If there’s one club that knows success – especially of late – is defined by fine margins, it’s Liverpool. The trophy cabinet at Anfield has been replenished in recent years but it wouldn’t have taken much to magnify the scale of this revival.
In January 2019 there was John Stones’ goal-line clearance against the Reds which ultimately decided the Premier League title by literally millimeters. In just the last few weeks, two more goal-line escapades have helped determine his fate, with a Man City goalkeeper Ederson narrowly avoiding a goal-shooting disaster in a league tie against Liverpool, while another, the US starter Zack Steffen, who averted disaster He wasn’t so lucky in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat.
So while Liverpool remain on a historic quest – no English club have ever managed to quadruple, although some have come close – they must also recognize how fragile that quest is. The Reds have lost just three times in all competitions all season and one of those was the second leg of a Champions League game from which they advanced. It’s a season worthy of multiple titles, but there are no guarantees.
Liverpool already have the League Cup trophy in their hands and are clearly one of the top two teams in England, if not Europe. But the fine margins that have dictated the club’s trophy haul in the past could come into play again. Liverpool could rattle another hat-trick of cutlery and go down in history. Or it could end up being just what it already has, with little else tangible to offer for an otherwise sensational campaign.
Ahead of Tuesday’s showdown against Manchester United, Liverpool are just a point behind Man City, with the clubs on a path eerily reminiscent of their home haul in 2018/19, when they clashed result for result only for Liverpool to take a point landed behind the pace . At the end of the day, it could provisionally sit in first place. Based on the weekend’s results, Liverpool will face Chelsea for a chance to lift their first FA Cup since 2006 in a League Cup Final 22 rematch – a repeat of a goalless tie decided by an 11-10 penalty Penalty shoot-out which resulted in a penalty kick from a substitute goalkeeper. And if it gets past Unai Emery’s giant slayer Villarreal in the Champions League semifinals, it’ll play either City or Real Madrid for the Champions League title. It’s all there for a club whose stars have risen at different times and whose depth has been key to maintaining a first-class level of play throughout the season.
Scroll to Next
Regardless of the inner feelings, Jürgen Klopp does not publicly open up to the possibilities. Despite Liverpool’s promotion to the FA Cup final and the club’s proximity to Premier League and Champions League titles, the manager still sees the ultimate goal as something of a fantasy.
“You can mention whatever you want, but that doesn’t make it any more likely. You won’t get the answers you want from me. I think a game like today shows even more how unlikely it is to do something like that,” said Klopp about the quadruple quest after the 3-2 triumph on Saturday. “We’ve been through it now against City, which is incredibly difficult and intense, and in three days we’re playing Man United again who, with their three points today and the results from Tottenham and Arsenal, set the goal for the Champions League battle to be open all three. So they’ll be on the ball and it’s historically not a friendly.
“Then we play against Everton in a few days, in the situation they are in it will not be a friendly game. Then we’ll play Villarreal, it won’t be a friendly game. Then Newcastle and all that stuff, so it’s just incredibly intense and it’s really unlikely that the team will win every game. With the FA Cup final I think the Southampton game will now be postponed; If I’m 100% correct that means we play Southampton in the middle of the week so it’s really unlikely.
“But I don’t really care, to be honest; I could not. It’s just, let’s do it; Let’s try to win the next game and then we’ll see how we can recover in between – and then and then and all those things. We will see.”
It’s that first-things-first mentality that enables Liverpool to be so close to history. And Klopp speaks from experience. He knows first-hand better than anyone how little it takes for a valiant and well-deserved trophy hunt to be sorely missed.
More football coverage: