THE good news is that Liverpool supporters could very soon be experiencing those famous Anfield European nights again.
Jurgen Klopp’s team need to climb only one place in the Premier League table to qualify for the inaugural staging of Uefa’s third-tier tournament, the Europa Conference League.
Liverpool could still find themselves playing in Europe… the third tier, that isCredit: Reuters
Then the Kop could be sucking the ball into the net as their Red Men take on Honka of Finland or Georgian second division side FA Gagra, winners of the David Kipiani Cup, or whoever finishes fourth in Luxembourg this season.
And it gets more glamorous still with a final in Tirana, Albania.
Will Klopp fancy such ignominy? And will Mo Salah?
Who knows what happens when a mighty footballing empire seemingly turns to dust in ten weeks?
There is no true precedent. From champions of England, Europe and the world to six straight home defeats and being told you don’t want it enough by Fulham midfielder Harrison Reed.
‘This means more,’ is Liverpool’s corporate motto. ‘Unity Is Strength,’ read the banner trailed by some Scouse Biggles over Anfield on Sunday — as Fulham went about proving as much.
Unity is strength, unless it is about Premier League politics, at which point Liverpool cosy up with Manchester United and try to carve things up to their own benefit — but we digress.
Yes, there’s been a defensive injury crisis and, yes, Klopp’s team selection against Fulham was weird when a win was desperately needed. But where is the workrate and unity which made this team so great, so recently?
It reminds you of an old Half Man Half Biscuit line, parodying You’ll Never Walk Alone — ‘When you walk through a storm, you get wet’.
Now even the pom-pom-wielding former Liverpool players on TV have taken the gloves off, Jamie Carragher referring to Klopp’s team as ‘mentality midgets’.
And Salah, still the Premier League’s leading scorer (17), has slackened off as badly as anyone.
Without skipper Jordan Henderson and defensive general Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool need their best player to lead by example.
Yet there was the Egyptian dawdling outside his 18-yard box, allowing Mario Lemina to score Fulham’s winner.
This after the tantrum which followed his substitution against Chelsea, which led to a cryptic ‘full stop’ tweet from his agent.
And that after a rare interview with a Spanish newspaper, in which Salah pointedly moaned about not being made captain for a Champions League dead rubber against Midtjylland.
Was that interview designed to prick up ears at Barcelona and Real Madrid?
If so, it was done without much knowledge of the financial situations at either of Spain’s skint super clubs.
Salah is 29 this summer and may quite reasonably feel he has achieved all he can at Liverpool. But where next in the current financial climate?
Is he hoping for some musical chairs at Paris Saint-Germain? Joining the Premier League vets competition, Serie A? Or maybe Klopp’s old friends at Bayern Munich?
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Talking of Bayern, there have been comparisons drawn between Liverpool’s skydive and Klopp’s final season at Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15.
Having won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and lost a Champions League final to Bayern, Klopp’s side hit an injury crisis and fell into the relegation places before a late revival saw them finish a distant seventh.
But Klopp is adamant we are not seeing history repeat itself — despite defeatist noises regarding Manchester City — who, like Bayern of 2015, are a financial powerhouse overseen by Pep Guardiola.
Many at City feared Guardiola had lost his mojo last year and we’ve all seen how that has turned around.
So Liverpool’s owners will not yet be wondering whether it is too early for Steven Gerrard.
The Rangers manager may have merely romped home in a two-horse race in Scotland but Klopp is currently eighth in a six-horse race in England.
There are some serious questions to ask of Jurgen Klopp in recent gamesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Still, there are serious questions to ask of Klopp. Why defend with a high line when you have little pace or quality in central defence?
How has a player as good as Thiago Alcantara joined a team as good as Liverpool and looked so bad? What on Earth has happened to Sadio Mane?
And, chiefly, how has a manager famed for his motivational powers and his workaholism, presided over a team which looks downright lazy at times?
Surely, Klopp’s outstanding three-year run, including back-to-back Champions League finals and 196 Premier League points over two seasons, make him bulletproof — at least until he has some fit senior central defenders.
But Klopp made seven changes for that Fulham game, prioritising a Champions League tie against RB Leipzig, such is his apparent concern that the Germans could overhaul a 2-0 deficit in neutral Budapest tomorrow.
Still, a new European adventure may soon be on the cards. Although even the fourth-best team in Luxembourg might now fancy their chances at Anfield.