It’s been 27 years that Liverpudlians last had the League trophy walk the streets of Liverpool in any notable victory parade.
After this time, they have won the UEFA Cup, the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and even finished as runners-up in these same competitions several years after.
What then has been the cause or curse for the Premier League debacle?
It definitely hasn’t been coaches, or players. It is a lack of attention to an obvious weakness in the array of teams the club has built over time – a lack of defensive mindset.
Those four words have been carefully selected based on statistics from the many “nearly moments”, where the Reds came close to winning but fell short at the last hurdle.
Rafael Benitez came into the fray in the summer of 2004 and immediately won over the Kopites by delivering the UCL in his first season, the FA Cup the following season and another final appearance in the UCL.
Then came the 2008-09 season, the season where Liverpool lost only 2 games, defeated eventual winners Manchester United home & away yet finished runners up. They were the top scorers that year with 77 goals (United had 68) and 27 goals conceded would seem to portray a sturdy defense-line, but United and Chelsea – who finished third – conceded fewer (24 goals).
If there was a game they could and should have won that season to give them a shot at the title, it was the 4-4 draw with Arsenal.
Simply put, Liverpool have not mastered the art of winning by the slimmest of margins. United clinched the 2008-09 title with ten 1-0 wins, yes, 10! (Leicester had 7 in their 2015-16 season win).
Is Manchester United suddenly an Italian side with catenaccio-styled defense? No! But it is a patient mentality which they have whenever they run into a determined opposition that is worth emulating. They will rather keep the scores 0-0 up until the dying stages of the game before going gung-ho with the hope of a stoppage-time winner; and many a times they get it!
Liverpool however are most synonymous with goal-fests, hockey score-lines, especially against weaker teams who set up defensively to frustrate them.
Liverpool's defence and attack summarised in one photo pic.twitter.com/hplYAgyp3B
— 27 (@jamiekop027) September 13, 2017
The next time Liverpool would be top of the log with 3 games to go was in 2013-14; they led eventual winners Manchester City by 3 points with 3 games to go.
A home game with Chelsea where-in a draw would have been sufficient for them was their undoing. Rodgers set up with the most offensive line-up he could afford, while his opponent came in with their most resolute defensive line-up; eventually the more pragmatic Mourinho won 2-0.
If that was a bitter defeat which left City tied on points but ahead on goals difference, the next 3-3 draw with Palace left a more bitter taste – Liverpool led 3-0 with eleven minutes to go!
At the end of the season, eventual winners had 102-37 goals scored-conceded while the Reds had 101-50!
Can someone please tell the gaffers at Anfield to concentrate more on defense! Because if you are not going to top-score other title contenders, then you might as well shore up your defense a little bit more so that you can have a healthy goal-difference leading up to the final weeks in May.
And to think Klopp has spent heavily over the summer without a noticeable centerback or centerhalf signing further underscores this fact.
Article Written by Idowu Obadeyi