They’ve racked up more than 90 points in three of the last four Premier League seasons, won the Champions League, FA Cup, Club World Cup, League Cup and UEFA Super Cup in the same spell and have a revenge mission to complete when they take on Real Madrid in this Saturday’s European showpiece in Paris. All while playing some of the most wonderful high-intensity football the English game has ever witnessed.
So does their near-miss to Manchester City in this year’s title race and the resulting quashed quadruple dream really take any of the gloss off Liverpool’s incredible run under Jurgen Klopp?
Sure, when people are sifting through eras to find examples of the greatest achievements it is generally the champions who get all the plaudits, and so City’s latest coronation on Sunday is rightly drawing huge praise. But to cast off Liverpool simply as also-ran runners-up is to ignore just where they ought to rank in Premier League history.
Klopp and his side might yet be a long way away from even dreaming of the longevity of success that Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United achieved, but Liverpool have been truly great at a time when it is getting harder and harder to win the Premier League.
Even the most devout of Reds on Merseyside would admit that a number of their 18 league titles prior to the Premier League’s inception came easily. Once they had built a machine under Bill Shankly and then Bob Paisley, it was all just about keeping it running, and the rest of the competition simply couldn’t keep up. And that’s what Ferguson emulated at Old Trafford between 1992 and 2013.
Sure, United had fleeting rivals. They had to overcome Blackburn Rovers for a bit, then Arsenal rose to prominence, and there was the oil-rich Chelsea who had a say during Ferguson’s reign before City’s takeover upped the stakes.
But in the age of nation states owning football clubs, Liverpool’s ability to even get close to City deserves another look when it comes to the conversation relating to all-time greats. United might have gained more lasting honours over a longer period, but even at their very best the Red Devils were never this relentless.
This Manchester City team is as dominant as anything we’ve ever seen. They have chalked up 100, 98, 81, 86 and 93 points over a five-year period which has garnered four league crowns. Yes, they are – as it stands – the best team of the Premier League years. But by that measure, Liverpool are a very close second because they’ve helped to make City that good.
Even Pep Guardiola said as much after his side’s title-clinching 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
“The magnitude of these incredible achievements relates to the magnitude of your rival, and our rival is almost the perfect team,” he said of Liverpool’s challenge.
“We’ve beaten them [to the title] two or three times in this period but we didn’t beat just one opponent, we beat the strongest opponents I have ever faced in my life as a football player or as a manager… by far.”
For Liverpool to chalk up 97, 99, 69 and 92 points in four years but only win one league title says more of City’s brilliance than it does of any shortcomings in the Reds’ squad. Yes, football is about winning, but Liverpool have done that across multiple competitions and have done so with some scintillating football. The likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Andy Robertson are among the very best players to play the game in recent years.
So the fact they have fallen short to City means nothing when judging Liverpool. Their achievement in topping 90 points so often is immense. Manchester United fans who cite the longer-standing successes of their club would also do well to remember that they’ve only earned 90-plus points in three of the last 65 years, even accounting for the raise to three points for a win.
What Liverpool have had to compete with in City is game-changing, yet they have collected one league title and twice left Guardiola’s side needing to win out on the final day despite them already having a points total that would have won pretty much every other league championship in English football history.
You may get nothing for finishing second, but this Liverpool team are no ordinary runners-up. They are arguably the second-greatest side the Premier League era has given us. They deserve to be enjoyed and celebrated rather than belittled.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change