Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Man United ensures just 10 more wins from a possible 16 will guarantee the title, and fans are now starting to dream.
For 60 minutes of Sunday’s game, Liverpool were intoxicating.
During that hour of football, Man United were so punch-drunk that for most of it they weren’t even second-best.
That Liverpool-supporting nails proceeded to be chewed as the clock ticked towards the 90th minute and beyond is nothing short of bewildering.
In the buildup to this one, I suggested that Jurgen Klopp’s players needed to smash Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team into Stanley Park. A victory of symbolism as such.
It really could have been such an outcome in terms of scoreline, yet in terms of raw energy and endeavour, this was a game that proved that Liverpool are now light-years ahead of their age-old rivals from the wrong end of the East Lancashire Road.
Football Has Moved On
Football has moved on significantly since the team from Old Trafford last won the Premier League—their 20th league title.
If Liverpool do secure what is increasingly looking likely to be their 19th league title then expect the floodgates to open.
In such circumstances, Liverpool will win their 21st long before Manchester United do.
This isn’t a project that is designed for a brief short-term gain. Liverpool are aiming to create a new dynasty.
These are the foundations upon which a decade-long domination can be engendered. This is something which is dreaded in Salford.
In the corridors of Old Trafford they will have known this time would eventually arise, they will have known that Liverpool would get their act together, one day.
The much-derided concept of “next season will be our season” is finally coming home to roost. That ‘season’ is this season.
It was the same at Anfield in the 1980s. Liverpool’s former club secretary, Peter Robinson, used to say as much.
He would openly state that United wouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot, annually, forever. That once they got it right, there would be trouble ahead.
We are now potentially seeing that prophesy unfold, in reverse.
Indeed, from their current state of ineptitude, United will one day rise again to the east of the region. It won’t be for the foreseeable future though.
According to Solskjaer, his club will never go 30 years without winning the Premier League. For what it’s worth, I think he’s right. It could just as easily be 40 or 50 years instead.
He tends to forget that United had a 26-year gap between league titles once upon a time. Being he grew up as a Liverpool fan, he should really know about that.
Everything seems to be coming together in an unstoppable manner for Liverpool.
Thirty more points from our remaining 16 games will claim the title, based upon a scenario where Man City do not drop one single point between now and the end of the season.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that this equates to 10 more wins.
Before the game, in an idle pre-match chat, we got around to surmising that after beating United we would be at Gerard Houllier’s legendary “10 games from greatness” marker.
We also made formative plans to head off to the pubs and bars of Liverpool in spontaneous celebration once the inevitable happens. Everything will be dropped, and you can feel free to join us.
Of course, this was presumptuous of us. Arguably self-depreciating too. Yet, this Liverpool drives you to it.
Klopp has already said he gets it, that we have taken to singing that “we’re gonna win the league.”
As supporters, we can dream; as supporters we can celebrate. However, the manager and his players will do nothing of the kind until they are finally in an unassailable position.
What they do though, is embrace the individual victories in the manner of a collective that is fully aware of the bigger picture.
For evidence of this, see a Klopp fist pump for a strong challenge near the touchline, or the jet-heeled Alisson run to be the first team-mate of Mohamed Salah’s to reach him when an injury-time clincher has been scored in front of the Kop.
There is almost something ethereal in the air when it comes to the here and now, when it comes to this Liverpool of ours.
Sat in the Main Stand Upper it gave me the perfect view, not only of the pitch, but also that wonderfully mad red sky which settled over the Liverpool late-afternoon skyline. Some things are just meant to be.
A thundering Virgil van Dijk header to open the scoring, and we should have been four, five or six goals up by the hour mark.
At 1-0, there is always the possibility of an error. Every spurned effort, every missed opportunity, a save here, a post thudded there, adds to the anxiety levels, yet even our missed chances are stylish and memorable.
Salah put the issue to bed, however, and Anfield erupted in that magical way it has.
In the end, this was better than rolling United over by four, five or six goals.
Their efforts in the final stretch of the game simply fuels their state of denial, over where they now are and how far they will need to travel to challenge for the big prizes once again.
Liverpool are 30 points clear of United and 30 points away from being champions. February is still a week-and-a-half away.
Yet there is still work to be done; there are still improvements to be made.
Wolves will probably offer a harder game on Thursday than Sunday’s was. They acquitted themselves well at Anfield a few weeks ago and are a club that feels good about itself.
There must be no let-up in the relentlessness we produce and, should we win, I suppose it will be because Southampton softened them up for us?