#6 – 2017/18
A note from Paul Tomkins: Ranking the Reds’ Premier League Seasons, Worst to Best, should really mean Ranking the Reds’ Premier League teams, Worst to Best. We all know their achievements in the seasons in question, but how good were they overall? It’s more a gauge of how often the team won football matches, and how rarely it lost football matches. The more important competitions are weighted more heavily, but ultimately the assessment is about winning football matches as often as possible, with more weight given to the league and the Champions League. This essentially means that it’s not the season per se that is being judged, nor the best XI from that season; but the consistency of the team in terms of winning games across as many competitions as possible. So while something like Istanbul remains one of the seminal highlights of the club’s entire history, the actual team that won it was not that special (half the side/squad were average or not very good; making it an even better achievement, but still not such a great team). Liverpool had better teams the seasons that followed, and that is more about what this series is trying to reflect (whilst admitting that flaws still exist in any ranking system, and that we didn’t necessarily explain it as clearly as possible at the outset).
Andrew Beasley: The season rating points gap between 2017/18 and the previous one in our series (2006/07) is the smallest between any two campaigns in our countdown. And when you think about it, that makes perfect sense; in both campaigns the Reds were Champions League runners up, while finishing in the top four and doing nothing of note in the domestic cup competitions. They even finished in line with their £XI ranking both years too, meaning the only thing to separate them is that the 2017/18 vintage secured 75 points where their predecessors had amassed 68.
However, while the TTT algorithm may barely have been able to separate them, aesthetically last season’s Liverpool were streets ahead of the 2006/07 team. Rafa’s Reds scored 90 goals in their 58 matches, where Klopp’s scored 135 in 56. There’s no right or wrong way to play if it secures results, but I know which side I’d rather watch.
And, oh how we enjoyed watching Liverpool in 2017/18, in no small part to superstar new signing, Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian weighed in with 44 goals, and was ably supported by Roberto Firmino (with 27) and Sadio Mané (20) as the Reds’ remodelled front three tore Europe asunder. Liverpool set a new record for goals in a Champions League campaign, and though it wasn’t to be in the final in Kiev, they firmly planted the Reds back at Europe’s top table.
Taskin Ismet: It was a bit disappointing to end up fourth (and to see Utd, incredibly, make it to second – albeit 19 points behind the Champions, City), but we were otherwise engaged with Europe and Utd were busy fooling themselves that Mourinho was worth another season.
We grew recognisably throughout the season. A 5-0 win for City against us at the Etihad was only slightly more flattering for them than the fact they clawed it back to 4-3 when we dismantled them at Anfield in the league. This team was coming on in leaps and bounds. And as if to prove that point we dispatched City in the Champions league Quarter Finals with an incredibly assured display, winning 5-1 on aggregate. In technical terms, we fuckin mullered them.
Salah had announced himself with the best debut season ever. He couldn’t stop scoring and assisting and scoring and smiling. What a buy. It should have all ended with him – and us – celebrating with the European Cup held aloft. Instead it ended with yet more heartache and with Salah unable to hold anything at all aloft as his arm was nearly ripped from its socket by the classless twat that is Sergio Ramos. At least now we can look back and think that the final in Kiev was only the first part of the story. The pain of it would propel us on to a much happier second part of the following season.
Paddy Smith: What a season! Reading back through it so many fantastic memories of games and goals but also remembering we got beaten by Swansea away! How did that happen? But also how different this team feels now, just a few months on with a few additions. I feel we can take on any team in the world which is how I used to feel as a kid and begun to think I’d never feel like that again.
Matthew Beardmore: A season I really enjoyed overall. After the slow start, you could really see the team taking shape, with the game changer being VVD joining at halfway.
Jonathan Naylor: In some ways, a very easy season to review. I can just link to an article I wrote about a year ago extolling what sheer fun the season was ( https://tomkinstimes.com/2018/08/how-liverpool-fc-are-making-the-very-good-feel-routine/). Ha, job done.
But with so many candidates for best moment, goal, player etc., it is also quite difficult to avoid giving a long list for each answer. Although the ending in 2018/19 was obviously much better than 2017/18, in some ways I enjoyed parts of 2017/18 more. We were out the title race fairly early, so there wasn’t the relentless pressure of needing to win almost every single game that we had in 2018/19. Watching Salah, Mane and Firmino develop into one of the most potent attacking tridents in world football was special to watch.
TTT Season Rating Score*: 2.19 (League 1.41, Cups 0.45, Finance 0.33).
Manager: Jürgen Klopp.
Premier League: 75 points, finished 4th.
£XI rank: 4th.
Europe: Champions League runners up.
FA Cup: 4th round.
League Cup: 3rd round.
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, 44.
Final League Table:
|13||West Ham United||38||10||12||16||48:68||-20||42|
|15||Brighton & Hove Albion||38||9||13||16||34:54||-20||40|
|20||West Bromwich Albion||38||6||13||19||31:56||-25||31|
|Player||Current Money Purchase Price||Age @ transfer|
|van Dijk V||£75,000,000||26|
|Lucas L (I)||–|
Player stats for the season:
|4||Virgil Van Dijk||22||0||1|
Andrew Beasley: My attorney advises me I have to answer “meeting Daniel Rhodes at Anfield thanks to a ticket from Paul Tomkins”. But if those two aren’t around to read this, I’ll say Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s goal at West Ham.
It may seem an unusual choice, but I was in the crowd that night. The home side had scored a couple of minutes earlier, and the bubbles their machines ejaculate whenever they net were still floating around as the Ox scored and ran over to celebrate in front of the travelling Kop. There’s nothing better than silencing a home crowd as part of an away mob going nuts.
Chris Rowland: Mo Salah’s Champions League goal at City that made it 1-1, left them needing four more and basically confirmed our semi-final place. Not least because of the mute City fans who were in the pub watching it while us lot were on our feet punching the air!
Taskin Ismet: The final whistle away at Roma. In truth they were never close to turning it around (at least not on aggregate – with their last goal scored right at the death), but it felt very nervy at the time. But as soon as their 6th went in it was instantly over and the Reds were in yet another Champions League final. We were back in the big time again.
Paddy Smith: You can’t make us pick just one! The two Man City games at Anfield, smashing them in the champions league, Van Dijk’s winner against Everton on his debut in the FA Cup. My favourite football moment was Klavan in the 94th minute at Burnley, a proper game, old fashioned weather, old fashioned ground, defeating a tough team and what a celebration! But for me the best moment was the Liverpool coach welcome v City. Walking up to Anfield, three hours before the game, you could see the mist of red pyro, Allez, Allez, Allez sung again and again, so loud, so early. I felt my whole body tingle and just knew it would be a night of nights.
Jonathan Naylor: I don’t think it gets much better than being 5-0 up in the first leg of a European Cup semi-final. When Firmino nodded in the fifth I remember just laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. If we had been a bit more clinical, we could have been approaching double figures. Salah was awesome that night, probably his best performance in a Liverpool shirt.
Off the pitch, arriving in Kiev just in time for kick-off after a 55 hour coach trip from the UK.
Andrew Beasley: The moment when Loris Karius thought, “he’s miles out, I’ve got this”. I’d also highlight the 4-1 shellacking at Wembley, though I think that was a long term positive, as Klopp seemed to reassess the team after that and they got much better.
Chris Rowland: The 5-0 at City. Got drenched on the way into the ground. Just about dried out before getting re-soaked afterwards. In between, lost 5-0 and had one of our top players sent off. Perfect bloody day all round! The ridiculous dive of Calvert-Lewin leading to Rooney’s penalty equaliser in the Anfield derby was pretty galling though. Still is. Oh, and the Jon Moss penalty fiascos against Spurs at Anfield. The same Jon Moss who reffed at the Etihad and sent Mane off.
Taskin Ismet: Can we refer to Karius in Kiev as a ‘moment’?
Paddy Smith: We had a brilliant weekend, Shevchenko Park was boss both days but I don’t think anything comes close to losing a champions league final – just ask Spurs!
Matthew Beardmore: Probably Mo going off injured against Real Madrid and thinking then that we were going to struggle. I still believe we would have won if he had been able to stay on.
Jonathan Naylor: The 4-1 defeat at Spurs was a mess and suggested we were still some way of challenging. And the Bale goal in Kiev – fantastic as it was – was the moment when I thought the European Cup had slipped away.
Off the pitch, the attack on Sean Cox was horrible, and throwing objects at the City team coach took some gloss of a great Anfield night.
Andrew Beasley: Mohamed Salah. Need I say more? I could probably write a book on his 2017/18 season, to be honest. In short, he made 49 starts, and only failed to either score or assist a goal in 13 of them (and in two of those he played no more than half of the match). We may have to wait a very long time to see a player make such an impact in their debut season for any club, not just Liverpool.
Chris Rowland: There can only be one. Arise the Egyptian King.
Taskin Ismet: Mohammad Salah. I was expecting a speedy winger. Instead we got an Egyptian King.
Paddy Smith: A lot to pick from, I think Salah edges it for me as you could see how much he meant to the team and fans in the ground when he went of in the final.
Matthew Beardmore: Most of the team were good, particularly after the autumn, but to go for anyone other than Mo seems wrong.
Andrew Beasley: I suspect people may chose Karius here, but he had done pretty well prior to Kiev. Liverpool conceded every 96 minutes when he played, but it was every 66 when Simon Mignolet was between the sticks, so I’m afraid the Belgian will have to take this prize home with him.
Chris Rowland: A weird synthesis of our two goalkeepers!
Taskin Ismet: Is it churlish to say Phillip Coutinho? I don’t care. It was Philipp Coutinho.
A great player. When he played.
What a shame that he saw fit to feign injury in order to force a move away. With the benefit of hindsight it was a fantastic move for us. Not quite so fantastic for the Little Magician though. He must have left his wand at Melwood. Wallow in it Phil. Hope your back feels better now.
Paddy Smith: I refuse to pick one!
Matthew Beardmore: I don’t like doing it as there was a mitigating factor, but Karius takes it for me, based purely on the Champions League final.
Jonathan Naylor: Really can’t pick anybody out. Certainly some difficult moments for individuals but the response was always good e.g. Lovren after Spurs, Oxlade-Chamberlain early in the season, TAA after Man Utd / Palace. I’m discounting Karius in the European Cup final as he was concussed at the time.
Andrew Beasley: The 4-3 win over Manchester City may have been the most entertaining match overall, but blowing the same side away in inside the first half hour of a Champions League quarter-final was more special.
Chris Rowland: I rather liked the 4-0 at Anfield against Arsenal, with Salah running half the length of the pitch like Roadrunner before slotting in. But the 1st leg against City,. blimey, come on.
Taskin Ismet: 1st Leg QF v City. Wow.
Paddy Smith: Hard to pick one but I think the power and control v City in the QF to take the lead, blow them away really and then control the game and not allow them the away goal, a real Liverpool performance, a real Liverpool team. The Barcelona team should really have watched that before the 2nd leg!
Matthew Beardmore: Any of the three wins over Man City. Oh, and the Roma first leg. Actually, the 2-1 FA Cup win over Everton was good too. So just the five games then 🙂
Jonathan Naylor: Porto away wasn’t a bad match for me to see Liverpool away in Europe for the first time. The two Man City home games were superb, high quality affairs with huge atmosphere. Plus about 15 others I could mention.
Goal of the season
Andrew Beasley: One of the three Liverpool matches I attended in 2017/18 was at Anfield for the visit of Hoffenheim. Emre Can’s second goal that night was such a fabulous team move that Klopp turned towards the main stand and bellowed ‘THIS IS FOOTBALL’. He wasn’t wrong, as he rarely is.
Chris Rowland: Ox’s Champions League goal against City. Bliss!
Taskin Ismet: AOC v City in the league? No, AOC v City in the QF. Or was it Salah in the SF v Porto???
Paddy Smith: Chamberlain v City in the QF. When that went in I felt anything was possible for this team.
Matthew Beardmore: Spoilt for choice as there were so many during the season. I think I will go for Ox’s thunderbolt against Man City.
Jonathan Naylor: The most enjoyable was Oxlade-Chamberlain smashing one in from outside the box to put us 2-0 versus City in the quarter-final.
Andrew Beasley: Liverpool emerged from the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2008/09, reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 2007/08, and the final since one year prior to that. After a decade away, it felt fabulous.
Chris Rowland: Getting to Kiev was a test and an experience for the fans, as was trying to find somewhere to stay. But who will forget the city, the sunshine, the fan park in Shevchenko Park … despite the difficulties in getting there, plenty managed it – Madrid’s supporters were totally eclipsed around the city.
Once again, we had to win our last game of the season to be certain of CL football again next season, again at Anfield, this time against Brighton, and again we managed it.
And finally let us spare a thought for Sean Cox, who just went to the home semi-final of the Champions League and had his own and all his family and friends’ lives changed forever.
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.