By accident or by design, Jurgen Klopp, the invigorating Stuttgart martinet whose grinning outlook on life reflects the way his superb side attack the game, has gone back to basics to give Liverpool fans a reason to believe. Liverpool’s brand of football is gloom dispensing.
The finest aspects about his majestic team is the beating British heart which he has brought with him via Borussia Dortmund as Liverpool rightfully return to the forefront of football’s world order with an all-round recognition of opulence not celebrated since the 1980s.
Not even during the Miracle of Istanbul under Rafael Benitez. Or the unforeseen Luis Suarez-inspired title tilt in 2014 under Brendan Rodgers that fell agonisingly short.
When Liverpool won the Champions League against Milan from 3-0 behind in 2005, they only had two Englishmen in their team: Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. By extension they had Ireland’s Steven Finnan at right-back, and an English goalkeeper in Scott Carson on the bench.
While such a rousing success should be celebrated, it is difficult to be argued that it was hewn from the Fields of Anfield road as an assortment of waifs and stays from around the globe produced the greatest comeback since vinyl.
In keeping with the Fab Four, Liverpool have always been an outpost that has revelled in local lads making good.
When they collected their fourth European Cup on penalties against Roma in 1984, Joe Fagan’s side operated with four Englishmen, three Scotsmen, two Irishman, a Welshman and the wobbly legs of Bruce Grobbelaar from Zimbabwe.
You can probably name them off the top of your head such was the world-class calibre of the player that revolved around the finishing prowess of King Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush.
Some 30 years on, Liverpool have again discovered that you can turn water into wine without the spending power of a Paris Saint-Germain.
Liverpool have certainly invested, around £170m this summer, but it has been done with a thought process that is in keeping with the greatest traditions of the club.
Not quite the old boot room mentality, but the new boot room has a Teutonic energy that can only excite in large dollops without a fateful air of over-confidence.
There was a time when a Liverpool striker nicknamed Bobby would be British or Irish. Fowler or Keane are two that spring to mind in recent times, but football has changed irrevocably over the past decade. As we witnessed with the toils of Neymar, a £198m Brazilian forward attempting to spring a leak in a home defence that has never looked more at ease.
The former Liverpool winger John Barnes has been ridiculed for suggesting Neymar would not have made it into Liverpool’s side last night. Which is true. Who would you have dropped to accommodate him?
Certainly not the machine that is James Milner, who seemed to be everywhere at once, as he shaded the humble and unassuming Andy Robertson for best man on the park.
While the riveting Roberto ‘Bobby’ Firmino emerged from the bench to score Liverpool’s winning goal against PSG, the story of Liverpool is the foundation that Klopp has returned to the club that the fan base can identify with. And who reciprocate the support’s delight. They are not merely on the take.
Liverpool began with five Englishman in Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Daniel Sturridge and a Scotsman, Robertson, against the best money can buy. Six British players turning out for a British team in the Champions League is a feat in itself.
Plenty of coaches would have discarded Sturridge due to his injury problems, but Klopp saw enough talent in the player’s movement and finishing skills to keep him involved despite his previous Champions League outing astonishingly coming over six years ago against Napoli.
Klopp was rewarded by a quite sparkling goal as Robertson – Scotland’s finest full-back since Danny McGrain – threw over a cross that Sturridge planted into the net before Alphonse Areola even had the chance to think about it.
It was an item of genuine beauty built by the best of British.
Much is made of the class which the Dutchman Virgil van Dijk exudes in central defence, or the bewitching attacking triumvirate of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, but none of their exploits would be possible without all parts of the machine working in harmony. Firmino, fighting a horrid eye injury, was full of smiles when Sturridge hit the rigging.
Group harmony has led Liverpool to five straight wins in the Premier League, and this landmark victory over PSG. Perhaps their greatest European victory under Klopp even including the quarter-final success against Manchester City last season. The nature of it was so appealing as Liverpool put the foot on PSG’s neck early on, and never released it.
In almost exactly three years at the club, Klopp has lost the Europa League final to Sevilla in 2016, and this year’s Champions League final to Real Madrid. He has finished fourth in the Premier League over the past two seasons. They are on an upward trajectory that makes the Champions League and Premier League as enticingly achievable as Mo Farah winning a marathon.
All Klopp needs now, and perhaps deserves for his approach, is a trophy to go with the cavalier and breathless brand of football that makes this Liverpool team such a joy to behold.
Like Bobby Firmino’s late, late show against PSG, it is only a matter of time before it arrives.