Liverpool’s Near Misses: 6 Times the Reds Almost Won the Title Before 2019/20 Triumph

On 26 June 2020, Liverpool won their maiden Premier League title. Jurgen Klopp’s side had emphatically blown all the competition out of the water, with Chelsea’s victory over Manchester City confirming the Reds as champions of England for the first time since 1990.

It finally brought an end to Liverpool’s ’30 years of hurt’ – which has included two Champions League triumphs, three FA Cups and completing the treble in 2001. Ouch.

However, the Reds did come mightily close on a handful of occasions to ending their 30-year wait for a league title sooner. Let’s take a look at their nearest misses.


1990/91

Kenny Dalglish quit Liverpool midway through the the 1990/91 season, joining Blackburn seven months later

It wasn’t too far away from just being 29 years of hurt, had Liverpool defended their title during the penultimate Division One season.

The Reds began the campaign in scintillating form, remaining unbeaten until December. However, in February, with the club sitting three points clear manager at the top of the table, Kenny Dalglish sensationally resigned. It was a move that stunned the football world – with the Liverpool boss later writing in his autobiography that the strain and agony of the Hillsborough disaster was continuing to take a toll on his mental health.

Graeme Souness was appointed in April, but two costly defeats in May put pay to the Reds’ title chances. Arsenal were crowned league champions, with Liverpool seven points behind the Gunners.


1996/97

Liverpool finished fourth on goal difference during the 1996/97 season

With the nation still riding on a post Euro 96 feel good wave, Liverpool mounted their first serious title challenge of the Premier League era.

Liverpool’s ‘Spice Boy’ spine of Jamie Redknapp, David James, Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler helped the Reds open up a five point lead at the league summit before the turn of the year, with the latter hitting 31 goals in all competitions.

However, Liverpool dropped soft points here and there and Manchester United closed the gap, but had the Reds beaten Sir Alex Ferguson’s side at Anfield, they would have gone top with three games remaining. Instead, they lost 3-1, United were crowned champions and Liverpool drew on the final game of the season to ultimately finish fourth in a two horse race.


2001/02

Michael Owen won the 2001 Ballon d’Or

Following on from their 2001/01 treble, big things were expected from Gerard Houllier’s side. Despite the Liverpool boss taking five months off after suffering a heart attack during the opening months of the season and Phil Thompson being put in temporary charge, coupled with the sale of Robbie Fowler, the Reds topped the league a week before Christmas.

Houllier recovered and returned to the dugout in March, and Liverpool led the title race with five games remaining.

However, Arsenal had two games in hand, and Arsene Wenger’s side finished the season with 13 consecutive wins to claim the title. Liverpool finished second, seven points behind the Gunners.


2008/09

Fernando Torres hit 14 Premier League goals during the 2008/09 season

Liverpool came the closest yet to ending their wait for a top flight title under Rafa Benitez with a real mismatch of a squad. For every Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, there was an Andrea Dossena and a David N’Gog.

The Reds lost just twice all season, but it was their tendency to draw that cost them. Despite recording a famous 4-1 victory over Manchester United, they also drew to Hull, Wigan, West Ham, Fulham and Stoke (twice).

Liverpool won 10 of their last 11, but finished second, four points behind Manchester United.


2013/14

“This does not slip now”

Brendan Rodgers’ inspired a remarkable title charge during the 2013/14 season, with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in irresistible form in front of goal. The pair hit 52 goals between them, but the Reds saw their title aspirations pulled from under their feet in heartbreaking/hilarious fashion, depending on your persuasion.

After a breathless 3-2 victory over Manchester City put the Reds in the driving seat with four games remaining, Liverpool edged closer to glory with another 3-2 win against Norwich. Captain Steven Gerrard urged his teammates not to not let the title ‘slip’, before agonisingly doing just that against Chelsea to let Demba Ba rush through and score.

Rodgers’ side finished just two points behind league champions Manchester City after capitulating against Crystal Palace just days after the Chelsea defeat.


2018/19

Liverpool were narrowly beaten to the title by Manchester City

Despite racking up an astonishing 97 points and losing just once all season, Liverpool finished one point behind Pep Guardiola’s impeccable Manchester City side.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shared the Golden Boot with 22 goals each, but defeat to Man City and a run of four draws in six between January and March were ultimately costly.

However, Liverpool softened the blow with a remarkable run to the Champions League final and victory over Tottenham, as they were crowned champions of Europe for the sixth time.


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