Tuesday, May 06, 2014


So that's what it felt like to be an AC Milan fan after 'that night in Istanbul'.

As I laid in bed last night after another crazy Liverpool match all I could think of was that moment 9 years ago. The gap between AC Milan and Liverpool in 2005 was probably similar to the one between Liverpool and Crystal Palace last night.

But despite my recollections of the greatest final in footballing history I still tell myself that teams don't come back from 3 goals down in crunch matches. They just don't.

It is even more unbelievable when the team that makes the comeback has nothing to play for besides pride. Safe from relegation, after being clear candidates for the drop in the first few months, Palace were beaten. Beaten by a side with something to play for. A first league title in 24 years.

For nearly 80 minutes Liverpool strode around the pitch with confidence, scored 3 goals and probably should have had a couple more.

I'm not going to blame the players or the manager for the resulting collapse. We dominated the match completely and had a 10 minute period in which we simply let the occasion get to us. For AC Milan in 2005 it was 6 minutes. 6 minutes out of 120 in which they let their guard down and the rest was history.

I don't blame the team for continuing to push for goals at 3-0 up. Such is the nature of this crazy season, there was some belief that we could overturn a GD deficit of 9 in two games. And let's be honest here, under Brendan Rodgers we've seen how quickly 3 goals can become 5 or 6. It made sense to keep pushing.

The only criticism I could have is that we didn't react to conceding the first goal. That was the point to drop deep and take control of the match. Instead we continued as before. Pushing for another goal and it cost us. A counter-attack. A sucker punch. And after that second it just felt inevitable. Like AC Milan during those 6 minutes we were like a rabbit caught in headlights. A shadow of the team that had looked completely rampant moments before.

That's one of the reasons I love football. It's just preferable when the team turning things around is my team.

But in a season of laughing in the face of expectations I can't bring myself to turn on the manager and players for trying to wrest control of the title away from Man City. They gambled. They lost. If we had the season to play again, I'd want us to play it the same way. Perhaps next year with a larger squad we can be more pragmatic. This year we played the only way that could work. We played to blitz the opposition, because that's what we do well.

This style of play has pretty much guaranteed us 2nd place in the league. The team that was considered the 6th (maybe 7th) best in the division has exceeded all expectations.

I know it won't console a lot of fans. I'm still in shock at what happened last night. But I've seen enough football to know that regardless of the finish this is not a failure. It's not even a glorious failure. We're far ahead of were we expected to be in August 2013.

So we enter the final few days of the 2013/14 season with Man City firmly in control. They need to lose one or draw both of their last two 'home bankers' to give Liverpool any hope.

The fat lady hasn't started wailing yet, but she's taking a glass of water and clearing her throat for the inevitable.

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