You’ll have read everywhere about the atmosphere, but since I’ve been present at nearly all the really memorable matches and never ceased to be taken aback by the next one, many of you can be forgiven for not being able to comprehend the reality of these nights. This 10 minute video will provide some idea.
It started in the streets and continued long before kick-off. The‘ Allez’ song has suddenly arrived on the scene and added impetus to the end of season run-in.
Beforehand various City personnel said they’d not be fazed by the famous Anfield atmosphere, but they could hardly say anything else.
Even if some seasoned individuals were able to let it ride over them, there were others who could not. Twice now City ‘keeper Ederson, in particular, has been a bag of nerves. Meanwhile, one day in the future, Raheem Sterling may provide an assist or even score at Anfield, but for now, after half a dozen games since his transfer, he’s still struggling to overcome the barrage of disapproval that cascades down from the stands.
As for left back Laporte, he had no idea which way Mo Salah was going.
At the final whistle, The ‘Allez’ song was going full pelt and I turned round to see people older than me (!) roaring out the lyrics with their elbows pumping and legs stamping. If only our partners could see us at such moments. That said, the two ladies next to me go every bit as crazy as everyone else when the ball hits the City net.
Beforehand, I asked only that we give themselves a chance for the second leg, when I predicted we would get an away goal. To lock City out entirely and score three was never considered in my wildest dreams. I still remain convinced an away goal is on the cards and, should that be the case, City will need five! Shades of the United tie in the Europa League two seasons back!
A word on the pre-match reception committee , which unquestionably went over and beyond normal boundaries. There have been at least half a dozen of these on the streets past the King Harry pub on the other side of the stadium. Noise, intimidation and even a tad scary for opponents, but this time, the police, in their wisdom, attempted to play devious and announce only a few hours before kick-off that the route for the team coaches would be altered.
Seriously, did they really believe that this would reduce numbers? If anything, it was like a red rag to a bull! It smacked of deceit and underhandedness and, not surprisingly, backfired big time. Something like three times the previous numbers turned out to form a reception, which stretched all the way up Arkles Lane and along Anfield Road.
The constabulary and stewards were hopelessly short-handed and those of us who live in the City could not have been surprised at how things panned out.
Players on the Liverpool team bus, not knowing the barrage that their opponents had been through, thought it was the most magnificent and uplifting reception – which it was!
Now, it remains to be seen how the City fans react. There could well be a reciprocal response towards the Reds, but, as far as inside the Etihad is concerned, I’ll be amazed if the home supporters are able to raise anything like the decibel levels of the Anfield faithful.
Indeed, even amidst a full house, I’m sure the strains of ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ will still rise above the polite cheers of the City faithful.