‘More than just football’, media hail Klopp and Liverpool’s title
After Liverpool players and fans celebrated a first league title in 30 years long into the night, Friday’s headlines hailed a historic triumph for Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering squad.
German coach Klopp won universal praise for his transformation of the club since taking charge five years ago.
Liverpool have not just won the league, but are on course to rewrite the record books.
Clinching the title with seven games to spare has never been done before and Manchester City’s record 100 points tally and 19-point winning margin from two seasons ago are under threat.
Relief on Merseyside was all the greater after a three-month delay to the Premier League season due to coronavirus.
The Guardian’s Barney Ronay said the title win was an “annihilation” and a culmination of 18 months of the players “playing through a kind of fury.”
“Death, plague and economic collapse may have stalked the land, puncturing sport’s ability to pretend the rest of the world is simply a subplot,” he wrote.
“But sport has many functions beyond simply flag-waving and Liverpool’s success will be deeply felt at a club where, as with every other club, football has always been a bit more than just football.”
Ronay says Liverpool’s players were on another level to their rivals, like the bully in the school playground.
“From late summer into spring they seemed to be operating to a different set of physical laws,” he writes.
“Marching the Premier League around in a headlock, ruffling its hair, flicking its ears.”
The Daily Mail hailed the connection between Klopp and his adopted city.
“From the start, he and Liverpool felt made for each other,” wrote Martin Samuel. “He got the club, he got the city, he got its people.”
Klopp already delivered on his promise to win a trophy inside his first four years in charge with the Champions League last season.
However, The Times highlighted the importance of restoring domestic dominance, despite Liverpool’s rich European history.
“There is something about domestic dominance that brings a deeper, richer sense of pride,” said Matt Dickinson.
“Perhaps you can see it in the Museum of Liverpool where you walk up the stairs and see a big sign proclaiming ‘The People’s Republic’. Or in the shop where they sell Scouse passports.
“And in the booing of the national anthem whenever Liverpool play at Wembley, declaring a sense of separatism.”
The Sun is not welcomed in Liverpool with the tabloid banned from sale owing to their coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy which saw 96 supporters killed in 1989.
However, even they paid due homage to Klopp and his team’s style of play.
“Jurgen Klopp’s swashbuckling side have enjoyed the most dominant campaign in the history of the English top flight,” it purred.
On Twitter former players exchanged banter with former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher photo-shopping fellow Sky pundit and Manchester United great Gary Neville in a Liverpool shirt with a bottle of champagne.
Neville had joked earlier in the season that he would have to move to Papua New Guinea if Liverpool’s long wait came to an end.
Sky posted a spoof video on Twitter of pundits trying to chase down Neville as he boarded a plane to the south Pacific island.
Former England cricket star Kevin Pietersen, never one to shirk either controversy or publicity, also stirred the pot on social media.
“Liverpool winning the PL couldn’t have come at a better time — when there’s no crowds & zero interest!”
The manner in which the Liverpool fans celebrated on Thursday was a form of riposte.