One might have thought Liverpool had achieved their quadruple dream judging by the reception they received at Sunday’s parade across the city.
Premier League and Champions League trophies have eluded Jurgen Klopp’s men over the past eight days but they returned from Paris to a hero’s welcome as tens of thousands of fans lined an eight-mile route to see them in the FA Cup parade and watch the Carabao Cup – plus the FA Women’s Championship.
The players, still weary from their journey home, looked subdued as they boarded buses in Allerton Maze just before 4pm, the pain of Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid 17 hours ago still fresh.
But no sooner had they turned the corner onto Mather Avenue than their spirits were lifted by the crowds of supporters who rushed to greet them.
The rigors of a 63-game season – the full distance in each competition – may have been shown in recent days, as Manchester City led them to the Premier League title by a point and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois blocked everything thrown at him was in Paris, but those of red beliefs nonetheless saw much to celebrate in a team that has excited them once again.
Jurgen Klopp grinned widely as he held the trophies aloft while Jordan Henderson and Robert Firmino led the celebrations from the front as the three buses carrying the men’s and women’s teams took around three and a half hours to complete the now obligatory sea of red flares overcome on Liverpool’s waterfront.
“It’s incredible,” Henderson told LFC TV. “We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we got on the bus. It was disappointing last night.
“But the guys gave it their all. The least we can do is thank the fans for what they’ve given us this season. It means a lot to the boys.
“We weren’t sure what it would be like. We were all a bit floored. But that’s what it’s all about. That is why you are doing it and who are you doing it for.”
Saturday’s disappointment was compounded by the shocking scenes of fans being tear-gassed by police when there were major delays in access to the Stade de France, where a 36-minute delay before kick-off was not enough to allow prevent thousands of them from missing out.
Fans then woke up to new stories linking Sadio Mane with a move this summer, but optimism is the default position under Klopp and was fully restored when buses hit Liverpool’s famous waterfront.
The Three Graces were swallowed up in a dense red fog, the players almost disappearing from view of the thousands who had gathered as onboard DJ Calvin Harris provided the party music and fireworks exploded in the sky.
“I woke up in a terrible mood this morning to be honest,” said left-back Andy Robertson.
“Everyone did it. We were disappointed. Obviously he fears the parade a little. Then when you get on that bus, you realize that the best fans in the world come out.
“It lifted the spirits for all of us. It will give us a nice end to a really tough season.
“You want to win the grand final. If you don’t worry about how you will be received, what will happen, who will show up. My goodness, what a turnout. You have given us something to be happy about. Representing her is the greatest honor for all of us.”