#1 – 2018/19
Andrew Beasley: The long and winding road, that leads to your door. When this series began, it was always incredibly clear which season would sit top of the pile. But it also seems fitting that the first two campaigns of the Premier League era were at the bottom of the rankings too; it hasn’t been a chronological rundown throughout, of course, but it seems fitting that the journey has taken us from the early 1990s through to today. Having been kicked off their perch, Liverpool have gone an enormously long way to reclaiming it, even if the league title still remains out of reach for now.
Paul Tomkins: This has to be up there with any season in Liverpool’s rich history; indeed, it’s the Reds’ best-ever points tally from 38 games, and then there was winning the Champions League!
Although it was built on the back of reaching the 2017/18 final, it still felt as if it almost came from nowhere – certainly the refusal to back down on the way to 97 points, where the Reds went beyond anything I thought possible. If you told me back in 2015 that Klopp would lead the team to 97 points I’d have said that it was 100% sure we’d therefore win the title. But we didn’t. How unlucky is that?!
Equally, if you said we’d reach back-to-back Champions League finals, winning one, I’d have thought that almost impossible from the starting point of what he inherited. Even as recently as October 2017 this all looked too big a jump to even conceive of. This is a genuinely great side, and it’s a pleasure to be able to witness it grow.
Chris Rowland: So the third highest points total in top division history, one single defeat (and that by the width of an aspirin from being drawn), nine straight wins to end the league season, overturning a 3-0 deficit to Barcelona and winning the Champions League – when isn’t that a great season?
The elephant in the room, of course, is still not winning the Premier League – though I for one am very happy to take the crown of champions of Europe as more than mere consolation, but an equal triumph in its own right. Nothing feels quite like being champions of Europe for this club.
Paddy Smith: Oh Lord! Where to start! I’ve never sat down and done a summary like this before, looking at all those league seasons. It isn’t just the football, you look at your life in that particular moment – how old was I? Where was I working? Who was I dating? Which kids where born, first game for said kids? etc etc.
I think last season will be one of those years we look back on as something that was special and remarkable. I said to my very understanding wife around October that this was going to be a special year and that I wanted to take my boys to as many games as possible to experience it in full. Reader, I can tell you I was as good as my word! Only missed Napoli and Red Star away in the Champions League and 4-5 league away games, we went to every home game and it was as special as I thought it might be!
Jonathan Naylor: It wasn’t bad was it? An unprecedented set of results. I went to 23 games and saw 20 wins (the only blemishes were a defeat away at PSG and two home draws vs Man City and Bayern). The contrast with some earlier seasons in this series is stark.
Having said that, bits of the season were difficult to watch. The pressure of needing to be almost perfect in the league took its toll on the supporters, if not the players. We were quite scratchy at the start of the season, before gradually improving. A glorious December saw us sweep all before us while Manchester City seemed to be imploding. The most agonising period was the early months of 2019 when Man City gradually reeled us in. However, once the league was out of our hands, perversely the rest of the league season was pretty enjoyable. Oh, and the European Cup was a lovely consolation.
TTT Season Rating Score*: 2.92 (League 1.93, Cups 0.55, Finance 0.44).
Manager: Jürgen Klopp.
Premier League: 97 points, finished second.
£XI rank: 4th.
Europe: Champions League winners.
FA Cup: 3rd round.
League Cup: 3rd round.
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, 27.
Final League Table:
|10||West Ham United||38||15||7||16||52:55||-3||52|
|17||Brighton & Hove Albion||38||9||9||20||35:60||-25||36|
|Player||Current Money Purchase Price||Age @ transfer|
|Ward D (IV)||–|
Player stats for the season:
|4||Virgil Van Dijk||50||0||6|
While ranking all 115 seasons in the club’s history may be beyond even The Tomkins Times, 2018/19 could make a strong case to be the greatest of all time, or at the very least it would be in the conversation. Using three points for a win, it has the highest points per game average in the club’s top flight history. Last season also has the second best goals scored and fourth best goals conceded records on a per match basis, which combine to give 2018/19 the best goal difference per game.
Which just leaves the small matter of the Champions League triumph. There’s always luck involved in cup competitions, but history shows us how hard it is to post an elite points score in the Premier League whilst also going deep into Europe’s top club competition.
The average points tally for an English Champions League semi-finalist is 77.8, with Manchester City only posting 66 on the one occasion they reached the last four. Teams from this country have broken 90 points in the league before, and teams have won the Champions League, but no side had ever done both before.
2018/19 wasn’t just Liverpool’s best season in the Premier League, it was one of the best by any team ever.
Andrew Beasley: The trophy lift. Origi’s goals against Tottenham, Barcelona and Everton. Even Newcastle, maybe. All valid answers for this section.
My favourite moment, however, was Gini Wijnaldum’s second goal against Barcelona. You shouldn’t ever take your team winning matches for granted. Even a team as good as the 2018/19 version of Liverpool, who won 38 of their 53 games in all competitions, had off days. All wins are precious, to different degrees.
But the real memorable moments from football are the jaw droppers, usually when combined with raw emotion. Wijnaldum’s second goal, so soon after his first, caused me to jump around with my mate Jim, both convinced that the Reds were going to do it. And do it they did, so in a season of remarkable moments, this one means the most to me.
Chris Rowland: Origi, Madrid. Thank you, you can relax now. Origi v Everton comes very close though! Oh, but then Origi’s 4-0 goal v Barca from Trent’s corner … Mane’s goal at Bayern … Alderweireld’s og – Salah’s arrow v Chelsea … there so many memorable moments last season. In the end, the best moment must be when a Utd fan wearing a Barca shirt came up to me after the game and offered his hand. That’s when you know you’re in rarefied air …
Paddy Smith: So so many! In no particular order, being in Paris watching the Reds on my son’s 18th birthday. Barca, both games as we had a brilliant time over there, so many league games when we were magnificent, but really what can beat being in the stands as the ref blows the final whistle in the Champions League final and you’re surrounded by your sons, brother and mates? No feeling like it in the world! Arriving back into Madrid after the game was a close second though!
Jonathan Naylor: Indulge me on this one. First, “what just happened there” moments: the 4th versus Barcelona, Mane’s backheel goal versus Watford, Allison’s flick over the Brighton attacker, Firmino sending Arsenal players flailing to the floor, Keita’s almost assist versus Palace.
Next, outstanding defensive moments: Allison racing off his line at the death against Napoli. Van Dijk, calm as you like, blocking the pass to Son as Spurs had a 2 on 1 breakaway.
Quick fire doubles that transformed games: Mane followed by that thunderbolt from Salah to move us to 2-0 in the must win Chelsea game. The air seemed to be sucked out of the stadium as Salah’s shot struck the back of the net. The Gini double versus Barcelona and we were suddenly level in the tie. Barcelona never recovered.
Crucial goalkeeping errors from opponents: after years of high profile blunders at crucial times from Liverpool keepers (yes, you David James), the Pickford and Lloris last minute howlers were especially delicious.
Finally, Divock Origi moments: the previously mentioned late winner against Everton still makes me smile thinking about it. Taking the league to the final match with the late goal versus Newcastle. The alertness and calmness to capitalise on TAA’s brilliant improvisation to complete the comeback against Barcelona. And of course, the sheer relief of the 2nd goal in Madrid, just when the tension was getting too much.
Paul Tomkins: This is where I might differ from others, in that winning the Champions League final against Spurs was not the best moment – the semi-final was the game that will live longest in the mind. Without that, the final would have been Spurs vs Barcelona, although by winning in Madrid it adds further validation to the incredible turnaround. I was also too nervous and stressed to actually enjoy the final, but the comeback against the Catalans was the kind of moment that sport is all about.
This hit home even more during Ben Stokes’ astonishing innings for England against Australia in the Ashes last month, to turn a clear, inevitable defeat into the most unlikely of wins with some moments of play that almost defied belief. You can of course win things without such jaw-dropping moments, but when you have those types of rare “miracles” then it just sends shivers up the spine, and just takes sport to a whole new level that is almost impossible to find anywhere else in life. I rewatched the 4-0 win against Barcelona at least a dozen times, just as I had to rewatch the final day of that Ashes test. I haven’t rewatched the final once, bar the goals.
The final is for the record books and the Champions Wall at Melwood, and to take pressure off everyone at the club after years without silverware – and also for some gloating, should rival fans be in need of some shutting up – but the semi-final was for the folklore. The semi-final was the kind of thing you just normally never see.
Andrew Beasley: Have there ever been so few? I guess Messi’s free-kick – at the time – as it convinced me that this incredible Liverpool side would end the season empty handed; I’d long given up on the league, with no team putting up much of a fight against City. I also have to mention Napoli’s very late chance at Anfield, as even in that short moment I thought I was going to be sick. Many thanks to Alisson for preventing me from puking in a north London boozer.
Paul Tomkins: The defeat at Man City was the worst moment, with Vincent Kompany ludicrously escaping a red card essentially allowing City to stay in the title race. That game infuriated me.
Chris Rowland: That clearance off the line by John Stones at the Etihad. It didn’t seem it at the time because I was at the opposite end of the ground and couldn’t see how close it was to being in. But it may have decided the outcome of the title.
However, in terms of how it made me feel, that Messi free-kick for the third Barcelona goal in the Nou Camp looked as though it had ended our season in Europe, instead of just paving the way for one of the most special nights ever experienced at Anfeld.
Paddy Smith: I guess when City went 2-1 up at Brighton on last day of the season, fuck it.
Jonathan Naylor: I wasn’t too downhearted at the time as we had played well. But the fine margins going against us at the Etihad proved critical – lack of red card for Kompany, the ball not crossing the line by millimetres (is Hawk-eye that accurate?) and even the two City goals only just squeezed in.
Paul Tomkins: So many contenders, but the standout had to be Virgil van Dijk. He was so good that the club had to manufacture special shorts for him, with several pockets sewn in, where strikers could be safely placed for the 90 minutes.
Andrew Beasley: If about half of your squad can make a reasonable claim for this prize, you’ve probably had a good season. It has to be Virgil though, it simply has to be. And I’ll hold my hands up, I wasn’t sure why quite so much fuss was made when he signed, I recalled plenty of errors from his time at Southampton. But good teams make good players better, and van Dijk has been immense.
Chris Rowland: Some of the things Van Dijk did made me laugh out loud, so outrageously in control did he appear. Imperious, awesome and cool as fuck – and the song is just right!
Paddy Smith: Hard to choose one, I guess that’s why we are so brilliant, at a push id have to say Virgil, he’s lifted us from very good to exceptional.
Jonathan Naylor: There were lots of players who had the season of their life – Mane, Gini, Henderson (after positional switch), TAA, Matip, Robbo while Allison and Fabinho (after a difficult start) were superb acquisitions. But can’t really look further than the European footballer of the year, VVD.
Andrew Beasley: Relative to expectation, Naby Keita didn’t have the best year. Though it’s reasonable to say expectations surrounding players Liverpool sign these days probably aren’t fair anyway, such has been the success that Michael Edwards and his crew have had over the past few years. We now expect all signings to be smash hits immediately, which is hardly fair. So I readily admit that I’ve judged Keita harshly, but such are the standards at Anfield these days.
Paul Tomkins: I’m not sure there was a worst player, given the standards across the season; just a few least-outstanding players. It would be churlish to name someone like Adam Lallana, who barely played, because he still made an important impact in a couple of games.
Chris Rowland: Naby Keita disappointed me the most. After that moment early in the season at Crystal Palace, our expectations that we had some player here were raised, possibly too high. I know about extenuating circumstances – first season in a new league, injury problems, language barrier (though if the transfer was agreed a year earlier, why weren’t language lessons taking place during that last year at Leipzig?) – but I was hoping for more from Keita. I still am.
Andrew Beasley: Realistically, the 4-0 win over Barcelona was the best game of this or many other seasons. Even that, though, was at home, where massive European victories aren’t that unusual.
If one wants to be hypercritical of the Reds’ efforts in 2018/19, they did lack massive away wins on the whole, taking all three points from the homes of the five other big clubs in England only once. For that reason, I am nominating Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Bayern Munich as the game of the season.
Chris Rowland: The Barca 4-0 is the obvious answer, being very probably the greatest Anfield night ever (against some stiff competition!), but for a staggeringly impressive performance in a very challenging environment, the 3-1 win in the Allianz was as good as anything all season.
Paddy Smith: If anyone else chooses anything else than Barca at home I’m cancelling my subscription!! 😉
Jonathan Naylor: I would argue the 4-0 versus Barcelona was Anfield’s greatest ever game – and definitely the best one I have ever been to. So that’s a simple choice.
Paul Tomkins: The aforementioned 4-0 victory over Barcelona. It was utterly surreal, and completely magnificent.
Goal of the season
Andrew Beasley: Where do you even start? From the ridiculous (Divock Origi’s goal against Everton) to the sublime (Divock Origi’s goal against Everton), there were so many fabulous strikes for Liverpool last season. You could legitimately debate this question on goals scored against Chelsea alone, with Mohamed Salah’s Anfield stunner arguably surpassing Sturridge’s belter at the Bridge.
However, my favourite was Firmino’s goal against Manchester City. It contained everything which makes the current Liverpool team so great, and it occurred in probably the toughest test of the season. A fabulous goal which deserves to be remembered, even if it came in the Reds’ one league defeat of the campaign.
Chris Rowland: There were a few contenders. For sheer unbridled ecstasy, there was a header from about a foot out in the Anfield derby. Closely followed by a late own goal by Alderweireld. For sheer class, that Mane goal in the Allianz. For the culmination of a concerted and prolonged period of possession, Firmino’s goal at the Etihad. Origi against Barca … Origi in Madrid clearly a top moment.
But my vote is tied between two wonder strikes against Chelsea – Sturridge’s sublime late curled equaliser at Stamford Bridge and that Salah straight as an arrow thunderbolt at Anfield. So many options!
Paul Tomkins: From a technical point of view I think Sadio Mané’s goal in Munich. I spent quite a lot of time in Mentality Monsters describing it, and why it was better than Mo Salah’s goal against Chelsea due to the extra things he had to do before the shot, although Salah’s goal against his old club was beautiful in its own way, and the best goal I saw in person last season.
And of course, every goal by Divock Origi.
Paddy Smith: For the game, for the moment in the game, for the two players assisting and scoring the goal, for the importance of the goal, for the ability to think in that situation, for the execution of the pass and the finish, all perfect :
“Corner taken quickly….ORIGI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Jonathan Naylor: About 20 contenders for this. But I’ll go with Mane’s first against Bayern. There were so many different components to the goal that all had to be spot on. It was also the moment that the European Cup went from being a welcome distraction from the league to become a real prospect.
Andrew Beasley: WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!
Chris Rowland: What he said!
On a personal note, having been to all eight previous finals, and the Uefa Cup in Dortmund and the Europa League in Basel, this was notable for being the first European final I missed. I went to Madrid to watch the telly, basically, along with 50,000+ other ticketless Reds. My record finally has a hole in it. And I couldn’t care less, because I was there and part of it. Tickets? Pah – over-rated!
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.