Liverpool, you're not alone: football's other long lost title hopefuls
1) Grasshopper Club Zürich (Switzerland)
Grasshopper Club remain the most successful side in Swiss history, with 19 titles during the professional era. However, in the 11 years since they last won the championship, FC Basel have won eight, so if this proud club wishes to maintain its status they need to end the drought soon. Zürich did win a trophy (the Swiss Cup) for the first time in 10 years and finished as runners-up to Basel last season, so they appear to be a side on the up. They've suffered longer gaps between titles in the past – not winning the league between 1956 and 1971 the most notable – and it seems inconceivable that they won’t return to winning ways at some point.
2) Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)
The recent parallels between Sporting Lisbon and Liverpool are uncanny. After finishing an extremely disappointing seventh in 2013, the Portuguese club improved dramatically last season under a youthful manager (Leonardo Jardim) to finish runners-up to Benfica, just missing out on what would have been their 19th Primeira Liga title – and a first since 2002.
Although Sporting are firmly part of the Portuguese ‘Big Three’ along with Benfica and Porto (who have somewhat incredibly won 78 of 80 league titles between them), their success has actually been sporadic for some time, with only two titles won since 1982. Jardim has departed for AS Monaco in the summer, and been replaced with Estoril's Marco Silva as they look to go one better this season.
3) Feyenoord (Holland)
Since the legendary Leo Beenhakker led Feyenoord to their 14th (and last) Eredivisie title in 1999, the club has been through arguably the most tumultuous period of its illustrious history. Serious financial problems led to star names being sold and replaced with markedly inferior and cheaper players. In what is a generally predictable league – apart from two consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010 when AZ and Steve McLaren’s Twente won the title respectively – Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Ajax had the league sewn up between them for nearly 30 years. Feyenoord’s seventh and 10th-placed finishes (in 2007 and 2011) respectively are largely unprecedented. Improved finances and two second-place finishes in the last three campaigns suggest this sleeping giant is finally showing signs of stirring.
4 & 5) Örgryte IS, IFK Norrköping (Sweden)
It proved impossible to split these two clubs. Both have won 12 league titles, and as such are the joint-third most successful sides in Sweden, but both last tasted championship success way back in the 1980s (1985 and 1989 respectively).
ÖIS are based in Gothenburg, and are the oldest football club in Sweden. They now reside in the third tier of Swedish football, and average crowds of fewer than 4,000. In truth, their 1985 title was something of a miracle; 11 of their 12 successes came between 1896 and 1913, so their first title in 72 years was utterly unexpected.
IFK Norrköping have fared markedly better and remain in the top flight. It looks extremely unlikely that either side will see such success again, but to date only the traditional powerhouses of Malmo and IFK Gothenburg have won more titles.