10 years ago was when I last felt like this about a Liverpool team. Forget the mad surges of scintillating attacking football we were blessed with in the latter parts of 13/14 and 17/18. 10 years ago, when Rafa Benitez had a side of world class footballers throughout. 10 years ago, on October 25th 2008 when we played Portsmouth at Anfield on a Wednesday night. We’d just beaten Chelsea in the league, having already beaten United 2-1 in September. Portsmouth were decent back then. Defoe & Crouch up top. Defoe had 6 goals from 9 at that point. However, they’d dropped Defoe that day & setup with a low block side – big Papa Bouba Diop and the excellent Lassana Diarra in midfield, attempting to stifle us. We won 1-0 that night, as if it were ever in doubt. Top of the league. We were there. It felt right.
A routine victory. A routine victory? ‘Winning the games you’re meant to win’ can’t always be something we’ve lived by. Even glorified memories of that sparkling 4-3 victory over City an Anfield in January of last season are marred by memories of the bleak 1-0 loss to Alfie bloody Mawson’s goal for a soon-to-be relegated Swansea the following week. 10 years ago, at the start of 2008/2009, teams feared us. United may have had Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney, Nani, Vidic, Ferdinand and a host of other elite footballers, but living in the shadow of Alex Ferguson’s limelight suited us. It suited Rafa. Nobody wanted to play against us. We too had world class footballers everywhere you looked on the pitch. Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard, Torres, Kuyt, Caragher, Reina and co. 10 years ago was the last time I can recall feeling like we were rightly acclaimed title contenders.
I still think back to 08/09 & the 4 dropped points against a newly promoted Stoke side, the sale of Robbie Keane in January ,that dire 2-0 loss to Middlesborough in February, & wonder what if. There’ll be lows this season; there always are. There’ll be things to look back on & wonder, maybe in 10 years from now. There’ll missed opportunities, potential missed signings, maybe even big injuries. There always are. But one thing that’ll be constant is that time in December 2018 when we went top of the league, against arguably the greatest manager and squad the league has seen, and we deserved it.
The bookies still have City as short odds favourites to win the league. Your average fan will tell you it’s City’s to lose. Klopp may even tell you that he thinks City will win it, mind games or no. But we’re top after 16 games, our best ever points tally at this point in a season, only bettered by the Tottenham side from 1960 who won 15 and drew 1 from their opening 16 and Mourinho’s memorable 05/06 Chelsea side. We’re winning where we should win & we’re looking increasingly convincing in doing so. Savour these moments as these feelings don’t last forever. Right now, these Reds are marvellous & we’re loving every minute of it.
Win it or not, who can say from now? But Klopp will squeeze every ounce out of them. Klopp’s won leagues before; we’ll be there or thereabouts come May. 10 years ago I had this same feeling & it has never left me. There’s something special about this week we’ve had: 9 points from 9, City losing, top of the league in December. These Reds are going marching in and I want to be in that number.