When Jürgen Klopp took over an ailing Liverpool following Brendan Rodgers’ abrupt sacking back in October 2015, few would have foreseen the club’s soaring ascent to the highest echelons of the world football pecking order.
From a foundation which included the likes of Joe Allen, Christian Benteke, and Simon Mignolet as regular starters, the German has constructed a side which has already reached two continental finals in its previous two full European campaigns, with only a two-legged tie against Barcelona standing in the way of them making it a perfect three-from-three.
The League might be out of our hands but will we win the European Cup?
That many supporters will go into the first-leg of that double-header with the Catalan giants under the impression that the Reds are favourites proves just how rapidly the club has risen since Klopp’s arrival.
Under the stewardship of Luis Enrique, Barcelona won the 2015 Champions League by beating Juventus in the final in Berlin. A couple of weeks prior, meanwhile, Liverpool were beaten 6-1 away at Stoke City in what was the beginning of the end for Rodgers, and a damning indictment of the squad that slumped to a sixth-place finish.
For half a decade, the selection of clubs sitting at the top of the European standings has largely remained the same. Only Barcelona and Real Madrid have lifted the European Cup since 2014. Juventus have appeared in two finals. The likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain have spent lavish amounts in their pursuit of a place at the top of the pecking order, but have thus far failed to even get close.
Only Liverpool are breaking the mould.
“We must turn from doubters to believers,” the former Klopp decreed in his first interview as the club’s new manager. Most were open to the notion of increased positivity after the 15 vapid months which were the end of Rodgers’ reign, but nobody was expecting to seriously challenge on this scale. Certainly not so quickly.
Through a combination of a uniquely intense style-of-play, a succession of transfer market hits, and a clamorous home crowd, Liverpool have quickly become arguably the most feared team in European competition and (almost) invincible in the Premier League.
Make no mistake, Liverpool are one of the two best sides to ever compete in the Premier League in its 27-year history. Unfortunately for us, the other one just so happens to also exist at this exact moment.
But the perception that Manchester City are infallible, and will canter to victory in their final three league matches without breaking sweat, is demonstrably incorrect. Guardiola’s men will of course be expected to persevere against Burnley, Leicester, and Brighton, but they have already stumbled to a trio of defeats against some of the division’s also-rans. It is unlikely to happen again, sure, but their previous for this kind of thing gives hope.
And so, why doubt? Why not believe instead? This glorious group of footballers of ours have defied the odds on so many occasions so far this campaign, whether it be by coming from behind to win against Southampton, securing a stoppage-time winner against Spurs, or scoring seven goals in their two European knockout matches away from home.
These players aren’t about to stop believing. Neither is the manager. All they ask of you is a few more weeks of raucous support. Just give them it. Give them it and let’s all see where we end up.
Liverpool might not prevail in the Premier League. They might not get over the line in the Champions League. But they’ll be going into May with a very realistic shot at winning them both.
So for now, keep believing in it. They’ve been brilliant so far, and could still turn all our biggest dreams into reality.
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