COS contributor Venkat Venkatakrishnan takes another look at a torrid season.
August 15 2009 to May 9 2010, constituted what was probably Liverpool Football Club’s worst season in the premiership history. After watching Liverpool finish an impressive second last season and expecting or at least hoping to finally land on that ever elusive Premier League Title, fans have been through nothing short of torture over this period.
It all started right on day one. Liverpool went to White Hart Lane and came back defeated. Then Rafael Benitez’s men hosted Stoke City at Anfield where Liverpool went on to win by four goals. That gave cheer to the fans who had seen Stoke hold Liverpool both times last season (some say the reason Liverpool didn’t win the league). But back to square one it went, after a miserable loss to Aston Villa. From then on it was frustration, agony and some more frustration as Liverpool just never gathered the needed steam.
September came. Champions League! Liverpool always play well in Europe don’t they? Somehow even if it’s domestic season didn’t go well, Benitez always found something when it came to Europe. Well, not this season. Lyon, Fiorentina and Debercen were the other 3 with Liverpool in group E. The question at that time was Liverpool and who else? But Liverpool managed just 7 points- half of what they got last time and finished 3rd in the group. Off to Europa League we went.
By the end of January, Liverpool was out of almost all completions. Out of FA cup courtesy Reading. Out of Carling cup courtesy Arsenal. The League? Well, the target already got revised to ‘top 4’. Oh wait, there still is Europa League- WOW! Somehow, the team that just one year ago, split up defenses and could beat almost any other team, was found totally lacklustre.
Throughout the season, the team was plagued by injuries to their main players. Alberto Aquilaini, Liverpool’s big money summer signing, who had come to Anfield with an injury, took six months to make his much awaited debut. When he finally did, a new hope dawned on Liverpool fans. Would this be LFC’s turning point? It wasn’t to be.
The season went on and nothing went right. Then, Rafa (Benitez) came out with something spectacular. “Top four finish guaranteed”, he said. All we needed was some momentum. After every win, we thought, “Ok, from here on, our season starts. We are going to put a few wins together.” But that momentum just never came. Was it because of the injuries? Was it because of the manager? Or was it because the players were just not good enough? Even captain fantastic, Stevie G was not at his best. The only player who looked to have some spark was our No. 9 wonder striker, Fernando Torres. He seemed to score every time he was on the field, but the problem was, he was hardly on the field, forced to sit out owing to injuries.
Meanwhile, in Europa LFC was progressing. It had to be the hard way though. Lose the away leg and win the home leg by a better margin. That seemed to be Rafa’s plan. Slowly Liverpool went to the Semi Final. Athletico Madrid was standing in the way of another Europian Final for the Reds. If somehow we get past this stage, we would have something to take from the season. It just never was going to be was it? An extra time goal by Diego Forlan put the Mersysiders out of this one too.
With an appalling total of 11 league losses, the Reds finished the season at a dismal seventh, failing to make that to that “guaranteed Top 4”. And who took that 4th spot? Tottenham, the team that started all the misery for Liverpool. The only consolation, if any, to us, Liverpool fans is that we didn’t have to put up with the mortification of seeing Manchester United, Liverpool’s bête noir, lift the trophy.
Now the post season starts and with it, the speculations of players coming and leaving. The Anfield faithful would probably be saying “Just keep Gerrard and Torres. That’s enough”. With the disastrous season finally behind us, all we have is the lingering hope for a better season to follow.