Neil Humphreys: Liverpool's greatest ally is pain
Unlike Tottenham, Klopp's men must channel recent failures
No one utilised pain like Sir Alex Ferguson. The son of the Scottish shipyards grew up surrounded by tough men in constant fear of failure.
And he reminded his Manchester United team that in his famous speech of 1999.
He ordered his players to imagine the despair of walking past the Champions League trophy without being able to reach out and touch immortality.
Imagine being that close to greatness only to miss out.
Imagine being a loser on the biggest stage.
Jordan Henderson can.
He experienced all of the above. For real.
The Liverpool skipper doesn't need to fantasise about the ignominy of defeat to find further motivation. Ferguson's nightmarish imagery was his horrific reality.
But the Reds' loss in the previous Champions League final against Real Madrid may prove to be their gain against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Success comes easily in our dreams. But the fear of wretched history repeating itself keeps us awake at night.
Rather than shy away from that defeat against Real Madrid, Liverpool should utilise it. And exorcise it through victory.
On such grand occasions, John Cleese's famous line from his movie Clockwise is often wheeled out to underline the apprehension.
I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand.
But that's a line for Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino to ponder. Compared to their opponents, Spurs will turn up in a position of comparative innocence.
There's no lingering despair, only hope. No residual self-loathing following a crushing loss, only the expectations of giddy underdogs.
Pochettino has already achieved his miracle in reaching the final. Anything extra only inflates the next contract he signs. He wants to win, obviously, but it's no professional disaster if he doesn't.
But for coach and captain at Liverpool, on the other hand, defeat is unthinkable.
Earlier this week, Henderson spoke of the Barcelona miracle and the Madrid "emptiness" in the same sentence, which makes sense perhaps only to elite athletes obsessed with the fine margins.
Why speak of one of the most memorable nights in Liverpool's history, when the Reds overcame a three-goal deficit against the Catalan side, in the same breath as one of their most awful, losing 3-1 to Real in last year's final?
It's the same reason why Michael Jordan recalls the 26 times he missed a game-winning shot just as easily as he remembers his six NBA titles.
Cleese's oft-repeated line makes the assumption that hope and despair are mutually exclusive. They are not.
Henderson lumped the Madrid disappointment and the Barcelona miracle together because one triggered the other.
No one in a red jersey fancies another Spanish Inquisition, another round of endless questions about trophy choking.
Liverpool's skipper spent more time discussing his feelings after the final defeat - "frustration, anger, emptiness" - than he did the joy of the Barcelona comeback.
Klopp did the same. He recalled the interminable queue at the airport after the final, waiting to flee the scene of poor Loris Karius' crimes. There were crumpled tracksuits. Slumped shoulders. Heads bowed.
But there was also an unsaid collective agreement that night.
Never again would they walk past someone else's trophy.
But Klopp has done it six times now. Six consecutive finals have slipped through his fingers, almost making him the Karius of managers.
He can't lose another, not a seventh trophy in a row, not the Champions League twice in two seasons.
That's more than bad luck. That's an unwanted masochistic addiction to misery.
But one other Red surpasses even Klopp when it comes to Champions League anguish. Liverpool left with their spirits broken last year, but only Mohamed Salah left with a broken body.
The Egyptian was targeted, consistently and brutally, until he succumbed. Sergio Ramos left Salah with a dislocated shoulder and a season-long grudge.
The alchemist plans to turn tears into a trophy.
They all do. Liverpool must be utterly desperate to break the cycle of gut-punching near misses. The margin for error has been infuriatingly small not once but twice.
Two goalkeeping errors cost them the Champions League.
One point denied them the English Premier League.
The Reds were protagonists in a couple of lazy Hollywood sports narratives about dramatic contests going right to the very end.
But they lost both of them.
They can't be on the wrong side for a third time, surely.
Their trophy torture must be channelled, rather than repeated.
Anfield's travelling contingent will be expected to make a racket, but the fans may play second fiddle to a more primal force.
For Liverpool, the 12th man can only be the pain within.
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