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How’s Your Bottle, Reds?

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As the hours slowly tick down, a reflection on recent seasons and what could be for Liverpool.

Previews - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

I’m glad I’m not out there on the pitch tonight.

If our lads are Mentality Giants™, I’m anything but. I get panic attacks in a room over six strangers. Performing on the biggest stage of world football? Forget about it.

Like many of you, I couldn’t sleep last night, with dreams of the greatest glory competing for space in my excitable, overactive imagination with my worst nightmares.

As I said, glad I’m not out there.

I’d likely boot it into my own net, or ask Jan Vertonghen to kindly poke me square in the eye, just to know that the worst thing that could happen already had.

Of course, we expect more from our players. And of course, we’ve seen more from our players.

However, there is an added dimension that I didn’t fully feel until now: the weight of fear and expectation. If you lose a Champions League final to Real Madrid, regardless of the circumstances, it’s one of those. We were just happy to be there last year, and a win would have been the huge and unexpected cherry on top of a fantastic ride. That’s where Spurs are these days.

We know what our team can do when they’re at their free-flowing, attacking best. We know that we don’t need the lucky breaks to run this Spurs side clean off the pitch. We know that we just need to see a similar performance to either of the wins in the league this season to put us in good stead at the final whistle. This knowledge should be a comfort, but it’s actually quite the opposite.

It feels like we need to get this one over the line. How many times can Jurgen Klopp possibly work a miracle? To continually use past disappointments to push the lads to bigger and better things? It doesn’t get much bigger than a 97-point league campaign and entering the Champions League final as favorites. Even with a similar, mad, the-football-gods-must-be-against-us final this year, I don’t know how we push on next year.

For a little over a decade, this has been a club of Nearly Good Enough. Three close-run league campaigns, this year’s being the best and most tragic example. Two Champions League final losses—and a Europa League cup final to boot. We’ve lost an FA Cup and League Cup final in recent years, and several other semi-final exits along the way. With a different bounce of the ball or a different referee, here or there, we’d be talking about Jordan Henderson as one of the most decorated club captains, winning everything there is to win. We’d be talking about FSG as the greatest owners in world football. We’d, somehow, speak in even more glowing terms about Kloppo.

We saw last year just how cruel the football gods can be. For the opening 25 minutes, Liverpool were taking the game to the European champions. The opening goal for Liverpool was coming. We could feel it. We all know what happened next.

None of that matters tonight.

Tonight, we have the opportunity to change the narrative. To win that first major honor under both Klopp and Hendo. Naturally, Spurs will be thinking the same with their manager and captain.

The nerves have set in properly. My heart is racing while sitting on my couch. And I know this feeling is only going to get worse as the clock slowly ticks by.

I’m glad I’m not out there on the pitch tonight.

Up the fucking Reds.