And if you know your recent history….
And so the end is near but which team will lift the title come May? Contrary to the myth that every Liverpool fan is already planning the parade, I don’t profess to know.
I don’t know where these ideas come from that Liverpool fans assume we will win the league every year, it’s certainly not the case with the fans I know.
The narrative is already being drawn up that if Liverpool fail to overcome the most expensive Premier League side ever assembled – that have played faster and looser with Financial Fair Play than Howard Webb with a rulebook when United need a hand – that Liverpool would have “bottled it again”.
Apparently Liverpool are both the luckiest side ever and also perennial bottlers, it would seem oxymoronic but not to the football experts found in the deepest darkest corners of social media or your local scouse hating boozer.
In 2013-14, Liverpool’s luck – that had brought them no titles since 1990 – finally ran out when Gerrard slipped against Chelsea and despite the whole team having a full half to rectify his slip and stand up and be counted for their captain, despite Liverpool conceding 50 goals that season, despite Sterling’s goal (when playing for Liverpool) being disallowed for no reason to give City a defining win at the Etihad, Steven Gerrard is the sole reason Liverpool did not win that game.
This is the “logic” we face from these football aficionados and they have plenty of memes to remind you why it’s the fault of the man who carried Liverpool for a decade that they never won the Premier League.
Chelsea fans in particular love more than anyone to remind us what “bottlers” we are, perhaps it’s because they don’t want people to remember that they too were in the title race until they lost to Sunderland at home, a game that cost them a 77 match home unbeaten record under Mourinho. This again is completely acceptable though, because Liverpool didn’t win it.
More revisionism would have you believe that Liverpool are the only team that could give up a 10 point lead. Well first of all, it was 10 points with City having a game in hand, so all equal it was never a 10 point lead, it was a 7 point lead. I mean it’s still not great and I do have a problem with how passive we were in the games that led to us dropping this lead other than City where the margins were so thin.
The weather no doubt had an impact on the game but last I checked both sides play in the same weather. Us only clearing the snow from the end we were attacking was a particular low-light this season for me. The Premier League should get involved in that and have a rule either both sides get done or neither side gets done. It was one of the few times I agree that we were pathetic in seeking to gain an advantage. It should also be the same for watering the pitch for all clubs as well.
What had a bigger impact was the loss of Trent Alexander Arnold, he showed straight away on his return how important the balance and delivery he brings is to this Liverpool team.
The issue obviously is that teams fans don’t know or want to forget their own faux pas. So let’s have a little look back in time, shall we? I’ll even stay within the rules of “only Premier League matters.”
We don’t have to go far back for our first spectacular collapse, 2016 was a magical year for Leicester fans but after a respectable 1-1 draw with Man United, the door was left open for a Tottenham side travelling to Stamford Bridge. Spurs went two nil up and then conspired to draw 2-2 and ended the season third in what was dubbed a “two horse race”.
The year is 2012, Man United are 8 points clear of Man City, Agueroooooooo! Whoops. Guess you let that one “slip”.
It’s 1998, United are 11 points clear of Arsenal and champions elect. As is always the case on such occasions street vendors have their champions memorabilia in stock. Arsenal claw back the second largest deficit in Premier League history.
Sorry Newcastle fans but it’s your turn now. It’s 1996 and Kevin Keegan has just had his “I’d love it if we beat them” meltdown. He’s right that Ferguson was winding up other teams before they faced Newcastle, the importance of the interview has been overhyped because it makes for a good headline or focal point. Roy Keane said neither he nor the Man United players cared about what went on between the managers, they didn’t say anything about this and they were just focussed on winning.
Finally 1995. Man United fans were convinced that a Liverpool side facing Blackburn Rovers on the final day would roll over and cost United their shot at the title. United traveled to Upton Park – before West Ham moved into a soulless athletics track – believing that even a win would not be enough as Liverpool would deliberately throw the game to prevent them winning. Liverpool did their part winning 2-1 despite Alan Shearer giving Blackburn a 20th minute lead. United however could only manage a 1-1 and lost the title by a solitary point despite only needing a win in the end to win the title, Ludek Miklosko and a West Ham side playing only for pride had denied them on the last day.
So as you can clearly see there have been a multitude of collapses in the Premier League era, it’s simply a fact of being good enough to be in a title race, one team has to lose and pressure can get to the best.
Perhaps fate is finally being kind to Liverpool in the Premier League, we’ve certainly had our fair share of luck, not the inordinate amount some people would have you believe but the type of luck that you need when you’re challenging the most impressive Premier League team by points ever assembled.
Whoever wins this year’s title, given what they have achieved to this point, neither team will have bottled it. Of course there is plenty of time for both teams to “bottle it” and no doubt whoever does will hear about it forevermore with no thought of respect or context to how hard it is to have done what both of these sides have done to this point.