Brilliant average? Two words that hang heavy over Liverpool’s red side, but that’s the situation the Anfield club could find themselves in if they lose this Saturday’s FA Cup final to Chelsea.
Of course, a triumphant Champions League final in Paris on May 28 would silence the naysayers regardless of what happens this weekend, but with Manchester City the favorites to end the Premier League title race, a defeat in Wembley this weekend will be putting enormous pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s men who could potentially end the 2021/22 season with just a League Cup to show their efforts.
It’s a ridiculous thought really and that doesn’t take anything away from the Carabao Cup, but the reality is that after the brilliance of that campaign – indeed ten months that shaped the club – you come out with so little on the other side, actually an average season, is an almost unbearable thought.
That is the nature of the current situation in England and across Europe. Liverpool is obviously one of the top teams but Manchester City has a better current CV. Real Madrid, who are set to meet Liverpool in Paris, have the biggest European pedigree of them all and seem almost destined to win their 14th European Cup. And Chelsea just seem to be keeping up so well with their rivals, having drawn three times this season – the 0-0 Carabao Cup final was as thrilling a game as we’ve seen this season, right down to Liverpool’s win in a penalty shootout.
That’s why there are so many FA Cup final drives for Liverpool. Adding an eighth FA Cup trophy to the cabinet would take some of the pressure off the club ahead of the Champions League final as a domestic cup double is not to be scoffed at. And once history takes into account the quality of football the team played, in many ways a transformative kind of football, this Liverpool side will be fondly remembered.
This recognition is important. After all, Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool won a treble of the cup – the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup – in the 2000/01 season. However, perhaps wrongly, the footballing world regards that feat as ‘Mickey Mouse treble’ and certainly Houllier’s Reds were not known for the style of their football – far from it.
These ingredients add to what should be an intense affair on Saturday. Considering Chelsea are a club – and more importantly a fan base – that deserve good news, the FA Cup offers great medicine. Blues fans have seen their club’s existence in jeopardy in recent months due to the sanctions imposed on Russian owner Roman Abramovich and the resulting suspension of all club accounts. A new owner – American Todd Boehly – appears to the knight in shining armor who rides in to save the Knightsbridge Club, but these were some worrying times.
With a Premier League title and a Champions League trophy alongside this year’s League Cup, Klopp has brought back the days of victory to a Liverpool club that fell hard and fast from their glory days of the ’70s and ’80s. But compared to, say, a Chelsea club that have had two European Cups and numerous Premier League crowns over the past two decades, would that be enough to qualify as a truly legendary period?
No, only trophies are enough.
The promise of something really amazing is still up in the air, but that’s what it does awesome average Anvil.