‘If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.’ So said Bill Shankly who brutally made it clear about what Liverpool and being a winner is about. However this would be quite harsh on Liverpool this season. They punched way above their weight and almost pulled it off.
In many respects if this was a Hollywood movie it would be the tale of a faded former Champion boxer who has seen better days. Fondly remembered by rivals but seen as a relic of the past. Slowly but surely the faded boxer suddenly starts to show form and looks ready to put in a challenge to become a Champion once more.
Old rivals start to sneer that the hero won’t last the pace although they won’t admit that the early encounters have shocked them. Then comes the challenge with the hero trading blows and looking to resume old glories and get back on their perch.
Maybe if Liverpool was a blockbuster film they might have won the league with virtually the last second of the game. Instead Liverpool follows the first Rocky film and just misses out on becoming a Champion.
What can’t be argued is that Liverpool have played some of the best football since that glorious late eighties team of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge. They blew Arsenal, Everton, Spurs, and Norwich completely out of the water. At times the frantic pace was frightening as they tore the opposition apart.
The game against Everton at Anfield was probably the most one-sided Derbies that I have seen. As was the three-nil win away to Manchester United. Sometimes at the match I have had to pinch myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.
On top of that you tried not to get too carried away knowing that it will hurt even more if we do mess up. Instead we got closer and closer to the prize as we avoided any potential booby traps.
Man City was seen as the pivotal game and in many respects it was, as victory would see the League resting in our own hands. As per usual this season Liverpool got off the blocks fast. Sterling who was playing in the number ten role just behind Suarez and Sturridge was instrumental for Liverpool in this game. Finding acres of space, Sterling drove forward in possession which resulted in the goal scored by Skrtel. He also gave Liverpool a fantastic start by scoring in the sixth minute. Furthermore Sterling wasn’t adverse to drifting to the flanks causing more problems for City and Sturridge missing a great chance.
If the first half was a blitzkrieg start for Liverpool then the second half was different with City suddenly finding themselves back in it. Milner who came on as a substitute appeared to make the difference. It was as though the frantic energy of Liverpool was beginning to wane as Silva strove forward and pulled one back for City and five minutes later Johnson had scored an own goal.
At that moment in time if one team was more likely to find the winner then that would be City. Liverpool grimly held on until out of nowhere they found a sucker punch to floor City as a Coutinho shot went past Hart to win the game for Liverpool.
The belief or should I say the relief as well was monumental at the end. Indeed I thought the fella next to me was having a heart attack as we appeared to visible wilt. There were hugs and joy echoing throughout the stadium.
Adrenaline was now kicking in as that raw electric excitement reverberated around the stadium. Added to which it had been an emotional day as the 25th anniversary of Hillsborough was remembered.
With the League very much in our hands it seemed so unreal, so unexpected that we could unexpectedly be Champions.
As the season drew to its climatic end the atmosphere at Anfield was a wall of noise, songs, and colour as the support done it’s best to get behind the team. This incidentally was from when the team coach arrived to the final whistle.
If there is one thing that I have enjoyed from this season is the fact that I looked forward to going the games once again. It was nice to saviour that old excitement that you get when chasing a Championship. I might have been a school kid when we last won the league back in 1990 but there was always that conscious feeling of not getting carried away. On top of this the football was fantastic to watch as the team gave it’s all.
As did the supporters with loud songs of ‘we are Liverpool, tra, la, la, la, la. We’re the best football team in the land. Yes we are! Poetry in motion, tra, la, la, la, la.’ It became the chant of the season as it summed up the football that was being played.
Furthermore it was great to see people inside the ground early with the atmosphere brewing up nicely with the flags etc. The frenetic passionate energy soared throughout the ground as everybody got behind the team as we urged and wanted Liverpool to win that 19th title. It was nice to be part of that and the 2013/14 will be always hold fond memories despite not winning a trophy. Yes it will be a mix of warmth nostalgia swirling around my soul mixed with the uncomfortable fact that we were that close but it was a rollercoaster of a ride that brought out every emotion. It was exciting and the football was out of this world. What the future holds we don’t know. Nevertheless it has made us dream and believe once again.
This was always going to be a tough game as they always are against a team that is managed by Mourinho. Even a draw would have been a decent result providing that we won the next two games away to Palace and at home to Newcastle.
It was inevitable that Chelsea would play deep and pack the midfield. After all in previous games Liverpool normally got off the blocks so for them it made sense to nullify any threat by limiting the space in the middle of the park.
For whatever reason, Liverpool just couldn’t get into the flow of the game. In other words Chelsea did a job on us. They capitalised on the mistake made by Gerrard and caught Liverpool on the break as Torres squared to Willian to make it two.
Much was spoken about Chelsea parking the bus but really it is in Mourinho’s genes. Ultimately for him it’s about getting the result and not how well you play to get it. I’m not going to dwell on Gerrard’s mistake. Yes it was costly but a league title is decided over 38 games.
Do we point to other games with missed chances or games were Liverpool dropped points at home when on paper they should have won? Remember Liverpool were beaten by Southampton and drew with Villa.
Chelsea defended well and nullified the attack as we made sloppy, anxious passes as the clock wound down. It wasn’t pretty but tactically I am sure Mourinho was pleased. Everything went to plan and Chelsea grabbed the three points.
The Crystal Palace game saw Liverpool crash in spectacular style. 3-0 up and cruising with twelve minutes left and then they suddenly went to pieces as Palace salvaged a draw. It meant that City only needed at least four points at home against Villa and West Ham. Suarez was inconsolable as our title dreams were cruelly smashed against the rocks.
Inevitable City beat Villa and West Ham. Liverpool played as though they still had a hangover from the last couple of games as they came back from a goal down to beat Newcastle 2-1. There was no Hollywood ending, instead we just fell short despite having more points than when we last won the league.
Of course it was disappointing and in some ways it still hurts to think that we were that close to being Champions again against all odds. However let’s not forget that the aim at the beginning of the season was to challenge for a top four finish and hopefully win one of the domestic cups.
With that in mind Liverpool have more than exceeded expectations in the league. They have played some of the best football and it was poetry in motion at times. .
Above all there is optimism. Brendan Rodgers has proved himself as a top coach who has got the best out of this squad. Take Henderson who has come on leaps and bounds since we first signed him a couple of years ago. This could be said of Sterling who will hopefully keep building on his potential. Then there is Gerrard who has adopted the role of a deep-lying midfielder and was instrumental in the victories this season.
Of course next season will be different and we have been here before in 2002 and 2009 when we finished runners-up. The following season’s were more than disappointing to say the least. However this is Rodger’s second season in charge and it is still a work in progress.
The squad needs bulking up and I’d say we need at least five players to improve the team which means spending well. Apart from Mignolet the other signings have not really made any impact. Aspas and Alberto have only made cameo appearances as substitutes whilst Sakho has visibly struggled in defence and Cissokho not looking that good.
Rodgers has admitted that defensively we have not been great and we certainly need to close down opponents more effectively and defend better at set pieces. Take the Norwich game for example we were practically holding on to the win until the end with relief when the final whistle went.
Furthermore next season more teams will try to copy Chelsea which means bringing in players to give us more options whether it’s out wide or having more legs in midfield. With Henderson suspended after the City game we sorely missed that expertise of his game.
Defence might be something else to look at as well as the possibility of another striker but is important to sign quality rather than the next Bruno Cheyrou.
Nevertheless we have every right to be optimistic. Look at Atletico Madrid. Last year they finished third in the league and this year at the time of writing only need a point to clinch the title and have a European Cup final against Madrid to look forward to.
If we can improve our team there is no reason why we can’t match Atletico who against all odds have slugged it out with Barcelona and Real Madrid who have bigger resources than them. After all Rocky eventually won his title and maybe next year Liverpool will claim that 19th title.
Either way I have loved every minute of this season. Watching Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling, and Gerrard just to name but a few has been a joy to watch. Yes we just missed out but there is still plenty to look forward to and despite what the critics say they cannot deny that we have been poetry in motion.