LONDON: The British press greeted Liverpool’s achievement of becoming six-time European champions with tongue-in-cheek headlines declaring the “Joy of Six” yesterday.
That was the headline on the Mail on Sunday’s back page alongside a photograph of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifting the trophy after the 2-0 Champions League final win over English rivals Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid on Saturday.
The Sunday Mirror tabloid opted for “Six Machines”, with goal scorers Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi acclaimed as “Magnificent Mo” and “deadly Divock” as Liverpool put the pain of losing last season’s Champions League final to Real Madrid in Kiev behind them.
Meanwhile the paper billed Saturday’s match at a sweltering Metropolitano Stadium as “The Full English 2”, a reference to the fact that this was the second of this season’s two major European finals - following Chelsea’s victory over London rivals Arsenal in the Europa League - to be contested solely by Premier League clubs.
Recalling how Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had lost the previous six finals of his managerial career, the paper said: “Cup finals have become Kryptonite for Klopp and the Kop”.
Several reporters made the point that the final itself had been something of a let-down following Liverpool and Tottenham’s dramatic semi-final wins over Barcelona and Ajax respectively.
But as Sunday Times football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft observed: “An unlovely spectacle but who from Liverpool cared? Control replaced chaos, sparse notes the heavy metal, and in a manner opposite to how they reached Madrid, red rule enveloped Europe again.”
He hailed Klopp for introducing steely discipline into Liverpool’s play this year, turning an all-out attacking team that often leaked goals into European champions.
“Game management is the biggest item Jurgen Klopp added to the armoury since desolation in last year’s final in Kiev,” Northcroft said.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s celebrations moved to their home city yesterday as tens of thousands of bleary-eyed fans prepared to greet the team.
By lunchtime fans began streaming back onto the streets ahead of the team’s trophy parade.
Supporters were staking out their spots Sunday lunchtime under leaden skies, already waving flags and blowing horns.
“We left home at quarter to six and we’re not moving now,” said Mark Jeffrey, 47, in a prime position with his 12-year-old son, who live around 115 miles away in central England.
“It’s another five hours but no way are we moving. I missed it in 2005 because they did the parade on a Monday so I wasn’t going to miss this year,” he added of Liverpool’s last European cup triumph 14 years ago.
The Hodgetts family - dad Mark, 47, son Shane and daughter Keira, 16 - from central England were also in place with special edition flags at the ready.