In the larger picture, Liverpool fans had high hopes for this Liverpool side, thinking it a solid foundation with a world class manager. A side that, if it could be kept together and added to and given time to grow might one day compete for the top trophies.
Nobody, though, was honestly expecting for that to happen this year. There may have been hope, as there always is, but there was no real expectation. And even Virgil van Dijk seems a little surprised by how well things have worked out since he arrived.
“Obviously when you come you hope for the best, especially when you come in the middle of the season,” he told broadcaster Viasport following Wednesday’s match—a loss on the night but a score that sees them into the Champions League final on aggregate.
“You want to get in and settle as quickly as possible,” continued the towering Dutch centre half. “So to get the Champions League final straight away, it’s almost a joke! You can’t really describe it to be fair, it’s just incredible.”
Incredible and more than a little thanks to Van Dijk’s arrival, with Liverpool having looked an increasingly solid side defensively—Wednesday’s goal-fest with Roma aside—since he made his £75M switch from Southampton to Liverpool.
And while there will be some concern over how nervous Liverpool looked at times at the back, it has to be remembered that it was one game, one night, and that for the majority of 2018 this Liverpool side have looked improved at the back.
Given how good they already looked it attack, that’s all it’s taken to accelerate things—to take this from a promising, potentially foundational side to one already competing for the game’s top trophies.
When you think about it, it really is incredible. And what might be even more so is that this still remains a side with room to grow, to be improved, and to develop into something even more special in the years to come.