With 2019 now behind us, lifelong Red Alex Malone felt compelled to write the following words for Jurgen Klopp.
As I and millions of Reds around the world reflect on what has been a momentous year, it would be much too easy to thank you for the Champions League, Super Cup and World Club Cup successes and the greatest ever points total of any Liverpool season.
But my ‘thank you’ goes much deeper than mere trophies.
I want to thank you for what you have done for us; the people, the fans.
I want to thank you bringing such joy and positivity to people’s lives in what has, outside of football, been a difficult year for so many. Your positivity burns brightly and inspirationally for many thousands, even millions of people.
I want to thank you for promoting the world-class City of Liverpool for the amazing place that it is, not the one outsiders would have you believe it to be.
Thank you for embracing the unique spirit and culture of ‘Scousers,’ accepting us and becoming an honourary one of us.
Thank you for always sticking to your morals, ethics, principles and sense of fair play – each very much in keeping with the great people of our City and managers of our club and continuing the legacy of those great humble geniuses who preceded you; from Shanks to Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Sir Kenny Dalglish. These are giants among men, and you fully deserve your place at their table.
Thank you too for your incredible work with local communities, local hospitals and charities, and your unwavering support for the families of the 96.
Outside of Liverpool the City, your influence and impact on the global Liverpool fan base has been seismic. The fervour and excitement experienced in Liverpool each week is replicated in pubs and clubs around the globe at unprecedented levels. Your brilliant team has inspired a whole new generation of die-hard Reds in every corner of the globe.
In terms of the football, I want to thank you for taking a Club mired in mediocrity upon your arrival to the summit of European and World Football, and, as we enter the New Year, in a fantastic position to possibly achieve the ultimate prize in England.
I want to thank you for making us believe again, because when you arrived we really didn’t. We had hope in our hearts – we always do – and we allowed ourselves to dream a bit. Our loyalty, of course, never wavered. But belief had taken a bit of a hammering since the ‘90s. You sussed it within weeks, and told us so, right to our faces. The lack of belief was there, hidden in plain sight, but we hadn’t admitted it even to ourselves.
With that in mind, I want to also thank you for changing – or rather reestablishing – the winning mentality of Liverpool Football Club.
Too many years of underachievement had seen Liverpool become a ‘selling club.’ But in four short years you’ve managed to convince the world’s elite players to turn towards the bright lights of Anfield, not away from them.
We as fans had become too accepting of the club’s apparent resignation that our top players were likely to be poached by ‘European Giants’. Those same players and their clubs now look on with envy. You reminded everyone that in terms of ‘European Giants’ no-one is bigger than Liverpool.
In the 70s and 80s, Liverpool FC were the most feared team in Europe. At long last, that feeling of European invincibility is back.
I want to thank you for changing your team’s mentality from one that hoped to win, to one that now expects to win. From one determined to play well for the fans to one fiercely determined to win for the fans.
Your ‘never say die’ attitude has translated to your squad and to the Liverpool fan base. We rarely lose now because mentally we just don’t think that way anymore. You’ve infected the players and fans with the winning habit and it’s highly contagious. Fans who once left the ground 10 minutes from time with their team struggling are now spending those last 10 minutes urging their team over the line. It is those last gasp points that may make all the difference in the coming months.
We, as Liverpool fans, always knew in our heart of hearts that our club meant more than any other, but it took you to not only remind us, but to announce it to the world so that every fan of every club hears it:
We. Are. Liverpool. This. Means. More. Just typing it gets the adrenaline flowing.
You have built the finest team in world football over the last 12 months.
You have built a team with England’s best defence, the most feared and lethal front three in world football, the world’s greatest goalkeeper, and a midfield engine room of awesome, world-class power.
Your ability in the transfer market, along with the wizardry of Michael Edwards, has seen unprecedented success. No other managerial team has ever had such astonishing decision-making skill regarding which players to release, who to retain, and who to buy.
And then when you have them, you improve every single one of them. You have taken an unknown Hull City defender and made him world-class. A local academy boy has, at age 21, become the most feared right back in Europe.
In Alisson and Van Dijk, you bought premium class players and still improved them. The European Team of the Season was dominated by players, bought, shaped and developed by you and your coaching staff.
And everyone, everyone you treat with respect. From those in the media to the adoring fans on matchday to every member of the backroom staff irrespective of position. Even those players you have decided to let go, you always did do with the utmost respect.
Players leave with their heads held high and their reputations intact. There has been no shunning or freezing out, no ‘throwing players under a bus.’ Instead, there is dignity, respect and appreciation – even, it must be said, for those whose loyalty to themselves exceeded their loyalty to you, the fans and the club.
So thank you for the fist pumps, thank you for the bear hugs and thank you for the great big laughs.
Thank you for legging it on to the pitch to hug Alisson in the Derby. Thank you for swearing with excitement live on American television, and thank you for your unrelenting positivity even on the challenging days. It is who you are, it is what you are and we wouldn’t change you for the world.
Just one last thing, I know a lot of Liverpool legends to know don’t really like being called ‘legends’, but I’m sorry, you already are one. As with Shanks, Sir Bob, Sir Kenny, Joe Fagan and Rafa, you’ll be on the flags, the banners and mentioned in songs at Anfield for generations to come.
So thank you, on behalf of millions of Reds fans worldwide, for taking Liverpool FC back to the absolute pinnacle of footballing excellence in 2019 and creating one of – if not the greatest team – in our entire 127-year history.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Sincerely, Alex Malone