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The Week In Liverpool: Team slumps but Hillsborough truth emerges at last

The week in five words

Justice for the 96. Finally.

What went well

Question: “Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed?”

Jury’s answer: “Yes.”

Question: “Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles?”

Jury’s answer: “No.”

Finally. After 27 years of fighting for justice. After 27 years of trying to make the world realise the real truth of what happened at Hillsborough on April 15, 1989. After 27 years of battling against an establishment cover-up perpetuated by media lies.

After 27 years of hell for the families of the 96 victims, the traumatised survivors, the tireless campaigners, the smeared Liverpool supporters and every other person affected by the Hillsborough disaster, the truth was made official by an inquest jury at a court in Warrington.

Unlawful killing. Exoneration. Vindication. And the greatest victory in not just the history of Liverpool, but also football. Trying to accurately put into words what that verdict means to those who knew the truth all along, but were made to dedicate their lives to fight for it, is almost impossible, but I’ll try.

If Liverpool won the European Cup final against Man United after being 5-0 down at half-time three days after winning a first Premier League title in the 96th minute of the final game away at Everton then it still wouldn’t mean as much as that jury’s verdict did on Tuesday. #JFT96 

What didn’t

Having lost 96 fellow Reds at a semi-final then Kopites can put a 1-0 Europa League semi-final first leg defeat to Villarreal into the perspective it deserves, but nobody is pretending it was a good result.

The Yellow Submarine seemed happy to play for a 0-0, so for the Reds to be sunk by a stoppage-time counter-attack, having contained the home side well for 90 minutes, was incredibly disappointing.

It also raised question marks around Jurgen Klopp’s decision not to start Daniel Sturridge – as predicted here last week – followed by the one to bring him on at half-time when Philippe Coutinho felt too ill to continue or introduce him later, instead of Christian Benteke.

If he doesn’t start this Thursday at Anfield, when scoring twice without conceding against a well-organised and defensively-minded side will not be easy, then speculation about his future will be rife.

As for Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea, when the youngest-ever LFC side to start a Premier League game lacked pretty much every quality required to win a match, then the best way to analyse it is by comparing the starting XI with the team sheet for Liverpool’s first game next season. They will look very different.  

Quote of the week 

“The coroner: ‘Was there any behaviour on the part of supporters that may have caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Is your answer No?’ I am sitting down but my knees give way. Tears are falling either side of my nose. The woman with the reassuring voice says ‘It is.’ And the place erupts.” – Hillsborough survivor Adrian Tempany, writing about attending the inquest verdict on Tuesday.

Take a seat and a deep breath before reading what is one of the best, but most harrowing, pieces of writing you’ll ever see.

The need-to-know facts

  • Liverpool's starting XI average age against Swansea was 23 years and 218 days – their youngest ever in the Premier League.
  • Liverpool have now conceded 10 goals from corners in the Premier League this season, only Swansea have conceded more (14).
  • Benteke netted his 50th goal in the Premier League.

Video/GIF of the week

A crowd of 30,000 people attended a vigil at St George’s Hall in Liverpool city centre the evening after the Hillsborough Inquest verdict. The singing of You’ll Never Walk Alone at the end of it was spine-tingling.

Winners of the week

The families of the 96, the Hillsborough survivors, campaigners and fundraisers, the supporters of Liverpool FC and everyone who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those fighting for justice over the last 27 years.

There are too many people to mention, too many people to thank, but the love, support, belief and backing that has been given over the years is hugely appreciated here on Merseyside. So too are all the tributes made by other clubs, and their supporters, around the world this week.

Thank you.  

Losers of the week

The word ‘losers’ sounds glib in the circumstances, but those who were complicit in the Hillsborough disaster, the subsequent cover-up and the deliberate smear of innocent football supporters have finally been exposed in a court of law.

They know who they are and now so does the rest of the world. The truth is official, but for justice to fully be done accountability must now follow.

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