Winning four trophies would represent Liverpool’s best-ever season, but their trophy record from the 1980s shows history is still against Jurgen Klopp’s squad
Long before John W Henry, there was an American businessman who had a significant influence on the lives of the people of Liverpool.
His name was Henry Ford. Away from the docks, his Ford Motor Company was, at one point, probably the most important employer on Merseyside. Aside from being one of the most pre-eminent industrialists of his time, Ford had a penchant for soundbites: “Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants, so long as it is black.”
He also had a view on retrospection. “History is more or less bunk,” he declared. “The only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today.” Or the Premier League, as it is known.
It seems many of the current generation of football fans would agree with Ford. Hence, this Liverpool team is, apparently, on the cusp of being the “greatest team ever”. No, it is not. There was a team that evolved through the Seventies and early Eighties that won SIX domestic league titles, THREE European Cups and ONE UEFA Cup in the space of EIGHT seasons.
And if you are now counting ‘Mickey Mouse’ titles as major honours, that team won THREE League Cups, ONE Super Cup and FIVE Charity Shields. Yet this Liverpool team could be the greatest ever? Do me a favour. They have won two cups this season without scoring a goal in the finals.
If they win the Premier League this Sunday, it will be largely because Manchester City have bottled it. I thought about history when reading and listening to the tributes to Mark Lawrenson, who is ending his career as a BBC pundit.
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There were lovely and warm testimonies, talking of what a down-to-earth chap he is, how he had time for everyone. Every one of those testimonies was spot-on. But some of us are of an age that enables us to remember Lawrenson the player as vividly as Lawrenson the pundit.
And let me tell you this. He has been a wonderful pundit … but was a far better player. That is how good he was. Similarly, there is a generation that remembers Alan Hansen mainly for his caustic observations, for his laconic wit, for his insight.
They probably do not even know he played. They probably do not even know that Hansen and Lawrenson formed, arguably, as good a central defensive pairing as you are ever likely to see. In harness, they won FIVE domestic league titles, ONE FA Cup, THREE League Cups and ONE European Cup. But the numbers do their talents no justice. Boy, could they play.
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Yet, unfortunately, Ford’s mantra will mean that Virgil van Dijk will be Liverpool’s best-ever, that Trent Alexander-Arnold will be better than Phi Neal, that Mohamed Salah will be better than whoever, etc, etc, etc. The whole comparison business is pretty spurious, anyway. Players of Lawrenson’s era might not have been as physically formidable as players of this era but they did not have the medical and physical back-up these guys have.
The pitches were not as good in those days. You could go on and on. In other words, you can only be the best in your time. If this Liverpool team does win the Quadruple, it will be a fantastic achievement. It will stand alone as Liverpool’s best-ever season.
But it will not make them the greatest-ever Liverpool team. Because as Henry Ford did not say, history is NOT more or less bunk.