Written By: Richard Bauer (@MrVideoGuy)
It is the year 2024. Jürgen Klopp is holding his retirement press conference. Liverpool FC have failed to win another league title despite having won three of the previous five. They even threw in a seventh Champions League trophy in 2022. Virgil van Dijk, after his third knee surgery in five years, is facing injury-inflicted retirement. Jordan Henderson, who only featured in a third of the 2023-24 campaign, decides to hand the captain’s arm band to his midfield replacement – Trent Alexander-Arnold. Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah have been replaced by Jadon Sancho and Kylian Mbappe. The transition is completed with the hiring of Jesse Marsch as the new Liverpool manager. The Klopp era has ended.
This is a possible, in as much as any future prediction beholds potential for eventual reality. For me, I’ve made peace with any of the results the Klopp era may deliver after July 22nd, 2020. The German (and the entire club) have already given me all that I ever wanted to see. For 416 days, dating back to the first Hendo shuffle in Madrid with ‘Big Ears’ to the empty stadium celebration at Anfield, Liverpool were the absolute best team in the world. Winning trophies is the measure when gauging true success in the European game. Any team that wins the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the English Premier League consecutively should always be considered as such. Liverpool did it for fun and we all got to tag along.
Guardiola’s Barcelona featuring Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.Embed from Getty Images
Bayern Munich with ‘Robbery’ and Manuel Neuer in the team.Embed from Getty Images
A ‘B-B-C’ inspired Real Madrid.Embed from Getty Images
From the past two decades, this is the list of clubs that have enjoyed similar runs. A grain of salt is required because the FIFA Club World Cup has only twenty years of true relevance though. However, the point is that becoming the champion of champions over these competitions cements a legacy of winning. That’s how you refer to these clubs once they have completed such a feat.
I only offer these moments up to ground my perspective into reality. My expectations and hopes are finally running an even race. But our collective fandom cannot boost either of those emotional variables. Time is always the winner. When Virgil van Dijk tears his ACL and loses an entire season, I do not panic. When Liverpool miss out on a long-rumoured signing such as Timo Werner, I do not panic. When Aston Villa spank Liverpool 7-2 in the opening month of the 2020-2021 season, I do not panic. I simply recalculate my level of expectation. I also remind myself of those 416 days as the elite club on the planet.Embed from Getty Images
Divock Origi scoring the second goal against Tottenham in the 2019 Champions League final.
The celebrating I did in that bar with a bunch of other Liverpool fans made the pain of falling one point short in the league that season fade into oblivion. I then had a late lunch. I followed that up with a nap in my car. It was not even 4pm in the afternoon. The time difference always makes celebrating European success in America feel awkward. That was one of those 416 days.Embed from Getty Images
The Mo Salah counter goal assisted by Alisson at home against Manchester United in January of 2020.
To hear the Kop go mad as “now you gotta believe us” and “we shall not be moved” rang out through my TV. I have never believed so much. I have never felt so many goosebumps. I have the entire match saved to a DVR and once a week I go back and watch that goal and the celebration that followed. That was one of those 416 days.Embed from Getty Images
The Christian Pulisic opener and the Willian clincher that handed Manchester City the loss that gave Liverpool the first title in over 30 years.
That an American and former player for our famed manager, Jürgen Klopp, did the job was simply frosting on the cake. Social media was a wonderful place to be that day. I consumed all the videos, interviews and post-match banter. That was one of those 416 days.
All of this is to say that the concept of living in the moment has never resounded as much with me as those times. That window is etched in stone and one of my favourite bonuses comes with a laugh at the rivals. It was not Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea. It was Liverpool. The Elite. For 416 days.