What do you say about that? You can watch it as much as you want, analyse it as much as you want, critique it as much as you want. You can go over Roma’s poor defending, pillory Eusebio Di Francesco for freezing. You can proclaim that Roma won’t play like that next week and it’s possible that we may not either. You could say all of that and think too much into what you have just seen. But why would you? Why would you want to dilute the joy and pleasure Liverpool have just given you? Why wouldn’t you just want to take a minute to sit back and say “wow, fuck me”?
That’s what I didn’t do at first. I was too wrapped up in the two goals conceded. I was too worried about the clean sheet we’d just thrown away and the away goals that Roma can take home with home, cradling them like a new born baby in the hope they can another Barca trick. Is it possible? Of course it is. Is it likely? I think not. This is a different Liverpool side than the one that gave away that 3-0 lead in Seville. This Liverpool is stoic in resistance and unrelenting in defence. They have proven that enough times for me not to have to explain that to you, because you know that.
Then I realised what a joyless prick I was being. I had just witnessed one of the most devastating performances by any team in Europe but here I was, criticising us going to Rome with a three goal lead. Read that back – we go the home of an Italian side with a three goal lead. Why the fuck am I worrying?!
There is really no need to worry with this Liverpool team. If you have any negative feelings then you’re following the club lads. For this side is all about joy and happiness, and positive vibes man, and fluffy bunnies, and making you feel all the good things that life can give you. They do it by being the most devastating, annoying, fast, won’t-leave-you-alone, punch-you-in-the-face-and-rob-your-dinner-while-laughing gang of lads around. Yes, Roma froze, but we didn’t let up. We found a weakness and we exploited it again and again. We were relentless for seventy five minutes to the point that the opposition players were looking to their manager, asking him what the fuck was going on. He didn’t know what to do, of course. What can you do?
Rory Smith said on Twitter, “Roma know, I’d have thought, that Liverpool are a team that plays in surges. Ride out the next few minutes and that’s a major test passed.” They couldn’t though. The red machine clicked into gear and Roma shit themselves. The pace, the power, the intensity, the work rate, the fury. They simply couldn’t live with us.
Daniele De Rossi criticised us for playing long balls. Let’s get one thing clear – not one of goals was assisted by a long ball. Not. A. Single. One. Each of them was down to quality. Mo Salah personified that quality. The man is a genius. He has this uncanny ability to force defenders into silly decisions just by facing them up. Kostas Manolas did it yesterday by not showing him onto his right foot for the first goal and was duly punished. Juan Jesus allowed Salah to square him up on multiple occasions. Are we seeing the best player in the world at the minute? In my opinion, abso-fucking-lutely.
He deserves nights like these, we all do. Liverpool is a club that should always be in the Champions League. We need it, we thrive in it. No matter how bad a season we have domestically, you can always guarantee that there will be at least one night in Europe we can hang our hat on. These are the nights we live for, the nights of our lives, the nights we’ll tell our children and grandchildren about. My daughter was sat on the couch next me last night when Mo Salah’s first flew into the top corner of the Anny Road End net. I picked up her up, from a deadlift position, and threw her into the air and laughed in her face. That is the joy that European nights inspire in me personally, the fear of hurting my kids by lashing them against the ceiling is no more.
There is still a job to do in Rome next week not to mention the fact that two of Europe’s modern heavyweights are slugging it out in the other semi-final. But honestly, fuck that for now. Because nights like these don’t come along often. We may never see another player like Mo Salah in a Liverpool shirt again. So enjoy it, drink it in, savour everything you are seeing before your eyes. In five weeks, there could be another night that we’ll be throwing our kids in the air on.