Liverpool have had an outstanding season. There is simply no denying that. And yet if – as many now expect – they are pipped to the Premier League title by Manchester City, there will be plenty of Reds fans who see the campaign as a failure.
After all, they had the title in their hands, only to let it slip when they had already done the hard work in beating City at Anfield in a glorious back-and-forth game in the final-straight.
But there were already signs that their free-flowing mentality could only see them win so many games. Having been 2-0 up against the Blues with little over 30 minutes remaining, they almost threw it away, before Philippe Coutinho nabbed the title as that weekend’s hero.
The same could be said for their next match against Norwich City, when they raced into a two-goal lead before clinging on for the win when the Canaries bit back.
That sense of ‘We will simply score more than you’ was wearing thin, with Liverpool’s defensive frailties clear for all to see. The only question was: Could Brendan Rodgers get through to the end of the season top of the pile, before signing some much needed defensive reinforcements?
That answer, as proved on Monday evening in the unbelievable capitulation against Crystal Palace, was ‘No’.
And it was that match against Palace which reminded me of another free-scoring side who will always be remembered as ‘nearly-men’.
Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United side were pure entertainers. Just as Liverpool do now, they scored with ease but conceded with startling regularity. Just ask Reds fans who remember the 4-3 victory that all but ended Keegan’s Premier League hopes back in 1996.
But scoring goals is only half the job. Perhaps it is the harder part – at least in terms of finding, and keeping, strikers of the quality of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. But without the stability at the other end, the memories you make can too often be ones of glorious failure rather than history-making success.
Liverpool could still do it, if the unthinkable happens and City slip-up. But most likely the Reds will have to make do with second, and Rodgers will have to sign the defenders who in their own way are just as good as the outstanding attackers Liverpool have in abundance.