It felt inevitable. You were always going to back their winning streak and bet on them winning the EPL title for the first time. Yet, we are all delighted that this magnificent team and their charismatic manager, Klopp, had a chance to seal their place in history with this achievement.
There were some grudging Man City fans accepting that they deserved the win. Even major rivals Manchester United offered congratulations on the victory, with a personal message from legend, Sir Alex Ferguson. So, why is it so easy to join in the joy of this victory? Let’s look back at Liverpool’s history and why this team has captured so many footballing hearts.
So long in the wilderness
It was a strange way to end a severe drought. Liverpool put in a champion’s performance against Crystal Palace, beating them convincingly 4 – 0. It was a performance of consummate skill and flair and deserved to be the crowning glory of a magnificent season. However, it took a loss by Manchester City against Chelsea for the title to be handed to the Scousers, as it became mathematically impossible for City to catch and overtake them for the title.
Liverpool has waited 30 years to secure the title of the best club in England. The last victory for the club predates the premiership, winning the title when it was known as League One. There have been a few near misses in the past 30 years but they were always just a little short of that match-winning, title-chasing magic that possessed Chelsea, then Manchester United and recently Manchester City. Jordan Henderson, the club captain, wasn’t born the last time the team won the title.
In the 70s and 80s, the club dominated the English game and Europe. It became almost accepted that the team would win the title – but then the drought came and endured. It was Kenny Daglish who last led the team to victory three decades ago. In this time they have had to endure watching Manchester United surpass their records of trophies. The horror of this was capped when Ferguson famously claimed that they had knocked Liverpool off their perch.
Liverpool came so close to winning the title last year. They amassed a massive 97 points, enough to win any previous season hands down. It just happened that this was the season that Man City decided to break all records and top the 100 point mark to take the EPL title. It would have been easy for Liverpool to shake their fist at fate and believe they could do no better. Yet, with only 2 losses in 2 years in the EPL, Liverpool came out better than before – trouncing the rest of the league and claiming the title with 7 games to go.
Part relief, part admiration
But why did we all want to celebrate with the Reds on this win? Why did hardened United fans offer congrats to their most fierce rival? Well, it was partly a relief that fate allowed Liverpool to claim the title they so richly deserved. When the pandemic hit, and the season was halted, no one had any idea how events would unfold. Even if there was a general agreement that with only 6 points to earn, Liverpool were the de facto champions, it would always be a title with an asterisk beside it. Therefore, when the season resumed 100 days later, there was a general belief across the footballing world that justice was being delivered and Liverpool would get to be unquestioned title holders.
But, it is also admiration for the way the team plays and the way they have gone about their victory. Mo Salah is a superstar, as is Firmino, Mane, Fabinho, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold and Allison. Then there are the players that epitomise the team soul like Henderson and Milner. And the stats are astonishing! 28 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss, with 70 goals scored – more than 2 a game and only 21 conceded. They have accrued a massive 86 points with 7 games remaining, meaning they could smash City’s record points score of last year – hitting an incredible 107 points.
It is also an admiration for the manager, Jurgen Klopp. He picked the team up when they sat 10th in the league of 20 teams. He was given only the smallest amount of grace to turn the team’s fortunes. He is a man who demands respect without showboating his ego. He is a good guy and almost everybody feels they can give him the respect he has so clearly deserved. He is a man with a powerful heart for the game, no better shown than when he burst into tears when interviewed about the win.
To Man City next
To rub salt into the wound of the Man City loss, they are playing Liverpool next. This means that the deposed champions will be expected to give Liverpool a guard of honour out of respect for their victory. Sometimes, the premier league throws up some delicious moments that everyone can savour.