When the question of why Liverpool’s players hadn’t brought the Champions League trophy onto the Anfield pitch before their first home game of the season was raised post-match, a puzzled-looking Jurgen Klopp’s answer was straightforward.
“I didn’t know we had to?”
The Reds boss then proceeded to repeat his late pre-season mantra that Madrid is gone now, as are the celebrations which followed it.
He said he might have touched the trophy in the day after that game, and possibly the day after that, but didn’t need to any more. It belongs to the past. In the club museum.
Many of the Anfield crowd’s songs during Friday’s 4-1 victory over Norwich City that opened the new Premier League campaign suggest that they haven’t forgotten about old No.6 just yet, and nor should they, but Klopp’s answer came from a place of knowledge that Liverpool will not achieve anything this season by looking backwards.
And in delivering it, he outlined something which has been there all along during his time in the job, but was always going to get tested to the limit after his side had actually won something, let alone the biggest thing.
Because Liverpool is not for everyone.
The sayings, behaviours and ‘This Means More’ slogan – the simplicity of which has gone down a storm with overseas fanbases, even if it might be a little cringey here – are never going to win over some, but Klopp’s greatest triumph has been to lift some of that historical bluster off his players’ shoulders.
There isn’t as much talk of the past around Anfield these days, and Klopp would tell you that it will now be a club rule that June’s triumph over Tottenham in Madrid has to be treated as part of that past.
Against Norwich, if he was looking for a player to embody that hope then he found one in Roberto Firmino .
Not fit in that final, and then clearly – and deservedly – ‘summering well’ after Brazil’s Copa America triumph, Firmino was back to his best in a first half in which Liverpool scored four goals but he didn’t get one.
As ever with Firmino though, he doesn’t need to hit the net to catch the eye, and with his interplay with Mohamed Salah dragging the newly-promoted visitors all over the place, the forward looked to be a man who isn’t resting on his laurels.
Firmino is undoubtedly the most important footballer of the Klopp era, and as his song reverberated around Anfield when he made way for James Milner late on, sidestepping a streaker as he did so, there was a real sense that his return to form was a sign that things have moved forward.
As well as his ghostly presence in the Madrid final, he missed the epic Barcelona comeback and was also an ineffective substitute in the 3-0 first leg loss in the Nou Camp, remember.
All of that was very un-Firmino, and very unfamiliar to Klopp’s Liverpool in that success was achieved without him fit and firing.
He’s back now though, as a new adventure begins with memories of the old one fading away.