AFTER the glories of Anfield and Amsterdam, on those ridiculous back-to-back semi-final comeback nights, it feels weird to even mention it.
But here in Madrid on Saturday night, either Jurgen Klopp or Mauricio Pochettino will end another campaign empty-handed and will still be awaiting a first trophy at their respective clubs.
Both teams have seriously over-achieved this season – for Klopp’s Liverpool, just one defeat in an entire Premier League campaign and one of the most astonishing results of all time to overcome Barcelona and reach back-to-back Champions League finals.
For Pochettino, a first European Cup final in Tottenham’s history after the best part of two seasons spent homeless and potless in the transfer market.
So how much do trophies matter? And domestic knock-out tournaments in particular, because we all know the Premier League and Champions League matter hugely.
How important is silverware to a manager’s record when he has so obviously transformed his club for the better and allowed a support base to enjoy their best football in years – as both Klopp and Poch have clearly done?
After Tottenham’s fourth-round FA Cup defeat by Crystal Palace, Pochettino controversially claimed that winning such trophies would not help to ‘build the club’ and would only ‘build egos’.
It was a provocative and controversial statement – one with which many of us disagreed and one which flew in the face of the ‘glory, glory traditions’ of Danny Blanchflower.
Poch had made seven changes to the starting line-up from their previous outing, the Carabao Cup defeat by Chelsea, and Spurs were well beaten, to exit both domestic knock-outs in the space of four days.
Another trophyless season for Spurs – ‘unless they win the Champions League’, we sniggered!
Yet here we are with Pochettino’s policy of tossing off the Cup looking perfectly logical in hindsight as Spurs fans descend on a sunny Spanish capital for the most momentous occasion they’ve ever known.
Similarly, Klopp made nine changes and gave debuts to three teenagers when Liverpool were knocked out in the third round of the Cup by Wolves.
The Reds were top of the Premier League, so the idea of them capturing one of the ‘big two’ trophies didn’t seem fanciful at all.
Yet Klopp’s team selection did receive some stick from some supporters – and criticism of the German is as rare as rocking-horse dung.
No Liverpool manager has gone this long without a trophy since the early 1960s (although that bloke, Bill Shankly, ended up doing ok).
So if Liverpool were to lose here tomorrow night, would there be any sort of pressure cranking up on Klopp as he entered his fifth season as manager without having won anything?
Would a fourth Cup Final defeat with Liverpool – and a seventh successive such setback for Klopp – suggest some sort of tendency to splutter, if not choke, on the biggest stage?
And what about defeat for Poch? He’d then be entering his sixth campaign at Spurs and would still be potless after a decade in management.
But so what, when he has led Spurs confidently into not one, but two, promised lands – regular Champions League qualification and their fairytale castle new stadium.
Tomorrow’s fixture is a serious curiosity, of course. A Champions League final between two Premier League clubs who have never been Premier League champions.
WAIT ALMOST OVER
Liverpool have not ruled England for 29 years, Tottenham for precisely twice as long – right back since the Double of 1961.
“You won the League in black and white,” as Arsenal fans love to taunt their bitter rivals.
Yet Arsenal have never lifted the European Cup, and they already have fewer of the ‘lesser’ European trophies than Tottenham. Spurs lead that contest 3-2.
The small band of hardy – and presumably wealthy – Gooners beating their retreat from Baku on Thursday morning, found themselves being smirked at by Spurs fans heading for the big one at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
For Arsenal, a 4-1 humping by Chelsea in a major final might not even be the worst experience they’ll have this week.
Liverpool are clear favourites, of course. They finished 26 points clear of Spurs. And if Spurs lose the final, it would be their 20th defeat of the season in all competitions.
But Spurs could easily have won at Anfield in March in one of the most exciting and high-quality Premier League matches of the season.
A Hugo Lloris blunder handed Liverpool victory and the Reds have since been spotless – winning every league match and every two-legged Champions League tie.
The tempo is unlikely to be as high in the searing Spanish heat but if the final is anything like as good, and tight, as that last encounter then we are in for a treat.
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The winning team, and manager, will become instant immortals.
The defeated boss will be regarded as one of the greatest losers English football has ever known.
But he surely won’t be losing sleep over those domestic Cups.
This post written by Joshua Jones originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.