Date: 28 April 1990
Result: Liverpool FC 2 Queens Park Rangers 1
Liverpool Scorers: Rush (40) Barnes (63)
This was the date when Liverpool FC wrapped up the English Division One league title with two games to spare. I was fourteen years old at the time, and since that date over twenty years have passed and Liverpool have yet to add to the 18 league titles. There is a generation of Liverpool supporters who have grown up in an era where Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have become the household names in domestic football. To them, Liverpool can boast of success in Europe but the domestic title remains elusive in a similar manner to a dream that slips away just out of your grasp as you wake up and cannot quite recall.
Every year since the conclusion of the 1989/90 season, my fellow Liverpool supporters dust off the disappointment of the previous season and start talking expectantly about the coming season and that familiar refrain echoes across message boards, forums, Twitter and Facebook – “This is our year!”(TIOY). The statement is made confidently and assertively as if the supporters can will the team to win that 19th league title just by saying it over and over again.
It seems that every fan/supporter/commentator/blogger out there is an expert in what will make this particular season the magic one. There seem to be a number of factors contributing to the 2011/12 “TIOY” giddiness.
Kenny Dalglish is back – he was the last manager to bring the title home to Anfield. Look at what he did from January to May 2011 in claiming 34 points from 18 Premier League matches once he took over. Morale improved, goals were contributed from midfield, he even improved Lucas’s performances and anybody who can turn Maxi Rodriguez into a goal machine must be a magician!
From a cynical perspective, we’ve been here before in terms of the manager hype. For examples refer to Souness, Evans, Houllier, Benitez and to a much lesser extent Hodgson (who was never really welcomed with open arms). The hope and faith were there at the start of every season, but the title did not appear.
Recent signings have reignited the club – look at the commitment and energy of Luis Suarez compared to El Nino. Andy Carroll will be injury-free and will chip in goals from all over the park. The manager has already signed a promising midfielder in Jordan Henderson, who has a stellar season at Sunderland. As it is currently the off-season, there are rumours in plentiful supply about who will (or won’t) join and who will be shown the exit door.
Suarez has certainly shown enthusiasm and energy since his arrival at the club. Henderson and Carroll (due to his injury woes since his move) will be starting from scratch and looking to make an impression.
The local lads will lead by example. Steven “Captain Fantastic” Gerrard will be back, fully fit and raring to go. Jamie “Carradonna” Carragher will be back to give his all for his one and only club. Combine the leadership and home-grown commitment of these two with the young players and the new signings and Liverpool will be unstoppable!
The above factors may or may not contribute to Liverpool FC getting back to the pinnacle of domestic football. However, I believe it is imperative for my fellow Reds supporters to maintain some modicum of level-headedness around the prospects for the coming season which may be asking for a bit too much given our modern fascination with wanting things immediately.
My opinion is that Liverpool should be focussed on three things for the coming season – playing consistently well in the Premier League, (re)-developing a footballing philosophy for the club and patience.
One of the most frustrating parts of watching recent Liverpool teams is the alarming inconsistency from game to game in the league. The team appears to perform well against the so-called bigger teams, but struggles against the lower ranked teams that should be despatched with ease. This could potentially be an issue for the sports psychologist to try and make a difference on the team.
Liverpool used to be synonymous with the passing game. Every player from the goalkeeper to the attackers were comfortable with the ball at their feet, and once a goal was scored Liverpool could literally pass a team to death and close out the match. New players who joined the club were immediately initiated into this system and continued the tradition of Liverpool’s philosophy. Since 1990, the Reds do not appear to have a firm philosophy and I believe this is one of the reasons the team has struggled to make an impact in domestic football for so long.
The patience I referred to above relates to something that is unlikely to happen in modern football any longer. The manager and his staff need time to implement the football philosophy and to inculcate that in the team. The supporters and fans of the club need to also appreciate that there is no such thing as instant success.
Will this be our year? Roll on August 2011 and let’s find out.