But the return of football in England earlier this month after a 100-day absence revived a title bid which was only put in doubt when the season was put on pause.
After Liverpool’s impressive 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday, Manchester City needed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Thursday to delay the coronation. But the defending champion’s failure to claim three points — City was beaten 2-1 in London — ended the wait. Pep Guardiola’s team must now pass on the crown.
Liverpool, a team which had previously won 18 league titles but none since 1990, has now won the English Premier League for the first time, taking it to within one title of equaling Manchester United’s record of 20 first division titles.
Though lockdown restrictions are easing in England, Liverpool fans will not be able to celebrate as they had envisioned a few months ago. Who knows when it will be safe to hold a parade through the city?
But the muted celebrations do not mask the enormity of the feat. What Klopp and his team have achieved is remarkable. Defeated just once, Liverpool has been the dominant team of the season. The Merseysiders lead second-place City by 23 points and, by the end of the campaign, could amass a record points total of 107.
When Klopp joined the club in October 2015, Liverpool was 10th in the table, struggling to score goals and had collected 12 points from eight games. There were wealthier teams, better teams, in the EPL. Thoughts of winning another league title seemed fanciful.
“We have to change from doubters to believers,” said Klopp in his first interview as Liverpool boss. It was a statement which raised eyebrows, but one which also energized the club’s enormous fanbase. Few could have imagined, however, the progress the club would make under the charismatic German.
It was a victory which strengthened the fans’ faith in the team, easing concerns that this was a squad of nearly-men, as Liverpool had also that season narrowly missed out on the title by a point, despite accumulating a club record total of 97.
That Liverpool would bounce back from such agony to win the title the following season in such ruthless fashion is testimony to the team Klopp has built. But, as the man himself once said, the players he has assembled are “mentality monsters.”
Klopp has earned the right to be regarded among the finest managers in this storied club’s history. It is not without reason that many liken him to Bill Shankly, the former manager who rebuilt the club in the 1960s and laid the foundations for what became a footballing dynasty in the following two decades.
Liverpool is a club which has enjoyed much success, but nothing in its glorious past quite compares to the exceptional season this outstanding team has produced.