“THERE is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
WHILE it might not be obvious why I’ve begun with a William Shakespeare quote, consider the following.
Shakespeare’s argument is that opportunity ebbs and flows in time. The key to success lies in knowing the tide, recognising and seizing chances as they arise.
Take the chance, and you will have fortune. Don’t take the chance, and you’ll find yourself in the shallow. Liverpool’s journey over the last decade has been of that ilk.
They have had to ride the rapids of Hodgson, bide their time during the return of Dalglish, and endure the rollercoaster ride of Rodgers before Klopp’s arrival.
Indeed, from a relegation-threatened side to Champions of the World, few decades in Liverpool’s rich history will have paid homage to a more dramatic overturn.
In 10 years, The Reds have leapfrogged from nearly men to global winners. From a club whose problems were embodied by its ownership under Tom Hicks and George Gillett, to becoming the blueprint for others to follow under a rejuvenated Fenway Sports Group.
On the field, the implementation of a rich, attacking blueprint has resulted in a refreshed and re-energised fanbase, who have enabled Anfield to find its aura again, delivering a cacophony of noise in a cauldron conducive for a team to thrive.
Off the field, meticulous strategy and planning in recruitment has enabled them to astutely navigate transfer windows; identifying players with the technical ability to fit the club’s philosophy, but whose personalities buy into the collective ethos now ingrained within the current crop.
Liverpool have forged an identity that seeps from the first team down to all levels.
It’s only right their seismic transformation over the last decade be closed out with a 1-0 win over Wolves, nine years on from a solitary Stephen Ward strike that inflicted defeat on a team entrenched in derision, swimming in mediocrity.
Liverpool ended 2010 on 58 points, 22 behind the Premier League winners, with three fewer points than Klopp’s current squad have accumulated now after half the season has unfolded.
Where the start of the decade saw ironic jeers of “Hodgson for England”, Liverpool’s new soundtrack “we’re Champions of the World” embodies the polarising fortunes of a side vastly unrecognisable from yonder years.
A lineup that once included Christian Poulsen, David Ngog and Joe Cole, The Reds now boast four players who finished inside the top 10 spots of the 2019 Ballon d’or vote.
The script has been rewritten, the trophy drought ended. This is a team full of stories.
At the beginning of the decade, Robertson was an amateur at Queen’s Park. He ends it as a Champions League winner and one of the world’s leading full-backs.
So too Trent Alexander-Arnold, a 12-year-old in 2010, now the creative force behind Klopp’s juggernaut.
Then there’s Henderson, once offered to Fulham in 2012 in a swap deal for Clint Dempsey, now an irreplaceable cog at the heartbeat of the engine room.
The list goes on.
A first taste of silverware in Madrid ignited a hunger for more, with the Super Cup and Club World Cup added to the trophy cabinet as revamps of the Melwood wall become increasingly commonplace.
Liverpool have amassed 98 points from a possible 111 in the Premier League in 2019, winning 31 games, drawing five and suffering just one defeat.
In doing so, they have averaged 2.65 points per game, the highest in a single calendar year in the club’s 127-year history and the second best in the top-flight since its inception, bettered only by Chelsea in 2005 (2.66).
The Reds go into 2020 with a 13-point lead at the Premier League summit with a game in hand, perfectly placed to end the club’s 30-year wait for the title, although some remain tight lipped given the club’s status as the only team to ever be top at Christmas and not win the league – a fate suffered in 1996, 2008, 2013 and 2018.
There is a sense, though, that this time feels different.
Where the 2013-14 had no semblance of long-term stability, a title challenge born out of sheer attacking verve rather than a cohesive overall picture, Klopp’s strategy over the last four years have accumulated to this point, laying foundations via a growth in hunger and maturity.
Indeed, streetwise habits are now in parallel with a relentless work ethic, electric attack and forceful defensive rear.
The last week of 2019 fixtures illustrated the depth and breadth to Klopp’s side, who have contrived a variety of ways to win games. A 4-0 rout against closest title rivals Leicester on Boxing Day represented one of the best all-round performance of Klopp’s entire tenure, before a gritty and hard-fought 1-0 win over Wolves.
Two very different games, two different strategies, same consistent outcome.
Now unbeaten in 50 home league games (W40 D10), Anfield is a fortress once more. Only Leicester, Bayern and Napoli have taken anything home from L4 in the past year.
A club encapsulated by darkness in a wretched 2010, Liverpool have emerged from the shadows of poor ownership and dismal management, to European triumph and Club World Cup winners.
They have risen from the ashes over the past decade, with a prime opportunity to end their 30-year wait for a title and a European Crown to defend.
Klopp has been one of the pioneers along the journey, with his promise of turning doubters to believers emphatically answered and the list of silverware now reeling in.
His juggernaut shows no signs of stopping as we surge into the new, potentially golden decade.
At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky.
For instant reaction to all the Liverpool news and events that matter to you, download our free Anfield Wrap app…
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
Leann, I got chills when I read the last line of your beautifully written piece.
Thanks Leanne, nice one.
The Hodgson era and the ironic (even iconic) chants against Wolves were without doubt, some of the lowest points as a fan over the last decade.
We have had dispointment since and before but we were completely adrift around that time.
Losing to the Bitters, Hodgson saying we were the better on the day, to him not wanting to upset the pant shitter after we failed to turn up (again) at OT. Some of the players at the time I have tried to erase from memory as our club, fell through a footballing trap door.
Fast forward to now and it’s like the club has been on one of those extreme make over shows.
I love this team, I love this squad.
I also believe that huge credit has to go to FSG. They’ve brought in the right men at the right time, and have (thankfully) backed Jurgen completely since his arrival.
It’s not simply a case of getting the right man, but getting the right man and putting faith in him to deliver.
“The Gerrard slip” – our bitter rivals moment of the decade- strangely may be the Big Bang moment for where are today. Without the slip, we almost certainly win the league in 2014. Rodgers almost certainly never gets sacked in 2015 and Klopp ends up somewhere else, worst of all maybe at another Premier League club. No way does Rogers rebuild the entire club from the training ground to the terraces like Klopp has done.No way Rogers wins No. 6. We probably end up with Ancelotti in season 2019/20 after Rogers being given 3 seasons trying to repeat the 2015 success. The end of the season will put that theory to the test.
I’ve heard this argument elsewhere and I can’t agree. What cost LFC in the 2013/14 title race was more than that- it was BR’s tactical naivety, and brittle defence that was covered for by the prolific attacking force of the 3 S’s- Suarez, Sterling and Sturridge.
Against Chelsea that afternoon, BR didn’t adapt for Mourinho’s negative and defensive tactics at all. Had he done so, Captain Fantastic slipping in chasing a missed pass wouldn’t have mattered because there would’ve been a team-mate placed deeper to intercept Demba Ba. This tactical naivety was underlined in the next game at Selhurst Park. They go 3-0 up and Suarez rushes to grab the ball out of the net and kickoff again. This was BR’s time to slow the tempo and not let the players get too cocky. The nails were in the Palace coffin- they just had to be hammered in steadily with controlled, possession-based football and not a manic rush to score more goals. The rest is history.
BR’s undoing was the 2014/15 season and I had such high hopes that they’d learn the lessons from coming close in 2013/14 and go one better, or at least mount a legitimate title challenge again. But especially over the last 2 months, every weekend somehow got worse and for me, it remains the worst time in my years as a supporter.
The article itself also incorrectly states LFC are the only team to be top at Christmas and not win the league- as the haters like to imagine. Over the years the likes of Newcastle United, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Norwich. Arsenal and Man United have all been top of the league at Christmas and not gone on with the job.
When I walked out after the end of the 2018 CL Final, I had a similar feeling to the end of the 2013/14 season- wondering if this was as good as it would get for quite some time, and that I’d end up nostalgic for a game or a season in which we came so close but came up short. It was bittersweet to say the least. But since then I’ve been given every reason to believe this is no “one season wonder” team. Under Klopp, every season we fail, we achieve our goal the next season:
2015/16: Fail to qualify for CL via the Europa League
2016/17: Qualify for the CL by finishing 4th by 1 point over Arsenal.
2017/18: Qualify for the CL again, make CL Final but lose to Real Madrid.
2018/19: Win the CL vs Spurs, fall short in the league by a point to Abu Dhabi FC, despite losing just a single game all season
January 2020: Top of the league by 13 points with a game in hand and into the CL semi finals again…
Crazy to think how anxious we all were on the last day of the 2016/17 season about playing relegated Boro at home, with a spot in the top 4 up for grabs. Yet now here we are and somehow the discussion has morphed from “Can we win the league at last?” to questions like “Can we go through the season invincible?” and “Can we win the league AND the European Cup again?”
We have endured many a dark day in our time, from real tragedies to the Hecklers taking us down the pan. Imagine what may have happened if we hadn’t had them and got decent owners with Rafa at the helm, I personally feel the last decade would have been a real golden period and we would have been back on the effin perch much, much sooner. However it has led to what we are witnessing now and hence why we are enjoying this occasion regardless. We take each moment as it comes and saviour it, including even the loses at European Finals under Klopp… and most opposing supporters did not understand how we still enjoyed the occasions and partied hard. Celebrating failure they called it. They also pointed to the celebrating of a draw with WBA at home… None could see what we can see or can understand it. We knew the journey we are on and where we will end up. One thing is for certain, there’s never a dull moment being a Liverpool supporter and we embrace and absorb everything and we have immense fun doing it.