Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 2 Everton 0 in the Premier League at Anfield…


THIS is what winning feels like.

If you think this is about the Merseyside Derby you are going to be bitterly disappointed.

Winning isn’t pure. There isn’t some moment where they knock round to all of ours and tell us we won. That won’t be happening.

What will be happening is complete and utter vindication in black and white. What will be happening is the idea that your friends and mine saved lives and your friends and mine won arguments, won the right to speak, spoke better than anyone else, played the game, got their education from The Kop and got their 10,000 hours from things like The Anfield Wrap.

In the run up to the final, me and Gibbons did bits with Kaveh Solhekol. On the day Gibbons got him on stage at the fan park somehow and then later around the ground Solhekol told the story with his camera people. The fact is this – Solhekol had spent days seeing Liverpool supporters love it. Love and relish the moment. So going from that to this, it made no sense. It made no sense, Solhekol knew it and so many of his colleagues knew it because they’d got their education from supporters. He responded. So did Kay, Delaney, Draper and so many others.

So many people did so well on the day and in the immediacy. So many people resisted the UEFA message and have been proven correct to have done so.

I couldn’t be prouder of what counts for us. The obvious and correct name is Dan’s. I was on the bus with Austin coming out on the ferry, staggered and tired and he asked me to read what he had written and it was relentless and furious but informed and it offered a course, something to commit to, something to rise to.

Blundell did television in France, the first front opened and there he was relentless and accurate. Mr Phil.

There it was. We got back and I did Sky in the Cunard across a parade trying to pull my head together, doing the telly, being personable to charm, to be relatable, to depict humans who had been through a thing they shouldn’t. We had to win. Personable a pretence.

We got back and I saw Joanne Anderson and she said it was awful and she said it needed to be investigated.

Did Sky over and over. Did something extended with Hayley McQueen where she asked every good question and if I am honest I don’t really remember June but I suddenly remember that, remember McQueen giving me every chance. Max Rushden on TalkSport that you should never do giving me a big 15 and you know what I cut loose and Rushden let me go. The BBC over and over and over and god love them. I am cross I wrote for The Observer.

Austin went to France and won. Went to France in French and did brilliantly. Can you imagine? In your second language. He was sending me requests for evidence for his presentation and Smallwood helped me. Because everyone helped. Everyone helped each other. I saw Byrne and Barrett in the same afternoon and knew we needed help. Hogan was great and he’ll possibly never fully understand why but there he was, straight to camera.

Everyone helped. Everyone knew. I saw Kavanagh on the street and he said what needed to be heard in that moment and good Lord. I saw Rotheram on The Strand, he said we win this. I saw McGovern and she said everyone’s been spot on but there is a way to go. Steel yourself, she said. A way to go, she said. Trust the process she said and Christ I did not, but you can’t be right about everything can you.

Spirit of Shankly took a breath, listened and knew. They got it calmly and Blott represented everyone marvellously. We’re lucky to have the most mature supporters body in the country.

I saw Jacks. There’s an unwritten history of the last 20 years of English football, a secret history and there underneath it is Jacks. What a marvel she is.

This is what winning feels like. No one knocks round with flowers and a hug. No one offer you a garland. No one carries you aloft. And that’s sound. The fan park was awful for the match. People got tear gassed. No one knows. The enterprise was draining. No one knows. It fucking hurt, right? It hasn’t really stopped, right? No one knows.

We win together on this. I got to do it because of you. I got to do it because of you. I got to do it for you and that has been quite the responsibility but we were always in it together. Always in it together.

This is what winning feels like.

This is what winning feels like.

The first half passes with little fuss – Liverpool much the better side, Everton the relegation candidates – until suddenly Everton hit the post and about seven seconds later the ball is in the back of the Everton net and you have never known a better Liverpool goal.

You have never known the like. A whole new way to score against Everton, just when you think the genre is exhausted, just when you think there is no new way. We find one.

It is, as ever, important not to get carried away, but it could be the greatest goal in our history. Mo Salah’s goal is beautifully simple and poetic in its justice. Everton come within a hair’s breadth, smacking the woodwork only for the rebound to find its way ramping down the pitch. Darwin Nunez squares it to Salah who places the classic.

You can love goals, of course you can. And the goals tonight are ones that you will love. You will savour them. But you know what? Do not forget to savour that clean sheet. Do not forget to enjoy that big, fat, zero next to the name of Everton tonight.

We get to, say, 20 minutes into this and Liverpool have a clean sheet. No early goal. No heads are gone. No adrenaline panic. In itself, that feels like a win. It feels like Liverpool breaking the back of whatever voodoo nightmare we have been under, whereby we haven’t been able to keep the ball out of the net in the opening minutes. Savour it. Everton. No goals.

Liverpool. Two goals. Mohamed Salah. Cody Gakpo. The king and a possible heir apparent.

It is a joyful and triumphant return of the king. For the rest of the game, Mo Salah looks like a man renewed. He has pace and opportunity, and Everton cannot do what others have done and ground him with the overload.

Liverpool, having battled their way, go in for half time one ahead, and look to all the world like 11 refreshed, renewed humans who are suddenly enjoying life again. They look like a weight is being lifted.

Second half, the weight lifts further. It’s not just the experienced members of the side who are enjoying themselves, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold finding space and pace, but Stefan Bajcetic is running round as if this game can only be played at a million miles an hour. Gakpo’s goal on the 46th rips everything to shreds. The game is Liverpool’s. This is what winning feels like.

Very aggressive hugs from the manager. Nowhere near as aggressive as mine will be all night.

Mine will be aggressive. Will make his look like strokes. Because this is what winning feels like. This is how we won. This is why I am proud. And then Liverpool did the decent thing.

Liverpool did the decent thing.

And this is what winning feels like.

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