Liverpool ready for new golden era
LONDON – Agence France-Presse
For the first time in 11 years, Liverpool has reached the showpiece of Europe’s elite club competition as a dramatic 4-2 defeat against Roma in May 2’s semifinal second leg clinched an incredible 7-6 aggregate success.
Rome was the perfect setting for Liverpool’s return to splendor after the Eternal City played host to the club’s 1977 and 1984 European Cup triumphs.
And it would be fitting for the 50-year-old German to enjoy a breakthrough moment at the same age as the godfather of the modern Liverpool.
Bill Shankly was also 50 when the first truly iconic manager in Liverpool’s illustrious history served notice he had created a burgeoning dynasty on Merseyside.
Under the Scottish manager, Liverpool became English champion in 1964 after a 17-year gap.
Liverpool won the title three times under Shankly and also collected two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup -- the club’s first European trophy -- as his magnetic personality and fierce will to win fulfilled his dream of turning the club into “a bastion of invincibility.”
Building on the foundations put in place by Shankly, Liverpool went on to dominate Europe for the next decade.
“I thought Shankly was a one-off, but then I’d have to say that Klopp is the nearest thing,” Clemence said.
“The relationship Klopp has with the players and fans, it is exactly what Shankly had.
“He pulled the club together so it was one strong unit and Klopp has revived that.”
Liverpool has gone 28 years without winning the English title, a barren run that has often seen the club written off as a faded force rendered obsolete by the vast wealth of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Aside from Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Jamie Carragher, the heroes of Istanbul were largely inconsistent journeymen. Liverpool finished a whopping 37 points behind Premier League champion Chelsea that year.
Gerrard, who captained Liverpool to that 2005 victory, said Klopp has made the difference: “This manager has got them flying, if they go one step further this could be the start of something special. I think they’re on the verge of something really good.”
Liverpool is one of only two teams to inflict a league defeat on City this season, a 4-3 victory at Anfield that saw Pep Guardiola’s defense torn apart by the rampant Reds.
With 43 goals and 15 assists in 49 appearances in all competitions, Egypt winger Salah has been the driving force behind Liverpool’s renaissance.
The German has astutely deployed the majestic 25-year-old in a role that allows him to do damage from both wide and central areas as part of a three-pronged attack alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Klopp has already proved he can overthrow an established superpower after leading Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title despite the constant threat from Bayern Munich.