A pointless cup tie turned into a pointless replay, all of our own making. If the manager wasn’t peeling paint off the walls after that he never will, yet it summed up perfectly the entire club’s attitude to domestic knockout.
Here’s a quote from Monday’s Irish Examiner: “There’s a mental scrapbook of past experiences that may half-convince some to fantasise, but realism will strike tomorrow whether you want it to or not.”
Jurgen Klopp is closing in on an historic season for Liverpool, as he again steered his side into the semi-finals of the Champions League. Only this time he returns to Premier League action this weekend top of the table and in a position to make a mockery of the fantastical claims surrounding Pep Guardiola brilliant Manchester City side.
The 24th change in top place in the Premier League did not come without the predictable healthy dose of nerve-shredding drama as Mohamed Salah’s 90th minute header forced Toby Alderweireld to turn the ball into his own goal, gifting Liverpool a sorely-needed victory.
It wasn’t as exhilarating as many of this season’s remarkable last 16 ties and it certainly didn’t have the quality of football that’s been on show over the last fortnight; but Liverpool’s wonderful victory in Munich, inspired by two-goal Sadio Mane, has nevertheless put down a marker that is hugely significant.
As acts of vindication go, Jordan Pickford’s game-saving block to deny Mohamed Salah as the prolific Liverpool forward looked poised to open the scoring in the first half of a tense Merseyside derby was up there with the best of the Premier League this season.
I’d love to be able to blame our humiliating annihilation on the numbskull responsible for dressing us in a green kit, upon a grass pitch, but frankly that’s a feeble excuse. Saturday’s demolition served as a timely reminder of the enormity of the task facing Unai Emery.
Luckily for Manchester City, the bloated Champions League format means that opening group games can hardly be regarded as critically important, never mind ‘must win’, but even if the competition couldn’t ever hope to hit the ground running the way the World Cup did in Russia, this week’s action did see some of football’s global superstars exhibiting varying degrees of luminosity — from dull to blinding — in their attempts to twist again like they did last summer.