Smiles better: Liverpool celebrate their last league championship win in May 1990
By the time the 2013/14 Premier League season kicks off, it will have been 23 long years since Liverpool were last crowned top-flight champions, and while the club have claimed silverware in the intervening years, including a memorable UEFA Champions League trophy in 2005, it is the league title that Reds supporters really want to see back at Anfield.
Under new manager Brendan Rodgers, great progress has already been made this campaign, with a visible improvement in both the team’s attacking style of play and results clearly visible for all to see.
However, how exactly can the Northern Irishman propel his side forward into challenging those teams currently above Liverpool in the league standings and ultimately get their hands back on the one trophy Liverpool used to consider their own by right?
Well, here is our five-point plan for the Merseysiders to claim what would be top-flight title No. 19 next season…
Great Dane: Liverpool should move heaven and earth to sign Ajax’s Eriksen
If Liverpool are to stand any chance of competing with serial Premier League champions Manchester United, as well as the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur for the title next season, then they need to make the absolute most of this summer’s transfer window.
That means first identifying the areas of the team that need strengthening the most and which players they want to fill those positions, and then acting quickly to secure their preferred targets in the transfer market. They failed miserably in doing this last summer but were much more successful in the more recent January transfer window.
Reported targets of the calibre of Ajax’s Christian Eriksen (via The Guardian), Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti (via talkSPORT)and Vasco da Gama’s Dede (via Metro) are exactly the type of players that the club should be competing for, and the interest would also send out a clear message to their rivals that the club really mean business next season.
And also do not forget that Liverpool hardly need major surgery come the end of the season, just a little fine-tuning here and there in certain key areas of the side to see them challenging the so-called big boys currently above them in the table.
Home is where the heart is: Liverpool must make Anfield a stronghold once again next season
The bedrock of any successful championship-winning team is their home form, and so Rodgers must make it an absolute priority to make Anfield a fortress once again next season.
In fact, the new Liverpool boss has already gone some way towards reversing the club’s limp displays on Merseyside that badly affected the last campaign under previous manager Kenny Dalglish, when they won a miserable six league games at home all season.
This campaign, Liverpool have already won eight top-flight contests at Anfield, with two more matches still to be played there this season, although to be crowned champions they will still need to improve considerably on those numbers next time around.
Theatre of Screams: more displays such as Liverpool's 4-1 win at United in 2009 would not go amiss next season for Rodgers and Co
Equally, it goes without saying that while your home form must be near-impregnable if you are to challenge for the title, you must also be damn hard to beat on the road, an area where the Reds have struggled badly down the years.
Last season, Liverpool won five of their 19 Premier League away games, whereas on the most recent occasion that the club came close to getting their hands on that elusive 19th top-flight title, under Rafa Benitez’s management in 2008-09, they won 13 times on their travels and lost only two games in the process.
So somehow Rodgers needs to turn the seven away draws that Liverpool have been involved in to date this season into wins, and then the club will well and truly be up there challenging at the top.
Earning their Spurs: Liverpool's only win against a side placed higher than them in the league this season came against Tottenham at Anfield in March
At the moment under Rodgers’ stewardship, it would be fair to classify his Liverpool team as flat-track bullies.
However, when it comes to having to beat the likes of a United, Chelsea, Arsenal or City, then that has proved to be a whole different ball game altogether. This campaign has all too clearly demonstrated that, with Rodgers and Co. enjoying just the one victory all season against a team placed above them in the league table.
The good news, though, is that Liverpool are not too far away from breaking this code, as their performances against the big boys since the turn of the year have proved, with only United managing to overcome the Merseysiders in the Premier League in 2013.
And, while conversely it used to be the other way round in previous years, with the Reds struggling to get the better of lower-ranked opposition, particularly at Anfield, while competing well against the top sides, it is perhaps better to go about achieving long-term success the other way.
Victim or villain? Well, either way, Liverpool must keep hold of their headline-making forward next season
In light of Sunday’s shocking events at Anfield, Liverpool will soon be faced with a huge dilemma regarding the long-term future of inspirational, but equally controversial, striker Luis Suarez.
The Uruguay international has been both a joy to watch and an embarrassment in equal measure to this famous club since arriving on Merseyside from Ajax in January 2011 for £22.7 million.
However, with Suarez set to be hit with a potential seven-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at Anfield on Sunday, Liverpool’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG), will now need to sit down with Rodgers and work out whether the mercurial 26-year-old is really worth all the hassle after all.
And after much deliberation, the answer should be a “yes,” but on the proviso that the player is now operating on a US-style “three strikes and you are out” policy following Suarez’s eight-game ban last season for racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra.
As, make no mistake about it, without the fleet-footed attacker’s invention, wit, skill, creativity and goals, Liverpool become just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill mid-table team.
Whereas with the front man in their ranks, all things suddenly become possible, as his 30 goals in just 45 appearances for the club this season have demonstrated.
Indeed, Suarez can get even better as he enters the best years of his career, which Liverpool must make absolutely sure he spends at Anfield by keeping the player out of the clutches of Juventus and Bayern Munich this summer and then maybe he will reward FSG and Co. by being the inspiration behind an unexpected title charge next season.