Liverpool claim their first ever Premier League title, and their first league title for 30 years after Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Thursday evening.
The Reds claimed their first English top-flight title since 1990 after Chelsea’s defeat of Manchester City ended the race with seven games to spare
For Liverpool fans, those two words will never have sounded so sweet.
After 30 years, they can say it loud and sing it proud: Liverpool Football Club – Champions of England.
The title race is over and so is the waiting. All that yearning and worrying, the talking and the dreaming, the sleepless nights and the arguments and the frustration and the near misses.
The pain is gone.
The longest wait ends with the sweetest feeling. Jurgen Klopp’s side are already Kings of Europe, they’ve already conquered the world, and now they have the prize they really wanted.
After three decades chasing steak and lobster, it’s time for some good old-fashioned bread and butter.
Never will it have tasted so good.
It used to be an annual event, the Liverpool title party. They used to expect it, never mind enjoy it.
So, when John Barnes converted a penalty against Queens Park Rangers on April 28 1990, giving the Reds their 10th championship in 15 years and their 18th in total, nobody could have predicted what was to come.
More than 11,000 days have passed since then. There have been six UK Prime Ministers and five US presidents; war and peace, revolutions, referendums and reality TV.
At Liverpool, there have been nine permanent managers, one caretaker and an ill-fated experiment with two at the same time. There have been takeovers, a High Court battle, an “epic swindle” and a mass walkout. You’re never short of a story covering the Reds, put it that way.
On the pitch, a total of 239 players have represented the club in a league game since Barnes’ spot-kick. There have been 218 signings, ranging from the excellent to the mediocre to the what-the-f***. Some have been forgotten, some never will be.
Each of those players, each of those managers, was given the same task; to put Liverpool at the very top of English football. Success is what the club demands, success is what it was built for. As Bill Shankly once said: “Liverpool Football Club exists to win trophies.”
Shankly would certainly approve of this Liverpool team, and of the man at the helm of it. What Jurgen Klopp has achieved at Anfield in the last five years, the man from Glenbuck would have been proud of. Klopp’s name deserves to sit comfortably alongside the club’s all-time greats.
The Reds were drifting when the German arrived in October 2015, but he has transformed them since.
Bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece, Klopp has assembled a side which ranks among the greatest in English football history. First, he made them believe, then he made them achieve.
Liverpool have had some wonderful teams and some wonderful players, but few have been quite as dominant, quite as relentless as this one.
The numbers speak for themselves. Klopp’s side are the fastest ever Premier League champions, and at the time of writing have built up the biggest winning margin by a title-winning side. They are unbeaten at Anfield in more than three years, and on course to become the first side to win all of its home games in a top-flight season since Sunderland in 1892.
If they take 15 points from their last seven fixtures – yes, there are still seven games left, for goodness’ sake! – they will set a new points record for a top-flight campaign. They have beaten every team in the league this season, including a Manchester City side that also has legitimate claims to be one of the all-time greats.
That is the context surrounding Liverpool’s achievement. That is who they were up against and who they have had to match; the most expensively-assembled side in history, led by a man who has won eight league titles in 12 years as a manager.
And they haven’t just matched them, they’ve eviscerated them. The title race was done in November, really, with City simply unable to live with the standards being set at Anfield. Even Pep Guardiola, the great Pep Guardiola, ran out of ideas this time.
Liverpool won their first eight league games of the season, drew the next one and then responded with an 18-game winning run. City had picked up 198 points across the last two seasons, but they were 25 behind by the time the season was halted by the coronavirus crisis in mid-March. They stumbled, and Liverpool just kept on winning.
In the end, not even a global pandemic could deny the Reds. Klopp and his players kept quiet when it was suggested in some quarters that the season should be declared null-and-void. ‘None of our business,’ was the message. Football, rightly, takes a back seat when lives are at stake.
Instead, they worked and they prepared and they hoped. And when it was deemed safe enough to return, they did so. Just as hungry, just as motivated.
Ready to work, ready to win.
There are still some who will attempt to downplay this achievement, who will try to tear down the brilliance of this humble, driven group of footballers. Maybe their title win, they suggest, should come with an asterisk.
Maybe they’re right, actually.
After all, this season has been far from normal.
And neither has this team.
European Champions, World Champions, English Champions.
Liverpool Football Club. Back on their f*cking perch.
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