Liverpool are the maddest side in the world!
While you’ve all been toasting to another incredible European night in Liverpool and sleeping off the after effects of a game like that, I’ve had all day to think about it.
I’ve been sat in Melbourne, thinking! All day! In fact since 4am this morning when I dragged myself out of bed (on my day off) to watch the mighty boys in red!
My first thought was, “what a great side we’d put out. What a gang of lads.” I thought that while I poured the first of many coffees today. I thought that before kick off. On paper, what a side.
As I sat huddled on the couch in the darkness of the Melbourne dawn, I watched us feel Roma out. For the first twenty, it was pretty even. We were sussing them out, and they were probably surprised we hadn’t come at them yet. But it’s a Champions League semi-final, you aren’t supposed to blow teams away.
Then it went mad – two missed Mane chances and yet it never crossed my mind that it was going to be ‘one of them nights’. We were getting close, ramping up the pressure. And then he steps up, Mo Salah, and puts it in the one place their imperious keeper couldn’t get it. Mo can do that to you. Mo will do that to you. Then he did it again with the cheekiest of dinks. The ball trickled over the line, but it was always crossing that line.
At half time I thought long and hard about what we needed to do. I made my second coffee and I thought. I wanted us to come out and put it to bed. You know what, we did. We put it to bed with relentless tempo and pressure which turned their defence into mush. They had no idea how to handle us. Their defence spent all of last year playing with Mo, and they had no idea. Next thing I know, next thing they know, its 5-0 and the tie is all but buried. There aren’t enough words to praise us. Gini is breaking lines everywhere, Milner is relentless and Henderson is endlessly marshalling the troops. He’s barking orders, winning the ball and leading by example the way a captain should.
At 5-0 I started thinking again now that the madness had subsided for a minute. I started thinking like Liverpool fans do, because we’ve seen it all. We’re 5-0 up in the European Cup semi final and all I can think is, DON’T CONCEDE!
Inevitably, we concede. Our best player goes off and we concede. Then we concede again, an unlucky penalty. We are three goals to the good but they’re back in it. We’ve given them hope. Thats all I can think. We’ve scored five goals in a Champions League semi-final and I’m worried that we’ve opened the door and welcomed them back to the party.
It’s madness, it’s negative, and it’s not at all reasonable. But Liverpool are none of the above.
I thought I’d seen it all. Coming back from three goals down in Istanbul, last minute 30 yard screamers in the FA cup final, the 13/14 run in with an agonisingly leaky defence and Dortmund in the Europa League. There’s enough madness in there to last a lifetime. Yet, it continues. And long may it do so. I love the madness. For Liverpool fans it’s part of the journey. It wouldn’t be a fruitful campaign without some absurd carrying on. Imagine if we cruised through to the final – we might as well not bother. We thrive in the adversity and laud our underdog status. Conquering Europe when no one thinks we can.
Now we’re going to Rome with our backs to the wall. Quite literally from what I’ve heard. But that’s how we like it. Something to play for, something to chase, a pre-ordained set of circumstances. If they don’t score, they can’t win. If we score, it gets pretty difficult for them to win.
There’s a lot of thinking going on. I’ve thought all day. I can’t see us going to Rome without Mo Salah scoring. I don’t think he leaves the Stadio Olimpico without slotting one home. That should be enough. But as we all know, we don’t like to make it easy, we aren’t a ‘cruisey’ side. We’re relentless and a bit mad. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we have to fight until the very end.
There’s only two things that are certain. Next Thursday morning I’ll be sat on my couch before the sun comes up watching the reds. Thats one thing. The next is that the reds will be in Rome to win. Thats the only way we know how to do things. Full steam ahead and on the march to Kiev.