To call somebody a Proper Football Man is a cliche. Sadly, it is a cliche that is becoming ever more necessary in a footballing world where the landscape of commentary, punditry and analysis is becoming polluted by sensationalists making a career from clickbait quotes. It is because Arsene Wenger is a Proper Football Man that he realises the magic of Anfield.
The ex-Arsenal manager has always had a respect of and appreciation for the Liverpool fanbase.
There are various clips from throughout the years of him waxing lyrical about the influence of the Kop faithful. Before the Champions League final in Madrid we saw him describe You’ll Never Walk Alone as ‘unique’.
Before The Reds devastated Barcelona at Anfield, Wenger warned that Anfield could turn the tide of the tie, referring to it as ‘the most hated stadium in Europe’ for a return leg.
Wenger has recently commented on the singularity of Anfield’s design, telling beIN Sports:
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“If Liverpool have changed games in Europe, for a big part it’s down to Anfield. It’s the hardest place in Europe. It’s the only place now you can take a corner and shake hands with supporters!
“You can say ‘hello my brother, how are you?’ and continue to play football. That’s a real football field, you know. Today we build sophisticated stadiums but that is a stadium with soul, with pressure really on the opponent.”
What RTK has to say
Ok, Anfield isn’t the only ground where you can shake hands at a corner – Goodison Park just down the round is similarly compact.
However, Anfield is one of the only grounds with this design that is consistently hosting matches in the final stages of the Champions League.
For sides on the continent, coming to Anfield for a second leg must be unfathomably intimidating. They won’t be accustomed to the claustrophobic atmosphere. Wenger is right, it is this atmosphere and soul that has been so pivotal to the club’s success in the competition over the years – it’ll surely play a vital role when Atletico Madrid visit in March.