There was a moment, round about when a referee was giving another dubious late penalty to Roma, that I wondered if all the anxiety was actually worth it.
Then the final whistle blew, and it very definitely was.
The Reds are in another European final. As the last domestic league title gathers dust in an attic somewhere, the continent has almost subsumed all of Liverpool’s culture and history. We can’t do that anymore, but we can do this; revel in your time…
From the qualifiers to Kiev. I’m not sure anyone else has ever done it before, apart from us in 2005 obviously, but current mood is not to bother about such trifles and care less about what others think.
We’ve scored a stack of goals from that day way back in August and nobody has been able to keep us out.
Any problem was always self-inflicted. To the old and almost fossilised this seems all manner of wrong, but there they are; in the final.
Look around you. Go back to 2014 when City and Liverpool battled for the league title and scored 100 goals apiece.
Guardiola has done it this year too, with defence almost an afterthought. The one team that went at them with almost kamikaze recklessness beat them three times. Fight fire with fire, they say.
It’s bad for the nerves. The Reds had huge first-leg leads against Porto, City, and Roma. Confidence drained away as each round passed. Even we couldn’t blow this … could we?
Just watch them try. That’s not to say outsider focus on Luck wasn’t industrialised pish. They scored seven goals against City and Roma, but still we get to hear about how we ‘got away with it’.
Given the acidic fume from nearly everyone on the planet as we keep progressing, celebrating our achievement comes second to delighting in the contemptuous paroxysms of others.
We know what we are, what needs fixing. There’s little or no expectation of those flaws being addressed, though.
I hate all the amateur psychologists reading everything into the hopefully temporary absence of Zeljko Buvac but (and I despise myself for joining in) it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s had enough of Klopp ignoring the Achilles Heel this long.
So much money riding on his managing Arsenal but be careful; in an age when satellite ‘news’ corporations run their own betting sites, that way lies manipulative madness.
The lower ranks always feel they’d run things better than the boss. We were lucky in our Golden Age the likes of Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, and Ronnie Moran knew how to serve. If they were promoted, great. If not, also great. We won’t see their like again, so move on.
There’s been talk about lack of consultation over substitutes, but looking at that bench what actually needs deciding?
It’s been this way since Klopp came. Strength in depth and fitness are real weaknesses. I hate to be THAT person but investment’s the only thing that’ll cure it.
Salah and Firmino have been great this season but in Rome it all looked a little tired and phoned in. In fact the general performance did. You notice no-one mentions gegenpress anymore?
It seems every month Liverpool shoot themselves in the foot. What’s made the second legs with City and Roma so emotionally draining is fear of an uber-ultimate calamity to come.
A team that let Sevilla get three, Arsenal get three, West Brom get three and Roma get four might think it’s got the worst out of its system. I don’t believe it for a second.
This could be the curse of Gerrard, I suppose. That slip against Chelsea, so cruel and unjust, just made you believe Liverpool can screw up almost anything.
It’ll be different against Real. One game, winner takes all, Real are obvious favourites so there won’t be as much pressure on us as in the knockout.
The amazing thing is we still haven’t qualified for next year’s competition.
That may tap into Istanbul’s all-or-nothing spirit, but Klopp must focus on remaining league games and hope there’s a more relaxed approach for Kiev. The words “fat” and “chance” spring to mind.
Football’s about entertainment sure but it’s all a bit Indiana Jones for me. Not every game has to be a fingernail-chewed last-ditch escape from catastrophe, does it?
It’s fun watching the leopards try change their spots from a decade ago. Those who glowed with pride during Houllier and Benitez’s shutdowns now snort derisively at the very idea of a nil; clean sheets are for virgins, etc.
Whatever. Liverpool are in their first Champions League final for 11 years. Before Istanbul, it had been 20 years so the uber alles types shouting about a rightful place are pushing it a tad.
For those who went to the match during a time when Mount Olympus was where we belonged, it feels easier to just sigh and appreciate whatever crumbs tumble our way now. When it’s being done with such panache and excitement, it’s easier still.
Check out some of the names in the last Liverpool team that faced Real; Manquillo, Moreno, Markovic, Allen, Borini. Yes, I know you can be sniffy about one or two in this one but we’ve come a long way and Klopp will always have our gratitude for that.
He clearly has another side to him behind the goofy public persona but it’s refreshing to see a football manager at least try to be sincere, passionate, funny, and respectful.
When he leaves the reservation it only looks bad because of how well he’d conducted himself before. Rather this than mocking specialists in failure every day of the week and then kissing ass when they retire.
And the football? Well, 309 goals in less than three years ought to tell you something. The flaws are there, the willingness to fix them less so but these are great times to be a Red.
It’s another out of the way Champions League final. Can’t ever be Paris, can it?
Already there are ugly stories about ticket restrictions. The Corporates pat our heads thankfully but “we’ll take it from here, peasants”.
One day we’ll tell them to take their bastardised affront to sport and shove it up their backsides…but not yet.
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