Disappointing Season For Liverpool Is Their Best In 19 Years

The season brought no trophies to Anfield… Manchester United tied the league title record…  The big money summer signing proved a flop… Seven miserable home draws… Mid-season position squandered… Lengthy injuries to the big guns…

And Liverpool still had  an outstanding season. Their best in 19 years.

If Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, they’ll finish no more than four points below United. This would be the closest they’ve come since 1990 when the Reds last won the league. Apart from 2002, when they finished seven points behind Arsenal, the title has generally been far from Liverpool’s sights by season’s end.

The fact they were still in the race two weeks from the end speaks volumes.

82 is Liverpool’s highest premier league points tally before this season. The Reds are already a point ahead of that number. If they can finish with 86, there’s every reason to think title number 19 will be on its way to Anfield in the near future.

Despite the quickness of pundits to jump on Rafael Benitez who has yet to bring the league title back to Anfield, the Spaniard has made substantial improvements to his club each season he’s been in charge.

Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Fernando Torres are all among the outstanding players to have come in under Benitez’s watch. Sure, he’s had his occasional Antonio Nunez, and Robbie Keane’s failure to live up to his price tag won’t soon be forgotten. But on the way to glory, there are always bumps in the road.

The Liverpool side that took to the pitch again and again (the oft criticized rotation policy having been dialed down this season) showed their merit throughout the year. Despite the jaw-dropping draws (how did they finish level with Stoke City… twice???), Liverpool’s dominance over big sides hasn’t been witnessed like this in decades.

They did an impressive double over Chelsea and Real Madrid and came from behind twice to secure all six league points against Manchester United (including a 1-4 demolition at Old Trafford) and schooled the league’s most promising up-and-comers, Aston Villa, 5-0 at Anfield.

A post-Christmas rut saw Liverpool slip from top place. And many neutrals and outsiders will recall Rafa Benitez’s ‘rant’ against his frustrations with Alex Ferguson’s modus operandi as a marker of the Liverpool turning point. But nothing can distract from the fact that Liverpool have gotten better and better each season under Benitez and from finishing this season on at least 83 points, probably in second place, Liverpool don’t have much farther to climb.

There’s nowhere left to go but the top.

Benitez doesn’t have boundless funds to spend this summer. But if he’s savy in the transfer market. He won’t need them. Liverpool don’t need many changes. The side’s failure to break down ten-men-behind-the-ball sides is what led to the series of draws that cost them the title. But this can be combatted with a change in tactics. There’s no need to overhaul a side that can beat United, Chelsea and Madrid.

Rumors of Xabi Alonso’s departure should turn out to be merely rumors. They better. £18m or whatever the Spanish midfielder is valued at this week is not enough to say goodbye to his vision and prowess. His ability to see the whole pitch and know where to slot that pass to put Gerrard, Torres or whoever in on goal is priceless. And neither Gareth Barry nor David Silva are worth the sacrifice.

Benitez knows his side needs a little tweaking.

And maybe all it will take next season is not drawing twice against Stoke City to finally bring that title home.

12 thoughts on “Disappointing Season For Liverpool Is Their Best In 19 Years”

  1. or not raymond
    lets say we sign Tevez, keep Gerrard and Torres fit for more of the season and win No 19
    you cant deny we`ve closed the gap so theres no reason to suppose that we are now suddenly going to start going backwards

  2. Not that I mind, since I am a Liverpool supporter, but, is it just me, or is there a story on Liverpool every other day on this site. Instead of EPL Talk, sometimes I think this site should be called Manchester United, Liverpool, and Some Other Clubs Talk.

  3. Yes… This was Liverpool’s best season in the league for years. They do not have the depth in their squad like united and heavily rely on Gerrard/Torres combo.
    If either of them is injured, their season can easily derail.

  4. You know I think the season just showed how well Liverpool and Benitez the string-puller handled the strategic, tactical and technical side of the game. The team meshed pretty well this season. Now, in my opinion, Liverpool need to manage the next stage up and that would be to master the “mental game” which, to me, is probably one of the most critical issues of the team. Of course, teams win championships by winning and that kind of mentality has to be developed, earned and believed in day in and day out in the all-too competitive Premiership. Liverpool just put up another big step towards that goal. And if we want to see mental strength in action it was shown by Carragher last week playing against West Brom. He absolutely refuses to give anything to his opponents. He’s a model for the whole team to follow.

  5. Prasanna:

    Stevie G and El Nino spent a lot of time on the trainer’s table this season yet Liverpool’s season did not go completely off the rails. If anything, the side grew in their belief every time they were forced to play without their dynamic duo. I think that belief will translate into continued success without Gerrard and Torres if one or both pick up any injuries next season.

  6. I think Rafa should sign Tevez he will provide the additional cover that Rafa needs. Also he could play behind (Torres), alongside and by himself. Manure Utd possess speed on wings and that is what we desperately lack, wingers that can whip balls in and run at players. Finally get rid of Lucas, Dossena, Voronin, Degen, Babel they need to be shipped out and players with pace and skill need to be bought in. I know we have money situation but ideally would like to see, silva, riberry and johnson as defo purchases. Please Rafa dont let us down I dont want Manure Utd beating our league title haul. YNWA! In Rafa we trust !

  7. It’s funny how Liverpool think they closed the gap on Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    They didn’t close the gap on teams that were playing at their best but they couldn’t overcome United at their worst in many years.

    If Manchester United were to return to their form that they had last season the so called gap closing would quickly be exposed as having a good day when your opponents are having a bad one.

    Fact of the matter is the competition played dreadful football this year. When their playing their usual best Liverpool is nowhere to be seen.

    With Manchester United’s injured players back next year Manchester United will play like the previous year and then Liverpool will be a mile behind as usual.

    I’m willing to be quoted on that.

  8. They didn’t close the gap on teams that were playing at their best but they couldn’t overcome United at their worst in many years.

    Tyson, I agree wholeheartedly! A sub-par year for Man Utd and a great year for Liverpool still equals a championship for the Red Devils. Liverpool has the players to challenge for a title but just can’t overcome that last little hurdle. That hurdle being Sir Alex.

  9. How long do we have to put up with Benitez tactics? Despite our best finish in nineteen years, i still find it difficult to accept that we have had the best form at the end of the season for the last few years under Benitez.
    It is about time Rafa stop tinkering with the team early seasonand find his best eleven much earlier. I believe we lost the season with the game against Stoke. Just look at the team Rafa put out then and also who was on the bench or rested for that game.
    We can do better! Think about your early season tactics Rafa.

  10. Tyson and Mike United:

    You both seem to conveniently forget that Liverpool’s two best players were out for extended periods of time.

    Moreover, how can so many people point out that Liverpool’s poor results against the lesser sides in the EPL combined with their stumbles when they were on top of the table is what cost them the league, and then in the next breath say that Liverpool were at their best this season while every other club wasn’t?

    Clearly Liverpool were not at their absolute best.

    trevor charles:

    “Think about your early season tactics Rafa.”

    You do realize that Liverpool was at the top of the table at the turn of the new year right? It wasn’t the first half of the season that cost Liverpool the title. It was the second-half.

  11. I’d agree on that. And as for Benitez well really he has succeeded in driving Liverpool closer to the top hasn’t he? Not too many points separated Liverpool from Manchester this season. I’m sure this bodes well for good positive thinking that Liverpool can improve that little bit to get to the title next season. And if Manchester was at their ‘worst’ this season that’s a great opportunity for Liverpool if they can raise their game since Manchester will have a longer way to recover even in spite of winning the league. They call things like that a “Pyrhhic victory”, you know?…;-)….

    And as far as Benitez’s “best eleven”. of course, I’m for that but football’s a team game and that leads me to say that I’d think he has to hope that he can get more out of his “next 11” next season when the time comes on the pitch to deliver especially with the fact that injuries do occur and affect teams’ win/loss record. Sure it’s hard to replace a Gerrard but a team like Liverpool certainly can’t complain and wring their hands. They’re all of the best and
    need to play like it regardless of circumstances.

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