent on a financially doped side dropping points to either a mid-table team with a manager we know can’t set up a defence or another one that will be lucky to avoid relegation in the other. It will feel heart-breaking if we reach this season’s conclusion without a trophy to show for our endeavours, but stranger things have happened. As Jürgen Klopp said last night when asked if we had any chance in the second-leg, we do ‘because it’s football’.

I’m wary of making the Istanbul comparison for countless reasons, but it’s difficult not to when you look at Liverpool in the Champions League facing a three goal deficit. That team managed it and the attacking talent on display was far inferior to what the manager will have at his next Tuesday. As I said at the start of this section, it might well be a cliché but the Reds genuinely don’t like doing things the easy way. I can’t remember the last time we won a trophy without me being put through the emotional ringer, so it would be just like us to win 5-1 at Anfield. That’s not be refusing to acknowledge the reality of our current situation, just acknowledging that this is a football club that has insane things deep in its DNA.

We Need To Finish The Season Strong

I think it’s remarkably unlikely that Manchester City are going to slip up now. They’re far too good and have spent far too much money to only end the season with a League Cup and FA Cup to their name. Had they made the Champions League semi-finals instead of Tottenham I would maybe believe that they could take their eye off the ball on Monday night, but I just don’t see how Pep Guardiola hasn’t spent the entire week getting his team ready for every possible threat offered by Brendan Rodgers and his Leicester City team. As I mentioned before, Liverpool supporters know from experience that the Ulsterman doesn’t know how to set up a defence, whilst Wes Morgan looks like he’s been on the town ever since the Foxes unexpectedly won the league title in 2015-2016.

Whatever City doing against Leicester and the fighting relegation Brighton, it is vital that Liverpool win their remaining games. As heart-wrenching as it will be to lose out on a league title with 97 points, this season can’t peter out into nothingness now that it looks as though we won’t win anything. We have to finish this one as we intend to start the next, ensuring that both Manchester City and the rest of the Premier League know that they won’t get an easy ride again during the next campaign. I genuinely believe that we have the ability to push on from here, perhaps with a bit of strengthening in the summer. We can’t be seen to have allowed things to slip, so even if we don’t end up winning anything our season isn’t over yet.

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