THERE were maybe four to go when we last talked, you and I. Maybe four more love songs.
And now there is definitely just one. And how are we doing?
Proud but not that cool. Not really. Angry but at no one in particular. No blame, not because of a no-blame culture, but because no blame should attach itself. However, there is this: Liverpool have had an interest on one last day since last winning the bloody thing.
And for a moment the trapdoor is lifted and we get a sense of what it might feel like if Liverpool win the league, and the answer is this: absolutely crazy.
This team, these supporters have so much pent up desire to win the title, it bursts out as Brighton’s goal goes in on the 28th minute. The noise shoots out of the corporate boxes in the middle of the main stand and swoops round the stadium in seconds.
People are up on their feet shouting about god knows what, as if someone had just discovered oil or diamonds under the Anfield Road end. As others scream “What? What? What has happened? Please someone tell me. What. Is. Going. On?”
My head went. Which is nothing compared to what happened to The Reds for whom the first half had started incredibly well. The passing is fluid, and Origi looks more comfortable than he ever has, no doubt basking in recent heroics. Liverpool keep shape and ball, waiting for the opportunity to come.
The captain is all about the clever moves and the Liverpool shape is still evident as it has been for 99 per cent of this season. On the 17th he couples up with Trent, to allow Sadio Mane to slot one in deflected off Boly.
Then the goal on the South Coast and then just moments later as City equalise the craziness takes a turn for the worse. Panicked Liverpool fans desperately try to make phones work. “Is someone making this up for a laugh? What. Is. Going. On?”
The game continues but for a period in the first half, it feels like we are all playing someone else, somewhere else, and that transmits to a team of lads in their 20s who look suddenly like lambs shot through with serotonin. Frisky isn’t the half of it. Frisky isn’t always good and is bad news against Wolves.
Against Wolves you need focus and certainty because they have it in the bucketload. A gang of massive lads who love and trust their shape. A million diagonals later and here I am trying to tell you Dendoncker is enormous. They are always dangerous without a load of actual danger. But they do hit the bar.
They are a better side than their Mancunian-obsessed support deserve on the day. They are bantz writ large while the side has no jokes and a ton of elbows. An old school “who the fucking hell are you?” rings out from The Kop.
But that’s not really the question here. Who the fucking hell are we? That is what matters. Are we brave? Are we strong? Do we believe in our lads?
We all bounced into the ground and now we realise. This is torture. It is horrendous. We are making it harder for our footballers and kettling our own heads. Not knowing whether there was still hope was actually physically painful for a few minutes.
This isn’t what Jürgen meant when he discussed being prepared to suffer through games, but it is what I meant when I spoke to you about being prepared to bleed. We bled. There was a moment when I realised the rollercoaster was at the point where vomiting is an option.
By half time, though, everyone knows that it is 2-1 to City, and that the mighty Brighton & Hove Albion were not to be our knights in shining armour this year. But it is that gradual realisation that allows Liverpool’s crowd to find itself having lost itself in the early excitement.
There was a moment we realised the rollercoaster was just that; not a runaway train where crashing and burning was a possibility, but something with a solid safety harness and that harness is called Madrid.
Wolves continue to impose themselves and perform well but Alisson is remarkable in his unfussiness. He is always exactly where he needs to be and personifies reliability. This isn’t accidental. His brain is constantly whirring. It makes the saves look mundane when they are anything but.
The checking of phones doesn’t stop. We couldn’t really ask Brighton to give us that miracle. The expectation wasn’t fair. Manchester City are a really great team. There will be discussion of how that gang of lads came together. But that shouldn’t in anyway lessen the brilliance or achievement of that gang of lads nor the journey of their supporters. Far from it.
They have shown astonishing grit and spirit, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have impressed beyond belief and it should be possible to salute them and love Liverpool. When in doubt, be kind. In fact just be kind in general. We’ve spent the season together, you and I. I’d hope it is always within the essence of these words.
Mane’s second goal on the 82nd from the boot of Trent, to Sadio’s head to the back of the goal is glorious and takes him level with Mo Salah for the golden boot. Which leads to Mo Salah having a ton of shots which make me laugh, anyway.
Mane now has scored the most goals at home of any player this season, too. He takes his place among the greats in this team and the greats of our club. That he happens to play alongside other greats ought not to overshadow his achievements.
However, our brilliant lads were tired in the second half, and despite substitutions, looked like they could all use a breather. They had had midweek exertions. They didn’t need a stellar performance, they just needed a win, in case of miracles. Today’s match ends as a routine win but a good win.
So it’s a strange one. You get a win that feels like coming second. Because it is coming second. That’s what has happened and sugarcoating it is pointless. Let it taste sour. But you can’t help feeling amazed by it all nonetheless. It’s weird. And something of a hiatus now that we have Madrid to come.
We have that one to go. We are brilliant and beaten. Unimpeachable but bettered. Touched by greatness but unlucky.
But. But. But. Lucky. That’s what I feel. Lucky. You get to a point in life when you think that there are no more love affairs. You think, there were players, teams, games before that made me giddy. But surely you get to a certain age, and all that’s gone. You still support them, but not with childish excitement anymore.
People say it’s the hope that kills you. And that is true to a certain extent, but it’s also a total lie, because we haven’t been killed by hope this season, we have been brought alive by it. Here is a team, that for 38 games has held us captivated. This is the real thing. The romance. It had had it all.
More than anything it had the ability to make us giddy, to make fools of us in the best way and we get one more go round the carousel with them, one more time to send our stomach west. One more awfully big adventure. Giddiness is reason to live, giddiness is reason to clamber out of bed, giddiness is your stomach and your heart in unison.
It is what Liverpool at their best do to their opponents, what making people turn round again and again is about. What they do at their best to us, make children of us, make lovers of us.
Liverpool have made us lucky, Liverpool have made us proud. Liverpool give us something to do, something in common and a reason to write love songs, a reason not to be cynical, a reason to be kind.
Thanks lads. Thanks Jürgen and the backroom chaps. Win in Madrid because you deserve to lift something up and hang something around your necks.
One to go. One more love song.
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Hi Neil, I think there’s still 4 more to go…
…that is if we don’t underestimate Spurs in the CL final.
If you see it this way, there’s a quadruple yet to be had for whichever team comes out best on June 1st:
CL Final –> Super Cup –> Club World Cup –> and maybe (if City win the FA Cup) the Charity Shield.
Congratulations to Alisson on a well deserved award as well as Mane and Salah. All three have helped this team immensely over the season as well.
Well done the Klopp and all the Reds for putting on a great show right up to the end, despite the shortcomings. I hope the team improves starting next game onward as there’s lots to do still.
Thanks for all the articles Neil and to all your colleagues at TAW. Overall enjoyed the ride despite my stance and thoughts.
I wish you and all the supporters of LFC have a nice summer and hope you enjoy all things besides football.
There’s more to come, so definitely looking forward to more bantering about meaningless stuff with you all soon.
I’ve been meaning to say for a while..and a recent video where you questioned your ability to affect a games outcome meant I had to write. The Anfield Wrap at its core is a constant beacon of positivity and support in its most purest, right form. You DO have an impact and you should be rightfully proud of that. Thank you and up the reds!
Glad its all over to be honest.
It’s not over though…
‘There will be discussion of how that gang of lads came together.’
FFP. I don’t get the point of it if not administered. I guess wolves could look at Liverpool today and moan about the available money flying around. It is, after all, the main distinction between the top and bottom teams. But whats the point in pretending their is something in place to limit things if the rules can be easily bypassed?
Anyway. What an amazing bunch of lads we have. So happy that Mane shared the golden boot, he’s been great this year, as they all have.
I hope FFP is administered correctly and similar punishment that the SFA gave Rangers is delivered. Otherwise what’s the point in FFP?
Equally the FA must be taken to task. A season defining game at the Eithad and they appoint a ref from Manchester who then gives every key decision City’s way.
Beaten, but not bowed or broken. I was so proud of the sheer defiance in the rendition of “ we shall not be moved, allez allez allez, and YNWA “ after the whistle.
That was the final confirmation that this club is finally as one.
And that Klopp has turned all of us from doubters to believers.
Up the Reds!!
Well said mate. Win in Madrid and this will go down as one of the greatest seasons in the club’s history.
97 points. The biggest football match in the world to come and we are in it. After one of the greatest ever comebacks.
Everything to play for.
And our ONLY defeat in the PL this season coming in a game where the FA appointed a Mancunian Ref who lives less than 7 miles from the Eithad to officiate a game at the Eithad, which is us against Manchester City and we lost to a goal not being awarded and a player who should have been sent off not being sent off.
Amazing the decisions in 2 PL campaigns where we could have won the PL and our rivals are City and on both occasions the FA appoint officials from Manchester to officiate and on both occasions we have goals chalked off and they should have had a man sent off and it didn’t happen. On both occasions City won the PL by this result. Not saying that this needs seriously looking at, but I suggest to balance things up that they appoint the Lino on the PL books who drinks in my local who is a big Liverpool fan to ref the 2 games next season against City both home and away, then we will see how they fare.
It’s all a bit requiem for a dream, yet the reason I’m more gutted than I thought I would be is solely down to the special nature of this team and what Klopp has forged. I tried to be philosophical, I tried steeling myself for disappointment, and yet for about three hours afterwards I was crushed. Because we deserved it, we just deserved it, and in a world of stories ours is the best one. What can we do? Being realistic, we probably need 100 points and maybe three players – a left back, that creative Fekir-type player, and maybe break the bank for de ligt, because we need to plan for the next five years of dominance, not just next season. But we really gave it everything. We should always remember the moments that have defined this season, not the ones that got away. And hopefully there’s one more defining achievement left because this side deserves and needs silverware, so let’s do it. Let’s knock these fuckers out. And to Neil and co, thanks for everything.
What we need is officials to award us the stuff that City get regularly, that and to just ignore the FFP rules as City do. :)
As always, Great stuff Neil. Closing the gap on tbe Champions from 25 to a 1 single point in a single season is an astonishing achievement and creates a stellar launch pad for next season’s Title challenge.
Let us identify and usher an inevitable elephant from the room, because ultimately there will be idiots who will doubtless conduct a needless postmortem on our amazing season. It’s critical to our development and consequential outlook for next season that we exorcise the demon. LFC won the Premier League. Yes indeed if we were to exclude the potential 6 points from both City and ourselves from the head to head games this season, Liverpool would have been purring on 96 points whilst Man City would have been licking their wounds on a mere 94 points. So before some stato idiots from the media, and as sure as eggs are eggs, from our own fan base, begin to pick the flesh from the boney carcass, our Glorious Club won more points than the eventual Champions.
We didn’t lose the Title in any other games such as the draws with Everton or Leicester. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Those games were the games which ultimately helped mould and galvanise this great bunch of lads into an outstanding winning machine of a team that goes on it’s way steam-rollering whatever opposition is placed in its way. Yes we did momentarly cough and splutter whilst briefly 7 points clear at the top. But that was not the defining moment of our campaign. Moving forward that evolving 2 Game period in the great history of LFC helped to harden and tempur this squad for next season’s assault on tje PL Title and all who stand in our way.
This has been a fucking great season Redmen!!! Now onto Madrid with Jurgen’s Red Army and unfinished business. YNWA96
We got more points against the bottom 10 than City – in fact we were perfect…60 from 60.
We got more points than City against the bottom 14.
We got more points than City against the bottom 18.
anyone starts nit picking over this draw or that, well City can rightly do the same so its a pointless exercise.
We got shafted at the Eithad (AGAIN) by officials who award City everything and we don’t even get things in accordance to the rules… let’s take Mane’s sending off last season. High boot where he has raised it to bring down the ball. All over the Premier League, week on week there is no sending offs, in fact no cards for most offences of this nature and in the case of City and Man Utd, not even a free kick awarded against them. hey but it’s Liverpool at the Eithad, so lets invent new rules and ensure Liverpool get nothing and City get everything.
One result cost us. one result ONLY. we got beaten just once and unfairly as the rules stand. Mane was taken out by Ederson after he put the ball past him and John Stones then get’s to it first to clear it off the line. This means the ball is STILL LIVE and the offence by the keeper is a pen and a sending off (see TAA’s recent offence against Newcastle, the ref said in that game he would have walked if Newcastle hadn’t scored… so there you have it, an FA Official telling you the rules in the same season some 4 months on).
Then we have Kompany, not only is he the last man when he brings down Salah who is away, he also does it with a 2 footed challenge off the ground. Both on there own are red card offences.
So I can’t move on from this. In 13/14 the FA appointed a Ref from Greater Manchester and we lost by the odd goal and got one chalked off. In 13/14 Lescott fouled our players all game, was on a Yellow and should have walked. We lose the title to City by 2 points and if that game had ended a draw it would have seen Liverpool win by 1pts. This time round, again a Mancunian Ref and we lose by some awful officiating all game. No loss and we had effectively won the league by 2pts.
We need an explanation from the FA on both games I am afraid and personally I’d like to see this done in the courts. Not saying it is cheating, BUT let’s appoint Mike Dean then for games against City both home and away next season. he’s from the Wirral… or better still the lad who drinks in my local.
I am telling you now, boot on the other foot there would be uproar.
A beautiful summer to look forward to – the first I’ve ever known – when I feel no need to learn who will be joining our ranks. It will be interesting, but I am content with these boys. For the first time I’ve ever known, content. These are the lads for me. I cannot wait to see how they develop with Keita, Ox, and Gomez with a proper summer of integration. Add Shaqiri to that list, perhaps even Origi.
I am truly grateful for this season. We had more fun. Put that in big red letters. We had more fun. Sure, we ended 11mm short, but it was exactly what sport is there for: entertainment for sure, but also an opportunity to witness human excellence. I love this manager. I love these players to a man.
Take a deep breath. Exhale. Off to Madrid and glory. YNWA
Should be far more gutted at coming second, getting so close after so long, but somehow I can’t be.
These lads. Our lads. What more could they have done for us? They’ve performed miracles, played on knackered legs, done things we thought they couldn’t and there might still be another miracle to come.
We got this close, we’ll challenge again. And we’ll look back on this and say ‘Remember when we were second with 97 points? And all our heads fell off but then we won it.’ (You know it’s coming!)
This manager, these lads, these fans. It’s been a joy to go through it with yous. Up the Reds!
Sorry for not being kind, but city’s fans dont deserve this. Their ground is half empty for most games, they couldn’t even sell their allocation for the FA cup semi final, and they dont know what a European cup is. I know it changes nothing, but I just needed to say that. Onwards to Madrid!
That’s unfair about City’s fans in the semi of the FA Cup, most went dressed as red seats.
You speak of “this Liverpool”, they are exactly this Liverpool. They are not “that Liverpool” I supported in my youth, the one with the cocky arrogance that steamrolled everyone and won title and trophy year after relentless and predictable year.
I am going to speak to my son today, he came home from the match in the early evening and went straight to his room, I have not seen him since. I will tell him about destinations and journeys and how they do not have to be always co-dependent. I will tell him how this Liverpool have given me more satisfaction than that Liverpool, how they have brought me more intense exitment, made me feel more alive than that Liverpool ever did.
I have not in his 23 years made any deliberate attempt to indoctrinate him to the one true faith, but, it was inevitable, we are all a product of our environment, he did not stand a chance. We are all flat earthers, we all have this faith that one day the second coming will happen and absolve us of all of our sins. Our own crimson prophet Mohammed has shown us the path to salvation and we worship him in our temple.
He is up now, making spaghetti hoops on toast, he wont do his dishes afterwards and I will not speak to him about that because it does not matter.
One of the best ever.
What a great set of lads and what a great season it’s been and it’s not even finished.
Let’s look on the bright side, we have a Champions League final to look forward to. Our second in 2 years which is a truly phenomenal achievement on top of our points total this year. And Neil, you still have your thumbs!
Brilliant article and i absolutely enjoyed all your articles throughout this fantastic season…it made every supporter feel ALIVE … that it is in the present we actually felt this Liverpool team is special …long may this continue … YNWA
If Dr. Strange had witnessed all possible outcomes on Sunday, 14,000,000 would’ve ended with MCFC beating Brighton.
If Strange then reported there was one outcome – the 14,000,001th – that resulted in MCFC drawing with Brighton, an outcome resulting from some action taken by Liverpool, what would that action be?
I submit they could’ve purposefully gone down a goal to Wolves early in the tie. This is the one scoreline that might have caused City to be complacent. Two goals down might trigger elation on City’s behalf spurring them on to score, etc.. The Reds then have to then keep it at a goal down until, say, the 92nd minute. Meanwhile, City has contentedly kept their game 0-0 (or 1-1) and all is well. Reports are that Liverpool have been listless, their few shots missing well wide of the mark. Now, Klopp knocks his hat off at 92:01. Liverpool spring into action. They score in stoppage time to level up! There are 47 seconds left! (Dr. Strange made this very clear, 48 seconds left and City still beats Brighton.) And Liverpool scores the league winner just as the official puts the whistle to his lips. Aguero’s shot, meanwhile, is blown dead in the air 1 second before crossing the goal line.
Clearly this would be a tricky scenario to pull off. : )
It’s not Avengers End Game unfortunately… What is STRANGE, without needing a Benedict Cumberbatch character to be anywhere involved is how for one of THE MOST IMPORTANT GAMES of the 18/19 season that the FA appoint a Mancunian Referee to officiate a game at the Eithad in Manchester, where Manchester City are playing at home against us and then strangely, every solitary decision then went against us, including what should have been City being reduced to 9 men (in accordance to the rules).
It is STRANGE that this is the SECOND time this has occurred in TWO TITLE CHALLENGES against City and on both occasions they go on to win the League from us by virtue of the results from these games. Games both officiated by an Official who came from MANCHESTER.
Note the common theme here.