Under Brendan Rodgers and Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool fans would be jumping for joy if their beloved Reds even made the Champions League positions – scraping fourth by a single goal would’ve been deemed as a successful season.
Even at the end of Jurgen Klopp’s second term with the club, a tense final day win over Middlesbrough saw them make the top four by a single point ahead of Arsenal, a result which saw the Merseysiders realise their ambitions for the campaign. Just.
So, in just less than two seasons on from that win over Boro at Anfield, the former Borussia Dortmund boss has managed to reach the Champions League final in what was his first stint in the competition with Liverpool, and has now managed to reach the semi-finals second time around.
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Whilst that is impressive to say the least, what is most indicative of the rising expectations around Anfield is the lack of fanfare surrounding their run in Europe this term.
That isn’t to say that the Liverpool fans aren’t happy about progressing this far, by no means. What is being implied is that, whilst they are proud of their team, there seem to be fewer excitable rambles, fewer nerves, fewer surprised faces.
This team has set the bar far higher than any Liverpool team has for a long time, and in doing so, have raised fans’ expectations – the fact that a 6-1 aggregate win over Porto has gone relatively unnoticed proves that, as does the fans’ belief of conquering Barcelona in the semis.
Almost everyone inside Anfield would’ve bitten your hand off at the end of last season if you’d offered them either a Champions League semi-final place or a chance at the Premier League title with four games to go – to have both of those happen, and with the fans and players alike visibly not satisfied yet, shows that Klopp has normalised the impressive groundwork to get to this position.
Only a trophy in either of these competitions will get the fans and the players celebrating properly – what is for certain, however, is that Klopp has developed a side with a wicked mentality who have normalised what would’ve been deemed success in years gone by.