When the revelry and elation surrounding Liverpool’s sixth European Cup victory eventually begins to subside, the gravity of what they have managed to achieve this season will start to register with all of those attached to this revitalized football club.
For now, every fan, player, coach, and director can sit back and bask in the glory of their triumph at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. However, behind the celebrations and beaming grins of Jurgen Klopp, there will a growing sense that this success must now usher in an era of big honours and real progress.
Yes, Manchester City will be a formidable opponent, but the Anfield faithful can take huge comfort from the fact that their club has made massive strides over the past few years. The position they are in now, on and off the field, could not be more different from their previous success in the Champions League 14-years ago.
In 2005, the miracle of Istanbul allowed for momentary wild celebrations and pride. Liverpool enjoyed their moment back in the sun as well as the admiration and envy of many. Yet it proved to be all too brief.
Through a variety of ultimately crippling factors, Liverpool’s fifth success in Europe’s premier competition did not go on to create a serious, lasting renaissance. It’s a lesson that everybody in a position of power and influence at Anfield must take heed of if they are to truly make the most of this seismic moment in their rich history.
Brian Reade’s excellent book on Liverpool’s turmoil under George Gillet and Tom Hick’s; An Epic Swindle; Forty-Four Months with a Pair of Cowboys, paints many a vivid picture of the amateurish financial planning that eventually forced the club’s former custodians to turn to a pair of Texan businessmen, who would go on to take Liverpool to the brink of administration.
One such anecdote is the tale of a handful of bewildered football tourists who rocked up at Anfield the day after Liverpool’s famous win in Istanbul, looking for a tour around the home of the new European Champions. They were to be turned away by frosty club staff, who advised them that the museum and stadium shop were in fact, closed for business.
This commercial infancy may have been excusable back in the 1980’s but this was 2005; the era of commerce and marketing in the game. It was clear that the club and its then owners, the Moores Family, were out of their depth and therefore incapable of grasping the opportunity put in their lap by Rafa Benitez’s Turkish miracle.
Champions League glory in 2005 was a clear sign that Liverpool had stumbled across a manager capable of wonderful things and worthy of financial backing. Yet it was left to be painfully ignored as the club wilted under the ownership of Gillet and Hicks.
Fast forward 14 years and the club has been transformed from those unhappy days. Victory over Spurs in Madrid on Saturday was the culmination of almost half a decade’s worth of stellar work on and off the pitch.
FSG have given Jurgen Klopp the resources to build a team capable of sustaining genuine challenges to win the game’s top prizes. Anfield has been renewed and expanded, whilst the club has become a commercial and financial behemoth; the seventh richest in world football.
A sixth European cup win massively lifts the mounting pressure on Klopp and this group of players. He has won that elusive first trophy and delivered on the highest stages of European football. But while that pressure has been banished; it has left in its place a new wave of expectation.
A club record 97 league points and consecutive Champions League finals will be tough acts to follow up in the coming campaigns. Throw in World record breaking profits and their bulging prize money booty of just over £250 million from this campaign and there will be vociferous demands from the terraces that this success is not only duplicated but in fact, bettered next season.
This is a whole new brand of pressure that Liverpool’s players are going to have to learn to live with. Fortunately, this time around the club’s foundations are intact and reinforced for this deluge of demand and expectation.
Via the infectious, wonderfully eccentric presence of their baseball cap-clad manager, coupled with the laser-guided transfer machinations of Michael Edwards; Liverpool have arguably never been better placed to build on their success. The mistakes made after 2005 serve as a warning for sure, but the sodden timbers of that failing infrastructure have been well and truly gutted.
A solid contingent of top-class players, well drilled and fully immersed in their responsibilities as Liverpool players, have left a lasting sheen of confidence from the fans, that this is a group on the cusp of something special. From the steely assurance provided by Alisson and Virgil van Dijk at the back, right the way through to the dynamic, industrious forward line, this is a team – in stark contrast to 2005 – in no immediate need of reconstruction.
There is now a core strength and maturing confidence to this football club. Yes, nothing is guaranteed for any side, but it must be a source of immense relief and joy for Liverpool fans to see their club on the right path and working towards brighter and bigger things.
That work now begins in earnest as the new European Champions look to supplant Manchester City at the summit of English football.
During his appearance on our Podcast this week, we asked Chris Waddle who was the most over rated player you played against?
We all nearly fell off our chairs when he gave his answer… 😮 pic.twitter.com/nWEkCacpCS
— Football Faithful (@FootyFaithful_) May 10, 2019