The Godfather of Liverpool, Bill Shankly, and his famous Boot Room may have long gone, title winning bosses Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan too.
What they’d make of Jurgen Klopp’s astonishing charge to glory this season is anyone’s guess. But they’d know for sure Klopp is shaping the future exactly as they did in the club’s glorious past.
Anfield saw Liverpool’s quadruple bid badly dented by a Tottenham team belligerently refusing to be lambs to the slaughter. Son Hueng-min’s second half goal was a dagger to Liverpool’s hearts and must have had Pep Guardiola dancing around his TV.
But Luis Diaz breathed life into the stadium with an equaliser that produced a roar surely heard in Manchester. That triggered a monumental effort by Liverpool to somehow conjure a winner on a night when big guns like newly crowned Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane just couldn’t find a killer touch.
It’s not over of course, but for now Target Treble seems a more realistic end to an amazing season. If the big prize is gone, Klopp knows it’ll take every bit of quality, class and focus for his Kop stars to pull off a three cup haul.
The biggest ingredient of all having got this far will be Lady Luck. Apart from a handy deflection off Rodrigo Bentancur for the equaliser from Diaz, luck deserted the German coach and his players last night.
Tottenham had a hand in that, of course, with a courageous display to surely bury their infamous ‘Spursy’ tag once and for all with a show of ballsy guts and determination. Chasing down Manchester City, Klopp and his men have been playing without a safety net in their pursuit of their 20th League title for a while.
Trying to predict where Liverpool might slip up has been a fruitless exercise especially as before Tottenham arrived they’d lost only two League games all season and three in total after a Euro defeat against Inter Milan. But this was always going to be a tough night – especially for expectant fans who had dared to dream of insane glory.
An evening game under the Anfield lights is always a trial for visiting teams but Tottenham, chasing a top four place, executed Antonio Conte’s game-plan superbly. Liverpool owned possession and created some half-chances. But Spurs carried a big threat on the break and Anfield held it’s breath when Son looked in on goal before Trent Alexander-Arnold closed the door.
And they could barely look just before half time when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg clipped the outside of the post with a shot that had beaten Alisson. It was hardly a shock for Tottenham to be party poopers as they chase their own top four finish.
Spurs have beaten Manchester City twice in the League this season and drew with Liverpool on their own patch. Son’s goal would have crushed lesser teams but not Liverpool.
And if this modern day Anfield machine do bag a treble it’ll be a feat which would surely make this Liverpool side maybe the finest the the club has ever seen. But what about Klopp himself?
The German is every bit the modern day manager. But he’s a throwback too. Cut from the same cloth as tough, wily Scot Shankly who shaped Liverpool’s story, he’s a winner with the same ruthless will to win as his forebear. Klopp’s legacy is already assured whatever happens in the next twenty days
A quadruple would have eclipsed the legendary Scotsman – and made Klopp arguably the greatest Liverpool manager of all time. But the bigger picture for Liverpool is still one of hope, optimism and huge expectation regardless of how many trophies they bank this season.
For now it’s advantage Guardiola and Manchester City. But in a crazy season that’s been full of surprises no one at Anfield or The Etihad dare blink. Over to you Pep.