LIVERPOOL’S 30 YEAR WAIT TO BE CROWNED PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2019-2020
The Gown Editor, Peter Donnelly & Contributor, Ben Gray.
The most eagle-eyed and sceptical of pessimists could not have foreseen, in Summer 2019, that the spectacle of ‘spectatorless’ football stadiums would become the norm after a global public health epidemic, of monumental proportions. The rasping chants of football fans, usually no more than inter-rivalry teasing in their content, are what gives a match their unique soundtrack.
Like the millions of lives, it has taken in its midst, coronavirus has pierced that thrill for the football fraternity but as the oft-said adage directs, that’s life, taking the rough with the smooth. That adage can in fact be prescribed to Liverpool’s momentous Premier League victory on Wednesday night last, 22nd July. It was of course known that Liverpool had sealed their 19th top-flight title when Manchester City lost to Chelsea in June. There was no way that they could be toppled from that vantage point.
Emerging from the four month lockdown, Liverpool’s below-power display against neighbours Everton did not fill fans with enthusiasm. Three days later, everything was changed, ‘changed utterly’ (to quote Yeats). In a thrilling performance against a hapless Crystal Palace, the Reds netted a spectacular 4-0 lead.
The Red followers flung off the manacles which had hampered their ‘ball thrills’ during the lockdown and literally owned the streets, with it has to be said an overwhelming irresponsibility. In the midst of the jubilance which had weighed heavy on their arsenal, since 1990, fireworks and flares were aimed at and caused damage to the City’s iconic Liver Building. However, it was the absorption and the sheer realisation of the triumph, after a thirty-year long wait, that the trophy was coming home to Anfield. The display of the raising of the trophy by captain, Jordan Henderson, provided the finality that all Reds had been craving.
Jurgen Klopp’s assumption as Liverpool manager in 2015 has proven that a staple menu of steady incrementalism and patient consistency can reenergise team morale to an extent that its positive force can touch all in its path. He has been notable for giving young, rising academy players the requisite time to showcase their development with their senior counterparts. 21 year-old right-back and Scouser Trent Alexander Arnold has been born and bred around Liverpool F.C.. He is a perfect example of Klopp’s stewardship of a team that has had few shortages of dashed hopes and disappointments from one season to the next. The management card seems to be the one that Liverpool has played to its advantage.
Indeed it is one of football philosophy’s inescapable realities that clubs will oscillate between success and sheer failure fiasco; whether that can be traced through the fault lines of unhinged management or poor strategy from players or a mixture of both, it is nearly impossible to conclude. Klopp’s, so far successful, blueprint of club reorganisation has so far been one for the clubs who currently feel that their performance is a pointless uphill battle to take on board. Klopp’s management credentials have now been set following Sir Alex Ferguson’s crowning him LMA Manager of the Year, fresh from his success in bringing the title home.
It was something of a tale of a full circle with Chelsea bagging the League title six years ago, at the expense of the Liverpool side who were inching closer to victory. Off the back of Steven Gerrard’s literal ‘slip up,’ missing a routine pass, which gave Chelsea striker Demba Ba the momentum to shoot and to shoot Liverpool hopes into oblivion. It was a ‘slip up’ that dinged Liverpool’s pride, when under the management of favourite Brendan Rodgers.
With the 3-1 win over Newcastle on Sunday, as the European places were decided on the final day of the season the final day of the season, Liverpool held the second-highest number of points in Premier League history, remaining just one behind Manchester City at 99 points. It was a day of blood, sweat and tears with relegation battles dominating; but Liverpool had no worries in that regard. The side played it steady throughout the duration, despite the fact that the “star-studded three” Salah, Mané and Firmino came off the bench 26 minutes before final whistle. Virigil van Dijk’s pocketed a header, Origi’s shot from 20 yards and a last-minute push from forward Mané to give them a definite lead. The sporadic season has been characterised by more than one anomaly as the frontline men Salah, Mané and Roberto Firmino produced a less prolific season scoring 45 out of the club’s 82 goals this 2019/20 season, that is down from 63% in 2018/19 to 55% this season).
With the new season coming sooner than usual, with minimal time for recess, it will be likely that Klopp will monopolise on the new energy coming from the fringe players who have had a defining impact on the club’s performance this season. Liverpool Academy hopefuls Rhian Brewster and Harry Elliot will be in poll position for the spotlight to be shone on their continuing progress. With Liverpool’s place now booked in the Champions League next season, with runners-up Manchester City and Manchester United, the challenge will be, as Jurgen Klopp stated, holding on to the title.
Klopp, himself, announced only last month that he had signed a new deal to remain as club manager until 2024. So it seems that this dynamic Red-style of play will be a force to be reckoned with.