Season Review: One Or Two Matches Don’t Alter What A Campaign It’s Been

The dust has settled on the season, though the battle with UEFA and the French authorities will, quite rightly, rage on throughout the summer. From a footballing point of view, however, it is all over and done with and we’re left to ponder what might have been. At least, that’s how some people see it. For me, the fact that the Reds didn’t get to lift either of the two big trophies doesn’t change the success of the season. I’m obviously entirely aware that it matters in terms of history, but I also think that history will reflect incredibly favourably on this Liverpool team. We all know about the situation around Manchester City and the sports-washing nature of the club’s human rights abusing owners, with personal bet being that their future league wins will have asterisks next to them, if they’re not stripped from the club altogether. That the Reds have gone toe-to-toe with them so regularly over the past few years is a sign of Jürgen Klopp’s genius.

In the end, the sports-washers were able to benefit from a few too many questionable refereeing decisions and pip us to the title, but that doesn’t change how good we were. Then there’s the Champions League final, with any number of different issues surrounding it. There is no doubt in my mind that what happened to the supporters outside the stadium played a part in the eventual result, given that the players clearly knew that something wasn’t right. Even with all of that, we put in a decent display that would have seen us score at least a couple 99 times out of 100. The match can’t and shouldn’t be replayed, but when all is said and done the fact that no one died is much more important than what happened on the football pitch. Two games, then. If two games had turned out differently over the course of the season then we’d have won all four trophies and become immortal. Unfortunately they didn’t, but that doesn’t change what an amazing campaign it was.

What Jürgen Klopp Will Have Learnt From The Season

Jürgen Klopp has said before that he learns much more from defeat than from victory. If that’s the case then the temptation will be to say that he didn’t learn much last season. Liverpool lost just four times in all competitions, with one of those defeats being a meaningless one against Inter Milan in the Champions League, with the 1-0 being irrelevant to our progression. Of course, the manager is being a little bit flippant when he says that he learns more from defeats. There will have been plenty of moments that he’ll have learnt about his team during the course of the season. He will look back on when we were 3-1 down to Leicester City in the League Cup quarter-final and came back to win on penalties, for example. He’ll have garnered all sorts of information about the team and the opposition when we blew Manchester City away in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. I also wonder whether he might come away from it all having learned a little about his own small-c conservatism.

As with 2018-2019, it was the draws that did for Liverpool’s title challenge. Much like in that season three years ago, we lost fewer games than City but still missed out on being able to lift the trophy. Once again, we drew more games than Pep Guardiola’s side and that made the difference. We drew eight times, including two draws against them. Had we lost both of our games against City, we’d have been on 90 points and they’d have been on 97, so if we’d have turned 4 of those draws into wins we would have won the title with 98. That is the curious thing about football and the manner in which you actually get punished for drawing rather than going for the win and being successful in that endeavour more often than not. It is frustrating, but it is something that the manager can think about moving forward and try to adjust his thinking over. Not that this is anything other than nit-picking, of course. 92 points should still be enough to win a title, but it points to the ridiculousness of football.

We Had So Much Fun

When you win two cups, make the final of the third and only lose twice in the league, it is fair to say that you’ll have had quite a lot of fun during the course of the season. Liverpool fans had far more of a laugh than anyone else during the campaign, but there are two matches that stand out far more than any others. For most of my football supporting life, Manchester United taunted me. They won everything that there was to win whilst I was growing up, so to head to Old Trafford and win 5-0 is truly remarkable. It is the sort of thing that I dreamt about as a youngster, yet this Liverpool team did it. Not only that, but a Cristiano Ronaldo goal was disallowed, which is hilarious, and the Reds actually ended up taking their foot off the gas when it was clear that the United players were out to injure them towards the latter half of the match. As if that wasn’t good enough, we then went and beat Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park, showing them up in the Old Lady.

Yes, Everton were rubbish last season and will almost certainly continue to be in the next one, but it is still fun to go there and give them a drubbing after so many disappointing draws or narrow wins in recent times. Big scorelines are relatively common place for this Liverpool team, but those two against our nearest rivals will live long in the memory. New songs came through during the campaign, too. My favourite is easily the Jürgen Klopp song to the tune of I Feel Fine by The Beatles, which sums up the love that we all have for the man and for what he has delivered to Anfield. The real joy is in the fact that he’ll be delivering more brilliance in the years to come, having signed a contract extension during the season. It would be easy to look back with disappointment on a campaign that failed to deliver either of the big trophies, but I will never think like that. Instead, I think the players will gather themselves, use that disappointment as motivation and go again.

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