Alex Ferguson is famously attributed as having remarked that he’d arrived in England with one mission: to knock Liverpool off their *insert expletive* perch. The quote has been used multiple times as an indicator of how ambitious Ferguson was but it is also important to remind the reader that in that statement lies all the knowledge needed to know just how much of a behemoth Liverpool was in the 70s and 80s.
When the team was under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool won their eleventh league title in seventeen years on 28th April 1990. It would have been laughable to opine that it would be another three decades until the league returned to Anfield.
Thirty years of anguish, heartbreak, and devastating near-misses under such varied managers as Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers have elapsed in between that eighteenth title and the nineteenth duly delivered under Jurgen Klopp’s tutelage a few weeks ago. And make no mistake, this isn’t a fluke championship.
Klopp has slowly but steadily revitalised and reawakened the Merseyside giants since replacing Brendan Rodgers five years ago. He very nearly delivered the title last season, only to lose to the Centurions of Pep Guardiola’s Man City despite only losing one game.
Still, a sixth Champions League title offered ample consolation and justified the decision of Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group owners to keep faith with the German. With the league secured at the earliest point ever in Premier League history, focus already switches to next season.
The fact of the matter is that Klopp has, through legendary coaching and shrewd transfer business, assembled a beast of a team. The praises were sung of its the spine of Alison Becker in goal, Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho, Trent Alexander Arnold, Andrew Robertson, as well as the fearsome trio of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino perhaps don’t pay enough homage to the man who turned them into the mean machine they truly are today.
However, the next challenge abounds now. Liverpool retaining their crown come next season will firmly place the current crop of players into Premier League folklore, alongside Manchester United’s Treble Winners, Arsenal’s Invincible’s, Chelsea’s Impenetrable’s of Jose Mourinho’s first spell and City’s Centurions.
Jurgen Klopp has built an impressive Liverpool team during his time as manager and hopes to even do better
Failure to do so won’t detract from their impressive achievements, but it’ll hardly distinguish them from Blackburn Rovers in 1995 and Leicester City in 2016. The million-dollar question though is if, indeed they will go on and do it.
A few things complicate the situation, even if only mildly. For starters, the league is bound to be stronger next season, with rivals like Chelsea and Manchester United undertaking ambitious rebuilding projects that could see them become contenders again.
That’s not to mention the inevitability of Man City, the dethroned champions coming back with more motivation to recapture a trophy they have grown to regard as their birthright. A stronger chasing pack means increased pressure on the pace-setters, and who knows how Liverpool might react in a more competitive race.
Because, let’s face it, the chasing pack this season have been abysmal. Runners up Man City have lost a whopping nine games, something you can safely bet will not be allowed to happen again next season.
There is also the possibility that with the league title, the Holy Grail secured, ambition and hunger might plummet, and the gap between Liverpool and their rivals might reduce.
This isn’t exclusive to Liverpool as a team, it could happen to anybody else in the same situation. However, considering the fact that Liverpool’s success is down to a style of football so physically exerting, burn out becomes likely.
Its been evidenced before in a Jurgen Klopp team, with his brilliant Borussia Dortmund team suffering badly in his final year as a result of accumulated fatigue. All of these observations are merely hypothetical and there’s no indication of what can be expected to happen. All that can be done right now is to wait until next season begins, and watch the mystery reveal itself.
Author: Timothy Ainebyoona
Timothy is a dynamic analyst passionate about news and all things sport.