Whatever Happens Now, It’s A Season To Be Proud Of

When Sadio Mané missed his penalty on Saturday, I thought that that was the moment that the FA Cup was going to slip from our grasp. Having battered Chelsea pretty much throughout the first-half, there was only a small flurry at the start of the second period in which the London club had any semblance of control. If Liverpool had won the cup final by by two or three goals in normal time, it wouldn’t have flattered us. So much of football is mentality, though, and I worried that, having been on the precipice of defeat during the penalties, Chelsea will have felt as though they were back in control and the Reds will have started to feel the pressure. Once again, though, this team knows what it takes to get over the line and their mental strength is second to none. The relaxation from the team during the penalties, James Milner’s turned back aside!, was fascinating to watch in comparison to the tension that seemed to be emanating from our opposition.

It is fair to say that anyone that knows anything about Liverpool Football Club can’t say enough positive things about the manager. Jürgen Klopp will be spoken about to future generations in the same way that former ones tell us about Bill Shankly. If you think about the state of the club when he arrived, barely recovered from the days of Roy Hodgson and most supporters done with Brendan Rodgers after that loss to Stoke City, it is simply remarkable what we have achieved since. That he personally has become the first manager at the club to win all of the big trophies at the same time as changing all of our mentalities in just over six years is testament to both his ability as a football manager and as a person. He totally gets the club and the supporters, making us as one in the push to take on the unchecked billions of Manchester City. Whatever happens from here on in this season, it has been a success in every way and I think there’s more to come.

City Have The Title, We Have The Pride

I have already put on record my feeling that the title is Manchester City’s. Whilst I’d love for Steven Gerrard to pull off something brilliant on the final day of the season, I just don’t see it happening. Aside from anything else, Villa have a game on Thursday night whilst Pep Guardiola has all week to prepare his charges for the match. On top of that, Villa played out of their skins against us in front of a hostile home crowd and lost. The Birmingham club have only taken four points from the ‘top six’, whatever that is nowadays, and all four were against Manchester United. If we were playing them on the final day of the season, knowing that a win would give us the title, I’d have no doubt in my mind that we were already champions. Man City are just as ruthless as we are in such a situation, which is, I guess, what the billions of a sports washing country buys you nowadays. There is no one that hopes I’m wrong more than me, but it looks like the title is gone.

Even if that proves to be the case and Real Madrid do what Real Madrid do and defeat us in the Champions League final, this season is still a success. If we’re able to get three points from Southampton, it will mean that we stand a chance of coming within just one point of the title yet again. When you consider the manner in which Manchester City have cheated financially over the years, that is remarkable enough. Add in the League Cup and FA Cup double as well as a European Cup final, though, and it makes it a remarkable campaign. There is a reason no side has been able to win the quadruple to date, which we saw play out in extra-time on Saturday. It is an energy-sapping achievement that leaves players utterly exhausted. That we have come closer to a quadruple than any other side in the history of the game is truly extraordinary, with everyone concerned deserving of so much love and respect. City’s cheating has bought them the title, our endeavour has won our pride.

There Might Be More To Come

Not only have we achieved something worth being proud of in winning the two domestic cups and pushing a financially doped Manchester City all the way in the Premier League, there is also still the small matter of the Champions League final on the horizon. I’m not going to look into that in too much detail here because I’ll be doing it closer to the time, but it is worthy of a mention at the very least. In the club’s entire history, we’ve only been in the European Cup final ten times. That three of those appearances will have come under Jürgen Klopp really does tell you something. In 2018-2019, we missed out on the league title by a single point but went on to win Big Ears in Madrid. It looks extremely likely as though we’re going to miss out on the title by a point yet again, so who would bet against us repeating the trick in Paris, avenging our 2018 defeat to Real in the process? Only this time we’ve also got two cup wins in our back pocket to boot.

There are obviously concerns. Though Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk will almost certainly be fit by the time the final roles around, to say nothing of Fabinho hopefully also returning from injury, the reality is that we looked shattered against Chelsea in extra-time. Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, has been able to regularly and consistently rotate his squad since tying up Spain’s La Liga title. The fact that they’re also going for a Champions League and Lia Liga double shouldn’t be forgotten. They’ve only done that once in the modern era, or three times if you include the years when it was only them and a team of farmers playing in the European Cup. Carlo Ancelotti, of course, will never forgive Liverpool for 2005, so he would have wanted to beat us even before he became an Evertonian. In other words, it isn’t a forgone conclusion that we win it and we need to ensure that not winning either of the big ones doesn’t detract from this amazing team.

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