Liverpool and Chelsea players have more than pride to play for in the remaining weeks. Unless they buck up, the classes of 2023 will record their club’s worst seasons this century – and in Liverpool’s case since the 1960s.
Jurgen Klopp’s side currently sit eighth in the Premier League table and it’s testament to the club’s consistency over decades they’ve not finished lower than that since Bill Shankly led them into the top flight in 1962.
In the following 60 completed seasons, Liverpool have finished higher than their present position on 56 occasions – 14 times as champions. On the other four occasions they have finished eighth. 1962/63 was their first season back after a decade in the Second Division and Graeme Souness was sacked midway through the 1993/94 campaign.
In this century, both Kenny Dalglish and Jurgen Klopp presided over eighth-place finishes but can offer impressive cup runs as mitigation. Dalglish’s team reached two Wembley finals in 2011/12, winning the League Cup, though it didn’t save King Kenny who was fired by owner John W Henry.
Klopp’s debut season arriving midway through 2015/16 also brought moderate league results though the German can point to steering the club to a Europa League final.
Victories over two legs in that competitions against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund meant sacrificing points domestically and they ended a busy campaign by winning only one of their final five league games.
Klopp’s current side don’t have that excuse having ended all cup commitments by mid-March. A challenge for the top-four looks remote given they are 10 points behind Newcastle and Manchester United but they still need points to avoid embarrassment.
They are only ahead of ninth-place Brentford on goal difference and if they are overtaken by Thomas Frank’s side in the final reckoning, it would represent their worst league season for 61 years – incentive for Jordan Henderson and his galaxy of international stars.
Chelsea too are set for record-breaking disappointment – despite an unprecedented £550 million spent in two transfer widows by new owner Todd Boehly. The Blues, who have turned to club legend Frank Lampard as interim having sacked Graham Potter, have not finished in the bottom half of the table this Century.
Their worst placing was 10th in 2015/16 when Jose Mourinho had a meltdown and Guus Hiddink was drafted in to steady the ship. The last time Chelsea finished in the bottom half of the table was well before Roman Abramovich in 1995/96, when they were 11th.
To find a time when they finished even lower than that, you have to scroll back to 14th in 1993/94. though player-manager Glenn Hoddle had the consolation of taking his team to Wembley to face Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
Avoiding those modest targets wasn’t what Boehly expected when signing off a British transfer record on Enzo Fernandez and millions more on Wesley Fofana, Raheem Sterling and Mykhaylo Mudryk. Chelsea’s get-out card remains the Champions League. If they upset Real Madrid to reach the semi-final, some of the league pain may be softened.
If not and they fail to overtake smaller west London neighbours Brentford and Fulham, this will be the worst season at Stamford Bridge for 27 years.
- The Daily Mail report