“Thirty years of hurt.”
Liverpool fans have been waiting a long time to win the Premier League and even with a 13-point gap at the top of the table, some still can’t quite say “we are going to win it” out loud.
With defending champions Manchester City trailing by 14 points in third place and Leicester City back by 13 in second, Liverpool are the resounding favourites to win their first league title since 1989-90.
“It’s over. Liverpool have won the title,” said ex-Leicester midfielder Robbie Savage on BBC Radio 5 Live’s 606 after the 1-0 win over Wolves on Sunday.
Former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson agreed: “They will not lose the league from this position.”
But the fans remember that they have come close before, only to miss out.
Steven Gerrard’s infamous mistake against Chelsea in the 2013-14 season saw the title ‘slip’ away, after some Liverpool fans had sung ‘we’re going to win the league’ before kick-off.
And last season’s conclusion saw them miss out by a single point to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Just one defeat was all Liverpool suffered in 2018-19 and they still could not win the title. Their points tally of 97 would have won the trophy in all but the last two Premier League campaigns and they were as much as seven points clear at one point.
In eight of the past 11 seasons, the leaders on 25 December have gone on to win the Premier League title. One team provides the three exceptions…
|Season||Top at Christmas||Winners|
|2010-11||Man Utd||Man Utd|
|2011-12||Man City||Man City|
|2012-13||Man Utd||Man Utd|
|2017-18||Man City||Man City|
So it’s no surprise that Liverpool fans are cautious about tempting fate.
“One game at a time,” says Liverpool fan Jonny, 40, who has witnessed his fair share of nearly-title-winning seasons.
But there is a new generation of fans attending Liverpool’s matches now and they are optimistic.
They see the confidence, the arrogance even, of Virgil van Dijk when he commands Liverpool’s back four.
They see Jurgen Klopp’s positivity and energy on the touchline visibly wearing off on his players, who will chase every ball until the last second.
They see a winning mentality building – Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has already lifted three trophies this year including the Club World Cup in Qatar just a few weeks ago, as well as the Champions League and European Super Cup.
“In my lifetime we haven’t won the Premier League so I’ve never experienced it. I can’t wait for the day. Hopefully it’s this year,” says Reece, 27, outside Anfield on Sunday.
“People are being pessimistic. I think, realistically, we have definitely got the best team. I have said it out loud. I’m optimistic.”
Even eight-year-old Daniel is confident: “It’s in the bag. Manchester City have had too many losses. We beat Leicester twice and there is nobody to compete for it with.”
There is belief among Liverpool fans in the stands – they were proud to sing “we are the world champions” in the Kop against Wolves and they brought in the final minute of stoppage time with a rendition of “we are top of the table”.
Reds manager Klopp said it was “a game where the crowd could be nervous and they weren’t, so that’s good”.
“I think our fans are exactly like the team is,” said Klopp. “They are not interested in the moment. They don’t want to celebrate now.
“We are a unit. We fight until somebody says it is enough. It is not about belief. It is not about knowing or wanting to know it’s already done.
“That is just a game in the media. Can you imagine asking me if it is decided and I sit here and say ‘yes, I think it’s done’. That would be really crazy. It is not done.”
While many fans might agree with their manager’s caution, there are definitely a few who disappeared into the Liverpool night on Sunday daring to believe this is their year.