Liverpool: This Season Has Been Glorious, Not A Failure
Somewhere around the third pint I turned to Fleety and asked him: “If someone had said to you in August: ‘you’re going to finish two points behind the team with the highest wage bill in football, you’ll have scored 101 goals, and on the last day of the season you’ll still be in with a slim hope of the title,’ you’d have taken it, wouldn’t you?”
And he said: “No, I’d have wanted first.”
It’s an odd feeling; this deflation at failing to win something that nobody expected us to be competing for. We set our stall out in August as ‘we want the top four, we want the Champions League again.’ We were scoffed at.
(And can I just say at this point that I said - on these very pages - that we would finish third and that United would be outside the top six? Oh, the abuse I took on that one, and from fellow Reds at times – “don’t let this clown write about our team, he’s making us all look daft”. File your apologies in the comments, I’m a big man, I’ll accept them.)
What we did this season was ridiculous, impossible, bizarre, unbelievable, unprecedented. We moved from seventh to second - and very nearly, oh so very nearly, first. We added 30 goals to last seasons tally. We added 23 points. For the first time in Premier League history, the top two goalscorers were from the same team. We had the Players’ and Writers’ Player of the Year in the shape of a man who was reviled last summer, and was expected to leave for Real, Barça, or (comedy bid alert) Arsenal, graceless idiots that they were. Their humiliation in a 20 minute Anfield blitz was no more than that £40m + £1 fiasco merited - and don’t even get me started on the clowns who wanted us docked points for refusing to sell Luis to them.
The team was rebuilt in the shape of Suarez, in the madness and the creativity and desire and passion and refusal to give in. Yes, he’s not been in form for a month or so, but Jesus, look at what he did this year.
It’s the second week of May, and we’ve only lost one game and drawn another in 2014. Everything else has been victory. These runs just don’t happen normally. It may not have been enough in the end, but did anyone see this coming when we were fifth in January?
Still, the post mortem starts; Liverpool bottled it they say. Bottled it? Look at that record, does that look like bottling it to you? Delude yourself as much as you like, there was no lack of courage or conviction or fortitude here. The title was lost when Gerrard slipped, the title was lost when we allowed Palace back in after establishing a three-goal lead. And yes, if Gerrard hadn’t slipped we’d have had a point against Chelsea - God knows they were never going to attack. If we hadn’t been chasing more goals than anyone had ever seen before in the Palace game, maybe we’d have held that lead, but we wanted glory, we demanded glory, and the lads went for glory for us.
Ultimately, if anything cost Liverpool this ridiculous, improbable 19th title, it was the lack of depth in the squad. We’re ignoring the fact that City were able to spend the first third of the season fielding an unstoppable Negredo and when he tired, they could revert to Aguero and Dzeko. We had Aspas. This is what unlimited cash gets you, what Champions League football attracts.
Jose can whinge as much as he likes that not playing European football meant that Liverpool were more capable of challenging for the title than his supposedly threadbare squad (how much was Matic?), but when has any team not playing in Europe challenged for the title?
There was a football match yesterday. We conceded an own goal, we knew that City had gone ahead, we knew that it was over, but we came back and scored twice because we will not lie down, we will not accept defeat, we will not give in.
We have achieved more this season than you thought possible, than we thought possible, probably than the team thought possible. We have shown what we are and what we can be, we have embraced madness and gloried in it, celebrated it, and we have welcomed the team on ‘normal’ match days with parades that dwarf those afforded to title winners. We have had the time of our lives.
And people talk of failure? There’s no failure here. Just glory. We have added a new sentence to our vocabulary in the last month, opposition fans deride it, but we no longer care about the opinion of opposition fans: “We Go Again.”
We Go Again. Next year, next season, We Go Again.
We are Liverpool. You’re not, you never will be, you couldn’t do this. You couldn’t have the season we’ve had.
We Go Again.
Follow Ian on Twitter, @fish2310