AS he punched the Anfield air on Thursday — again and again – you had that feeling that this was how it was always meant to be. Like it will be from now on.
We’ve waited a long time for him. A very long time for him. So long that some of our number will have grown from boys and girls to women and men. Some of us have grown old.
He’s here now, though. And, come what may, a burden has been lifted.
We’re properly basking this week. Basking in the afterglow of one in a series of marvellous days and nights.
Jürgen Klopp has not returned the Liverpool nation to its home in the sun just yet, but he’s shown us visions of what we can expect when we get there.
Our golden destiny looks a lot like Anfield on a midweek night, under floodlit sky, with mighty Liverpool warriors tearing red streaks across the baize. Manchester City. Manchester United. Borussia Dortmund. Everton. Now, Villarreal. All invited in, all sent home shaking and shattered. All in the space of two months in 2016.
It’s not all been plain sailing since Kloppo turned up. He never promised it would be. We’ve shown only in pockets. In phases. But what periods they have been.
The weeks that spanned from the 3-1 away win at Chelsea until the 6-1 at Southampton, in the autumn, were a real tantaliser. In between times, we took down Manchester City 4-1 on their own patch. We were being roused from a slumber.
Then winter set in, legs became heavy from too much repetition, injuries mounted, and Klopp’s march became mired. There were nice results here and there, but every step forward encountered an equivalent reverse.
The flattering to deceive tendency never seems to have entirely escaped this growing Liverpool group, but Klopp does appear to now have real power over them. He is beginning to master minds.
The manner of the defeat in the away leg to Villarreal was something of a jolt. After the euphoria of the ties against Manchester United and Dortmund, few can deny that they had doubts that Klopp could again rouse his steeds to hurdle this one last treacherous fence.
Villarreal were trampled under foot though. Extinguished. The preparation — both physical and mental — was evident from the first whistle. Klopp had given the majority of his selection a full seven days to prepare. That no stones had been left unturned was apparent. The manager had those lads ready.
The thing about Jürgen is that it doesn’t really matter if he ultimately matches our ridiculous expectations or not — he has succeeded already in one incredible sense. He has held a mirror up to the football club and shown us who we really are. We have our identity back.
We may fail in Basel but it won’t change the fact that we have awoken. It happened in bursts under Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez. They took us back to places we’d long forgotten. Their heroism in our post-1990 history is cast for all time. Klopp has miles to go before he can measure his Liverpool against theirs.
Come what may though, he has already returned an authority to the club. He has been clear with us. He has told us what is required to win. He stresses he cannot perform miracles — that he is just a man. He tells us that it is simple, the thing that we have to do. He has told us what is required to reach our goals.
All Klopp has ever asked is that we stay bonded and convinced. It sounded easy when, in his first interview, he asked Liverpool to just “believe”. It was borderline charismatic preacher bullshit, but it still resonated. It got us all thinking.
Back then — in our recent previous life — we talked of transfer committees, of 25 years, of disconnected owners, of fears of good players leaving, of the importance of getting into the top four, of Anfield not being what it used to be. We were scared at every turn. Frightened of every aspect of the future.
Now? We may or may not make the Champions League next season. Do you care? Does Klopp care? No, he just wants us all to go to Basel, have a laugh, and try to win a cup.
Are we anxious about Philippe Coutinho leaving? Are we terrified of another summer of our suits trying to pin down the correct new players ? Are we still lamenting not getting Alexis Sanchez in to replace Luis Suarez?
Are we fuck. We’re fine. We’re golden.
Kloppo has looked into our haunted eyes, beamed that beaming smile, and popped a metaphorical reefer into our gaping slack-jawed incredulity. His look told us: Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing, gonna be alright.
He laughs, ruffles our hair, winks and walks away.
Watford you can’t hurt us now. We know who we are and where we’re going.
Kloppo’s untouchables: Ward; Randall; Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno; Lucas, Allen; Ibe; Firmino, Ojo; Benteke.