DANNY MURPHY: The key to Liverpool’s success is how every player has improved… and why no one deserves to be player of the year more than Sadio Mane
- Sadio Mane would be my choice for the Footballer of the Year award
- The Liverpool star’s relentless energy has won points for the team this season
- It will take a decade to fully appreciate the brilliance of Jurgen Klopp’s men
- But this team must sustain their superiority to be considered the best ever
I felt more emotional than I’d anticipated when Stuart Attwell blew his whistle at Stamford Bridge to confirm Liverpool’s title. It started as that immense feeling of pride you get when you see one of your children score a goal.
The goosebumps came when I saw Kenny Dalglish, my hero growing up, on television wrapped in a Liverpool scarf and beaming that warm, cheeky smile.
When I saw the pictures of Liverpool fans celebrating, it really started to strike home. I thought about my own visits to Anfield as a boy, standing on The Kop with my Dad, who is no longer with us. In 1990 we’d watched Liverpool beat QPR to become champions, little realising it’d be another 30 years before it happened again.
Sadio Mane has been a game-changer so often this season, he has been player of the year
I was 13 then, 43 now and for those Liverpool fans younger than me, I’m so happy they now have their own memories of watching the club become champions.
I wrote glowingly about Jurgen Klopp last week but I honestly think it will take another decade before it’s truly appreciated what this team have done.
To lose only two Premier League games in almost two seasons is remarkable. To think they’ve also been to two Champions League finals in that time as well is beyond astounding.
There have been some truly great Premier League teams in the past 30 years. You think of the three different teams Sir Alex Ferguson built at Manchester United, the Arsenal Invincibles, Jose Mourinho’s first wonderful Chelsea team and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City who consecutively recorded 100 points and 98 points in winning the title.
It was emotional to see Kenny Dalglish celebrating Liverpool’s first title triumph in 30 years
To be regarded as the greatest of all requires sustained success, so it’s still too early to call this Liverpool the best ever.
However, they have a chance to surpass those who came before. If they can maintain these standards, and style, for two or three more years, they will be the best.
There is still plenty to play for this season. Fifteen points from their last seven matches will see them surpass City’s points record — which I had previously thought could not be beaten.
After that, Manchester United’s 20 titles is within reach — Liverpool are now only one behind. Klopp’s players won’t primarily be motivated by records but if they keep it going like this, they will break them anyway. From what I’ve seen of this group, they will be relentless in their pursuit of more trophies and success — as Fergie always drilled into his players during United’s heyday.
Virgil van Dijk joined Liverpool as the most expensive defender in the world, but he’s improved
Liverpool have some great individuals but are a team first and foremost. The unity is amazing, how they all attack together, work together. Some of the players would slot into any Liverpool team from the past — Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold — but it’s down to the collective which is why they are currently champions of England, Europe and the world.
No Liverpool grouping has worked harder for each other, and that’s quite a statement given some of the club’s great sides. Klopp has improved and developed every single member of the squad. Van Dijk arrived as the most expensive defender in the world, but he’s even better now.
The manager has built something special and the trick is to hold on to it and continue growing. I am optimistic, Liverpool didn’t lose any of their key players last summer and, while every player is different, I think the attraction of playing for the best team in Europe will count for something.
Jurgen Klopp’s team must sustain their dominance for years to come to be considered the best
Would Sadio Mane or Salah enjoy their football as much anywhere else, even with Lionel Messi at Barcelona? It is doubtful. Mane still has three years left of his deal but with Real Madrid interested, I think a new one will be worked out.
I’ve been asked to give my ratings for every Liverpool player this season. Nobody deserves less than a 6/10 and most well above that. Three players merit perfect marks — Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Mane. How could they improve?
This year’s Footballer of the Year award should be a Liverpool procession, a number of them deserve to be mentioned. But if I had to be pushed into naming one, I’d say Mane. He has been the game-changer so often this season, phenomenal.
Even in the last match against Crystal Palace, he was so sharp and I loved his hunger, the way he kept pressing the full-backs.
He’s a team player in the finest Klopp and Liverpool tradition.
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