There were no surprises on this, the last day of the 2018-19 Premier League season. Liverpool did what they needed to do at home against a spirited Wolverhampton Wanderers side, while elsewhere, the league leader Manchester City also did what they had to do.
Now join us as we examine some of the narratives, tactics, reactions, and questions Liverpool will be dealing with and the fans will be talking about in the aftermath.
Winners and Losers
Liverpool. The Reds scored two goals more than Wolves did, so from that perspective, they won. But in all seriousness, despite the heartbreak and disappointment of coming close yet again, there’s a tremendous amount of positives to take from this season. This is a supremely-well-drilled, insanely talented, young, and immensely likeable squad has clearly bought in to their manager’s vision 110%. And make no mistake - it all begins with that manager.
The last time this club got close to the title, you had the sense that removing one vital cog from that machine might make it all fall apart. To a degree, that is exactly what happened in the aftermath of that 2013-14 season. This time, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The emphatic triumph over Barcelona mere days ago remains the greatest indicator of this new normal.
I don’t want to talk about losers. There are some, but they mostly live on the internet. Klopp gets a great deal of grief for not having won a trophy with Liverpool, but there are few other managers who have so consistently and emphatically advocated for fans and players to remember the most important thing: that we should enjoy football. This club is at its best when it remembers that fact.
Liverpool didn’t win the title this year. But you’d have to have the narrowest field of vision to contemplate thinking of this squad as losers.
Dissecting the Narrative
No matter how you slice it, 97 points is a ridiculous haul over a Premier League season. This time last year, Liverpool had amassed 75 points. This year, they have 22 more. Last year, this squad conceded 38 goals, while scoring 84. They notched 89 this year while allowing only 22.
No, there isn’t a trophy for second place, and nobody is really arguing an impressive campaign is “like a trophy.” But as he’s done every season since taking the reins, Jürgen Klopp has vastly improved this squad’s ability to compete. There’s no reason to think he can’t keep that going.
Yes, a lot of things had to go right for Liverpool to even be in this position. Former Stoke City player Xherdan Shaqiri had to briefly turn into a super-sub. There was Divock Origi vs. Everton. Divock Origi vs. Newcastle. Hugo Lloris vs. a cruel bounce. There’s no guarantee that similar magic will materialize next year.
But lots of things went right for Manchester City as well. Goal line reviews. Vincent Kompany’s wonderstrike against Leicester City. There will be other challengers as well. Spurs look poised to compete, especially if they actually decide to spend any money at all over this summer. As supporters, the best we can hope for is to be in the running on the last say of the season. Outside of City and Liverpool, nobody else was even in the frame today.
What Happens Next
In case you’ve been living underneath Charlie Adam, Liverpool have a Champions League final to prepare for, against Tottenham Hotspur. They’ll need to gather their energy, lick their wounds, and get ready to finish the job they started in Kiev last year.
How The Fans Reacted
Win or lose, this club is huge. Once again, here’s the Prime Minister of Iceland.
Well done @LFC! It is a true joy belonging to this marvelous club and your unity is an inspiration to so many! Next up: Madrid on June 1st! Best wishes from A LOT of fans here in Iceland! #LIVWOL #YNWA— Katrín Jakobsdóttir (@katrinjak) May 12, 2019
The Reds are even popular outside the confines of this solar system. Here’s one of my favorite extraterrestials.
#CongratsReds on incredible season, one centimeter away from the premiership. #YNWA— John Lithgow (@JohnLithgow) May 12, 2019
Let’s not forget, Jürgen Klopp is a huge fan of this club. And what he thinks is pretty important, as those things tend to come true.
Klopp: We are ready to make the next stop. We will make the next step.— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) May 12, 2019
And then there’s you. You’ve been with us on this journey. It doesn’t matter when you got on the bus, whether it was this year, four years ago, forty years ago. Your feelings and reactions to every minute of every match are what make this roller-coaster truly special, and I’m tremendously grateful to be able to share in the experience with you all.