Liverpool: 2019/20 Premier League Champions - A 30 Year Story
After a few weeks of reflection, it has just started to sink in that Liverpool are officially Premier League champions. The Reds waited thirty long years to reclaim the English throne, with a host of managers and players, ups and downs, and changes in ownership. On October 15th 2015 saw a change of fortunes for the Merseyside club, with the appointment of Jürgen Klopp, formerly of Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, as their latest Manager. He promised Liverpool that he would turn doubters, into believers. All aboard.
Liverpool's 30 Year Domestic Journey
Liverpool last won the league title in the 1989/90 season, the team was managed by club legend Sir Kenny Dalglish, and the Reds top scorer was John Barnes with twenty-two goals. Aston Villa were runners up, and Liverpool’s rival in the past few years Manchester City finished in fourteenth place, and their blood rivals Manchester United only finished a place higher in thirteenth. I hadn’t even been born, and the great period of Liverpool was coming to an end. Liverpool dominated the 70’s and 80’s, which my grandad telling me about watching the reds lift the title at Anfield, to hysteria after winning the Champions League in Paris and Rome. In my lifetime I had the chance to experience what he did, when I was fourteen for the miracle in Istanbul, and then just last year in Madrid when Liverpool lifted the European cup for the sixth time.
Born in the year of 1991 the one thing I had never experienced was seeing the club I supported my whole life win the league. I always see people call Liverpool ‘History FC’ because of the supporters reminiscing about what they were when they ruled England, and it wasn’t hard to see why. A team that for three decades had always been successful were no more when the Premier League was founded. Supporters expected nothing but high standards from the Reds, and when crazy things like Istanbul happen it is easy to get sucked into the culture of the club, and even at Liverpool’s worst, they always had a chance of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Money changed the way luck works in England, before Abramovich arrived at Chelsea in June 2003 success was defined the quality of coaching, which is why Manchester United dominated the league. Chelsea changed that balance, and raised the competitive bar, and then Manchester City was bought out by the Qatari’s. BT Sport & Sky, and most recently Amazon, have also bid more for what was becoming the a billion pound product, battling each other for rights to the most competitive league in the world. Liverpool nearly went bust in 2010 in the ill-fated Gillette era, and as money transformed the league into a hotbed of competition, coaching and money went hand-in-hand for top six clubs, which Liverpool were failing at locking down a European place. The likelihood of the Reds sitting on their perch again felt a million miles away.
When FSG bought Liverpool in October 2010 the long rebuilding process was underway, and in exactly five years’ time the clubs fortunes would change when Jürgen Klopp arrived on Merseyside. Personally, I was a massive doubter after the Brendan Rodgers experience, and seeing the Northern Irishman drive away my idol Steven Gerrard, most Liverpool supporters were used to fielding constant abuse online and relentless trolling by rival supporters. I can’t believe the journey that Liverpool have taken me on since the day a shocked Thierry Henry placed his hand on Jamie Carragher’s leg when it was announced Rodgers had been sacked as Liverpool boss.
Premier League: Liverpool
Liverpool have participated in every single Premier League season, and whilst they have never finished in the bottom half, they have had a jumpy history in the top half of the Premier League since its inception.
28: Premier League seasons (including 2019/20)
22: Amount of times Liverpool finished in the Top Six
15: Amount of times Liverpool finished in the Top Four
13: Amount of times Liverpool finished outside the Top Four
4: Amount of times Liverpool finished in the Top Two
1: Amount of times Liverpool have won the Premier League
Here is a list of all the seasons Liverpool have completed in the Premier League era, including their top scorers, and what honours they won in that season.
PL: Premier League
CL: Champions League
UE: UEFA Cup / Europa League
FA: FA Cup
LC: League Cup
CWC: Club World Cup
SC: Super Cup
1992/93: 6th - Top Scorer: Ian Rush (14) - LC
1993/94: 8th - Top Scorer: Ian Rush (14)
1994/95: 4th - Top Scorer: Robbie Fowler (25)
1995/96: 3rd - Top Scorer: Robbie Fowler (28)
1996/97: 4th - Top Scorer: Robbie Fowler (18)
1997/98: 3rd - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (18)
1998/99: 7th - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (18)
1999/00: 4th - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (11)
2000/01: 3rd - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (11) - FA, LC, UE
2001/02: 2nd - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (19) - SC
2002/03: 5th - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (19) - LC
2003/04: 4th - Top Scorer: Michael Owen (16)
2004/05: 5th - Top Scorer: Milan Baroš (9) - CL
2005/06: 3rd - Top Scorer: Steven Gerrard (10) - FA, SC
2006/07: 3rd - Top Scorer: Dirt Kuyt (12)
2007/08: 4th - Top Scorer: Fernando Torres (24)
2008/09: 2nd - Top Scorer: Steven Gerrard (16)
2009/10: 7th - Top Scorer: Fernando Torres (18)
2010/11: 6th - Top Scorer: Dirt Kuyt (13)
2011/12: 8th - Top Scorer: Luis Suárez (11) - LC
2012/13: 7th - Top Scorer: Luis Suárez (23)
2013/14: 2nd - Top Scorer: Luis Suárez (31)
2014/15: 6th - Top Scorer: Steven Gerrard (9)
2015/16: 8th - Top Scorer: Roberto Firmino (10)
2016/17: 4th - Top Scorer: Sadio Mané (13)
2017/18: 4th - Top Scorer: Mohamad Salah (32)
2018/19: 2nd - Top Scorer: Mané & Salah (22) - CL
2019/20: 1st - Top Scorer: Mohamad Salah (19) - PL, CWC, SC
Title Challenges: Liverpool in the Premier League Era
2001/02 vs. Arsenal - | 87pts – 80pts | - Manager: Gérard Houllier
2008/09 vs. Manchester United - | 90pts – 86pts | - Manager: Rafa Benitez
2013/14 vs. Manchester City - | 86pts – 84pts | - Manager: Brendan Rodgers
2018/19 vs. Manchester City - | 98pts – 97pts | - Manager: Jürgen Klopp
2019/20 vs. Manchester City - | 99pts – 81pts | - Manager: Jürgen Klopp
The fact that Liverpool have built on back-to-back seasons since Klopp’s arrival is incredibly rare and it broke the cycle of never being able to achieve a fourth year of improved league positions. Jürgen Klopp has achieved a feat obtained by no other Liverpool manager in Premier League history…he has retained or improved a better position in the league table in four or more seasons. Liverpool always had a cycle of breaking into the top four, occasionally challenging every seven years, and then going on slump before rebuilding.
Klopp is also the first manager to mount two title challenges for a Liverpool manager in the Premier League, with the other three managers all sacked or resigned within two seasons after mounting a title challenge. Houllier couldn’t improve on his treble, confidence was depleted after Rafa’s near miss, and Brendan Rodgers went into a downward spiral after being beaten to the title by Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City. Jürgen broke the cycle of Liverpool always falling off after a title challenge, FSG trusted Klopp where in the past they would be looking at replacements for falling short. It was also the first time I was confident an existing manager could rally the team for another title challenge, and unlike previous years Klopp didn’t have to sell a key player.
Surprising Fact: Willian of Chelsea effectively scored the goal that cost Liverpool a result in the Chelsea game at Anfield in 2014. The Brazilian also scored the goal that beat Man City this year to guarantee Liverpool the title. The goal that won it for the Reds was scored by Christian Pulisic, a player that was brought through the Borussia Dortmund academy…by Jürgen Klopp.
Trophies: Liverpool in the Premier League Era
Premier League | 1 | - 2019/20
Champions League | 2 | - 2004/05, 2018/19
Europa League | 1 | - 2000/01
FA Cup | 2 | - 2000/01, 2005/06
League Cup | 4 | - 1992/93, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2011/12
Super Cup | 3 | - 2001/02, 2005/06, 2019/20
Club World Cup | 1 | 2019/20
TOTAL HONOURS: 14
A quarter of Liverpool’s honours in the Premier League era have occurred in the past two seasons under Jürgen Klopp, ending a seven year wait for another honour. This era is also when social media such as Facebook and Twitter really took off, and it allowed rival fans to mercilessly troll Liverpool in the modern era for their lack of success. There wasn’t a day when I would log onto Twitter, or Facebook, or even a Whatsapp chat without seeing the Gerrard Slip gif or being linked to a website that tracked the number of Premier League titles Liverpool have won.
Since the Champions League win in 2019 I have been in the driving seat, with Liverpool going onto win the Super Cup, Club World Cup, and the Premier League under Klopp. The ghosts of days gone by had been banished, Liverpool were established champions, and rival fans are resorted to devaluing the league to downplay the title win or try and put an asterisk on their accomplishments due to COVID-19. Perceptions are everything for being a champion, and it is exactly what I thought, a large patch of fans cannot accept it. Liverpool changed the game.
Record Breakers: Liverpool 2019/20
This hasn’t been just your everyday Premier League title win, Liverpool have completely blitzed most records, and even though I didn’t get to see them become invincible (which would have been the cherry on top), the Reds did pretty much everything other than invincibility. Here are some of the crazy things achieved by this special Liverpool team.
Earliest Premier League win: Liverpool won the league in GW31, with a lengthy seven games remaining to pay. The previous record was held by both Manchester clubs with five games to play, with City’s 2017/18 centurion season the most recent.
Latest Premier League win: Due to the pandemic sweeping the world, the Reds were made to wait for their win. As a result, the date of the 25th June 2020 is the latest date a club has been declared champions.
Longest Home Winning Run: Liverpool have a run of an unprecedented 23 consecutive league games at home without dropping points. The previous record was held by Bill Shankly’s Liverpool from the 70’s.
Longest Winning Run (Joint Record): Alongside Manchester City’s end of season run in 2018/19, Liverpool in the early stages of the season racked up 18 straight league wins.
Defeated Every League Club: The Reds are only the 9th team to beat every single team in a league season. This is also the first time Liverpool have been able to do it in their history.
Most Titles in Separate Decades: Liverpool have won the league title in more decades than any other club, with 8 decades: 00’s. 20’s, 40’s,60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 20’s.
Best League Start: Liverpool have the best start of any club in the entire of Europe’s top five leagues, not just in England. 61pts from a possible 63pts is Europe’s best start. The only club to take points was Manchester United at Old Trafford, with Adam Lallana’s surprise goal stopping the reds from slipping to their first defeat of the season.
Biggest Winning Points Difference: 28 wins, and just 1 defeat, Liverpool had a massive 25pt lead on second place. This is the biggest margin in English topflight history.
First English International Treble: Liverpool became the first club in England to hold all the following honours: Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
Most Premier League wins: Liverpool tied Manchester City’s record of 32 league wins in a season.
Home Wins Record: Liverpool earned 17 wins at Anfield this season, and they only dropped points at Anfield to Burnley in a 1-1 draw during GW35.
Most Points in an English Season / Premier League: If Liverpool win their remaining seven league games, they will be on 107pts, one more than Reading’s historic 106pts in the Championship, and more than Man City’s 100pts in the Premier League.
League Season Points: Despite missing out on becoming centurions by one point, Liverpool had their best season by their own records in this title winning campaign.
Longest Unbeaten Home Run: The Reds are unbeaten in the Premier League in 46 games with 36 wins and 10 draws. The last time they lost at Anfield was to Crystal Palace, courtesy of former Liverpool striker Benteke scoring both goals in a 2-1 win. This home run is the longest in Liverpool’s history.
Liverpool: Net Spend FC
I see a lot of people saying that Liverpool have been a spending club, and that they bought their way to the title with luxurious signings and disregarding the rules in making world record signings like Virgil van Dijk and Alisson (until Kepa went to Chelsea). Since Klopp has been in charge the German has cultivated Liverpool’s talent and sold players for big profit. Everyone knows Coutinho moved to Barcelona for £142mil, but then you have the likes of Mamadou Sakho who was sold for £26mil, and Christian Benteke joined the Frenchman at Crystal Palace for £32mil.
Even further down the first team academy graduates were being offloaded, Sergi Canos was one instanceplayed a big part of Brentford’s failed promotion bid was sold for £7mil. The Reds even got £18mil from Bournemouth for Jordan Ibe, and a further £20mil for Dominic Solanke. The Jürgen Klopp factor, combined with the wizardry of Michael Edwards who lead the charge on all incomings and outgoings, were able to sell the proverbial furs to Eskimo’s.
According to the Transfermarkt metric, here are the net spends of the clubs in the 2019/20 season for the past five years:
1. Man City – £601.98m
2. Man Utd – £484.88m
3. Arsenal – £267.88m
4. Everton – £225.42m
5. Brighton – £214.86m
6. Wolves – £205.22m
7. West Ham – £187.49m
8. Bournemouth – £176.95m
9. Aston Villa – £166.65m
10. Watford – £125.69m
11. Leicester City – £124.83m
12. Newcastle – £122.91m
13. Chelsea – £115.57m
14. Liverpool – £107.58m
15. Tottenham – £106.62m
16. Crystal Palace – £75.69m
17. Burnley – £59.4m
18. Sheffield United – £56.71m
19. Southampton – £22.32m
20. Norwich City – £25.42m (profit)
Spent Totals & Analysis:
Liverpool average spend per season: £21.51 million
Manchester City average spend per season: £120.39 million
Manchester United average spend per season: £96.97 million
Everton average spend per season: £45.08 million
During Jürgen Klopp’s first five seasons, the German has made profits in four out of five summer transfer windows, with the exception being the 2018 summer window when Fabinho and Alisson joined six months on from Virgil van Dijk’s arrival in the winter window. Klopp was brought in by FSG to run on an emergency budget, and the clubs stagnating talent was moved on for players that would push Liverpool to the next level.
Whilst Man City were shelling out £50mil for bench players, and Man United were looking for the next big thing, Liverpool’s transfer strategy was to mean-max the Liverpool squad. Less became more, with a focus on true talent leading Liverpool on their ascent in Europe and in England. Using Liverpool’s history, ambition, and worldwide appeal, Liverpool lured in Virgil van Dijk ahead of City and Chelsea most importantly, whilst also moving on Coutinho who faked a back injury to obtain a move to Barcelona. Liverpool were cutthroat in the transfer market, and they did it whilst significantly under budget.
Liverpool won the title without having to repeatedly spend on new players and going into the 2019/20 season Liverpool didn’t even sign a player after securing their sixth Champions League title. Liverpool did it the right way, and the fact that their local rivals Everton were throwing big money away at below-average players shows the stark difference to the likes of Chelsea and Man City constantly challenging due to their owners unlimited wealth.
Liverpool: Against All Odds
I’ll wrap up this factual journey Liverpool have been on with my thoughts on why this Liverpool team is a unique title winning team. I remember the 2015/16 season, cheering on Leicester as they went from staving off relegation the season before, to blowing away the league. That was the most I was invested in a team that became league champions.
The near miss in 2013/14 was arguably the lowest I had felt as a supporter. I lived through Newcastle relegations with my brother, and seeing Chelsea win the Champions League when all their supporters ran back into the bar after Didier Drogba equalised with that thumping header against Bayern Munich. Liverpool were explosive in 2013/14, there was a buzz I didn’t feel again until Leicester won the title. Leicester dominated Liverpool that year, with Vardy scoring that world class goal at the KP Stadium, I ever wondered if Klopp would get the Reds to the top of the mountain. It felt so far away, especially that a lot of the players were still part of the Reds title winning year.
Liverpool endured with long term planning, and banking on wildcard players that other clubs were antsy on taking a chance on. Let’s look at some of the players that were mercilessly ridiculed when they signed for Liverpool under Klopp, or when they broke into the main team under his guidance.
Sadio Mane was called overpriced at £35mil, he is now one of the best wingers on the planet and last season co-shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Salah and Aubameyang in the 2018/19 season.
Mohamad Salah was nothing more than a ‘Chelsea reject’ when he signed for Liverpool. He went onto break the goalscoring record in a single season in his debut season for the Reds and is one of the most productive forwards in world football. Salah has two Premier League Golden Boots to his name.
Andrew Robertson was relegated with Hull in the 2016/17 season. When he signed, people mocked Liverpool for being cheap, and that Robertson himself wasn’t good enough to play at an elite level. The Scotsman was the player who broke Leighton Baines assist record before Trent overtook him, and even did better this season with twelve assists. Robbo’s work rate and tenacity has made him the most lethal left-back on the planet.
Georginio Wijnaldum was signed from a relegated Newcastle in the summer of 2016, and top six rivals said that Liverpool were settling with below average players, and that the Dutchman would hold Liverpool back on away games. Under Klopp, Wijnaldum has become a pivotal cog in Liverpool’s midfield engine, getting into the top thirty players in the Ballon d'Or list in 2019. When he contributes goals, they are massive. He has scored winners against Man City, Spurs (his first away goal in the league) and scored the two goals to level with Barcelona at Anfield on their way to the Champions League crown in 2019. This season he scored a crucial away goal at Sheffield United that came to define Liverpool’s season. Still, he is criminally underrated by rival supporters.
Virgil van Dijk is the second most expensive defender on the planet, only behind Manchester United’s Harry Maguire. Virgil was called overpriced and mocked for Liverpool’s habit of going back to Southampton for reinforcements. Rivals are still not sold on his raw ability, becoming one of the most well-rounded defenders in Premier League history. The Dutchman has gone on to win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, and was a runner up to Messi in the last Ballon ‘dOr, which in my opinion he should have won due to his ability to transform Liverpool into a Champions League winning side at the time. Liverpool couldn’t buy a clean sheet before Virgil, and now it is rare that they concede with Virgil marshalling the Reds defence. Right now, Virgil is the undisputed best defender on the planet, a player who don’t forget was criticised and called overpriced, with many rivals saying he wouldn’t make their eleven when he moved to Merseyside.
Fabinho was signed from Monaco in the summer of 2018 out of the blue, and the first things said about the Brazilian is that he couldn’t have been a good player if Manchester United turned their noses up at the chance of signing him. Fabinho is now one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and arguably, the best.
Trent Alexander-Arnold broke into the starting eleven at Liverpool when Nathaniel Clyne picked up a season ending injury in 2017, and he hasn’t looked back since and is already a cult icon of the club being a resident Scouser in the team. Not without his flaws when he was adapting, rivals to this day still argue that Trent cannot defend and is only a valuable attacker. Trent has time again proven his defensive capabilities and was highlighted when Man City targeted him with Leroy Sane, but the young right-back put on a defending clinic for the shaken Pep Guardiola. Rival fans even mock Trent by posting videos of themselves doing his trademark cross-field pass, which no doubt would have taken several takes to film. Trent not only set the new assist record for defenders in 2018/19, only for him to beat his own record in the title winning season.
Naby Keita has admittingly been hit and miss for Liverpool, mostly because injuries have stopped him hitting his stride. Signed from RB Leipzig in 2018, the jury is still out for the Guinean from so called neutrals. Keita has had flashes of his brilliance, but much like Wijnaldum, is a criminally underrated figure in Liverpool’s team. When Keita is able to shine on the pitch, I am sure the rivals will think up any excuse to take the shine off an exceptional player.
Alisson…well, Alisson has always been great. Everyone knows that. There the usual ‘he is just a poor De Gea’ comments, but Alisson was given a platform when signed from Roma to become the best in the world, and he has reached that level under Klopp.
Liverpool didn’t buy from successful clubs, all signings were strategic and from clubs that on the surface couldn’t produce world-class talent. There have been other squad players signed like Taki Minamino and Xherdan Shaqiri who have been useful squad figures, with Shaqiri being labelled by a certain ‘top’ Chelsea social media account as being a ‘medal leach’. Liverpool players battle constant criticism as all domestic rivals have long seeded beliefs that the Liverpool team that would struggle to get a European spot in the table were only capable of failure, and anyone associated with the club was a hand-me-down, a reject, or just not worthy of getting into ‘real’ teams.
Even among the existing squad, players like Jordan Henderson, who could go onto win the PFA Player of the Year, has been labelled as a terrible player and not worthy of succeeding Steven Gerrard. I admit, I was on the fence, but having seen Henderson grow into this Klopp team and what he does to enable the team on the pitch is unbelievable. James Milner was accused by Manchester City fans as settling for minutes at an inferior club, but Milner has turned out to be the standard bearer of excellence and an experienced leader within the team.
Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren were classed as the worst defensive pairing in the league, and sure they have both had bad games, but they have both partnered Virgil to deliver a Champions League and Premier League title for Liverpool. Joe Gomez has also broke through under Klopp and is now England’s best central defender.
Then there is Divock Origi, voted in France as the worst forward in the league, there seemed to be no hope for the Belgian. Origi is now a club legend and a name I’ll never, ever forget. Scoring outrageous goals against Everton to win the Merseyside Derby, the first and final (corner taken quickly) goal against Barcelona semi-final, the late winner at Newcastle to keep the 2018/19 title going to the wire, and scoring in the Champions League final against Spurs.
Liverpool coached a group of ‘undesirables’ and ‘rejects’ to becoming European Champions, and now Premier League champions. The journey was a process, and in a world where a few losses can have a manager sacked, Klopp has shown that there is a different way to achieve success. Developing talent and building a project for sustainable success. The Premier League crown is just rewards for having patience with a Manager, and trusting an organic growth, and not just splurging hundreds of millions on defenders in hopes that money equates to points. As proven this year, Manchester City’s problems couldn’t be solved with money, and Liverpool were still operating as normal when they chased down City to just one point in 2018/19.
Liverpool: Premier League Champions
The moment that Liverpool won the league was a quiet, surreal moment. I knew Liverpool would win the league, but a pandemic threatened all of it. I was just happy knowing, when I saw Chelsea beat Manchester City, it was just relief that all the bad moments and trolling, tolerating hateful comments and criticism, being labelled as just another delusional Liverpool supporter. A weight lifted. I began to celebrate and enjoy it as the moment sunk in, and seeing Jordan Henderson lift the title, even in an empty stadium, was an unbelievable moment shared by millions of fans all over the world.
Rival fans, even ones in-house here, have done their best to try and take away from one of the must successful seasons in English history because it was different to what came before this season. That is the poetic irony of it all, Liverpool were different from many template money teams before them, and after thirty years of having every obstacle thrown against them in search of their first Premier League title, they threw the monkey wrench in the Premier League system that favoured cash rich clubs. Liverpool always say that they do things ‘the Liverpool way’ and I finally see that now, it wouldn’t have been a Liverpool title winning season without all the curve balls and drama that is accustomed to following Liverpool around.
Seeing the players celebrate, party, and share emotional and tear-jerking messages over social media, especially when Jürgen Klopp is welling up live on Sky Sports news, made it feel special. I hadn’t felt anything for the league title since Leicester won it, and this time it was the club I supported. There was real passion, emotion, and meaning behind winning the Premier League. Seeing all the players who were considered not to be good enough outclass the rest of the league. I don’t just say this because I am connected to the club as a supporter, but after the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Manchester City title wins, and even those with Chelsea, there was a spark missing that made the league title a special trophy. City players gave corporate statements, and barely looked a united squad.
There were no inside jokes, or humour, crazy party scenes or reactions, and even the open bus parades were plain embarrassing. Honestly, it was like a bunch of robots programmed, or puppets on a string. City expected success, and I am not being delusional here in the slightest…it really felt like the players and Pep Guardiola don’t realise just how special the Premier League title is. They did a great job at making all rival fans accept Man City as the better alternative than Liverpool winning the league, a lot of fans were numb to what it meant to be the best team in England.
Liverpool’s title win, journey, and celebrations emphasised just how much they needed to be champions. Ever since Leicester won it, every title win until this one has been without soul. The top clubs threw money at the problem, and Liverpool bided time for their moment. Rivalries, such as the one between Manchester United and Liverpool is based on who is the best, and you can’t really get behind it if both teams are settling for second behind a Manchester City squad who have worked to demolish the leagues competition.
I hope that all rival fans can see that, and sure, if United won the title again I would be in disbelief, even envious. I would accept it, and hope that it makes the Premier League story more interesting. That’s what football needs more than anything, stories. Jürgen Klopp has delivered the ending of a thirty-year story, and they have set a new standard in the league. I honestly hope it can reignite the intensity at the top end of the league. Jürgen Klopp has redeemed the spirit of the Premier League, and I cannot thank him enough for giving me the best footballing memories of my life. Liverpool, back on their perch.
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