One of the things oft bandied as Liverpool struggled to work their way out of the wilds from the end of the Hicks and Gillett/Hodge Podge Era was that Liverpool lacked a substantive style. Which is true, I suppose, if you consider that the dour football played during that time - and typified by the signings of the likes of Christian Poulsen - was somehow an accident and not at least partially intended. However, I have come here not to diss that time, but to bury it. Because we have emerged from that period and stand in the midst of an auspicious occasion with Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpressing Liverpool visiting the Etihad in search of a ticket to the next round of the Champions League.
In the short time that Klopp has been at the helm, we have seen quantifiable progression not merely in results, but in instituting a frenetic, attacking style that is both pleasing to the eye and notoriously founded on increased work rate. A seemingly perfect fit for a city that birthed The Beatles and is historically known as a working class haven. Ahead of the most important match to date, Jurgen Klopp seems intent on maintaining that melding of style and intensity.
“First of all, I’m not interested in these kinds of labels – favourites and underdogs. It is common sense to say if you play in the Champions League [knockout] stage against the winners of the Premier League, that you are not the favourite. That’s what we were last week. For me, the whole game is about these two legs, so I am not interested in what changed.”
It appears that while Liverpool are fully aware of - and prepping for - a talented Manchester City side that has no choice but to try to lead with the pointy end in search of goals, the gaffer isn’t quite content with merely parking a bus in search of a result. This Liverpool side - from the manager down to the members on the bench - believe their rightful place is next to Europe’s elite. How long have fans waited for not only the opportunity to test this hypothesis, but for a squad to embody that belief so thoroughly in its game play? Come Tuesday, while Liverpool’s heavy metal football will hopefully turn out to be a cacophony to a reeling, but capable City squad, Reds fans are equally hopefully that this next movement will be the capper to an exquisite symphony conducted by Maestro Klopp. Sweet, sweet music to our ears.