Liverpool are a club that divides opinion. A fact that can’t be debated is that they have swept aside the Premier League this season, leaving them 25 points clear. Paul tells us why they should be handed the trophy, whatever the authorities decide.
A city and a club that’s had its fair share of turmoil over the years, it seemed that 2019/20 was the season where Liverpool could finally lay a few ghosts to rest. With a team that mercilessly put others to the sword, coupled with inconsistency and transition from other ‘top 6’ sides, it appeared that the club would finally hold aloft their first Premier League trophy, and their first league title since their 18th in 1989/90. Then COVID-19 came along and ruined it all…
Whatever happens now, the 2019/20 season has been a remarkable one. Possibly for all the wrong reasons: the complete disaster of VAR, the suspension due to coronavirus. Also, for the right reasons: the emergence of some great young English players such as Abraham, Grealish, Mount and Cantwell; but also (however much people don’t like them) the unstoppable thunderbastard of a team Liverpool have become.
Jurgen Klopp has taken his time, but he has slowly crafted a squad and style that has just about everything a modern-day football team needs. There was a time, in the early Klopp era, where he had exciting forward options such as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho as well as solid, hard grafters like Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Emre Can. But back then, Liverpool lacked a backbone – the list of defenders on duty in Klopp’s first season tells a story – Kolo Toure, Lovren, Moreno, Caulker, Sakho, Skrtel, Enrique. None of them terrible players, but their careers since suggest Liverpool was their zenith.
His options in goal? Simon Mignolet and Adam Bogdan…
What’s been impressive about the transformation under the German has been his nous in the transfer market. Early on, he needed to replace those departed – Suarez, Sterling and the unfit Sturridge. He worked the market well, bringing in Mo Salah – previously a failure at Chelsea – and Sadio Mane, who had shown more than a glimpse of his talent at Southampton. Replacing the selfish and unreliable Sturridge with Roberto Firmino was at first seen as something of a risk, but has turned out to be a masterstroke. The front line was ticked off, and with Henderson quickly improving in the role of midfield enforcer and captain alike, Gerrard’s retirement (the same as moving to the MLS before anyone argues) was felt less keenly than many in the halls at Anfield thought it might be.
Liverpool were getting closer…and in the past few pre-seasons haven’t bought wildly and inconsistently as the club did under Dalglish, Hodgson and Rodgers. No, it was steady and sensible recruitment. They were leaking goals. Van Dijk. Their goalkeepers were more error-prone than a Trump press conference. Allison Becker. They needed better players in the squad to challenge on all fronts. Keita, Fabinho, Shaqiri. And let’s not forget the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson as the two finest full backs in the league.
Returning to this season, it might be funny because I know football is all about winning games, but Liverpool aren’t as good as they were last season. Their football isn’t quite as fluent and they don’t as regularly batter teams home and away, but they have still managed to get 25 points ahead through a combination of being consistent and efficient. Did I mention that Klopp was German?
Probably some of their best wins and results this season have been where they scraped victories despite not playing well, something beyond their limitations in seasons past: the 0-1 win away at Sheffield United, handed to them by Dean Henderson; the late-late winner at home to Leicester with a controversial James Milner penalty and the comeback against at impressive West Ham to win 3-2 at Anfield. In fact, 14 of their 27 Premier League wins have been by a single goal. But let’s not forget their incredible performances in beating Manchester City 3-1, away at Leicester 4-0 and the scintillating attacking performance when they thrashed Everton 5-2 in the Merseyside derby. Between the 27th October and 24th February, they won 18 consecutive Premier League matches. 18. An incredible feat.
So, despite my belief they haven’t played at the pinnacle of their abilities, the argument stands that they do deserve this premier league title. I know there are naysayers who feel they deserve for the premier league trophy to be snatched away from them before they have even got their hands on it, but in the main this is for historical grudges against Liverpool – some possibly fair but many grossly misinformed. For fans of my team, Norwich City, many still dislike Liverpool due to Heysel meaning we missed out on the first two seasons of European football in the club’s existence. Okay, I get it..but come on, let’s move on.
This Liverpool team, including Henderson and the hard-to-dislike Klopp fully deserve that trophy and for their name to be on the history books as Premier League Winners 2019/20, whether the season is voided or not.
And for those of you who still don’t like, if the season is voided, their will forever be an asterix* next to their name as league winners saying *season voided, Liverpool awarded title. And then you call all sing songs and rib them until next time they do it for real.