BUT WHAT NOW?
When Liverpool won the title with one game to spare in 1982, it’s fair to say they took their foot off the gas. Before their final match of the campaign, an evening fixture at Middlesbrough, the squad was given official permission by Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan to have a couple of small lunchtime lifters in a local public bar in honour of their achievement. Paisley and Fagan meanwhile decamped to the team hotel, where they carefully worked their way through a bottle of Scottish wine. Liverpool played that night in a new style, perambulating around Ayresome Park in a most laid-back manner, only occasionally breaking into anything resembling a brisk stroll. Their management team appeared so unconcerned at this insouciant state of affairs that you’d have been forgiven for concluding they didn’t give a hoot. For the record, Liverpool were still good enough to hit the woodwork three times and eke out a goalless draw. Oh Boro!
It’s unlikely that the current Liverpool crop will get quite so recklessly paggered in the wake of the club’s first championship in 30 years. “When we won the league we would go out, celebrate and have a great night,” club legend Ian Rush reminisced on Friday, before adding euphemistically that “the training was relaxed, the pace wasn’t the same. Times have changed and these players now are so focused and fit. If you look at this lot now they won’t stop, they’ll keep going because they want to win every game. They’ll be saying ‘We won the league, let’s go for Manchester City’s 100-point record.” Extremely worrying news indeed for upcoming opponents such as Aston Villa and Brighton, who upon looking at those social-media clips of questionable rug-cutting on Thursday night may have started dreaming of taking three easy points from a hedonistic gang of reckless roister-doisters making merry.
Sadly for the relegation-haunted duo, Rushie’s hunch was quickly proved entirely correct. Mere hours after the conclusion of a celebratory squad barbecue, Jürgen Klopp, each eyelid this afternoon setting out its own agenda, insisted that his team are not finished yet. “This is not the final destination, we have not all finished our careers. There are seven games to go. Full throttle, we go for everything. If we only go 50%, Manchester City will shoot us out of the stadium.”
Liverpool need five wins from their last seven matches if they’re to better City’s record of 100 points and 32 wins, set a couple of seasons ago. With nearly a week to recover from any ill effects caused by overly charred meat or over-zealous choreography, there’s a fair chance this is on. Especially as Klopp has pointed out that “history is no burden any more. We got rid of the heavy backpack. We can now build on this for the future.” Opponents who recall Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City doing exactly this in 1993, 2005 and 2012, and what they did next, are permitted to take one large, long, loud gulp.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This is a film that looks in detail at my journey: the highs, the lows, the beautiful game, finally I have the opportunity to show the person I really am” – we’re pretty sure that Wayne Rooney has had plenty of opportunities to show us who he really is but there’s going to be another documentary about him and it’s called, wait for it, “Rooney”.
Get your peepers on this gallery of giddy Liverpool fans playing fast and loose with social distancing rules after winning the title. And here’s some video analysis from Sachin Nakrani on how Klopp hauled Liverpool back up to the top.
“Until yesterday, I thought that the most depressing phrase in the English language was ‘world-beating test-and-tracing system’ but that has now been surpassed by ‘For Juventus, the digital world is the main vehicle for spreading an exponentially growing brand, which turns its gaze precisely to this world, to continue its journey into the future’, quickly followed by the thoroughly unconvincing ‘Even Szczesny is impressed with our new Digital Ecosystem, because it is: innovative, informative, social and fun’. Shame on the Old Lady … Juventus that is, not Szczęsny of course” –Noble Francis.
NEWS, BITS AND BOBS
Pep has popped up to say Liverpool won the league because “they played every game like it was their last”.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær stuck to the party line while congratulating Liverpool. “Well done to Jürgen and his players,” he said, adding: “The run of titles that we won under Sir Alex, I don’t think that’s going to be easy for anyone to emulate.”
Gabriel Martinelli will miss Arsenal’s inevitable lurch towards crisis again as the season draws to a close after undergoing surgery on knee-knack.
Sean Dyche sounds thrilled to be still managing Burnley. “I’ve got two years left on my contract, I’m still here,” he sighed. “I’ve been linked many times with other situations and I’m still here.”
Exeter boss Matt Taylor reckons a chippy tea and dip in the sea will hopefully get his team right up for the League Two play-off final against Northampton. “We took them down to the beach, we got them in the sea, we got them back to the training ground and had fish and chips from the local farm shop,” enthused Taylor.
And Norwich might be bombing in the league but that’s not killed Daniel Farke’s FA Cup buzz. “We’re hungry and want to keep going,” he cheered before the 3-0 quarter-final defeat by Manchester United. “We want to achieve something magical.”
STILL WANT MORE?
A machine at the peak of its power – how Liverpool became champions. By Barney Ronay.
Here’s something different: Norwich defender Timm Klose gets his chat on with Paul MacInnes about how Premier League players were unfairly criticised, what playing without fans is like and his hopes of an FA Cup shock.
And Neil Warnock is plotting an escape.
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