Liverpool will mark their 18th and last league title this week, and it would have been “savoured a bit more” if John Barnes had known it would be the last for 30 years.
When Liverpool emerged as 2-1 victors over QPR on April 28, 1990, the Reds were crowned English champions for the 18th time.
An unprecedented era of success had seen 10 league titles arrive at Anfield in just 15 seasons, and while titles in Europe and domestic cup triumphs would follow in the next 30 years, the league title has remained elusive.
Various players and managers have come close, with Jurgen Klopp‘s current Reds the side destined to finally reach the holy grail – once football is safe to resume.
For Barnes, the 1989/90 title success was his second and last at Liverpool having joined from Watford in 1987.
Peter Beardsley, Ian Rush and Barnes were members of a lethal attacking force, one which saw Liverpool’s No. 10 finish the 1989/90 season as Liverpool’s top scorer with 22 in 34 appearances.
The title success was duly celebrated and while there were signs that the empire was slowly crumbling, the view among many in the dressing room was that the Reds would be back at the top the following season.
“Of course we went out that night to celebrate, but back then we were out most nights anyway!” Barnes explained.
“Yes, we had won the title and enjoyed it, but as a club, we had won it before so many times and the Liverpool way meant we soon focused on doing it again the following season.
“I suppose if we had known then that 1990 was going to be the last time that Liverpool would win it for thirty years, we would have savoured it a bit more.”
The wait for No. 19 remains on hold indefinitely with Klopp’s side just six points away from ending 30 years of title pain due to the coronavirus.
Tentative plans have outlined June 8 as a possible return date should the UK move into the next phase of their lockdown.
Some have called for the season to be cancelled but Barnes “wants the integrity of football to be upheld” by completing the campaign whenever it is safe to do so but, like many, he has first-hand experience that there “are more important things than football right now.”
“I don’t see why, when we are able to play football again, the season can’t be finished,” he continued.
“I want the integrity of football to be upheld and it’s nothing with Liverpool being crowned champions, although of course, I’d love to that happen.
“Whoever finishes first should win the league, the bottom three should be relegated and the top three in the Championship should come up.
“There is no point thinking about next season when this season is unfinished, but like I say there are more important things than football right now.”