Liverpool (AFP) – As Liverpool fans all around Anfield celebrated their Champions League semi-final first leg victory over Villarreal, it was fitting they choose a Beatles song to serenade the mastermind of their bid for football immortality.
In recent months, Jurgen Klopp has been feted by supporters who have turned the Beatles’ ‘I feel fine’ into a song of praise for the Liverpool manager.
“Jurgen said to me, you know. We’ll win the Premier League, you know. He said so. I’m in love with him and I feel fine,” they chant from the Kop.
Never has the work of Merseyside’s most famous musical sons been more appropriate than on Wednesday.
Liverpool won 2-0 against a Villarreal team nicknamed the ‘Yellow Submarine’ since the 1960s when the Spanish club’s fans used the Beatles song in tribute to their yellow shirts.
Villarreal tried to frustrate Liverpool with a defensive game-plan — a formula that had earned them shock wins over Juventus and Bayern Munich in the previous two rounds — but Klopp’s men torpedoed them with a patient display.
It took 53 minutes to break down Villarreal’s stubborn rearguard action, when Jordan Henderson’s cross deflected off Pervis Estupinan and looped into the net.
Two minutes later, Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool’s lead to put them in pole position to reach the Champions League final for a third time in five seasons.
Yet the Reds have more than a seventh European Cup triumph, and second of Klopp’s reign, in their sights.
They are chasing an unprecedented quadruple.
No English team has ever won all four major trophies in one season, not even Arsenal’s 2004 ‘Invincibles’ or Manchester United’s 1999 treble winners.
For Liverpool, who have already won this season’s League Cup, that is the historic goal now.
They sit one point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City with five games left and face Chelsea in the FA Cup final in May.
Needing a slip from City to take the title, Liverpool don’t have their destiny in their own hands, but they are playing well enough to keep dreaming.
– ‘Best I’ve ever seen’ –
Winning a quadruple would establish them as the greatest of all Liverpool’s golden generations, better even than the 1988 vintage of John Barnes and Peter Beardsley and the late 1970s and early ’80s crop of Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness.
Mirroring the transformation of the city’s Albert Dock into a vibrant, urban hub, Klopp’s team are building their own history from the storied foundations laid by their forefathers.
From murals of greats like Dalglish and Steven Gerrard to statues of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, the streets around Anfield are a living monument to Liverpool’s past.
Towering high over the red brick terraced houses of the Walton district, Anfield would be unrecognisable to fans who watched their first dominant era in the 1960s.
Back then, Shankly became a Liverpool icon as he led them to sustained success after taking over a club languishing in the second tier.
But echoes from the Shankly era still reverberate to this day, with his ethos that Anfield must be a “bastion of invincibility” a core tenet of Klopp’s regime.
Villarreal found it impossible to subdue this vibrant, relentless Liverpool in front of a 53,000 crowd that kept demanding more from their players.
It is a potent combination and Mark Lawrenson, a pillar of the Liverpool’s 1980s defence, believes this is already Klopp’s finest squad.
“There’s massive expectancy on Liverpool. They’re going so well, they’re in a fantastic position. It’s the best squad he’s ever had so it’s head down and get on with it,” Lawrenson said.
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen agrees, saying: “It’s the best team I have ever seen in a red shirt. Villarreal must have come off that pitch wondering what hit them. The Liverpool pressing is relentless.”
Klopp’s team are hitting all the right notes, the only question now is whether they will feel fine with their trophy haul at the end of the season.
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