Here’s a quote
If you’re wondering why I haven’t gone 100% Withnail and started yowling “what f**ker said that?!”, (a) I know who said it (b) it was me.
Friends said I should claim to be indulging in the modern ritual of reverse-jinxing — where you either prove yourself a modern Cassandra or made blissfully ebullient by your calamitous wrongness.
In truth, that is genuinely what I believed.
There’s now a rush to demonise the heretics who simply never bought into the possibility of the impossible, which I’ll not join for obvious reasons. I do feel quite the fool, however.
The early goal was key, but with Firmino and Salah both absent it was clutching at straws to expect one.
Divock Origi became the hero, and not for the first time this season either. There was something else I didn’t predict.
Messi and Coutinho missed good chances, so the game began eerily echoing the first leg. They weren’t three goals better than us in Barcelona, so was it simple payback when they fluffed their lines in the second?
Explanations are pointless at such moments. Surrendering to the bewildering irrationality of football, letting every chip fall where it may, is the one thing that makes any sense in this incomprehensible sport. We might, probably will, come second in the league with 97 points. Reason took a sharp turn off a cliff months ago.
Once Gini produced his miracles, we found ourselves in that most nerve-wracking of situations. There was, unexpectedly, something to lose now after all. Flinching from the cruel blow that was surely to follow, having suckered us into sweet belief, every Spanish intrusion into our area (even from way outside it, knowing what ‘he’ could do) caused palpitations and a regular, volcanic expulsion of air from the lungs.
I’d take 2-1 and a brave last stand. Then I’d take penalties and an even braver last stand. When Origi made it 4-0 from the cheekiest of corners (take that, streetwise foreigner chappie!) pretending or playacting was allowed no longer. This had to be won.
It was remarkable how chilled and harmless those last 15 minutes or so were. We began to muse over Suarez’s antics in the first half, why Messi had become so furious over little Andy Robertson.
Is it just something they can’t switch off even if they want to, that a side so used to cruising and crushing and getting its own way back home simply lacked the imagination to know that wasn’t going to help them this time?
Or (as far-fetched as it seems) this place, this glorious place, really does put the fear of God into visitors foolhardy enough to stray into it and expect anything else but ritual humiliation?
These are things we’ll contemplate for weeks, months probably. Then it’ll go quiet again, outsiders will mock the idea of anything remotely special about an Anfield European night and then we’ll just have to prove it’s true all over again. How often does something have to happen before you accept its truth?
But then, I’m one to talk…
You saw the scenes at the end, maybe you were part of them. You don’t need me to tell you what they were like, scorched onto your memory forever.
There’s a suggestion none of this will matter if Liverpool don’t win the trophy at the end of it all. All we’ve done for weeks on end is rationalise over what may happen or go wrong, but it’s a coward’s response.
Let’s have a season where none of this happens, where it’s all over by January. We’ve had a few of those in the 2010’s, though none under Klopp.
So panic, freak out, chew each nail and pull every hair from your head; the alternative is far, far worse and don’t ever forget it.
The next night’s game now had more than passing interest. I never stick up for English teams, so I’m disappointed Ajax didn’t win. Something about an all-English tie doesn’t feel right, but it’s what we’ve got.
We might even be slight favourites, certainly we’re not underdogs, so it’ll be different from Kiev in that respect.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the blend of Phileas Fogg and John D Rockefeller you’ve to become in order to go to the game. It shouldn’t be this hard , but Uefa turned this into a corporate swill years ago and raging about it is just another tilt at windmills.
In case you’ve forgotten, there’s quite a big game tomorrow too. Wolves will be trickier than many people think, while there’s the small matter of wanting a favour from Brighton.
Have we used up all our miracles? Could there possibly be another in this craziest of weeks? I’ll feign jaded detachment, whilst my internal organs go on a magical mystery tour and wind up wherever they shouldn’t be.
This has all given me a deeper admiration for Evertonians. Their stamina, anyway. Imagine supporting several teams every week of your life. I’ve spent a few months sticking up for Liverpool and whoever City happened to play.
At least when all else fails, there’ll still be another game in June to at least try and give us something tangible to prove this season was worthwhile.
Deep in your hearts, you already know no such proof is necessary.