#8 – 2013/14
Andrew Beasley: If we were to decide this countdown purely on excitement and enjoyment throughout the campaign, then 2013/14 would make a very strong case to be top of the pile. In the last 19 Premier League seasons, the average total of goals – scored plus conceded – seen by a team is 101. Brendan Rodgers’ Reds scored that many alone, while also conceding 50, which puts them at least 12 goals clear of every one of the 379 other team seasons this century for total goals.
That’s entertainment, but it didn’t seem likely when the first three games were all won 1-0 while the fifth was lost by the same scoreline. But then something significant happened after that: Luis Suárez returned from suspension.
The Uruguayan had enjoyed a breakout season in 2012/13. He had mostly done it alone though, where here he had able support throughout the campaign from Daniel Sturridge and (to a lesser extent) Raheem Sterling. Steven Gerrard was moved to the base of the midfield and enjoyed an Indian Summer as a quarterback of sorts too.
Or at least he did until Chelsea came to Anfield in April 2014. People can talk about throwing away a three goal lead at Selhurst Park, but that happened as Liverpool were trying to score 10. The defeat to the Blues is what ultimately meant the Reds would end the campaign empty handed. But what a season.
With no European football and nothing of note achieved in the cups, 2013/14 doesn’t have the legs to go even higher in our countdown. This seems appropriate, as the team didn’t quite have the legs to get over the championship line either. But what a journey it was.
Chris Rowland: Oh those giddy last few months of the season! Win after win, glorious, insane, goals all over the place. Brendan Rodgers’ tricky Reds gave us a story, and almost glory. The triple S attack – Sturridge, Sterling and the magician Suarez. When he wasn’t suspended, he was an unstoppable force of super-nature. See his season goal-reel and gasp. Then behind them, Gerrard, not yet fully melted, Coutinho and Henderson. And then behind them, almost nothing! 😉 But it didn’t matter, we’d score more than them. “We are Liverpool. Poetry in motion.”
Then, with the golden finishing tape in sight, those two games against Chelsea and Palace. The double agony. We didn’t REALLY believe did we? Too right we did. Well I did anyway. You have to, don’t you?
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Taskin Ismet: 2013-14 was a season that both delighted and confused me. Much more delight than confusion though!
I revelled in a completely unexpected title ace, but can’t overstate how the whole approach made me question the very little I thought I knew about football. None of it made any sense. We appeared to be focused on solely outscoring the opposition in a spirit that seemed even more ‘reckless’ than the great Newcastle side under Keegan. It was as risky as you could imagine, but there we were, up to the last-but-two game of the season, looking very much like we were going to win the league.
As we approached the business end of the season, still on course for glory, I remember remarking on TTT and amongst friends about how it had been so long that we no longer remembered how to handle a title race. I was a bag of nerves. We’d had hope before, but we actually looked like we were going to do it this time. I didn’t know how to take it.
Alas, a Mourinho masterclass in game killing, a cruel slip and a 3-3 draw every bit as crazy as our title push (although this time in a very negative sense) later and it was all over bar the tears. And there were lots of tears. Close. Agonisingly close. But no cigar. And very soon after, no Suarez either.
Jonathan Naylor: The definition of bitter sweet. A season completely ahead of expectations – I didn’t think we were realistic title contenders until deep into the second half of the season. After drawing 1-1 with West Brom on 2nd February, we were in 4th place, eight points behind Arsenal and seven behind City (who also had a game in hand). Everton and Spurs were snapping at our heels.
Eleven straight wins later and – with three games to go – we were five points above Chelsea (same number of games) and nine points ahead of Man City (who had played two games fewer).
Then almost as suddenly, it was snatched away. City finished the season very strongly, which meant five dropped points in the last three games was to prove so costly.
Crazily good going forward – we hit 3+ goals in 21 of our 38 league games. But we conceded 2+ goals in 15 of those 38 matches too.
Alex Tate: This was the season, the time for Rodgers to live up to his talk. The previous seasons disaster of 28 points behind champions Man Utd, two behind Everton leaving us seventh and 12 points from eighth placed West Brom. We were a mid table side yearning for our golden years to return.
Our nearlys, maybes and certainly nots were mainly drafted out, but the incoming players were not superstars. Upon making his debut, Mignolet saved a late penalty to give us three points. The pub exploded. Two more 1-0 wins, including Man United at Anfield and… huh? Maybe something is up here? Three goals in three games for Sturridge. Yes.
Daft points were dropped but the goals were banging in. A scintillating hat trick from Suarez vs. WAB, a 4-1 victory kept the pressure on Arsenal as we sat second in late October. Early winter saw us lose twice win and draw one a piece, but five against Norwich, four past West Ham, five away to Spurs, three to beat Cardiff. Boom! Indeed.
But Santa Claus felt we had been bad boys. Back-to-back defeats to Man City and Chelsea just after Christmas left us with no seasonal joy.
Then 16 games unbeaten until… then followed by Crystal Palace. Oh, no! I took my daughters to school at 3-0 up and felt like I’d been stabbed in the stomach when I heard to score when home. Never had going top of the league with a game to play been greeted with such despair. With no Europe and early exits from domestic pots, all our energies were put into the league. We were just two points short. We’ve now been one. Will it be goal difference that sorts it out this year?
TTT Season Rating Score*: 2.15 (League 1.74, Cups 0.00, Finance 0.41).
Manager: Brendan Rodgers.
Premier League: 84 points, finished 2nd.
£XI rank: 3rd.
FA Cup: 5th round.
League Cup: 3rd round.
Top scorer: Luis Suárez, 31.
Final League Table:
|13||West Ham United||38||11||7||20||40:51||-11||40|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||38||7||15||16||43:59||-16||36|
|Player||Current Money Purchase Price||Age @ transfer|
|Wilson D (II)||£0|
Player stats for the season:
Andrew Beasley: I truly believe that if Simon Mignolet hadn’t saved a penalty on the first day of the season, Liverpool may not have challenged for the title. Blowing away the leaders in 20 minutes to truly start the title charge was incredible. Coutinho’s late winner against City made us believe the title would be ours.
But how can you top running rings around Manchester United at Old Trafford while David Moyes was their manager? C’est magnifiqué.
Chris Rowland: 4-0 up against Arsenal at Anfield and the clock’s just showing 20 minutes. Suarez nearly snaps the goal frame with one that hits the post and rebounds to Pier Head. The euphoria was scarcely containable.
Alex Tate: Coutinho scoring against Man City. After being 2-0 up with a wonderful goal from a young, arrogant Sterling and a tidy header from Skrtel. I really felt we could be champions. But Man City wanted it too, and showed it. But the body contortion of Coutinho to make it 3-2, I thought the ribbons were being tied.
Jonathan Naylor: Coutinho’s winner against Manchester City. For the first time since 1990, we were truly in the box seat during a title run in.
Taskin Ismet: Coutinho scoring our third v City. At that precise moment in time I was convinced that we were going to win the league. Doubts returned moments later when Henderson was sent off at the death. But even then I still thought we’d have enough.
Jonathan Naylor: The slip. Even then, Man City needed a flawless run-in, including games at Goodison (traditionally a difficult fixture for them, ho hum) and Selhurst Park. But hope was extinguished in the space of 10 minutes as we collapsed at Palace from 3-0 up.
Andrew Beasley: There weren’t too many bad moments in this campaign, but those that there were tended to be particularly galling. As I’m sure many people will agree, the worst was by Steven Gerrard against Chelsea at Anfield: his eight long range shots in the second half, none of which troubled 42-year old Mark Schwarzer, were sickening.
Chris Rowland: The slip may be an obvious choice, but I’m going with Palace’s equaliser to make it 3-3. Confirmation that the dream was over.
Alex Tate: Gerrard’s slip is famous, but when I found out we’d drawn against Palace, I gave up the ghost of glories past. Slips happen but three up with 11 to play and draw, that’s just stupid.
Taskin Ismet: Two moments really. The slip. Football can be magical. It can bring a joy that it is unsurpassed. It can equally be horribly, horribly cruel. For Gerrard to have been so close and yet failed to lose out on the title was bad enough. To have a large part of that ‘failure’ being due to him slipping is just horrible. But of course it wasn’t just the slip. Far from it.
Just over a week later it got worse. The Palace game. If I had to pick a precise moment it was the immediate aftermath, seeing Suarez – his head buried inside his shirt to hide his sobs – as the realisation set in that it was over. He knew it. We knew it. The pain was incredible.
Alex Tate: Make no bones about it, Suarez created excitement wherever he went, whatever he was doing. 31 goals in the league, that’s almost one a game, while I accept braces and hat-tricks, the return is envious of most clubs. He fizzled and sizzled in the sunlight at every opportunity. Revelled in making defenders look like Mr Magoo. His boundless enthusiasm and joy at running with the ball and seeing the net bulge was childlike.
Andrew Beasley: Luis Suárez was the undoubted superstar of this team. Whole Liverpool seasons have passed with nothing as incredible as his home game against Norwich occurring. Even if we ignore his skills for a moment, his insatiable will to win drove the team along. And having now faced him, it’s easy to see why opposition fans hate him, but what a player.
Chris Rowland: Luis Suarez. Great skill + colossal workrate + massive desire + a street-full of dark arts = one of the best seasons I ever saw anyone wearing the liver bird have.
Jonathan Naylor: Lots of brilliant performances across the season – Sturridge, Sterling, Coutinho, Gerrard and Henderson were all outstanding for large spells of the campaign. Even Skrtel grabbed seven goals. But hard to look beyond Suarez – a whirlwind of goals and energy.
Taskin Ismet: Suarez. Electric. Like some sort of peak-Keegan, fused with the defence-turning arse and deftness of touch of Dalglish, the magic of Barnes and the aggressive will to win of Souness. Oh how we would miss him.
Jonathan Naylor: Victor Moses was generally ineffective – I thought he would be much better, given his form for previous clubs (and subsequent contribution to Chelsea in the future).
Andrew Beasley: Many might say Iago Aspas here, but to my mind he never had a fair shot at it. Of the players who featured semi-regularly, Aly Cissokho wasn’t up to much.
Chris Rowland: Victor Moses never offered us much. He’s better than we saw (although not much!).
Alex Tate: Worst player is really most disappointing as the squad didn’t contain deadweights, perhaps just inexperienced or not quite the grade players. Victor Moses disappointed me but it was Sterling’s form which kept the loanee out of the side. I had quite high hopes for Moses.
Taskin Ismet: Probably Iago Aspas. But given his record either side of his time at Liverpool I’d argue that this is more an indictment of Rodgers’ mis-management of Aspas (among others) rather than the player himself. That said, I think the strikers did OK that season…
Andrew Beasley: On a personal level it was the 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion, as I was there. The 5-0 win at Tottenham felt like it truly ignited the season, but I think the best game was the 5-1 win over Arsenal, even if it was done inside 20 minutes. The league leaders were destroyed, to the point that they still seem to be haunted by it when they visit Anfield even now. And it featured the best almost-goal you’ll ever see.
Chris Rowland: There were a few. Eviscerating Utd at Old Trafford. The 10-1 home aggregate against North London. But for sheer euphoria, the 3-2 against City took some beating.
Alex Tate: Giving Spurs a thorough humbling, and taking the piss out of 10 year old Olivia Brown. Yes, it was she who thumbed her nose at Suarez in the pre-match handshakes. The Golden Boot in waiting plundered two goals as Liverpool handed out a 5-0 mauling at Lightweight Lane. Unlucky Olivia.
Even before Spurs captain Paulinho saw red after an hour, the home side were quaking, Villas-Boas feared for his job and the fans were thinking of sneaking out.
Gerrard and Sturridge were missing through injury but Suarez, as captain, lead Coutinho, Henderson and the ever impressive Sterling to a total dismantling. Even Jon Flanagan got on the score sheet.
We finished the weekend second, two points behind Arsenal but Chelsea, Man City and the Bitters all within two points of us. In a highly competitive season, it was a gauntlet. So hard was it thrown down, even Excalibur came out easier.
Taskin Ismet: Beating Utd 3-0 at their place can’t be bad can it? Suarez signing off with a goal just made it even sweeter.
Jonathan Naylor: The 5-0 at Spurs was the first performance against a rival that took my breath away. Lots of hugely memorable games: an aggregate score of 21-1 from matches against Arsenal (H), Man United (A), Everton (H) and Spurs (H & A) is pretty unbelievable.
Goal of the season
Andrew Beasley: I’ve gone on about Suárez enough, so let’s highlight the contribution of Daniel Sturridge. What a chip his goal against West Brom was.
Chris Rowland: The Sturridge chip against WAB was sublime. But honestly, which Suarez masterpiece would you choose? Which Suarez masterpiece against Norwich would you choose? I’d go for the third, the hat trick goal. A little flick over the defender’s head, wait a moment, then smash a perfect searing half-volley in like it came from a crossbow. Bloody hell.
Jonathan Naylor: Again, lots of candidates. Sturridge’s chip against Everton was especially delicious.
Taskin Ismet: Hmm, what to pick from the Luis Suarez show…
His first v Norwich? What was he doing shooting from there?
His third v Norwich? I swear he never drew his foot back. He was about to control and bring it inside. But then the ball was in the net. I suspect the truth is that the ball simply ‘bottled it’ and flew off into the corner of its own accord because you can’t get that much power in that little movement.
His fourth v Norwich. A sumptuous free-kick that would have been talked about far more if it wasn’t tagged on to the end of his other spectacular goals that day.
Chris Rowland: Almost too many to mention, and most of them have been during the course of the article. But 110 goals in 43 games? An average 2.79 goals per league game. 19 games where we scored three or more. 5-3 at Stoke. 6-3 at Cardiff. 4-3 against Swansea. The 3-2 against City. 5-0 v Spurs and that 5-1 v Arsenal. Just mad. Gloriously, intoxicatingly, maddeningly mad.
Seasons covered so far
|Rank||Season||TTT Season Rating Score||League Points||League Position||£XI Rank||Champions League||UEFA Cup/ Europa League/ Cup Winners Cup||FA Cup||League Cup||Link to article|
*TTT Season Rating Score explanation:
League – Liverpool average 67.8 points per 38 games in the Premier League. Season points tallies are calculated as a percentage of that average to generate a rating score. Seasons are also awarded a proportion of up to half a point, depending on where between 2nd and 8th the Reds finished.
Cups – Points are awarded for progress in the latter stages in Europe and the domestic cups, with descending importance through Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup. The maximum possible points score is 55 (by winning the Champions League and both domestic cups) so the total for a season is calculated as a percentage of that.
Finance – Liverpool’s final league position is compared to their £XI Rank for that season. The seasons are then ranked from biggest over-achievement to worst under-achievement, and awarded a proportion of half a point depending on where they sit.