Regardless of what happens in the next three matches, these are heady times for Liverpool fans. From seventh last season to title front-runners in this campaign's final weeks, that's a stunning progression in a remarkably short period of time. To be at the point where anything other than their first league trophy in 24 years would be a disappointment seems absurd, but Liverpool have been a revelation over the course of the past season and a half, and all signs point to the progression continuing in the coming years.
A little less than four years ago, Liverpool were in a very different position, one worlds away from their current standing. Roy Hodgson was manager, the playing personnel was lacking in depth and quality, and, most importantly, the club were being driven off a cliff by Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who had accumulated a debt of £237 million by the time their ill-fated regime ended.
Three-plus years is not yesterday, but it's also not a lifetime ago, and that's a point Ian Ayre underlined ahead of yet another top of the table clash at the weekend:
"People sometimes forget how bad it was. I speak to people now and they have really short memories. When you think about that day when we tipped it over the edge and finally pulled it back, we have come such a long way. It is no secret. It's like that TV programme, Seconds from Disaster - we were sort of in that vein. It was horrific to see the football club in that state. I do not think there was a Liverpool fan in the city or anywhere who was not worried we would not get back to this position.
"As one of the few people who was here with the last ownership and through this one, I can say the club is in a fantastically sustainable position now and that's down to the people running it in the best interests of the club, not the best interest of the owners. It's easy to say we were 10 years into a stadium move and it's about time we are back in the Champions League, but if you think about where we were financially, just because you're Liverpool it does not mean you have a right to get back up there. There are plenty of teams who could have slipped and slipped, despite new owners, so it's an unbelievable achievement to get back where we are today. That is testament to the people who invested in it and worked on getting us back there."
A top of the table clash seemed unfathomable during those dark days, and as Ayre notes, that's a credit to those involved in the turnaround. None are free from fault, and none are involved for entirely altruistic reasons. But to be three wins from a league title just four seasons after they weren't too big for a relegation battle--and on the brink of administration--is a tremendous accomplishment, and long may it continue.