The guard of honour is one of those weird football traditions that has become symbolically important.
The gist, for those of us who support Liverpool and thus haven’t seen it happen for us before: in a team’s first away game after being confirmed champions, the opposition players applaud them onto the pitch. It’s a nice touch, as one might say.
Liverpool’s first away game after winning the league? None other than Manchester City. Since the guard of honour is more of a gentlemen’s agreement than a rule, there’s often some speculation that it won’t actually happen. But none other than the City manager Pep Guardiola put that to bed.
“Of course we are going to do it,” Sky Sports report Guardiola as saying. “We are going to do the guard of honour, of course.
“Always we receive Liverpool when they come to our house in an incredible way. They cannot complain and, of course, we are going to do it because they deserve it.
“It is so difficult to do what we have done in the most difficult league in the world but you cannot win all the time.
“There was one team that was exceptional and, when one team is exceptional, I say learn from them and congratulate them. It is simple. This team’s passion and desire, it is going and going and going again.”
As much as the rivalry in recent years between Liverpool and City is real, I can’t say I’ve ever really felt much animosity between Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp. To call them friends would probably be too strong a word, but there’s at least a sense of mutual respect there.
So Liverpool will be applauded onto the pitch by the whole Manchester City team when we visit the Etihad Stadium on Thursday. We all have that to look forward to.