Another season that looked to be shaping up to be memorable for Liverpool fans is now on the verge of being remembered for reasons more melancholic than joyous. The Reds have come close to winning numerous trophies over the past 10 years, but have been denied cruelly each time.
There was the now infamous slip from captain Steven Gerrard that sealed a defeat to Chelsea in the 2013-14 season when they lost the title to Manchester City by two points. That episode was preceded by five years by Federico Macheda’s heroics for Manchester United; another season that Liverpool finished second in the Premier League. Just last year, Liverpool made it to the final of the Champions League only for talisman Mohamed Salah to go down to injury 25 minutes into a scoreless match.
The Reds finished fourth, 25 points behind first-place Manchester City, and reinforced in the summer. Jurgen Klopp’s philosophies were ingrained more deeply into the side and yet, despite all the stellar work they have done, they look set to go trophy-less again.
Manchester City handed the 18-time top-flight winners their only loss in the league and are two points clear with two matches left in the season and Lionel Messi, who looks relentless in his search for a fifth Champions League title, all but put Liverpool’s European hopes to bed in Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat.
Klopp drew on the positives as he does, saying he did “not know if his side could play much better”. He made another observation, saying: “In the end, nobody is really interested -- probably only football nerds will think about it -- because it was about the result, and we lost 3-0.”
Klopp is not wrong. By many measures and the eye-test, his side had outperformed Barcelona at the Nou Camp. However, in terms of the only measure that really counts, they were down three to nothing.
It is very much their story of the season so far. They have amassed 91 points and could go on to finish on 97, a total that would have seen them win the title in each season since 2010 barring the 2017-18 one. There is a lot of pride that such a haul should instill in the players and fans, but looking back they will still be second-best.
The only silver lining is that they still have time to turn things around, however unlikely that may seem.
Barcelona threw away a three-goal lead in the Champions League last year and Liverpool, with Anfield behind them, will certainly be hopeful of a ‘remontada’ against the Spaniards. They will also be hopeful that the so far imperious Manchester City will slip up against Leicester City or Brighton.
It is quite absurd that after all Liverpool have done this season, the only thing they have left to rely on is hope that their opponents stumble, but that is the reality they are faced with. Unless that happens, they must satisfy themselves with a Champions League spot, something they could have attained while finishing fourth, minus the heartbreak.
The heartbreak of it all fans and the club should be able to deal with. They have come on in leaps and bounds this season in challenging a Manchester City team that is nearly flawless and the prospect will be much the same again next year, except City will certainly reach into their bottomless pockets and strengthen again.
Even the heartbreak posed by the outlook of Liverpool not winning anything again this year can be offset by the strides that the club has made on the pitch, coupled with the exciting brand of football they play week in and week out -- meaning things are likely to change sooner rather than later.