I have been following and supporting Liverpool for roughly 13 years, and the last eight years is probably my most active period of following this club. To be honest, I’ve never been the optimistic type – always wary of what type of bullshittery this Liverpool team will conjure up. This mentality is a result of bearing countless of disappointments, and the defeat in the Champions League final is another example of said disappointments. But, somehow, this feels a little bit different.
It is the eve after the heartbreaking sight of another trophy slipping away from Klopp’s hands – a manager they often call a “serial final loser”. He brought a post-Brendan Liverpool team to two cup finals in his first half season. Two years later, he brought a much-improved Liverpool side – with an incredibly prolific trio, an academy product playing his first full season, and a bargain of a Scotsman – to the final of the biggest stage in club football. Three finals, three losses. But this isn’t the League Cup final loss to City after Johnny Sins denied us in the penalty shootout. This isn’t the Europa League final loss to Sevilla where another Unai Emery masterclass – and Alberto Moreno – happened.
This is much different, for worse but ultimately better.
This is a final defeat where we have our best attacking threat and record goal-scorer out injured in the 30th minute after a dead-on cynical challenge from the notorious Sergio Ramos. It’s a final where we have our young and improving keeper who just about cemented his place as Liverpool’s no. 1 next season produced two unpredictable goalkeeping errors (bear in mind, he had not made a single error in the whole campaign). This is a final where we’ve had an early impressive spell showing our ability to take the game to Madrid, but ultimately crumble.
But also, this is a final that concludes a season where we played our best football in decades; a season where we made Anfield a fortress again; a season that witnessed an unforgettable European journey; and ultimately, a season that turned doubters to believers. At least that’s how I felt.
The manner of the defeat is utterly heartbreaking. The thoughts of “what could’ve been” haunts me, and that’s just me – imagine what Karius and Salah could be thinking right now. But the defeat in itself isn’t really that much of a disappointment for me. It’s not like the League Cup or the Europa League. Because the minute that match in Kiev kicked off, I knew, that whatever the result may be, we fought hard to get to that stage, and we deserve it. We made it. Screw the result. The thought of being in a Champions League final is already surreal to me.
Who knew we could put five past Porto – who has had an incredible season domestically – in their own turf. Who knew we could stick Pep’s super-tactics and super-team up his own arse. Who knew we could nullify Roma’s momentum after that historic comeback against Barcelona and keeping a clean sheet at home for the whole tournament. Who knew we could make it to the final. Well, maybe Klopp sort of knew, and the team sort of knew. But definitely not me.
But as the season progressed, the surreal feeling kept growing. Sure, there were usual suspects popping up here and there – the 3-3 draw at Watford, Lovren pushing Calvert-Lewin in the penalty box, losing to West Brom and Swansea – but the magic also kept coming. The emergence of the Egyptian King, with songs to match his amount of goals. There’s also Bobby Dazzler and Sadio Mane proving doubters wrong. Trent Alexander-Arnold moving up the ranks and living his boyhood dream. And also the Scottish left-back that took the world by storm. Oh and how could I forget – the Lovrenaissance.
There were many matches and many moments that injects this strong sense of hope, and this feeling that you can take on any team in the world and have every chance to win – even if you lose in the end. The images of our away fans jumping up and down at the Etihad and Olimpico accompanied by the players celebrating with them overwrite the disappointing defeats in Wembley, Old Trafford, and Kiev.
In the end, we fell short. Once again, we finished the season with no trophies. And our rival fans can smear that mockery all over our faces – though rightly so – but to be honest, I couldn’t care less. I am very well proud of the journey that we’ve embarked on this season. The growth in terms of performance and as a family exceeded my, or anyone else’s, expectations. Thanks to Klopp and the whole team this season, I can happily put my hands up and admit that I was proven wrong to doubt our own capabilities.
Realistically, we could be trophy-less for the next few seasons, and well Klopp could be sacked in a few seasons. But hey, if I only support a team for winning trophies, I should support Madrid instead, or Barcelona, or Bayern, or PSG. But nah, I’d happily take the heroic 4-3 wins over Dortmund with a splash of 6-1 defeats in the hands of Stoke City. I’d also happily take the famous win in Istanbul, even if I have to endure another Crystanbul.
Through thick and thin. Allez bloody allez.
I would also like to wish the speediest recoveries for Mohammed Salah and Loris Karius. Keep your chins up. We’ll walk with you.