Anthony McIntyre savours Liverpool becoming world club champions at the weekend.
For the first time in their history Liverpool FC have become club champions of the world. For some the trophy is an international version of the FA Community Shield, a less than fully competitive game that doesn’t hold a candle to the tournaments that must be won to facilitate access to its illustrious setting where pomp has tended to outshine performance. Although last weekend's hard fought contest in Doha, with both sides exhibiting a fierce determination to win, has done much to give the tournament a prestige oomph that bides well for its future.
At the fourth time of trying the men from Merseyside have finally graced the winner’s podium. Despite having twice won the European Cup in 1977 and 1978, making them eligible for the final, Liverpool did not contest the Intercontinental Cup, as it was then known. The club abided by a European boycott of the tournament, a decision reached after the abominable behaviour of Estudiante players in their Buenos Aires second leg of the 1969 final, which the Argentinians lost to Inter Milan. In a different sport the pugilists of Estudiante would have won by a knock out.
In 1981 the Reds lost to Brazilian side Flamengo. Three years later they lost again to Independiente of Argentina. In 2005 after their stunning comeback in Istanbul to snatch victory from the jaws of AC Milan who in turn managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Liverpool were again the beaten finalist, this time losing out to Sao Paolo of Brazil.
Going into Saturday evening’s game the statistics were not in Liverpool's favour. They had never won a final nor scored a goal at one either. Yet, this side of Jurgen Klopp's seems determined to make its mark, and no better place to do it than on the world stage. The canny German with the can-do attitude has now reached heights never before scaled by any previous Liverpool manager.
It was a hard won victory. While Brazilian sides are no longer known for the flair of old and have no stars gracing world soccer like Pele, Zico or Socrates once did, Flamengo knew how to play football and frustrate the best of opposition. Liverpool, while marginally the better side, failed to press home their advantage when the chances arose. Ironically it was the Brazilian Bobby Firmino who ended his compatriots' hopes with a fine finish in extra time, having earlier missed two golden opportunities in front of goal.
It is always uplifting to see the LFC fans rewarded for their tenacity and stamina, while the people of the much maligned city can bask in something other than opprobrium from an establishment that has long treated it with disdain. With the citizens of Liverpool telling the odious Tories to fuck off in this month's general election, and the team placing the Liver bird at the top of the tree just in time for Christmas, the future looks red.