As the saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ – this holds so true for Liverpool who have been chasing their 19th league title for the last three decades, and at times, have been so close, yet so far.
Down but never out. That’s right, the last time Liverpool lifted this coveted trophy was eternities back in April 1990, with Sir Kenny Dalglish at the managerial helm.
The tournament wasn’t even called Premier League then, simply the Football League First Division. What’s more, Britain was very different in 1990.
Margaret Thatcher was in the final year of her 11-year Premiership, Mr. Bean made his debut on TV and the Channel Tunnel was still being built.
Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool legend was just 10 years old, harbouring a dream to someday play for the Reds, and Jordan Henderson, the current captain of the club, was yet to be born.
Generations have come and gone
The question one needs to ask is – a club with a pedigree of 18 league titles, making them the second-most successful English club after Manchester United domestically, why Liverpool have had to wait for 30 years to get their 19th title triumph?
Is that even possible? Unfortunately, the answer is a pain-stricken yes. But more agonizingly so in this time, a generation of footballers have come and gone.
The likes of Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Sami Hyypiä, Micheal Owen, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Jamie Carragher to name a few, all legends in their own right, but none have been able to make this great club win that elusive Premier League title.
30 years of blood, sweat and tears
As Bill Shankly, the great Liverpool manager of the past said, “Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”
Well, for Liverpool, it has been more serious than life and death to get their hands on the esteemed trophy, with much blood, sweat and tears shed, only to result in sheer torment.
The Liverpool faithful have had to endure endless periods of despair, agony, misery and gloom for 30 years trickling down to generations.
Truth be told, there have been multiple seasons like 2001-02, 2008-09, 20013-14 and more recently, 2018-19, where Liverpool looked to have one hand on the Premier League trophy, only to lose the title race by the end of the campaign, sometimes even on the last day of the season.
The Reds have had to settle for being the second-best, a position the club and the fans don’t care about.
There is light at the end of the tunnel
As we know, darkness cannot descend on us forever, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Well the tunnel is the 2019-20 season and the light, the almost-certainty of Liverpool winning their first Premier League title.
They have a massive 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City, who are second on the table. Liverpool are mere two wins away from becoming the champions of England for the 19th time in their illustrious history.
The Klopp effect
How did this turnaround happen for Liverpool? Well, for me, the answer is simple, it’s the Jurgen Klopp effect.
Ever since the German took charge of the Reds, replacing Brendan Rodgers in the middle of the 2015-16 season, Liverpool have slowly but surely transformed into a better playing outfit.
The former Borussia Dortmund boss has not only successfully managed players but also their diverse cultures, with a case in point example being the successful attacking trio of Mohamed Salah (Egyptian), Sadio Mane (Senegalese) and Roberto Firmino (Brazilian), who have scored goals aplenty over the last few seasons.
Different cultures working as one group, which leads to team success is his mantra.
If we look at some records, Liverpool finished the 2018-19 season, boasting a club-record tally of 97 points in the Premier League, before amassing an astonishing 82 points from a possible 87 so far this term.
What’s more, they also won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, and the Club World Cup last year, the first English team to win all the three trophies in a calendar year.
Compare these accolades with a 30-year longing for the league title, and one would realize what it is to have renewed hope as a Liverpool faithful.
The lines, “You’ll never walk alone” will resonate now more than ever, and when the 19th title is Liverpool’s, Kopites from all over the world will shed a tear or two, only this time, it will be of happiness.