Liverpool‘s 3-2 victory over Manchester City on Sunday kept them two points clear of second-placed Chelsea, who are still to visit Anfield and suffered a hammer-blow on Saturday night with a defeat at home to Sunderland. City are a further five points adrift with two games in hand.
Asked if the City match was a title decider, Whelan, who scored 73 goals in 493 appearances for Liverpool between 1979 and 1994. said: “No, far from it. There is still a little way to go and they have to concentrate so hard to get to the finish line.”
Although much of the focus is already turning to Chelsea‘s visit to Anfield the following weekend, Whelan is wary of the trip to Carrow Road.
Whelan was part of the last Liverpool side to win the league in 1990. “It is very easy to get wrapped up in all this talk of winning the league, but they have to go to Norwich to win,” said the former Republic of Ireland international.
“They have a new manager. They are fighting relegation so it is not going to be easy.”
“We have to forget what colour their kit is and the personnel wearing it and treat them as the best players in the world,” he said.
“We have to forget where we are and forget what we’ve done. We have to prepare for Norwich like it’s the last game of our careers.”
Whelan said their chances of capturing their elusive 19th title could hinge on the continuing form of Gerrard, who has been rejuvenated by a deep-lying role in front of the back four. “He is a bit like a quarterback, he played in this role a few years ago and didn’t want to do it,” said Whelan.
“Now he is older and wiser. Now he is the boss. He tells people where to go. He is vital. He is a bit like a quarterback. He keeps everything ticking over. He has to stay in that position.”
Liverpool will be without ever-present midfielder Jordan Henderson until the final match of the season after he was sent off for a late tackle on City midfieder Samir Nasri and banned for three matches.
But Whelan believes the Reds, who have won their last 10 league games and scored 93 goals so far this season, have sufficient cover to cope without the England international. “He has been brilliant and will be missed but luckily you have Joe Allen and you have Lucas coming back from injury,” said Whelan.
“They can fill in that role and they will probably do it just as well as Jordan.”
5Times, the former Liverpool players association, have events coming up in Liverpool and Dublin, including the chance to play against former legends at Anfield. Click the links below for all the details.
[table id=53 /]