‘The standards have been set’ – former stars optimistic about Liverpool future
Liverpool finished the Premier League with a record runners-up points tally of 97, just one behind Manchester City, and are in their second successive Champions League final next month.
Most of their key players have been tied down to long contracts and manager Jurgen Klopp’s methods are getting the best out of the squad.
Press Association Sport’s Carl Markham asked some former players to assess the current state of the club and what the future might hold.
Jamie Carragher (1997-2013: Champions League winner 2005, UEFA Cup 2001, FA Cup winner 2001, 2006, League Cup winner 2001, 2003, 2012)
“Whether Liverpool win anything this season or not they do look in a position where they are going to continually challenge under Jurgen Klopp. They have a great squad and I am sure they will add to it in the summer. It does look in a really good position: the owners, the new stand, money coming into the club, signings that are made are, more often than not, working. So they are probably in a better position than we were in 2005 when we won the Champions League. It is a much better team with a lot more harmony off the pitch and within the club. It does look a great position and certainly possibly the best position Liverpool have been in for 30 years with all things told. The season is a freak that both teams have so many points. Credit to both. The good thing for Liverpool is they still have a Champions League final to play and if they can win that what a season it has been.”
Gary Gillespie (1984-1991: European Cup winner 1984, Division One champion 1986, 1988, 1990)
“I think it has been a wonderful season and finishing second with 97 points says a whole lot against a City side which has been revered as one of the best in the league. But I think Liverpool are in a really good position at this moment in time, it is not just about this season but the future as well. You can see them building on this, being a constant threat of winning the Premier League and Champions League and that is where this club wants to be and deserves to be. I think it is not ‘if’ we win something it is ‘when’ we win something. You can imagine in the summer the recruitment will be there again for them to strengthen, so I can see next season us contending again with the players we have and a relatively young squad mixed with experience. There’s a good balance and I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t be a catalyst to build on and be a constant threat each year.”
Ronnie Whelan (1981-1994: European Cup winner 1984, Division One champion 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, FA Cup winner 1986, 1989, League Cup winner 1982, 1983, 1984)
“They are crying out for them to win the league and it is hard to believe it has taken so long since 1990. You have to look at how the club was run over the years that we weren’t getting anywhere close to winning the league. But now you look at how they have developed under the new owners and under Klopp over the last few years and they are definitely going in the right direction. Unfortunately you are up against a team like Manchester City who have an abundance of wealth and very good players. We have closed the gap quicker than I thought we would and I don’t think there is any shame in finishing second any way. People say no-one remembers the team who finished second but this team will be remembered.”
Jim Beglin (1984-1989: Division One champion 1986, FA Cup winner 1986)
“Jurgen Klopp reminds me of what it was like when I was here. He pushes them all the way and he deserves huge credit for how much he is drawing from his players. That’s what I felt when I was here, you were under that pressure and that fear of pushing yourself to the limit as if you didn’t it could be costly. To deliver 97 points and still not end up winning it is ludicrous, absolute madness, but it just goes to show you how good Man City are. Many people have asked if there will be a downturn for Liverpool, but I’d be very surprised because it looks like they have put something in place now that will stand the test of immediate time, so they will be able to go again next season. The standards have been set and there’s no way anything less will be accepted from now on. That is the Klopp mentality. I sincerely hope it will be something lasting and it will only be a matter of time before they do come good in terms of trophies.”
Steve McMahon (1985-1991: Division one champion 1986, 1988, 1990, FA Cup winner 1986, 1989)
“I was the last captain to lift that trophy 29 years ago, that’s how long it is. Twenty-nine years is too long for this fantastic football club. Everyone says that the club are in a good position in terms of structure and everything is fantastic off the pitch and on the pitch but, in the cold light of day, this club needs to win trophies. I love watching every week, they entertain me, but I was brought up with a history of winning at Liverpool and I hope it continues and they don’t lose sight of the importance of winning trophies as well. You might remember Liverpool in a few years and say ‘They only lost one game in a season’ but that’s not good enough. We’d rather lose two or three and win the league. I want to see this club be successful by winning trophies. That might be harsh but it’s true. Supporters would settle for a few dodgy games here or there if it meant winning the league or an FA Cup.”