Great sides come and go. Clubs rise to greatness and fall back into the pack like the monthly tides, with the exceptions able to be counted on one hand. Teams like Ajax come to mind, who in the mid-seventies rose to the forefront of Europe under the brilliance of Johan Cruyff only to fade from glory on the European stage for some twenty years after. For manager Brenden Rodgers and Liverpool Football Club, however, the time has never been riper to wrestle back control of the Premier League from their rivals at Manchester United.
Liverpool can lay claim to being England’s first truly great footballing club in many people’s eyes, gathering up eighteen English titles from 1900 to 1990, eight more than the next closest side. The might of the Merseysiders reached its peak in the last decade of that era, with the 1980’s team taking home a major haul of nineteen different titles in all competitions. The horizon never seemed brighter. That is, until, the storm that is Sir Alex Ferguson swept through England. The ambitious Scot took the helm of the Red Devils in 1986, and took only a marginal amount of time to get up and running with second place finishes in 1988 and 1992 before winning back-to-back titles in ’93 and ’94. The shifting balance of power was surely felt on the grounds at Liverpool, but to what extent could never have been known at the time. Ferguson’s 26-year career at the head of United would see a production of thirteen English Premier League titles, an unprecedented record of a title every other year. Adding these titles on to the seven United had before Fergie took the helm, Manchester United surpassed Liverpool to become the most successful club in the history of English football with twenty League titles. All the while, Liverpool was struggling and failing domestically. A new era had dawned, and United’s meteoric rise was in stark contrast to Liverpool’s now 23-year long absence from the top of the Premier league table.
Coming back to the current state of affairs, though, and the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards the Liverpudlians for the moment. The legendary Sir Alex Ferguson has retired from his managerial role to take a more back-seat position on the Board of Directors at United, and Brenden Rogers’ vision for the new Liverpool is beginning to take shape. Since his appointment in the summer of 2012, Rodgers has impressed with his reshaping of the club’s playing philosophy to a more passing and possession based side. He also has a first-rate transfer market record so far, signing young and promising talents such as Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho to Liverpool.
With the first few rounds of the 2013-14 season already decided, Liverpool currently sit three points above United already having dispatched the Red Devils in their first encounter of the current campaign at home. Although it is very early on in the season, the iron-fisted grip of Manchester United seems to have loosened, and Liverpool are in prime position to assert their claim to the throne once more. Of course, this is all providing that the fickle gods of soccer allow it.
Being a LFC fan, I’d would love to believe your statement that the season has already been decided. But it brings back the heartbreaking season where Liverpool sat pretty in first for most of the 08-09 season, only to throw it away at the end. I do agree with the cyclic nature of the PL you talk about. True, I would not expect Man U to be sitting 14th even though all they really changed was their manager, but there is still most of the season ahead, and in this increasing competitive league, anything can happen. The cyclic nature is why it is the best league in the world to watch. There are only 6-7 title contenders each season, but at the same time you see all these teams having fierce competitions with relegation facing clubs. No game is a throwaway in the PL and if a team doesn’t show up for each and every one of those 38 games, they can’t expect to compete with the best.
Back to the cyclic part of the post, there is a pretty clear explanation for that: money. None of the top clubs (thought Man City might want to argue) consistently spend big in each transfer window. Instead we see teams more often make a couple big signings, and build from there. This building phase is what contributes to the cyclic nature of the PL. Liverpool over the 2 windows has put themselves in a great position with a young team led by a veteran Steven Gerrard. Unless a golden opportunity presents himself, I don’t see any huge name signings in the future from Brendan Rodgers, as he has made clear he wants to build his team. Manchester United on the other hand are stuck in their trough. This past transfer window saw 12 players out by transfer or retirement, and only 2 in, putting their marbles with Fellaini. Now, it is Manchester United’s turn to enter the rebuilding phase, and I’m sure Moyes will be looking to do something around Fellaini. I don’t see them realistically being title contenders this season, but expect big young signings in the next windows as they claw their way out of the trough in the ‘soccer cycle’.
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