Liverpool’s dominance of English soccer during the 70’s and 80’s came down to a number of things, good managers, great players and fortunate decisions. It’s not necessarily a magic formula but look at any of the great teams over the past few decades and they’ll have each of the above. Liverpool have that mixture this season and it could help them win the domestic treble.
Juergen Klopp has proved he is a good manager, if not unbelievably annoying, while Mane, Salah and Firmino are probably the most lethal strike force in Europe right now. That’s before you talk about Virgil Van Dijk, the best defender (and probably player) in Europe over the last 12 months. If he doesn’t win the Balloon D’Or there is something much more corrupt in world football than just having Qatar host the next World Cup. And this is from someone who is rooting for anyone but Liverpool to win the league, never mind the domestic treble.
Now to part three of the magic formula… Good Fortune.
In the last week Liverpool have had three things go their way both on and off the field.
First, there was the collapse against Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League, throwing away a three goal lead before Mohammed Salah saved their blushes with a fourth, and winning, goal.
Then there was the fortunate penalty in injury time on Saturday to win 2-1 over Leicester. The contact, while there, is minimal and the fact Sadio Mane went down clutching his other leg will have riled up Leicester and neutral fans everywhere. James Milner made no mistake from 12 yards out to extend Liverpool’s lead at the top to eight points, a lead that stayed in tact after Man City lost to Wolves 2-0 on Sunday.
Number three was one that may not get much press this side of the Atlantic but has caused a stir in England, especially with fans of smaller clubs.
In September, Grays Athletic were expelled from the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player in their qualifying tie against Heybridge Swifts FC. Frankie Hession-Harris made false declarations on three separate registration forms and had not gotten International clearance before playing as a second half sub for the Isthmian League North Division side. The club were held accountable and kicked out of the oldest cup competition in England.
In October, Liverpool fielded an ineligible player, Pedro Chirivella, during their Carabao Cup win over MK Dons. Chirivella failed to get international clearance before coming on as a second half substitute. Sound Familiar? Liverpool were fined £200,000 (GBP) with half of it suspended pending a similar situation happening again. Liverpool’s annual net worth is over $600 million so £100,000 is hardly a dent, especially to a club looking to do a deal with Nike that will likely make them one of the richest clubs in the Premier League if not the world.
You could call that last part an unfair bias based on their standing in English soccer history, especially when you consider the similarities in the cases above and the differences in punishment, but to save me the abuse on Twitter let’s just call it ‘Good Fortune’. And if Liverpool keep getting that ‘Good Fortune’ this could finally be the year they win England’s top prize after a 30 year wait. Those of us hoping the wait goes on can only hope for a slip of Steven Gerrard proportions.