Liverpool: Minutes From Administration To 3 Games From Jubilation
Six years ago. The last time "and now you're gonna believe us!" echoed around Anfield. Massive memorable wins such as 4-1 away at Manchester United, the dramatic 3-2 at City and 5-0 aggregate drubbing of Real Madrid in the Champions league - Alonso pulling the strings in the middle. Gerrard and Torres absolutely frightening back fours (or back 10's on most occasions) up and down the country.
After so much promise and so many good results, Liverpool finished in a respectable 2nd place behind a Ronaldo-led Man Utd team which won the Coca Cola Cup (or whatever it was called back then), the Fifa World Club Championship and the Community Shield, which doesn't really count (unless your David Moyes).
After that solid season, Liverpool were expected to add one or two more players, kick on and go one better. How people were wrong (me included). Liverpool sold shrewdly and bought carelessly. Robbie Keane was sold to yet another one of his boyhood clubs Tottenham Hotspur for £12 Million. This paved the way to more summer departures which were much more unpopular such as Alvaro Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Sami Hyypia. That season was to be one the most important and dramatic years in the long history of the club.
Four years ago, Martin Broughton, Ian Ayre and Christian Purslow came out of a London courtroom punching the air with delight, knowing full well that they had just secured the future of Liverpool Football Club. Liverpool had been moments away from being plunged into administration due to the cash strapped custodians of Messrs Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
People have became ignorant to this. When in actual fact the Reds as we know them were seconds from disaster likened only to the demise of Leeds United. One of the biggest clubs to have fell victim to careless, reckless custodianship.
Liverpool supporters have almost blanked this out as a blip in not realising the true gravity of the situation the reds were in at that time. And I'm not talking about the fact Roy Hodgson was manager while the fight for the future of Liverpool was taking place.
At the start of this current season, Liverpool's then chief executive came out with a true testament to hindsight and foresight when he said "We all wish passionately that Tom and George didn't own the club." Well, no s***, Rick.
After Fenway Sports Group, the Boston lead consortium headed by John W. Henry and Tom Werner purchased the club from Hicks and Gillett which was to be famously known as “an epic swindle” in Hicks' words. FSG give the then manager Roy Hodgson a vote of confidence after a 2-0 win against Chelsea at Anfield. Even after he famously said after 7 games that Liverpool “would be facing a relegation battle.” 10 weeks later Roy Hodgson, in his words one of the most respected coaches in Europe, departed via mutual consent.
Kenny Mathieson Dalgish, or the King as most people around these parts know him, took control as caretaker manager not long after Hodgson had gone. It was the new lease of life club needed after the battle for control that dominated the headlines at the start of the 2010 season, and the “anti-football approach that leaves no room for creativity” style that Hodgson implemented at the club certainly didn't help.
Dalglish's first game was against none other than Manchester United at Old Trafford in the cup. The fans were buzzing and it was all about the return of “the King” and I couldn't believe I was seeing him bark orders from the touchline as manager of Liverpool Football Club once more.
The day was supposed to be all about Dalgish's return, but it weren't to be. It was all about Howard Webb and his tremendous dubious penalty giving ability that stole the day. We've been there all too often. As have 19 other teams in the league.
Liverpool finished in mid table obscurity that season, but were playing some impressive, direct, attacking football which gave everyone in and around the club a lift. Torres departing for £50 Million was a shock. Signing Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for £57 million was an even bigger shock. Liverpool were again busy in the summer by purchasing Stuart Downing and Jordan Henderson. The trio of Carroll, Henderson and Downing cost in excess of £70 Million. Good times ahead we thought.
Kenny guided Liverpool to their first trophy in six years in 2011. But couldn't quite progress Liverpool into the top four despite spending a lot of money and playing some quality attacking football. Liverpool interviewed a few candidates for the role including Wigan's Roberto Martinez. Liverpool opted for Swansea's Brendan Rodgers in the hope they'd found their man. A young manager who would bring a high-tempo passing game with an intensity and relentlessness of the Liverpool of the 70's and 80's.
Rodgers got off to the worst start imaginable in his first season in 2012/13 with a 3-0 defeat at West Brom. But everyone knew this was going to be a long term project. Not a quick turnaround. Liverpool finished last season on 71 goals. The highest of any team outside of the top four and even higher than second placed Manchester City. A testament to the attacking, relentless football he advocated.
After Liverpool went from pushing for the league title, being seconds from becoming the biggest club in football history to go into administration to appointing one of the most respected coaches in European football (his words not mine) as manager. Liverpool have come a long, long way in 6 years to being 5 points clear at the top of the league with 3 games to go.
Liverpool still have 3 games to play to City's four and are seven points away from securing their first league title in 24 years.
As Bill Shankly once said “Chairman Mao has never seen a greater showing of red strength.”
After seeing what Liverpool Football Club has been through the last 6 years, not to mention the last 25 years, to get to this point, I severely doubt he has.
Follow Mick on Twitter, @8mick