So Chelsea fans were not able to celebrate Champions League qualification last night but there was still one of the highlights of the season according to supporter and columnist Giles Smith, who has his own take on matters here…
One point needed for top four – or even fewer than that in certain other circumstances. And a place booked for 10 days’ time in the FA Cup final. Hard to avoid the conclusion that, for all its many, many faults and its abiding strangeness, football in the silent era is being quite good to us.And don’t let’s forget that we are still in contention for the Champions League. The long-awaited ‘Miracle of Munich’ hasn’t been cancelled, it’s just been transposed to what would ordinarily be the middle of the county cricket season. But that’s okay. Miracles are robust like that. Indeed, they’re famous for being so. It’s why we call them miracles.In the meantime, what a fantastic occasion that was at Anfield. The locals will be remembering and talking about what happened on Wednesday night for years to come. By which I mean, specifically, that Christian Pulisic run that set-up the Tammy Abraham goal for 4-2, and which left a large chunk of Liverpool’s defence on their backs and gazing at some prematurely exploding fireworks. Did it put you in mind of anyone? One of the highlights of the season, no question, and all of those people standing around outside Anfield will no doubt be extremely glad that they weren’t there to witness it.
His finish for 4-3 had a lot going for it, also, and the following minutes spent chasing the equaliser were a delight to behold. The fact that an equaliser was a highly realistic possibility at that point, in a match in which the score had stood at 3-0 and 4-1 and when the opposition was the best team in the country, only bore witness to the sensational quantities of energy within this team right now – even more remarkable when, in general, energy has been the quality this Project Restart phase has most conspicuously lacked. Not round these parts, though. I felt the same surge of pride during the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday at the sight of Jorginho haring into Manchester United’s final third to hound an idling Harry Maguire. In injury time. At 3-1 up. You love to see it.
True, barking mad things keep happening in our goalmouth, but defensive truancies alone don’t account for everything that went wrong in that part of the pitch last night. Willian’s assist for Naby Keita’s opener was as unlikely as it was unfortunate. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick was quite something but it would have been even more impressive had it actually been a free-kick in the first place. And the freakish combination of ricochets following the corner leading to Liverpool’s fourth will, I feel confident in stating, never be duplicated between now and the end of time, not even by scientists in controlled conditions. Yes, there’s all sorts of flapping going on at the moment that you would rather not have to witness, but let’s not let that obscure the fact that last night we couldn’t catch a single break when just one would have come in handy.I didn’t stay tuned to see Liverpool lift the trophy on a bare Kop last night. I would have found the sight too poignant, I think, and besides, I had a bath to run. On top of that, though, I’m not really sure what the protocols ought to be for behind-closed-doors trophy presentations, or whether they are something we should even be encouraging right now, what with the fact that there’s still a pandemic on and everything. Kenny Dalglish sensibly tweeted beforehand to urge anyone inclined to gather outside Anfield (or anywhere else, for that matter) to stay within the current guidelines on social distancing and pointed out that this was merely a rehearsal for a public ceremony later on, at a safer time. But why would you need a rehearsal? Why not just… wait?
Let’s say all goes well on August 1st, and we end up defeating Arsenal and winning the FA Cup for the ninth time, and for the seventh time in the 21st-century alone. I don’t know about you, but I would probably be fine with the FA putting the trophy in the post with a view to our club doing something with it later, at a time when it’s possible for all of us to gather somewhere that doesn’t echo. Personally, I find the thought that there might be tickertape and a full-blown rock-standard light show for the benefit of the television cameras and a few people in the press box… well, a bit embarrassing, really.Anyway, from the broader perspective, I can only suggest that this is probably another one of those moments during this Project Restart period when it might be useful to be thinking about that age-old philosophical conundrum: if a trophy gets handed to a winning team and no fans are there to witness it, did it actually happen? Answers on a postcard.
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