THAT contained multitudes.
First of all: Don’t say they weren’t rattled. Don’t say it all doesn’t mean something, this thing supporters do. Don’t say that and never say that again.
In truth, it took more than some noise. City were prepared for something. They had a good first 10. Their shape looked magnificent. They outnumbered The Reds all over the pitch. They’d taken Rafa Benitez’s blanket and stretched it. It was quite something.
And then Liverpool scored.
It’s the answer to everything. Second best? Score. Outgunned? Score. Under the cosh? Score. Stick it in the back of the net and we can discuss their tactical superiority afterwards.
Goals change games. It’s football’s best and truest cliche. Liverpool score through Mo Salah and suddenly the first half belongs to them.
Then City were rattled. Then they heard every voice. Felt every roar. They found themselves all at sea. It was suddenly overwhelming, suddenly mind boggling for them, especially after Leroy Sane’s miss. Little did City know that would prove their clearest chance of the 90.
The miss put them further at sea. It had been a chance to quieten the storm; instead, it intensified it. The storm said “Allez”. The storm said “Liverpool”. The storm would not be moved.
Pep Guardiola had picked a team of compromise. He’d stretched Rafa’s blanket as much as he could and suddenly it was torn. Liverpool were playing in that tear, waiting for the ball to come available and they would pounce. We talk a lot about footballers being clever. Tonight both sides showed exactly how clever you have to be — on top of physically dominant, on top of technically elite, how clever you have to be to play at this level. This is the level.
The blanket was torn and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain kicked the ball dead hard into the Manchester City net, into The Kop end and Anfield was in raptures, Anfield sang Hosanna In The Highest, Anfield resplendent and Manchester City had been undressed.
Their heads could go further. The thing about being a manager and making a big change in your side, taking out your highest scorer available, the thing about all of that is that, if it doesn’t go well, then your side starts to wonder. Manchester City compromised the thing that brought them to the table. They sidelined their partner for the dance. And it suddenly hurt, Ilkay Gundogan wandering around, a lad looking for a role. Imagine being Raheem Sterling on the sideline. Imagine being David Silva suddenly running the line.
Liverpool pounced. It was a goal as soon as we were in wide areas. You knew it. You smelled it as keenly as the cordite which the whole area of Anfield oozed. The ball in and it was there. Liverpool Football Club had their reward if Liverpool Football Club can be seen as the whole thing, can be seen as those lads on the pitch and those lads in the dugout and that throng of screaming, roaring magnificence on the side of the pitch. Don’t you dare tell me this thing doesn’t make a difference. Don’t you dare ever say that what we do shouldn’t matter.
What we do isn’t everything. What we can do is enough.
There was a point at 3-0 when they passed to Andy Robertson and he, not unreasonably under the circumstances, tried to carry it 60 yards and finish where it would be fair to say that the champions elect had absolutely gone. That they didn’t know where they were or what they were doing.
Second half Liverpool wanted to get out of dodge. I’ve seen this film before, seen the clock go down in units. Just do it in fives, Liverpool. Just do it in fives. One five minutes after the other. My word, Manchester City tried their very best to be very good but they just couldn’t get to where they needed to be. They couldn’t open Liverpool up, Dejan Lovren’s arching, diving header clearances, Loris Karius alive to everything, Trent Alexander-Arnold up against the most dangerous player on the pitch, Robertson shutting down space brilliantly. Behind everything, James Milner alert.
Mo Salah going off injured made Liverpool wobble. Immediately Guardiola introduced Sterling. But City just couldn’t break through and the crowd dragged Liverpool home. The crowd put its arm around Liverpool, cheered every block but, more importantly, said to those lads that we were all in this together and here, have some of our energy. This belongs to you now. Take it and run with it. And get out for all of us.
You do it in fives. You get from 65 to 70. 70 to 75. You do it in notches and you bring it home.
Liverpool brought it home.
If it needs to be, and perhaps it does need to be, what tonight can be seen as is vindication. Half that Liverpool side have been heftily maligned at times this season and even for years in some cases. The goalkeeper, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Milner, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson, even Sadio Mane have all had nonsense written about them and said about them — occasionally by me — that they aren’t good enough to be at the business end of the season for Liverpool. They have all been written off by the football body politic, by Liverpool supporters, by both. Been judged for what they aren’t. Not expensive enough, flashy enough, solid enough, switched on enough.
These lads haven’t been flashes in the pan. They’ve shown through this campaign they are good enough for a side with genuine ambition, they’ve shown themselves better than their critics and in key moments tonight they’ve been better than their marvellous opponents. They’ve shown what a game of football is — a group of lads in their 20s doing their best and being their brightest, carrying, embodying the hopes and dreams of a city, of a sense of place, of a diaspora. They may not be perfect, they may not finish this club’s journey under Jürgen Klopp but don’t dare malign them any further. Don’t you dare say they don’t matter.
It contained multitudes. Battles everywhere. Manchester City were good. They are good. Very good. Nothing has been decided tonight.
Well that isn’t true.
The result of this tie hasn’t been decided tonight. It has gone a long way towards that but Liverpool won’t be complacent and they shouldn’t. Manchester City have scored the most goals in the land. They have put five past Liverpool before tonight; scored eight against them all season. Let’s not kid ourselves.
But some things have been decided tonight. This is a very good Liverpool side. One worthy of love and affection, one coached brilliantly. This is a Liverpool side that can harness a crowd. And that crowds are living things, communal forces, that football is part science, part art and part act of devotion when done well, when done right. Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. Liverpool tonight represented a worldwide diaspora, concentrated its force into 50,000 souls in one theatre.
Joyful. Imagine being part of that tonight and not aching with joy, not crusading like a zealot, not having that fire burning inside. This is what the thing is. To love, to adore, to support. These are all verbs. These are all things to be done, to feel, to experience. These are actions.
Tonight, Liverpool took action.
See you next week.
SUBSCRIBE to TAW Player to listen to our post-match show…
“Anyone who underestimates Anfield, it’s at your peril.” 👊
“What a performance. What a night.” 💥
🎥Subscribe to listen to our Post Match Show: https://t.co/eTmRQkhp95 pic.twitter.com/664IAUvtNY
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) 4 April 2018
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
Great texto. Ynwa.
Celtic, Inter, St Etienne, Chelsea, Dortmund and City, the supporters, the people come and go but the spirit of Anfield lives on. FSG you have something wonderful cherish it, reward it, build on it and win with it.
Well done everyone for a wonderful and hard fought victory YNWA
Great read Neil. Thank you and I am still recovering from the performance!
I am so happy for all of you supporters in Liverpool and for the team, and Klopp. Best supporters in the world!!! You guys deserved every bit of that.
“But some things have been decided tonight.”
For me this team gave more of a coming of age performance tonight on one of the biggest stages of football. That for me decided my view.
When I heard that song of “You live in the past…” by those City fans, I was so hoping we would score, and boy did we score. The Ox shutting up the City fans was the nail in their coffin. I nearly passed out!!
TAA really held his own against one of the best players in the league. Really hope he stays fit.
One of the highlights was watching this team maintain its shape when they weren’t in possession of the ball. If they can keep this type of discipline and not go full-retard on attack, we can go far.
Worried about Salah and now losing Hendo (again) against City, at a crucial time. Hendo did such a brilliant job, I feel sorry for the guy. Gini just sucks at away games and I can only imagine Can coming in to do the job.
I wish United further deflates their ego this weekend, and that Klopp can rest some of our main players. We don’t need to risk defeat, but injuries, especially with Everton always looking to derail our hopes.
Tough one as it will be a very different City next week, but I trust Klopp and his staff will sort it out.
Very happy and proud of this team, and of Klopp and all the supporters of LFC.
Come on you Reds!!!
Amazing night, I fecking love your writing Neil, thanks for all the wonderful work, fun and everything you gang have created over the last few years. Watched the game from a million miles away but feel a part of it all. What a golden night.
Well done to every Red, player and supporter! What a night, what a Club.
Now bring on the Angry Birds Saturday then let’s take Anfield to Manchester.
Did John Gibbons strip tonight for the post match show?
Angry Birds – lol
hats off to Trent Alexander Arnold. Much maligned before this game. Sane was going to kill him. The opposite. I thought he did brilliantly and his crosses into the box demonstrate how over-rated Kyle Walker is. In all the times I have watched Walker play for England and first Tottenham then Man city the end product has always been crap. So hail this young boy. Great courage, great skill
Great match. But The Anfield Wrap and other supporter groups should also be talking, and doing something , about the nobheads who thought it was great to throw stuff at the City coach.
That’s a matter requiring separate and sober analysis rather than being a sub plot in a raw and emotional match review.
Spot on. It was a disgrace and looks as if UEFA will be taking action. The club is in trouble and for TAW, a company run by supporters for supporters, to not have something up about the disgrace visited upon LFC by more than a few twats last night, is poor form.
We went straight from the match to record our post-match show and all pieces are written within that timeframe. We don’t have the benefits of following the news or seeing things back which is what makes our post-match stuff as raw and emotional as it is. Don’t see how not discussing what a minority did before the game in a crowd of thousands is poor form.
Spot on, keep up the top work lads.
They will I’m sure, but let’s have the dust settle first. The tendency to jump in and make instant judgements based on roar emotion without a sober analysis of the facts is rarely the prudent option. No one is defending anyone who threw anything but let’s try to keep this in proportion.
Not sure we can “do something” about it tbh. How do you control 50,000 people?
By promoting the proper behavior before the game and deriding THAT improper behavior after the game. TAW – you are not responsible for all fans behavior, but thousands of fans do listen to your shows, so you have a great platform to promote the right behavior. I’m sure you will. YNWA.
Take your point mate, but we’re not in a position to preach on how people should behave in public, a minority will make their own decisions right or wrong and that sort of behaviour won’t just go away cause we tell people to pack it in.
I didn’t appreciate what those dickheads did either, and it only sullies the club’s image and progress being made.
But what is TAW and the rest of us supporters supposed to do?
Maybe ban alcohol, ban fans from lining up along the opposition buses?
It does piss me off to think how much this club has suffered in the past both due to ignorance and criminal negligence.
Those idiots do not make up for the larger support base, and if there’s something that can be done to discourage this behavior I am all for supporting it.
Brilliant, emotive writing, Neil. One of countless wonderful things in TAW, especially for Reds who don’t get to be there in person for occasions like last night.
I have to say that ‘You live in the past, You live in the past…’, from the away end, was one of my favourite moments last night, among so many others. The only time City could be heard, on TV at least. Just before the first goal.
Some of the talk on tv was of Guardiolas tactical error leaving Sterling out. However, i was sure from the start that this was done to protect Sterling from falling apart like he did last time at Anfield.
So, i think it’s fair to say ‘Don’t say it all doesn’t mean something, this thing supporters do’.
Nailed this one Neil. Got all the passion of your writing but kept the piece flowing and coherent.
My experience was last night felt like there were 2 seperate events. 1. The ‘welcoming’ of the coach; which is a throw back to the dark days of hooliganism. It cant be dressed up in ladish, competitive banter. 2. The game; including the amazing aural and visual spectacle of the supporters. It felt like everything in the ground was connected.
I agree with Andy M above that there needs to be seperate and sober reflection on the former and Im confident the Wrap will play its part.
For now though; BOOM. What a performance.
That was a power show. We’d learnt the lessons from the league game. We blitzed them in the same way and this time we locked it down. 0 shots on target from City? Zero?! Our lads deserve so much credit for that.
There’s almost too much to say but last night was as much Trent’s night as anybody else’s. All the talk beforehand. Rashford and Zaha were the precursor to Sane and everybody apparently knew what was going to happen. Except they didn’t. Nobody did. Except Jurgen and Trent. He pocketed one of Europe’s best wide men last night. Our full-back who cost zero pounds. Is right Trent.
It doesn’t matter what Oxlade-Chamberlain does for us in the future, he will always have last night. That moment. Football, when all is said and done, is about moments. One in the eye for all those smugs who said he’d flop for us. Those deluded Arsenal fans desperate for him to fail. Stitch that.
The job’s not done by a long-shot, but we have given ourselves the best platform anyone could have asked for.
Could be the making of Trent, that. He was magnificent.
Klopp is dragging this great club back and Neil is absolutely right. As well as great signings like Mane Salah Ox Robinson he shows faith in the likes of Lovren, Moreno, Henderson, Trent because- in his opinion – those players perform for him far more often than not and can keep developing. He will look to keep improving the squad but those lads have done a lot of good work for Klopp and it is down to this squad- put together by Klopp- that we have reached this exciting stage. Thankfully the saner amongst the supporters see the big picture and will give Klopp the time he needs. Nights like last night are for those who stand behind Klopp after Spurs, Seville away, Man U etc. Those who didn’t will maybe think twice in the future at the inevitable setbacks?
This is just the beginning.
Liverpool showed their heritage.
I was speechless as the goals went in – mouth wide open.
Trent – a future captain?
The clean sheet was a sign of progress.
I think no matter what happens – LFC are back.
One of those great nights out with my bird. Pity a handful of beauts had to behave like Evertonians.
How can you compare life on Barcelona’s bench to an Anfield night? What was the hurry, Phil? At least Sterling got to witness a night like that, even if suggesting that he enjoyed it might be a slight overstatement.
Penny for Emre’s thoughts. Cause the lads he’s still with are mustard. Up the mustard Reds!
An unspoken standard has been set. Since Steven Gerrard hung up his boots, the certainty of a born and red Scouse lad’s place in the future ruling of the game looked to have ceased. And desisted. Then along came Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Great expectations. Charles Dickens.
It’s a pressure that is almost invisible in the landscape of someone’s football career. Especially at the age of 19. That responsibility should never fall on one’s shoulders at this early stage. But unfortunately, in a football-obsessed place where that topic can and will be heard every day somewhere in the vicinity of the city, there is no true escape from it.
His goal against Hoffenheim set a platform of plausible believability. His game against City makes him impossible to be invisible.
What we’re searching for is the continuation of a subjective legacy unquantified, but with a history that has the potential to be more real than digital bios, stat sheets and millions made from contracts. It’s about a player three or 13 years from now being mentioned in the same exhale of Fowler, Carragher, Gerrard.
In the biggest game on the biggest stage, he made the most clearances (10), most interceptions (7), won the most duels (8) and made 4 valuable tackles.
Trent won’t speak to this. Far too humble. He’s leaving that for us to do as he evolves.
But it’s an indication that his road has been paved. Now it’s on him to either follow or fall. Odds are leaning heavy on the former.
Poor form is you coming on here Grae to put down something run for supporters by supporters. They would always likely have covered it in time and their explanation explains this. And if you followed TAW frequently you would have realised this. Quick to jump on here and slabber about them with loaded words and statement. Are you on this frequently or have you only joined up ?? Seems to be a very particular point you are trying to make.
A quarter of a second before Sadio Mane left Terra Firma, an eighth of a second before he put his forehead to the leather, the flash of his offkilter blonde highlight lit up my life. I swear, I felt the Earth move. Under my feet. I felt the sky tumbling down. And then the sky was tumbling down. Sorry Carole King, but you’re no longer Carole king. I know it’s your song, and you could write a song, but now you’re just ‘Carole’. We have the King, so I’m taking your king. I’m taking all kings. King Herod? Nah, just Herod, Hezza if you like. Billie Jean, Creosote, Yer man ‘King’ who had minor hits in the Eighties? You’re just ‘ ‘ now. Sorry lad.
The first game I saw was the ’71 Cup final when that Cup meant something. Stevie Heighway was my hero. Him and Alec, obviously. I was in the Kop when John Barnes scored those two v QPR. You know the ones. You may not have been born, but you know the ones. You do. I spent loads of dosh on phone lines back in the day before Harry Kewell was confirmed as ours. For six months I thought we’d win everything with Harry, the World Cup included. I’m a leftie. To my left is the line, to my right is the pitch.
On our left we now have Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane. F*** me. I posted in January after he’d played a handful of games that Andy Robertson was the best left back since Rob Jones. I was ripped to shreds on forums, and I now concede with no sorrow at all that I was wrong. He’s the best left back we’ve had since Steve Nicol. As for Sadio? He kicked the City keepers head clean off in September, but it was his own head that was scrambled, which left left him off-form-but-still-quite-good-like for a few months. Then he blammed one past City’s King Charles I keeper in the League game and immediately recovered his snide. Since then, Sadio’s snide, his gritty attitude, his hips, his smile have been SO important to us. As important as Mo, as Bobby, as big Virg, as that lad who doesn’t even play for any more.
Yes, him – Joe Cole.
Sorry, no – Phil Coutinho
I’ve watched loads of iterations of teams – loads of Liverpool Football club, in person, on the box, listened to radio’s under the covers when I should have been asleep.
This is a good team. This is a good left hand side.
Magnificent post. Worthy of Rob Jones, if not Stevie Nicol.
Brilliant, I am a 71 graduate too, love that CK. Oh what a night was last night.
Ha ha. I’ll take that, mate.