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Rafa v Jurgen
…A solid question in the mailbox from A Scott Mills. If you wanted a gut response then obviously the comeback and the improbable nature of the 2005 victory would be the choice strictly on the night in question and that symbolic fifth victory which brought the cup to Anfield permanently. But with hindsight, that victory really was a false dawn and more of a one off. The success in the Champions League in that era always felt a little bit like luck. We had one of the best players in the world and an excellent organized tactical manager. Over a shorter tournament like the UCL, you could find success that ultimately eluded Benitez in the Premier League over the 38 game schedule.
This win ultimately will mean more not because of the result, but it what it represents. This is a fully formed side hitting their peak. They’re legitimately challenging for trophies and it isn’t a surprise to see them win. 2005 was an underdog side punching above its weight while the 2019 side goes into most matches as a clear favourite with a Starting XI that would compete and can beat any side in Europe without it being considered an upset. This win is a validation for the team and unlike the summer of 2005 with all its uncertainty and just a hope the team could compete for Top 4, this side is ready to turn over with minimum fuss and push on next season at the same level.
So nothing will ever replace the one off spectacle that was Istanbul, but this current win means a whole lot more.
Mark H. LFC (Now lets push on for the league title)
Honestly, comparing and ranking things for the sake of it is lazy, boring, silly, pointless and a bit sad.
You’ve just had one team win a domestic treble by nosing out another for the last 2 and a half months, with both sides winning every match, then that other team lifts Ol’ Big Ears versus a third English side who reached its first UCL Final while their manager mushed gloriously passive-aggressive shade in his boss’s face all along a run that saw them rescue their season in the dying minutes at least 5 different times, after having eliminated the domestic treble winners in a wonderfully entertaining shootout (with a half fit squad)… And you spent 2 days “wondering” that?
Also, by the way, Rafa’s beloved in 3 cities. You’ve only got the one hand.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA
…A Scott-Mills asked do Liverpool fans prefer Rafa or Jurgen now.
Rafa, on a wing, a prayer and two actual good players somehow won the CL against a team made up of legends with a legend for a manager. Then he kept us competitive for a few years with 3 or 4 good players and one hand tied behind his back financially. There was always a feeling that as good as it was when Torres turned on the style or Gerrard did something outrageous that it was a sort of raging against the dying of the light rather than establishing a base for future achievement.
Kloppo has turned us from dangerously close to mid-table to just dangerous. No-one wants to play us – OK the final was a bit sh*te, but assuming it’s during the season there is no team on Earth that wants to go and play a competitive match against Liverpool. Kloppo has revitalised the fanbase and brought the club to the fans again. He’s also been backed and supported by genuinely top-quality ownership and a smart and capable backroom setup. It feels like he’s a major part of building the club into one that will be at or near the top for a decade.
To use a crap analogy, Rafa is the stunning, intelligent and near perfect partner you got by some miracle when you were 21, but that you lost because you were a complete mess. You always look back and think ‘they were bloody amazing, what could have been if only…’. Jurgen is on the same level, but you met that partner when you were 27 and able to offer commitment and a fulfilling relationship in return. The same, but you were different, so the feeling is different, but also the same. Or something like that, you know?
So to answer the question, I cannot choose.
…A few days have now gone by since the final and Liverpool’s European Cup win. It’s the second time I’ve seen my team lift that trophy and it’s natural to want to compare 2005 and 2019. For the sheer joy of the night, I don’t think 2005 will ever be beaten. Underdogs, the comeback, despair at half time, Dudek’s late save. All combined to make the most incredible of nights. The feeling of of pure joy was not quite the same. How could it be? Saturday’s game clearly just wasn’t as memorable, but in many ways the happiness as a fan is greater this time.
2005 was, if not a fluke, if not lucky, then certainly an upset. It felt like a team that had punched way above it’s level and done the unthinkable. There were some great players in that team, namely Gerrard, Alonso, Carragher and Hypia but then you look at the rest. Dudek, Finnan, Traore, Kewell, Baros, Cisse, Smicer. Players that range from being terrible to good but not quite good enough. Even the ones we remember more fondly, e.g.Risse & Garcia were hardly being chased by the world’s top clubs.
But look now. Alisson, Robertson, TAA, Van Dijk, Salah, Mane and arguably Fabino and Firmino are all amongst the best players in the world in their position. They may not be the outright best (although VVD and Alisson possibly are), but they are in the elite group. More significantly though, the rest of the first team and even the squad are far above the level of the 2005 team. There’s not one player in the team that needs to be replaced, no one that’s likely to leave this summer and no one at an age that we need to think about replacing them.
2005 was magical but didn’t feel like the start of something in the way 2019 does. It’s easy to forget that the 2005 team didn’t even finish in the Champions League places and were 30+ points off the top of the league. It didn’t feel like it was a team that was ready to go on and win and win and win. City will be favourites for the league next season (and all other trophies) but there is so much to be optimistic about. Hopefully this is just the beginning. Let the good times roll.
Mike, LFC, London
Forget Rafa, it’s Jurgen v Paisley
I’ve only had the pleasure of watching Liverpool since about 2000. In my head, Benitez just about remains on top in the PL era for doing what he did with Liverpool and with such adverse circumstances. Klopp will be equal or better if we have an equally good season next year as this one and/or win something else.
However, in the all-time greats debate, my mum’s-fella’s-dad provided some food for thought on Saturday evening. He’s been watching Liverpool all through the 60s until now, and in his view, Klopp is second only to Shankly in the Liverpool manager pantheon. His view is that Paisley inherited an excellent team and then carried the natural progression through to greatness. Benitez was a fantastic manager for him but, H&G aside, there were fairly solid foundations to start with.
In his opinion, Klopp has done something Shankly-esque (although in much less serious circumstances, given the entire club was in a complete shambles, grounds included, when Shankly came in) in bringing the club back from the terrible state it was in post-H&G and in the hole that was left following Rodgers. He absolutely loves Jurgen, feels that he just ‘gets’ the club. Dislikes Rodgers, thinks he’s a charlatan; loves Benitez as a man but doesn’t rate him that highly as a manager; and never warmed to Houllier.
He also cites the reality that Klopp has turned Liverpool into full on contenders. Not punching above their weight underdogs, or unexpected challengers, like under Rafa and Rodgers, but a genuinely class side that you can put in your top 5s with confidence. The title run this year was expected, as was the champions league run, and Liverpool haven’t been a side that you EXPECT to do well for years.
I don’t know if I agree but it’s interesting seeing that perspective from a proper old time fan.
Theo, LFC, Liverpool
Ode to Jordan
Champions of Europe. Ahhhhhhhhh. A typed letter cannot encapsulate the emotions I feel as a Liverpool fan, but to sum it up, it is the pinnacle of my time spent supporting Liverpool.
It has been a long and arduous journey for us to get here. I think the player who summarizes the experience of the club as a whole is Jordan Henderson.
Henderson joined Liverpool in the infamous summer of 2011 along with the likes of Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam. There was alot of pressure on Liverpool that season to deliver a strong finish in the league after the money they had spent, after a couple of seasons of mediocrity following our “close but not close enough” 08/09 season. Although we won the league cup that season and lost the FA cup final to Chelsea, we finished 8th in the league and there was alot of banter being thrown at Liverpool for the collection of flops they had assembled, Henderson being one of them.
Under Rodgers, everyone now knows the story of how Henderson was close to being sold to Fulham, before he intervened and told Rodgers that he was prepared to fight for his place. He then found a regular spot for himself in the squad during that other “close but not close enough” 13/14 campaign.
Then came the passing of the captaincy from Steven Gerrard to Henderson. Many Liverpool fans, including myself, questioned this decision and his character to fill such an immense role. The initial signs were not too promising. We had a disappointing 14/15 campaign, and started off the following season poorly too. All this while, I continued to hold Henderson to the standards of Stevie G aka last minute winners, dragging an average/slightly above average team to trophies, and generally making himself a massive presence on the pitch.
Then came Klopp. It appeared after a while that Henderson was no longer an undisputed starter on this team regardless of his captaincy. Then, in 17/18, we embarked on our champions league run with him at he heart of the midfield. Ultimately, it was yet another case of “close but not close enough”, and at this point, ill be honest, I started to think that perhaps his career as Liverpool captain will go down as “close to Gerrard, but not close enough”.
In the summer of ’18, we bought Keita and Fabinho. It appeared that Liverpools ultimate shortcomings the previous season had led to Klopp ruthlessly upgrading all the problem positions. Karuis had been cast aside after his unforgivable mistakes in such a massive game, and more continental and technically superior midfielders had been brought in to replace our more English themed battling nearly men. Henderson started the season rotating in midfield, and it seemed this was the norm moving forwards.
Then, around March I believe, the story goes that Hendo went to speak to Klopp about playing further forward, since Fabinho was nailed on for the defensive midfield role. This worked a treat, as it preceded a succession of crucial assists and the odd goal by Hendo as we took City right to the wire. In the champions league semi final, he produced a battling and fearless display against the mighty Barcelona on the way to the comeback. Don’t forget, it was his surging run into the box and quickly getting the shot away from which Origi scored the rebound, that set the tone for our urgency and determinism in that game.
Now, I still find it a little surreal to watch the video back of Henderson lifting the champions league trophy. The joy and absolute passion on his face is so symbolic of his realization that the long journey has finally brought him here. I admit that he is probably amongst the least glamorous of names to lift his trophy in recent times. The likes of Sergio Ramos, Xavi, Zanetti, Lahm and Lampard are ultimately more iconic names in the history of this illustrious trophy. However, Henderson has now EARNED his place alongside these legends in his own battling, passionate and relentless way. The pictures of him lifting the trophy are perfect representations of his passion and determination, and the realization, that he has made it. The best part of it? Soon after lifting the trophy, he was interviewed and already has his mind set on carrying on to achieve more success. Incredible character. Incredible story. I only focused on Henderson here since he has been with me as a Liverpool fan on a long journey through the dark days of eighth place finishes. There are of course, plenty of other amazing redemption stories such as Salah coming back from last years final to score the opening goal, DIVOCK ORIGI, Robertson’s rise through the football ladder to get here, Trent’s hometown hero story, and many many more.
We achieved the glory reds, it is ours. Now, just like the team itself, we soak it in and then start to look forward to further challenges and glories next season. What a time to be a Liverpool fan.
Still debating the penalty
do sympathise over the handball but to look at it from the other perspective:
It’s irrelevant what he was trying to do, but Sissoko deliberately chose to have his arm raised in the box. The ball wasn’t smashed into his arm, it was an attempt at a looped cross and he moved his arm towards it once it was played, this is also quite deliberate though I will accept that the movement is possibly instinct. Sissoko gained an advantage by having his arm in that unnatural (deliberate) position; it hit his armpit, then his arm and meant he took possession instead of the cross going past him or hitting him then landing wherever it would’ve had it not hit his hand.
Peter Walton in the studio had no doubt it was a penalty. I’ve always imagined those TV referees are asked to stir up drama when possible so feel like perhaps it was just a fair call. That’s not to mention that VAR felt no need to overrule the referee once it reviewed the decision.
Deserving of nothing
In Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood responds to a dying Gene Hackman’s statement “ I don’t deserve to die like this!” with “Deserves got nothing to do with it!”
Same in football – deserves got nothing to do with it! In finals, you win or lose, regardless of who ‘deserved ‘ it more. As a Liverpool fan, the final was excruciating to watch, we were poor, Spurs edged it throughout and if the balance of play counted for anything, they deserved it. In 2007, IMHO we deserved to win ‘on the balance of play’, but Milan got revenge for 2005, when, on the balance etc etc, they deserved it. Last year, we deserved it, bossing the game until the judo throw on Salah and still being right in it after that but losing to a worldie and two goalkeeper errors.
Liverpool didn’t ‘deserve’ anything out of their season – no team does – but did deserve to be in the final, because, we won the semi-final. That’s it. And we deserved to finish second in the PL, because we got the second highest points total. That’s all the deserve their was.
Like they say in the NFL; “Just win, baby!” – it doesn’t matter how. If you win, you deserve it. End of.
Colin ( deserving LFC fan since ‘75) NZ
Waiting for Napoli
So, De Laurentiis promised a good news on Monday.
Too bad his Monday hasn’t ended yet.
Am I missing something?
A Confused Neapolitan
We have seen Arsenal have their season reviewed so now time for another London sides.
Expectations: Top 4, Final of Europa, latter stages of FA, Carabao
Finished: 3th (A), Winners of Europa (A+), 5th round (D) and Finalist (C)
Performance Score: 4/5 – We came third behind the two best teams in the UK, Won a European cup and if some goalkeeping antics hadn’t happened may have won League Cup, losing to THAT United side a bit of a disappointment
Transfers in: Higuain (F), Kovacic (C), Jorginho (C), Rob Green (C), Kepa (B)
Transfers out: Courtois (A), Cesc (D), Morata (D) and 10,432 loans
Transfer score: 2.5/5 – Higuain was a complete disaster, Green did his job, Kepa had a great debut season, Jorginho despite critics had a solid season, Courtois had to go, Cesc we never truly replaced and would have been nice to see him stay, Morata did well on loan but didn’t work out at Chelsea.
On pitch performance: 3/5 – This is where it gets difficult, despite the 3rd place and the Europa League, we never truly looked a strong or threatening team this season, likely due to a change of style but it felt if Hazard didn’t have one of his incredible games then we were never going to win, defeats to Bournemouth and City were embarrassing, however there were a fair few glimpses when it worked that we could play some truly lovely football.
Manager: 3/5 – Sarri delivered top 4, won a trophy and yet he never really clicked with the majority of fans, his tactics were quite set in stone, same substitutions, no plan B, players such as RLC and CHO not starting till the end of the season, all of which has probably resulted in our board happily letting him leave for Juventus, his debut season was certainly a success, but sadly the experiment doesn’t seem to be long term, but then again long term and Chelsea don’t go together.
Positive performers: Hazard, Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek, Kepa, Giroud
Poor performers: Higuain, Willian, Marcos Alonso
Overall: 4/5. Overall it is a successful season, next season will be huge with the departure of Hazard and yet another new manager, be it Lampard, Allegri, Nuno or whoever decides to take the hotseat, then we have the potential Transfer Ban, Chelsea is certainly not going to be a boring place this summer.
What we need: Depending on the transfer ban, whoever takes over needs to look at bringing in a proven goalscorer, a left back and a winger or two due to the age of Pedro/Willian.
Mikey, CFC (It is going to be Mourinho the Third isn’t it?)
I see yet another AKB has written in with the idiotic, banal and dishonest assertion that Wenger “worked miracles” to keep Arsenal in the Top 4 after the stadium move. Ok just one last time: Arsene Wenger has the 4th largest wage bill in English football and was finishing….4th! 🙄. So the bare minimum.
Pochettino has persistently had a wage bill ranging from 80%-50% lower than Arsenal’s and has finished above them virtually every season for the past four seasons. Miracle? Try Diego Simeone beating both Barca and Madrid to La Liga title, despite a wage bill lower than QPR! Or, try Ranieri winning the PL title with a first eleven that cost less than the pathetic Mesut Ozil. Or try Mourinho winning the CL with Porto. Please don’t try and revise history and make out that a serial Loser, is actually, a winner!
“Working miracles” is losing 8-2 at Old Trafford, losing 10-2 to Bayern, losing 6-0 at Chelski, losing a cup final to a relegated team, not managing a Europa final even, and paying Ozil double Hazard’s wages, when he isn’t half the player!
Stewie Griffin (“worked miracles” by getting 3 Vimtos for the price of 2. You know, even though that’s what the offer sticker said 🙄)