Liverpool Kings of Europe Once Again – Notes From The UCL Final.

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

Liverpool fans started singing, Spurs fans went deathly silent, and neutrals were put out of their misery. Jurgen Klopp silenced his critics while Mauricio Pochettino didn’t do the same. 

Liverpool captain Henderson lifts the Champions League. [PA]

That’s it. The Champions League Final came and went over an agonizing 90 minutes for fans and neutrals. And not a good agonizing mind you. It wasn’t nail biting or end to end. Liverpool and Tottenham fans weren’t close to heart attacks.

Rather, it was boring, poor quality, and fairly anticlimactic.

Mo Salah’s penalty, rightly awarded in the first minute and scored in the second, took all the sting out of the game. “Cagey” is usually a word people to use to describe the beginning of Champions League Finals as neither team wants to blink or falter first. But “cagey” is good for finals, it keeps the tension up.

Salah and Henderson celebrate. [Getty]

At the Wanda Metropolitano this year, the early goal robbed the game of that feeling. Spurs were stunned and put their tail between their legs as three weeks of planning evaporated. They were at a loss for words and devoid of ideas.

Liverpool meanwhile started time wasting after 120 seconds. Comparing Trent Alexander-Arnold to a snail as he lumbered to take corners isn’t fair to the snail.

Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Salah didn’t slice up the defense because quite frankly, they didn’t need to. The early goal allowed them to exhale before breaking a sweat. 

Fast forward 85 minutes to Liverpool’s Mr. Clutch this season, Divock Origi, as he scored yet another hugely important late goal for the Reds sealing the game just shy of stoppage time. 

Liverpool fans started singing, Spurs fans went deathly silent, and neutrals were put out of their misery. Jurgen Klopp silenced his critics while Mauricio Pochettino didn’t do the same. 

Like always following the Champions League, here are the major takeaways from the week’s UCL. 

Origi wrapped up the win with just three minutes of the match to play. [UEFA via Getty Images]

Diamond Divock

I’m going to take this opportunity to propose a new award, the Diamond Boot. While the Golden Boot goes to the player with the most goals, the Diamond Boot will go to the player who has scored the most impactful, memorable goals on the season. 

This year, it’s none other than Liverpool’s Divock Origi. The Belgian has only notched seven goals in 21 game across all competitions this year, but man oh man has he come up at the right moments.

Back in December against Everton, he came on as a sub and scored the only goal in the 6th minute of stoppage time. Virgil Van Dijk sliced a ball in the air and all hope seemed lost of winning the game.

As the ball fell from the sky, Everton keeper Jordan Pickford mishandled the ball and it fell to the open, poaching Origi to head in for the winner. 

Anfield erupted, Klopp ran onto the field to hug Alisson, and Liverpool got three important points in their league race with Manchester City. 

Then jump to the second leg of the semifinals against Barcelona in May with Liverpool down 3-0 on aggregate. Origi got the start in place of the injured Firmino. The Belgian opened the scoring in the 7th minute and then won the game in the 79th on the famous, quick thinking corner from Alexander-Arnold who found him with Barca sleeping. 

Anfield erupted again thanks to Diamond Divock as he sent them through to a second Champions League Final. 

Toby Alderweireld and James Milner in action. [Kiko Huesca_EPA-EFE_REX]

In Madrid, he started on the bench, but nevertheless made an impact when his chance came. Again as a second half sub, Origi ensured the victory another late goal on the second ball after a corner.

Origi was a bit part player all year, but those bits were the most important ones of the year for Liverpool. 

Without Origi, Liverpool doesn’t get 97 points, get to the Champions League Final, or win it. He has scored the most memorable and most important goals for Liverpool by far. 

What’s even crazier is it wasn’t only one goal. He did it on three different occasions. 

UEFA and FIFA should create the Diamond Boot, recognizing the player with the most significant and unforgettable goals. And this year, Divock Origi runs away with it. 

Klopp Silences His Critics

Today’s coaches have absolutely no slack on the managerial leash clubs and fans wrap around their neck. Klopp has managed Liverpool for nearly four full seasons and lost all three finals they’ve been to. 

Despite not winning any trophies, he has turned Liverpool into one of the most exciting teams in Europe with their high press, darting forwards, flash, glitz, and glam. He guided the team to last year’s UCL Final and this year amassed 97 points in the league on the way to another European final. 

Origi scored Liverpool's second at the Wnada Metropolitano after replacing Roberto Firmino. [Getty Images]

Yet some still called for his firing leading up to the game. He lost too many domestic and European finals in a row, between both Liverpool and his previous position at Borussia Dortmund they said. 

Klopp hadn’t won a trophy yet in England leading up to the game, but he had in Germany – back to back league titles with Dortmund, one of those a domestic double no less, and a Champions League Final.

When people said Klopp deserved the sack because he “[hadn’t] won anything”, it wasn’t factually true. Maybe fans discounted those previous trophies because he won with a different team. Or possibly because it was seven years ago so his accomplishments unjustifiably didn’t matter to some. 

But now, the German doesn’t have to worry about that. He delivered the ultimate club trophy, the Champions League. His critics have no more ammo at their disposal. 

It’s quite remarkable what he has done as a manager actually. He led Mainz in his first managerial job to their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga. He then moved to Dortmund and had the aforementioned success. And now he’s in northwest England holding the Champions League trophy. 

Klopp has proved at three different clubs in two different countries he’s a world class manager. The only thing left to check off the list is a Premier League title, the trophy that has evaded Liverpool for the entirety of the competition and the one they so desperately yearn for. 

Liverpool as a team needed this trophy to cap off their season. 97 points in the league and only one defeat would have been forgotten without it, evaporating into the ether. 

The UCL triumph though seals the season in history. It’s the empirical mark the players, manager, and fans can point to and say “That’s what we accomplished. That’s our mark on history.”

Klopp didn’t need this trophy for himself. He needed it to shut up his detractors. And that he did. He should sport his signature smile for months both in joy and to say “I told you so.”

Tottenham’s Fork In The Road.

Another season ended trophy-less for Poch and Tottenham and they can’t be thrilled with the way they went out. They conceded an early penalty, spent 80 minutes unable to connect more than one pass at a time, and looked completely disjointed. 

Kane struggled to make an impact on the game. [Getty Images]

Pochettino in the build up to the game curiously said that if Spurs won, he’d walk away from the club, having accomplished the ultimate goal. Strange to say, but an understandable notion. 

So what happens now at Tottenham?

It does seem like the perfect time for the inevitable blowing up of the squad, especially if Poch leaves. Harry Kane is just entering his prime. Heung Min Son as well.

Christian Eriksen has been linked with Real Madrid all season. Toby Alderweireld is likely on the move. Would his compatriot Jan Vertonghen also exit? Kieren Trippier’s had a down year, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors of his departure. 

Spurs can get top dollar for most of these guys and a pretty penny for others.

Spurs Chairman, Daniel Levy,  notoriously penny pinches, so it’s hard to imagine he passes up big money after the cost of the new stadium more than doubled from a projected £400 million to over £1 billion.

Pochettino is the key man here, like the entrepreneur of a small business. If the entrepreneur leaves, everything crumbles. Poch is the one who orchestrated this team and turned it from a ragtag side into perennial top 4 finishers. He’s the one who has developed them from up and comers to world class. 

If Poch stays, Spurs can reload and go again. If he leaves, he’s just the first domino to fall. 

So, what will Levy do? Unfortunately for him, he has no agency here. All he can do is react to what happens around him, starting with the manager. 

I hate the word “project” when it comes to managers, clubs, and players, but this would be the closest to a prime example of it. Spurs are at a fork in the road and need to decide which path to take, or really what they’ll do after Poch chooses a path for them. 

Written by Drew Pells [@Drew Pells].

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