"Only" winning the Premier League
The notion that Liverpool “only” winning the Premier League title this season would be anticlimactic is ridiculous.
Aside from the fact that it is actually not true (European Super Cup and World Club Cup anyone?), numerous media outlets, opposition fans and even some of our own have suggested that Liverpool could and should do more this season. That we supporters should feel downbeat at the prospect of winning the Premier League but not the domestic cups or retaining the Champions League alongside it.
While (almost) everybody is entitled to an opinion, I believe that a sense of perspective is missing from that particular line of thought.
In an 18 month period that has seen Liverpool lose a Champions League final, recover and amass 97 points in the league (ultimately finishing 2nd), go on to then win the Champions League and follow this up with Super Cup and Club World Cup glory, there should be no doubting the quality and resilience of this team. A further example of this, arguably the biggest example, in fact, has been their performance in the league this season.
As they pushed a fantastic Manchester City side all the way to the final day of the 2018/19 season, achieving the record number of points for the team finishing 2nd and having only lost 1 league game all season, supporters would be forgiven for thinking that our best chance of seeing Liverpool win their first league title since the 1989/90 season had ended in more disappointment. That as long as Pep Guardiola and his billionaire-backed City team were around, they would continue to spend big to improve and that we would not be able to maintain the performance level that had allowed us to push them so close. After all, this is a City team that only last year pundits and so-called “experts” were glorified as one of the greatest teams in Premier League history.
However, in typical Liverpool fashion under Jürgen Klopp, the team have not only matched what they had done previously, but they have also surpassed it.
An unbeaten league run spanning back to January last year (27 games this season, 44 in total) and a 22 point lead over City (19 if they win their game in hand) has left the club needing 4 more wins to secure that elusive Premier League title win. The 29-year wait will be over. The near-misses, the squad rebuilds, the threat of administration, the Hodgson era … these will all be distant memories. Consigned to the past. Important reminders of what the club has been through to come to this point, and what us supporters have had to endure in that time. Rival fans have dreaded the day coming – largely because many think that football started when the Premier League was formed and take great pleasure in taunting us that Liverpool have not won the trophy. Taking that from them, whilst not being the main source of joy in this scenario, will undoubtedly be the icing on the cake.
This season the club are almost being victims of their own success. Establishing such a dominant lead, not only playing at such a high level but being able to maintain it and show a level of consistency that the chasing pack can’t, has unsurprisingly lead to increased expectancy. Not just amongst our own fanbase, but from those of other clubs and obviously the media. A combination of admiring and jealous glances. An enhanced level of scrutiny.
The plaudits have come thick and fast and rightly so. But with that, comes the comparison with great Premier League teams of the past. The media simultaneously praising the team, yet warning that what’s being done won’t be special if it doesn’t equal or beat what has been done before. Arsenal supporters, clinging desperately to their clubs ‘Invincibles’ moniker and praying that Liverpool doesn’t go through the season unbeaten. Man Utd supporters crossing everything in the hope that we don’t do the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble that they are so proud of.
The comparisons are only natural. But to downplay what Liverpool are doing and try to diminish what the club are on the cusp of achieving is madness.
The current dip in form and performance feels like it was inevitable at some point. The team have been playing at such a consistently high level, with unparalleled intensity and determination in their game, for such a sustained period of time that it was bound to take its toll at some stage. Losing 3 out of the last 4 matches is a kick in the teeth, and the performances not only individually but collectively have been far below the standard that was previously set. Players have struggled to regain their rhythm since the winter break and undoubtedly injuries are having an effect on this too.
However, despite the disappointments of losing to Watford in the league and being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea, we are still on course to make history. Losing the first leg of the Champions League tie to Atletico Madrid was not ideal, but the tie is still winnable. They’re coming to Anfield and their La Liga rivals Barcelona know all too well what can happen when our backs are against the wall! But even if it doesn’t go our way this time, or it does yet we lose at a later stage in the competition, the fact of the matter is that we won it recently and will have the chance to go for it again next season. The Premier League trophy, however, is our ‘Holy Grail’.
As it stands, 4 victories and we are champions. With 10 games to go, we could yet break the record points tally for the league. We could even potentially win the league with the biggest points margin in Premier League history. That would be great.
Maybe winning the title on the last day of the season, in dramatic fashion so that media outlets could build it up and then have visuals and sound bites for their coverage, would change the perception and give Liverpool the credit deserved for “only” winning the Premier League? Personally, I think wrapping it up earlier is more worthy of praise.
Ultimately though, all that matters is that we get over the line and get our hands on that trophy. Bringing an end to the 29-year wait. Adding number 19 to the collection.
Winning the Premier League, the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in a 12 month period is an amazing feat. A feat that we could only dream of not long ago. And this team, these players, under the guidance of Klopp and his team, are delivering it for you. For us. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t listen to those who try to diminish and downplay it. Appreciate it. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Celebrate it. Be the unbearable supporters that other fans are worried that we will be! Enjoy the party.
We’ve earned it.