Naby Keita scored a cracker and it was just like old times with fireworks on and off the pitch for Liverpool’s coronation, but Jurgen Klopp may be waiting for a good party to see if his team can match United’s count
In many ways, it felt like it used to. Outside Hotel Anfield, a hub that jumps on match days, they sang their songs and enjoyed the battle of old rivals.
A giant television screen had been set up for the locals, and when West Ham took the lead in Old Trafford, the cheers were long and loud. But not as loud as when the two executive buses with the Champions came into view. This was what they wanted to see.
There were torches and fireworks, and red plumes of smoke were a color of color before Liverpool’s arrival. It was in stark contrast to a month earlier, when Jurgen Klopp’s side faced Crystal Palace and hardly a soul was around.
What Klopp would have made of the scene after urging Liverpool fans to take social distance, stay safe and stay at home can only be suspected, but there must have been some disappointment.
However, he wouldn’t think about it. Klopp had a team to prepare for an evening of tremendous importance and when the match started it felt like old times too. Chelsea cheerfully arrived at Anfield, but a red tide had swept over them within 35 minutes.
If Liverpool had been a bit bland in recent weeks and dropped some unexpected points, the zip and fizz was back, epitomized by the fantastic Naby Keita; Klopp had said that he was “in full competition mode” for this match and that attitude had gone down on his team.
Keita was signed two years ago to provide dynamism from the midfield and this was really the first time we saw him the fireworks that were seen so regularly for RB Leipzig. His goal, smashed into the bottom of the Anfield Road End crossbar, suited the occasion.
If Liverpool had been at their coronation in anything but their best, Klopp would have cooked to see Chelsea spiders to the left and right. It is worth noting that he prepared for this season 367 days ago with a game against Sevilla in Boston.
However, the color and football distorted. This really didn’t look like old times. The empty stands and the expansive fences all around reminded you once again that this is an unprecedented period.
When Liverpool last won the league title, on a balmy Tuesday evening in May 1990, the stadium was packed, the Cup paid an emotional tribute to Kenny Dalglish in what was the last game of his career and a nasty game against Derby County ended in a 1-0 victory.
Yes, it was a party, but it all felt very routine – Alan Hansen’s trophy lift, the lap of honor at the end; Liverpool won the title every other year, so why should there ever be a fuss?
This celebration should have been different. Despite all the razzatazz, the music and pyrotechnics – over £ 100,000 worth of fireworks would explode when Jordan Henderson reprized the role of Hansen – you couldn’t miss the feeling that something was missing.
Klopp has made it clear that there will be a good celebration when the time is right and the authorities allow it, but you’re wondering if he’s planning on planning 12 months, so it coincides with Liverpool retaining this title .
Only then, if Liverpool go ahead and win their 20th title – don’t underestimate how much this squad wants to equal United’s count – will it really feel like old times.