Heady days they most certainly were. The Happy Mondays sat sixth in the hit parade with Step On, The Stone Roses legendary Spike Island gig was still five weeks away, yours truly was a spotty adolescent doing all the things that spotty adolescents do and Liverpool were claiming an eleventh league title in eighteen years. That was how the world looked on April 28th 1990, nearly thirty years ago; where oh where has the time gone? Meanwhile, as Anfield celebrated, things looked bleak along the M62 at Old Trafford. Twenty-three years without a league title, a young Scottish manager under fire from all sides, rumours abounded that Alex Ferguson would be sacked if the FA Cup was not won that season. Some said even that might not be enough to stave off the chop.
But then the wheel of football fortune turned and suddenly, inexplicably, everything was different. United won that FA Cup final against Crystal Palace, although they needed a replay to do it, and Ferguson had bought himself some time. Two years later the Premier League was born, United won the inaugural crown, Liverpool finished in a distant sixth place and a dynasty that will almost certainly never be matched was born. And as United were racking up thirteen titles in twenty-one years, Liverpool stumbled and searched for the formula that would bring the championship back to Anfield. Yes, there have been trophies and good times since 1990 but Liverpool fans are desperate to return to the summit of English football. Even a sixth European Cup last season was met with muted celebrations, the title had been so close but again it was not to be.
Total League Titles - Pre-Premier League.
Total League Titles - Post-Premier League.
However, nothing in football lasts forever, even Alex Ferguson had to retire sometime and so in 2013 the wheel began to creak once again. The Scot left Old Trafford with a final league title tucked into the pocket of his Manchester United blazer and a demise that older Liverpool fans might well recognise began. In truth it was already underway, the team that won the league that year should have finished no higher than fourth, but then Ferguson was a freak. Since then United have tried everything. They replaced Scottish grit with more Scottish grit but lost patience with David Moyes too quickly. Louis van Gaal came in, Dutch managerial royalty tasked with steadying the ship but again the shadow of Ferguson hung heavy and he too was disposed of. Then came José Mourinho who always wins the league wherever he goes but unfortunately, his arrival coincided with Pep Guardiola's at Manchester City, that it turned sour for José was a surprise to very few football watchers. And now there is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. A nice guy perhaps but hopelessly out of his depth, the structure above him clueless, the squad under his command a shadow of the great teams gone by.
Where has the time gone? Any excuse to post the Mondays.
And now the fortunes of England's two most successful clubs are changing once again. Liverpool visit Old Trafford on Sunday with a FIFTEEN point advantage over their great rivals, the gap at this stage of a Premier League season was never before so large, not even during the dominant Ferguson years. A win for Jurgen Klopp's team on Sunday would stretch that gap to eighteen points and push Solskjaer closer to his inevitable exit. For Liverpool though the future looks bright. Klopp seems a happy man, he has the appearance of one who is in for the long haul, who understands the sense of history and the meaning of a legacy. With Pep unlikely to hang around at City for too much longer it feels like another dynasty could be on the way, Liverpool just need that first elusive title to get things started.