Liverpool are back in the Europa League and things looked fresh and exciting once again in their win, with a growing sense of what’s to come…
TIME marches on, never ending. Time keeps its own time.
Prior to last night, Liverpool hadn’t competed in a Europa League game since May 18, 2016.
In the period that’s passed, they’ve scaled imaginable heights fuelled by exceptional talent, belief and desire. They became the best in the land, the continent and eventually the world. It’s a process.
We’ve had a global pandemic, geopolitical turmoil and a generally tough time of things which you hope can only get better.
When Sevilla lifted the 2016 trophy in Basel, we lived in a country which still had the European Union, swimmable waters and a former Liverpool forward yet to swig Matt Le Tissier’s Kool-Aid.
The Europa League return coincided with a message from Jürgen Klopp that we’re back to year one, not eight.
In that sense, our return to such an oddball competition is fitting. Liverpool colliding with The Chase. Ben Doak over Pointless. Embracing purple kits somewhere in Europe and having no idea when to eat dinner.
Last night felt in some way seamless, but almost eight years have passed, eight. Where do we go from here? Time ain’t nothing but time.
For the hoodwink of Klopp’s second coming to work, things must feel new. They must have an air of excitement and unpredictability.
We have a stadium that will very shortly have a new look to accompany increased capacity. We’ve brought the average age of the squad right down with a mixture of exciting signings and promising youth prospects.
Many of those who toiled and drove Liverpool over the cliff edge of greatness have now departed.
Others who were there remain but have shed skin to this new thing. The captain looks older, more gracious. The goalkeeper somehow better with age. The left-back becoming more mischievous from the new energy around the place.
They still have one of the top three forwards world football doing top three forward in world football things. Not everything needs to change.
We have no idea what this new incarnation of Liverpool is capable of, despite having spent more time in some of their company than close relatives over previous years.
It’s a tough balance, this. You can’t be entitled with the unknown, despite having a firm grip on lots of how the club, manager and many players operate.
But we’ve so desperately needed this reset.
Year one means we don’t get in our own heads about Manchester City and perfection being an essential criteria.
We might not be at the level of top one, but please bring on your Manchester United’s and Arsenal by the score.
It’s year one. Here we stand at beginnings, and then it goes passing us by.
When Klopp started his rebuild in 2016, he moulded the new and the existing and changed so many minds on players that people had written off.
Players like Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson suddenly looked different. They could be winners in the right environment. They could be part of something bigger.
Muscle memory tells us to bear in mind our own role. To hold on to that knot in your stomach.
Liverpool must be a place where something is brewing. A journey to something shaped by us all. The party is back in our kitchen when everywhere else is closed.
Because we can’t lose the lived experience of what’s passed. We know what it takes at every junction. This is going to be hard.
There’ll be unbelievable, whirlwind highs and gut-punching lows, but it will all mean something.
There’ll be noise and songs and welcomes and goodbyes time and time again. Time and time again. Time and time again.
Liverpool might not reach the summit again, but time tells us that cowardice is a foolish endeavour that Klopp has no time for.
If you believe, then cherish every single second of what you can’t control because it’s a wonderful experience which will all be over in a heartbeat.
It’s year one, not eight. I had a dream my trip would end up at you. And now I’m in paradise.