It wasn’t to be on Sunday, and while falling short in the Premier League title race brings a pronounced sting with it, there is nothing but pride to be taken from this incredible football team of ours, and from a campaign that still isn’t over yet.
Prior to the game I got chatting to a woman on the way to Anfield, and we came to an agreed consensus over just how absolutely exhausting it has been following Liverpool this season.
Sixty-two out of 63 games played; 62 out of 63 post-match This Is Anfield stand-up routines written and completed, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a rest.
There is no time for rest, though. Not yet at least. On Friday afternoon I’ll be on a Dover-to-Dunkirk ferry, as part of a mass decampment of Reds heading to Paris for the 2022 Champions League final.
On the way back to my car, after our victory over Wolves had brought our domestic season to an end, it wasn’t long before my mind was drifting to just who would replace Thiago Alcantara, should he not be fit to face Real Madrid.
I reckon we should throw in Curtis Jones.
Yes, we undoubtedly need time to mourn missing out on the Premier League title; we will require time to lick our wounds, and you will be permitted the room to heal.
I’ll allow you 24 hours tops, then you need to be back on it.
Going into Sunday, everything was stacked against us. No team had ever won the Premier League title when going into the final day second on the grid, while Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool icon and now Aston Villa manager was still seeking his first win against one of the ‘big six’ clubs.
Despite the gravity of the situation, our chances were still very real ones for the vast majority of the afternoon, as Villa dragged themselves into a two-goal lead, an advantage that they held on to until capitulating during a five-minute span from the 76th minute onward.
Liverpool conceding to a Pedro Neto strike, after just three minutes had elapsed, had not been part of the much dreamed and hoped for script at Anfield.
By the time Mohamed Salah had finally procured his team the lead, deep into the second half, the gig was already up, as events had escalated at the Etihad.
Anfield had pulsated to the news of a jittery Manchester City, but Pep Guardiola’s team are too powerful to write off. As soon as they got one back, the worse had to be expected, and it was a sense of doom that was very prompt in becoming reality.
Make no mistake, though, Guardiola and his player’s knees buckled, they were on the ropes before finding the fortitude to throw out that last flurry of haymakers. Their season relied upon it, as they stared into the face of a trophyless campaign.
Jurgen Klopp will gift his players the limited space to brood about the outcome, but it will have been done as a group, with the beers passed around the room. It will have been the footballing equivalent of a Scouse funeral.
Yes, tears will have been indulged in, but so too will the laughs and new plans already spoken of to right this wrong.
Just as at the end of the 2018/19 Premier League season, a vow will have been made to go one better next time around, an arm draped around shoulders, and giant bear hugs dispensed.
Liverpool’s manager said so much when in his post-match round of interviews, he declared: “If you want to win big, you have to be ready to lose big.”
It is the price to pay for putting it all on the line and falling short, while it is the dizzying prize to drink in when you put it all on the line and come up with the goods.
We roll with the punches and sometimes we duck them, while at other times we take one to the gut.
Big players and big managers are defined by big moments, both the ones which go for you and the ones that go against you. It’s how you respond to the ones that go against you that are key.
Soon, very soon, likely before you even read this article, the focus will have shifted.
Paris looms large, and many of us will be making the pilgrimage in the name of Liverpool’s bid to claim a seventh European Cup against other opponents we have unfinished business with, scores to be settled.
Frustrations can be channelled positively; they will need to be. We can’t walk out at the Stade de France feeling sorry for ourselves and luckily enough, Klopp will not entertain the idea of us doing so.
He will be organised, he will have a game plan in mind, and he will know which players he wants to deliver that game plan to the letter.
Forget the Premier League for now. We can deal with that another day; Paris, Real Madrid and Ol’ Big Ears need our full attention.
Up these most mighty of Reds.