I’m still finding it difficult to believe what happened last night. At 2-0 and 3-1 we seemed dead and buried but the players still believed and in the end they overcame one of the best 5 teams in Europe. People have commented on the similarity with the performances against Olympiacos, AC Milan and West Ham but I see one significant difference. Those unlikely come-backs were inspired by one man, Stevie G who produced unbelievable performances rallying the other players behind him. Last night we did not have a Stevie G on the pitch. Indeed over the past 3 seasons we have lost our three talismatic players, Carra, Suarez and Stevie himself.
Not only have we lost those players but we have recruited in quantity if not always in quality, with 6 or seven new players arriving each season. Consequently performances and results have been erratic to say the least as players have failed to settle in or have required time before beginning to show their best form. Add to that a catalogue of injuries and it is hardly surprising we have struggled.
The arrival of Jurgen Klopp gave us all hope and although there was no instant miracle he has gradually restored self belief in the players and has, after six months, got most of them playing to their potential. What gives me the greatest hope for the future is that we had no talisman on the pitch last night, nobody who dragged the others on to unimagined heights. It was a collective effort by all the players. No longer are we reliant on one or two exceptional players to lift our performances, everyone is chipping in. For example in the last 2 games we have had 6 different scorers. That’s not to say we don’t have some exceptional players, Coutinho on his day, Sturridge when fit and potentially Can, Firmino and Origi. But if any one of them was missing we would not expect our performances to nose-dive.
There are very exciting times ahead and with a few strategic high quality acquisitions in the summer who knows where we might be this time next season.