29 Liverpool players who deserved to win the title – but didn’t

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Liverpool finally ended a three-decade-long wait for a 19th league championship, a prize many former players would love to have won—and would have deserved.

Of course, it’s only a team which truly wins a league title, that’s the point of it. And those who win it, deserve it—but not everyone who shows the quality, determination and selflessness required to become a champion actually does so.

It’s impossible to argue against many of Liverpool’s former players being good enough to be a champion, and many of them won other major prizes, but 30 years without a league title means several star names never got the big trophy they wanted.

While at Anfield, at least.

Here we’ve picked out one player from each of the previous 29 years who never managed to win the title with the Reds, but who did everything in their power to put us back on top nonetheless.

 

1990/91: Steve McManaman

There were several eras which held tough decisions, but this wasn’t one – most of the squad had just won a title, after all.

Steve McManaman debuted during the first post-title season before going on to become a real icon at the club, an Academy graduate who ended up a multiple European Cup-winner at Real Madrid.

 

1991/92: Rob Jones

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 6, 1996: Liverpool's Rob Jones in action against Coventry City during the Premiership match at Highfield Road. Coventry won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Still maybe the best debut Liverpool has ever seen. The right-back stepped up from the lower leagues to the top with barely a missed step and only injuries prevented him from being one of the finest for years.

Remains involved at Liverpool through the Academy.

 

1992/93: Mark Wright

A club captain who served the team well during an increasingly difficult period.

Very classy on the ball and just as dominant in the air, though injuries disrupted his career and forced an untimely retirement.

 

1993/94: Robbie Fowler

Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler celebrates after scoring his second goal against Arsenal. 1994 ( CROFT MALCOLM CROFT/PA Archive/PA Images)

Need we say any more than his nickname, God? Fowler brought hope and joy to so many fans, was the best finisher in the league for a spell and represented the city with distinction.

Injuries robbed us of his prime, but he was just as big a fan favourite in his second stint at the club.

 

1994/95: Jamie Redknapp

One of Kenny Dalglish’s last signings, but came to the fore later on.

A very good player indeed, underrated due to injuries perhaps, but a club captain who gave his all, was international-class and in another time might have been an even more central cog to a team.

 

1995/96: Michael Thomas

Considering he robbed us of a 19th league title 29 years earlier, he’s done well to get in here!

A tremendous player in his prime, Thomas had a rejuvenation at Liverpool and his ability shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

1996/97: Stan Collymore

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 6, 1996: Liverpool's Stan Collymore celebrates scoring the second of his hat-trick of goals against Rochdale during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Just before an explosion of players to choose from, the mid-to-late 90s saw scattered talents appearing for a couple of seasons at a time. Collymore was one such player.

He was unbelievably good and could have easily been the finest in the English game for a period – but his peak, like his Liverpool time, was too short.

 

1997/98: Michael Owen

Few players have exploded in peoples’ consciousness in the way Owen did, probably because now everybody knows who the talented 15- and 16-year-olds are, never mind 17- and 18-year-olds.

Still, his pace, eye for goal and the time he spent with the Reds made him one of the finest over that time.

 

1998/99: Patrik Berger

Patrik Berger races over to the Liverpool fans after scoring his second goal

Edging out the likes of Jason McAteer, Stig Inge Bjornebye or Dominic Matteo, we’ve opted for Berger who took the level of the team up a notch once or twice.

Either side of a spell of injuries he was absolutely brilliant and it’s arguably Liverpool didn’t make the most of his talents early on.

 

1999/2000: Stephane Henchoz

Into the new era and we’ve a load of players to choose from suddenly, meaning some will miss out who similarly deserve to be named.

We’ll start with a defender who put his body on the line whenever needed; Henchoz was never the best player, but one of the most committed who helped bring in a new time of the Reds challenging near the top again.

 

2000/01: Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey, 2001 ( Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

A club-record signing who was one of the original workhorses in the modern era.

Heskey was a facilitator for others as well as a goal threat himself in his prime, and he was a player who helped the team be better as a whole.

 

2001/02: Sami Hyypia

If Henchoz was in, of course Sami was too. A captain, a legend of the club, a great player and a tremendous figurehead for the team.

An honourary Scouser if ever there was one.

 

2002/03: Jamie Carragher

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 19, 2013: Liverpool's captain Jamie Carragher making his 737th and last appearance for Liverpool during the final Premiership match of the 2012/13 season against Queens Park Rangers at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Not everybody was signed to take us closer to a title; some were born that way.

Jamie Carragher filled every defensive role possible across his career and dragged the team over the line to cups, though a title only just eluded him. Once of the best in history.

 

2003/04: Didi Hamann

A key figure in both Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez’s teams, Hamann was a brilliant presence and an inspirational player.

Not so good on the training ground, go the stories, but he certainly loved playing for the Reds! Apologies around this era to John Arne Riise and Danny Murphy, who miss the cut.

 

2004/05: Steven Gerrard

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 2, 2014: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the second goal against Leicester City during the Premier League match at Filbert Way. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As if it would be anybody else for this particular season. Gerrard came closer than anyone on the list to wrenching the Reds to a Premier League title and he deserved it as much as anyone in the game.

Thankfully, his trophy cabinet is full of silverware, much of it which he played a massive part in helping to win.

 

2005/06: Xabi Alonso

Another burst of signings around this time mean deserving players like Luis Garcia and Yossi Benayoun didn’t quite get included.

But there’s no arguing that a player of the class and consistency of Alonso deserved a medal of their own; again, he won trophies with the Reds, but his league title triumphs came elsewhere.

 

2006/07: Peter Crouch

Liverpool, England - Saturday, March 3, 2007: Liverpool's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring the fourth goal and completes his hat-trick against Arsenal during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We’ve effectively given Crouch the nod over Garcia here because he had a bigger impact on the domestic scene.

The former striker was fantastic for the Reds, gave everything for the cause and had as much natural talent as many other forwards, and scored some remarkable goals along the way.

 

2007/08: Pepe Reina

The only goalkeeper we’re mentioning in the entire 29-year span; not the only one who deserved a title, but definitely the finest.

At his best, Reina was arguably the top ‘keeper in the Premier League and he had the clean sheet record to back it up.

 

2008/09: Fernando Torres

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 23, 2008: Liverpool's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his hat-trick goal against Middlesbrough during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An unbelievably good striker, and a reasonably rare situation where Liverpool had the absolute best, the peak, the prime of a world-class player.

With a bit more resilience to injuries, Torres might well have shortened the wait for Liverpool’s league title.

 

2009/10: Javier Mascherano

For all the attacking talent of some Liverpool teams, the very best ones always have balance. Javier Mascherano – and Momo Sissoko, who just missed out – was one of the best to bring that balance.

An outrageously good competitor, a born winner. Just not of the Premier League.

 

2010/11: Dirk Kuyt

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 28, 2012: Liverpool's match-winner Dirk Kuyt scores the second goal against against Manchester United to seal a 2-1 victory during the FA Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thankfully, amid the changing of the guard throughout the 2000s, some players had a remarkably long Liverpool lifespan.

Dirk was one, so we can squeeze him in a bit further down the line than some of his original team-mates. It’s perhaps appropriate one of our most industrious performers in history is picked for a season when we all hard to work hard to maintain optimism, in the first half of the season, at least.

 

2011/12: Luis Suarez

For pure skill, ability, footballing genius, there may not have ever been a better Liverpool player than Luis Suarez.

Honestly, just go back and watch some of the astonishing things he did with a football wearing the Red of our team. Mesmerising, as well as an absolute lunatic with a do-anything-to-win mentality.

 

2012/13: Daniel Agger

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 11, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Agger in action against Newcastle United during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Like Kuyt, a couple of long-serving players had to be picked wherever there was a gap, with Daniel Agger one.

The Dane was a magnificent defender, a fantastic player, a totally committed individual who put his body on the line, often at cost to himself. Without his injuries, we’d have won more.

 

2013/14: Lucas Leiva

We can be fairly assured Lucas Leiva would have run through a brick wall into a flaming field of lava if it meant Liverpool would win any given football game.

Always did his fair share of shouldering responsibility, burden and intent through some very difficult times.

 

2014/15: Raheem Sterling

Into the most recent of eras we go and a talented young forward by the name of Raheem Sterling gave everything during his time at Anfield.

He learned a lot, was given a lot and became a lot more—but his journey started here and his efforts shouldn’t be forgotten.

 

2015/16: Emre Can

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Liverpool's Emre Can during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Emre Can had stayed and grown with this Liverpool side, he’d be seen as one of the best in world football by now, no question.

Has always had the ability, but aligned that to a rare selflessness to play every conceivable role for the team, even at the detriment to his own game.

 

2016/17: Nathaniel Clyne

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Clyne had a regular role in the team under both Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp, early on in his Liverpool days.

A little cruel that he was around, but not involved, in a season when we won—but his time at Anfield effectively finished a year or so earlier in any case.

 

2017/18: Philippe Coutinho

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No point in being bitter or mean about his move – Coutinho was a genius of a player who put a whole lot into improving the Reds, then chased a personal dream.

Fans cannot ask a player for more than to work hard, show talent and improve the side – the Brazilian did all that and more. His departure arguably led to the title, anyway.

 

2018/19: Daniel Sturridge

Finally, another striker who was marked by injuries as much as brilliance, but who contributed vastly when he was able.

Sturridge was among the last to leave Klopp’s squad before he won the league, but he was also one of those who took us closest to earning it earlier.

A fantastic list of footballers who did their best for the Reds for years – and most of whom will be happy to see Liverpool finally crowned champions again.

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