April 27 2014.
Liverpool are on a 11-game winning streak and an unexpected title challenge has gained serious momentum.
Brendan Rodgers looks like he could be the manager to end the club’s 24-year wait for that elusive league title.
José Mourinho’s Chelsea are in town. The Blues are just two points behind league leaders Liverpool going into the game, but they have waved the white flag on their chances of winning the title.
ON THIS DAY: In 2014, Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea. You know the rest. 😬😬😬
@Squawka Football –
Chelsea have come to Anfield to frustrate and earn a draw.
Liverpool only need seven points from their last three games to win the league so a draw will do just fine.
The visitors’ time-wasting tactics and low-block frustrates a frantic home crowd in a nerve-wracking first-half, but the result still remains 0-0 which works for both sides.
But disaster strikes.
Rodgers’ side never quite recover from the shock blow and go on to lose the game 2-0, and eventually lose the title to Manchester City.
We’ve contemplated what might have happened if Gerrard didn’t slip.
Liverpool would’ve won the league
It was expected that Liverpool probably would have seen off Crystal Palace and Newcastle in their last two games on the way to a first league title since 1990.
If the slip didn’t happen, would Liverpool had eventually found the breakthrough?
Manchester City’s title-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini claimed it “is very difficult for a team like Liverpool to win 14 games in a row” when it emerged the Reds would be their closest title challengers.
At the start of the season, Rodgers’ aim was to get the club back into the Champions League.
Their entry into the title race came as a surprise to even those at the club.
The 11 consecutive games won going into the Chelsea match turned Liverpool from a side that played pretty football without substance to a team that looked like one capable of dominating English football.
The Northern-Irish manager’s choice to deploy a 4-4-2 diamond formation to maximise the talents of Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho was a masterstroke.
Liverpool were riding a wave with their attacking players finding incredible form at the right time. Suárez and Sturridge had 53 goals between them.
Chelsea came with a plan and mastered it to perfection. They were never going to come out and attack at Anfield, they were handed a massive gift.
If Liverpool had just held out, what might have been.
They would’ve gone into the Crystal Palace game three days later needing two wins from the final pair of games to win the league.
Liverpool wouldn’t have needed to try to close a eight goal gap on Manchester City, meaning they might have seen the game out at 3-0 at Selhurst Park.
‘Crystanbul’ might never have happened.
Luis Suárez stays
As Crystal Palace’s incredible comeback reached it’s conclusion, Suárez lifted his shirt above his head and left the pitch in tears.
The end was nigh.
The Uruguayan had tried to leave Liverpool the summer before, when Arsenal had activated his £40m release clause.
Suárez gave an interview at the time that Liverpool had broken promises to let him leave if they didn’t qualify for the Champions League in 2012-13.
“I’m 26, I need to be playing in the Champions League”, the striker claimed.
Liverpool’s 2nd placed finish would mean they played Champions League football in 2014/15 but Suárez’s mind appeared to be made up.
What if Liverpool had managed to pull it off though?
Suárez’s heart may have been set on Barcelona but he wanted to move to north London the season before so perhaps it was more about finding a club with high ambitions to match his incredible talent.
A Liverpool team that had just won the Premier League, would be playing European football and had Sterling and Coutinho all under 24 would’ve been hard to leave.
Jürgen Klopp wouldn’t be Liverpool manager
The following season was a complete disaster for Brendan Rodgers.
Transfer gambles on Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli surprisingly didn’t pay off and Liverpool dropped to 6th in the league.
They crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage and all the progress made the previous season was undone.
Liverpool’s season ended in a 6-1 defeat to Stoke City in Gerrard’s last-ever game for the club.
Rodgers did survive until the October of the following season but the writing was on the wall for the former-Swansea manager.
Jürgen Klopp arrived after a 1-1 draw in the Merseyside Derby and the rest as they say, is history.
Surely the club wouldn’t sack Rodgers if he had won the Premier League 18 months earlier?
Rodgers would have been considered a hero at the club, and even if the following seasons had curtailed then he would have had time to turn things around.
Liverpool might not be European champions and not about to win the league today if they had achieved success in 2014.
Maybe Gerrard slipping was for the greater good …