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On Success Without Trophies

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It’s the friends we made along the way, guys.

Liverpool v Everton - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It’s probably weird to be turning to Pep Guardiola to sum up Liverpool’s 2018-19 season. But we’re two games away from crowning a champion of one of two record-breaking clubs, and qualifying what success would look like for the uncrowned team was always going to be difficult.

“In my career as a manager, I have played against incredible sides and there are two that were ‘wow,’” Pep said during a press conference this weekend. “One is Barcelona with Luis Enrique, with Neymar, Messi, and Suarez up front — the other is this Liverpool.

“I think they are the best two sides I’ve faced as a manager. That’s why being there, with it in our hands, fighting against them until the end. Arriving at this stage, two games left with 92 points, after 100 points, being there, that is the most satisfaction I’ve had as a manager.”

It definitely was the most satisfying season we’ve had in recent years. This season has shone for a lot of us, sparking spectacular performances, thrilling final moments, and a team that we’re all helplessly smitten with. But there’s a significant chance that, even though we’re pressing Pep’s team and giving incredible chase, we’ll walk away from it with absolutely no silverware.

It’s going to come down to the wire, of course. It’s going to come down to City squaring up against Leicester today (and how many of us ever thought we’d cheer on Jamie Vardy?), and then us against Wolves and them against Brighton. And when the dust settles, there may be plenty of us who are going to consider the season, despite all its best and worst moments, a waste. Which, in the face of the facts of the season, really doesn’t seem right.

It’s going to be hard to forget the two last-minute Origi goals that won the games against Everton and Newcastle for us, for example. Or those games where our entire front line strolled past other teams’ defences as and when they pleased. Remember every heart attack that Alisson gave us in those first couple of games? And every assist that Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have racked up through the season?

Quantifying success when you’re talking about competitive sports is pretty easy. They hand out trophies and very large cheques for that kind of thing. But we have to look beyond that, because otherwise we’re all just going to end up as the cranks on Twitter, going on about diving and penalties and financial violations. Trophies are the culminations of a season of hard work, but the lack of a trophy doesn’t take anything (except a really shiny cup) away from what the team is trying to achieve. For this Liverpool team, that’s already in the bag: an incredible season that absolutely deserves to be celebrated. And once that celebration is done, we go again for gold both in the Premier League and in Europe.

Whatever happens today and tomorrow, this season has been a great one. And it will be one worth remembering, with or without any trophies to add a bit of shine to our memories.