What. A. Season. It was pretty widely regarded that this year would be a success if we finished in top four and with some kind of silverware. With one of those objectives officially obtained on Sunday after defeating Brighton at Anfield, all eyes will turn towards the Champions League final in two weeks. That isn’t to say, though, that boss Jürgen Klopp wasn’t effusive in his praise of the day.
“Perfect final day of the season, of a very exciting season, a very intense season,” said Klopp following the match. “We showed again the kind of football we couldn’t show in the last few games because the boys are humans not machines.
“Flying through Europe, playing there, coming then to playing Everton, playing West Brom, playing Stoke, playing Chelsea, all that stuff - it’s really, really hard. I am so pleased and so happy for the boys that they showed up today again after one week of training, [at] not the highest intensity of course, just the things we thought make sense, and then having a game like this is really nice.”
It was pretty apparent last week during the defeat to Chelsea that Liverpool were not playing at even 75%, and the rest from this week worked wonders on the stretched thin squad. Even with the absence of James Milner, Liverpool looked at their sharpest and most deadly - and the scoreline proved it. One of the highlights, though, was young Dominic Solanke finally shaking whatever juju it was that was keeping him from scoring to get his first one. Shame it had to happen during the last game of the season, but so it goes.
“For Dom, we are so happy to have him but the season is long [with] ups and downs for a young player, especially if you don’t play often, that’s how it is,” Klopp continued. “The start was brilliant and then he had no chance to play because the other boys played fantastic and then he was a little bit in this kind of a hole. Since three or four weeks he is back and it is really nice to see him.
“Today he showed it, the game started difficult, little slip there and losing balls and things like that, a big chance - and then he was involved in nearly all the dangerous situations. It was really nice and the goal was then, I didn’t see it back until now, but it looked like it was quite a good one and I am happy for him. He had a big smile on his face after the game. Well deserved.”
Of course, none of this was the news of the day. As expected, Mohamed Salah broke the 38 game Premier League goal record today, scoring his 32nd in the league and setting a new standard for attackers everywhere. Even if he tried to make himself like other, more central strikers.
Klopp went on, saying: “I think especially the last few weeks were really difficult. We all can imagine how it would be if everybody tells you every day how brilliant you are and they not only say you are brilliant, they give you an Oscar - an award for this, award for that, award for getting out of the car without an accident! So it’s really difficult to stay focused and he is focused.
“The game today, for him as well, didn’t start well. I said to him ‘you are not Rondon, you are not other central strikers, you cannot always try to wrestle with the opponent, you need to move’ and he did that and then he is really difficult to defend.
“He has played this season, which is outstanding, but he is young enough and has enough potential to improve - that’s really good news for all of us and for him as well. There is still work to do and I’m really happy about that.”
There are thirteen days now to rest and retrain for the Champions League final, and if we saw today what a week of rest can do for this team. Look the fuck out Real Madrid.