THIS week saw Liverpool add another chapter into their annuals of Great European Nights at Anfield.

The men in Red trashed the myth of Manchester City being the finished article and one of the best sides this country has even seen. That can’t happen when you have Nicolas Otamendi in your central defence and a brilliant but ageing and slowing skipper.

 

But Pep Guardiola has built an incredible side and they are not far away from being something special. Had they – and not Liverpool – managed to sign the classy Virgil van Dijk in January they would be almost there.

Yet take nothing away from Jurgen Klopp – who got his tactics spot on – and his players who gave everything for the cause in this pulsating all-English Champions League quarter-final.

The Reds are the competition’s top scorers with an incredible 31 goals in just nine games and in a first-half onslaught City found out why.

But the tie is not over but Liverpool take a healthy 3-0 lead to the Etihad next week and if they score, which in this form seems likely, then City will need five.

The most impressive thing about Klopp, compared to the managers over in Manchester with unlimited funds, is how he improves his players.

Keeper Loris Karius is now showing why his fellow German bought him; Andy Robertson at £8million is proving steal of the century along with £40m talisman Mo Salah; the progress of Alex Olade-Chamberlain shames his former boss Arsene Wenger and Roberto Firmino has become the most under-rated yet quietly brilliant player in the Premier League.

And England fans will be pleased at the way Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Milner and Jordan Henderson excelled in a pressure-cooker situation – shame only one of them is likely to be on the plane to Russia.

One man that will is the Ox, whose rocket sent the Kop into orbit, Salah scored as Liverpool relentlessly pressed and Sadio Mane – another contender for player of the match – headed in the killer third.

Yet there was a blight on the night. The idiots who thought it acceptable to hurl bottles at the City coach shamed the club they profess to love. I used to be a people person but people ruined that for me.

The other three quarter-finals saw Real Madrid and Barcelona crush Juventus and Roma, while Borussia Dortmund squeaked a narrow 2-1 win in Seville.

History is full of old men annoying old ladies – and how The Old Lady of Turin must hate Madrid’s talisman.

At 33 Cristiano Ronaldo was the oldest man in white on the pitch against Juve but he took just three minutes to score against them. And to rub it in he then hit an athletic, age-defying, overhead worldie.

Their quarter-final was a chance for the Italians to avenge the 4-1 drubbing in last year’s final when Ronaldo also scored twice.

His early opener in the Allianz Stadium saw him become the first player in CL history to score in 10 consecutive matches and the Spanish giants once again were three goals better and start the second leg at home 3-0 up.

WEST BROM and Alan Pardew have ‘parted company’ after eight straight defeats.

Such a nice, clean way of saying the Emperor has been found out and is now running around butt naked blaming everyone but himself for the utter s***storm he has left behind.

The Baggies are going down. They were not in a brilliant position when ‘Chunky’ arrived hovering just above the relegation zone. But in four dreadful months the outlook is now far bleaker with the club cut adrift 10 points from safety.

While Carlos Carvalhal, Roy Hodgson and David Moyes have diligently given their relegation-threatened clubs a chance, Pards did not even manage to orchestrate a new-boss bounce.

The former Palace chief walks the walks and talks the talks but it’s just an act – there is no substance and it masks his deficiencies in the dugout.

Off-field controversies like Taxi-gate and high-profile fall-outs with senior players lost him the respect of the dressing room, while results lost him the support of the West Brom faithful.

Serial-fan disappointer Pardew has a Kong-sized ego, which is strange for a man whose list of football honours begins with winning the 1989 Second Division play-offs, peaked with the 2005 Championship play-offs and ends with the biggy …the 2010 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The word ‘smug’ could have been invented for Mr Pardew who genuinely sees himself as a giant of the game. I’m not insulting him, I’m just describing him.

One win in 18 is up there as one of the worst Premier League tenures in the modern game but fear not as Pardew’s self-belief will not be dented because he is in NO WAY to blame, you see.

His list of excuses for losing football matches has become something of legend. In his time he has blamed: the officials; crowds being too exuberant, crowds not being exuberant; agents; spies; science; Sovereign States; Senegal; foreign players; small players; young players; grass length; club being too big, club being too small; too many competitions; having too many points, not having enough points; social media; the Europa League; the World Cup; internationals; the Olympics and the Notting Hill Carnival (I kid you not).

After seven clubs in 20 years and no real success he has had his time in management. Once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed and in Pardew’s case he must now be close to breaking the sound barrier.

AND finally I have a tip for our cricketers after they ended their dismal winter with yet another disappointment – their 13th overseas Test without a win – this time against New Zealand.

Stand up. Stretch. Take a walk. Go to the airport. Get on a plane. Never return.

Tweet @BabsDouglasBP

 

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