We Go Again

There was chaos in the air from the beginning. Starting with the still underexplained delay, and the absolutely horrid scenes of fans, especially children, being pepper-sprayed, nothing about the UCL final felt like it would follow a usual path. From some sources I have, it sounds like a lack of staff or planning is partially to blame, though why it led to such a use of force is beyond the pale and warrants a serious investigation. With the rough history Liverpool fans have gone through involving investigations and scrutiny, this deserves a fully transparent and impartial inquiry and then, amends and solutions must be provided. No real fan sets out to go to a final only to be left gasping for air or with burning eyes. Justice must be served as the facts present themselves and are revealed.

As to the game itself, it followed the same pattern of the other Liverpool finals this year: chances but no end product. Thibaut Courtois played the game of his life and was absolutely the difference in the match as he made several jaw-dropping stops, especially against Mane and then Salah. At times it seemed like His length stretched the entire area of the goal and despite constant pressure, he made one single goal stand up. Somehow, in 3 finals this season, Liverpool scored zero goals. This after scoring the most goals they’d ever managed in a full season. It’s both a matter of cup finals always being tighter affairs, bad luck and just the nature of how things unfold against top-quality opponents.

Some may point to this being a sign that perhaps Liverpool are due a bit of a refresh in attack and they may indeed get their wish. In the days to come, several players, most notably Mane, might reveal they have plans to move on. Such is the nature of all things. It has been a remarkable run for this group of players, most of whom have been together for over 4 years. Sports and life being what they are, things never last forever and it will be left to those who remain as well as arrive to carry on.

Rather than wallow in what could have been, I’d much rather reflect back on what a thrilling ride this season has been. In the end, you tip your cap to Real Madrid, how they always seem to be a team that can twist destiny to their will and to how they played their game plan to just about perfection the entire season. It certainly stings to come up agonizingly short in both the league and Champions league, but it beats the alternative of having nothing to play for. As Jurgen Klopp said earlier: “To win big, you risk losing big too.” I’ll take the risks every single day, even the big losses, because it means you’re in the games that really matter, trying to find your own version of destiny taking.

It’s worth remembering too that when this season started, many had written Liverpool off as already being yesterday’s team. With all the struggles of the previous season, from the injuries to the shocking losses, pundits had them pegged as maybe battling for 4th place at best. Man United were supposed to be the team to watch as well as Chelsea. Instead, both of those teams have gone through drastic shifts, some by forces of the political world, some by their own constant abject failures to sustain a culture. Yet, now, with the final ball kicked for a while, look at what this team has achieved: Maximum number of games, literally playing for every trophy until the final kick of the final whistle, and two trophies to celebrate. Any fanbase in the world would sign up for that regardless of expectation or ambition. When fans talk of just wanting to watch games that matter, Liverpool gave us that for the entire season.

In the coming days, a more full wrap-up will be forthcoming, especially as a clearer picture is shown about the comings and goings of the squad. But, for now, as a fan, all I can say is thank you for the adventures of this season. The highs and lows equally matter because they all balance out our experiences. If we never had to struggle, the victories wouldn’t taste as sweet. And if everything were simple or straightforward, how do they build for the challenges that lay ahead? It would have been a stellar ending to the season to finish it with another Champions League trophy, but next season isn’t far away and we go again.