Swaggering close to glory only to bash their heads against the podium

Spurs are this close to actually winning Big Cup! Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images


‘Spursy’ is a relatively recent addition to football’s lexicon, an adjective used to describe a particular club’s uncanny ability to swagger to within touching distance of glory, only to trip up and bash their heads against the podium, leaving them a bloody, ridiculous laughing stock. Yep, usually by around late March or early April, Spurs are in bandages and have everyone else in stitches. But not this year, no siree and indeed, no Spursy.

Soon that word could be banished for ever from football chat and be replaced by some term that encapsulates that exact opposite, denoting a club that becomes European champions at the end of a season in which they have signed no players and lost to Internazionale, Chelsea, Watford, Crystal Palace, Southampton, West Ham, Bournemouth, Burnley and – wait for it – Arsenal!

What single word could possibly do justice to such a scenario? Spurs as Big Cup winners?! And in those circumstances!? Spurs! Big Cup winners!? Pochtastic! Only one team can stop that absurdist fiction from becoming reality. OK, only one team other than Spurs themselves. And that is Liverpool, who are five-times European champions and have beaten Spurs twice already this season. As if to offset those portents, they are managed by a man who has lost six finals in a row.

That includes last year’s Big Cup jamboree in which Liverpool’s challenge faded after, according to red-clad eyewitnesses, Sergio Ramos drove a Leopard 2E tank into Mohamed Salah. Reflecting on all that, Jürgen Klopp takes inspiration from one of his compatriots and reckons that whatever didn’t kill his team has made them stronger, especially after he ditched Loris Karius.

“Each team who lost a final will think about putting it right,” spake Klopp. “We have the chance to do that. That was the kickstart for the development of this team … We are a completely different team to last year, it’s the best team I’ve ever had. I have never been part of a final with a better team than this.” And he has never encountered Big Cup finalists with less pedigree than Spurs. A thrilling Liverpool season, then, is set to end in glory. Or the mother of all anti-climaxes. Something’s got to give. It’s on!


“After our last game, we sailed fans and staff on a large passenger ship from Mannheim, back down the Rhine to Mainz. It was a huge party. Jürgen and I sat together with a box of beer on the nose of the ship. Neither of us could quite grasp what had happened” – Christian Heidel tells a very on-brand tale from Jürgen Klopp’s halcyon days at Mainz.


Test your Big Cup knowledge! How many of these missing players can you identify from major European finals? No Mesut Özil jokes, please.

You get the idea. Illustration: Big Paper

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