On Sunday, Reds from all over the world watched as Liverpool collected their ninth League Cup, making them the club with the most wins in this particular tournament (Manchester City are now second on eight, with six of them having come in the past decade).
Being Liverpool, they didn’t do it the easy way.
Both teams had the chances to score in regular time, with the xG narrowly favoring the eventual winners. It felt narrow, and if Liverpool often had control bar the opening 15 minutes of each half, Chelsea were certainly not without chances. It was truly finger-biting stuff.
And then the pens. The pens. You’d think that no one’s nerves are built for 22 successive penalties — though, apparently, these two sets of professional footballers’ largely were built for it.
Not only did all of Liverpool’s players score their penalties, they were excellent pens (and we have helpfully rated the penalties for you elsewhere.)
We know Liverpool didn’t win the Cup the easy way, but what’s perhaps also important is that we didn’t win it the boring way, either. And the gloriousness of the narrative, the belief amongst the squad — that, more than anything, might define Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side. And that, I’ll argue, makes this win something of a characteristic football miracle.
Last December, an otherwise unnoteworthy Evertonian on Twitter going by “K” tweeted about what it’s like supporting the Toffees with Liverpool next-door:
They can have more enjoyable moments in a week of football than we’ve had in 30 years. Everton are the most miserable club to support. A combination of us being unable to have any high whatsoever compounded by them getting football miracles on a weekly basis season after season— K (@K00168516) December 23, 2021
K is right.
So many of our biggest moments* as a club are not simply because we’re better than our competition. Prior to the Klopp era, many of the best stories of following the club come specifically when we’re not the best. Take the most obvious miracle, for example:
The AC Milan side Gerrard’s Reds faced in the 2005 Champions League Final were one of the scariest teams on paper many of us could dream up — and they looked it. Liverpool should have had no chance, and for a while it certainly looked like it. But Liverpool Football Club loves nothing more than a football miracle.
And thus we got Istanbul, and European Cup number five, against all odds.
Of course, I’m in no way suggesting that winning a League Cup as the side likely favorites going in is anything like Istanbul.
The narrative of it, though, makes it something like one: Liverpool backed their young Irish goalkeeper even though they have one of the best ‘keepers in the world in their normal starting line-up.
The Reds’ coaching staff backed the young ‘keeper who carried the side to Wembley, and the football gods rewarded the narrative by having him score the winning penalty, the twenty-first penalty of the day. His opposite number missed the twenty-second.
The narrative being so perfect is, I would argue, one of these very characteristic Liverpool FC Football Miracles. Despite the horrid stress of it all, would any of us have it any other way?
Klopp’s Reds, more than anything else, are a squad who seem to insist on these football miracles through sheer force of will.
Divock Origi’s goal reel, including the incredible ones he scored in the early stages of the League Cup this season as well as his more famous strikes, is the stuff of the football miracle.
Mo Salah as a footballer is the embodiment of a football miracle.
The last time a Liverpool goalkeeper found the net — Alisson heading in the last minute against West Bromwich Albion to pull an injury-ravaged Liverpool into the European places — was most certainly a football miracle.
There are so many of them, large and small. They come almost on a weekly basis. They come with joy and will and fight.
They come with the same mentality that has so many of yesterday’s squad, mid-celebration, counting the cup they’ve won as “one of four.”
1/4. Hungry for more.. pic.twitter.com/tX9YgbJEgF— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) February 28, 2022
These players bring us miracles because they believe they deserve them. They believe we deserve them.
For the quality of this squad, one piece of silverware this season is probably not enough. This may be the most complete Liverpool squad there ever was; it certainly is in the modern era. The League Cup is not and should not be enough for them.
But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss it — and the narrative of how we got it — to move onto the next without first relishing it as our most recent football miracle.
*Interested in hearing more about Liverpool’s Football Miracles through time? The Anfield Wrap, who drew the tweet to our collective attention, have a (currently) eight-part series on it, which is accessible to subscribers here.