The Reds finished runners-up last season (2018-19) but produced a dominant show this season. Jurgen Klopp‘s men are sitting comfortably on the top of the table with 82 points in 29 matches (won 27, lost 1 and drew 1) and are 25 points clear of the second-placed and defending champions Manchester City who have 57 points in 28 games.
Liverpool, who last won a Premier League title way back in 1989-90 (then known as the Football League), have 18 titles to their name. Manchester United are on top of the all-time tally with 20 EPL trophies.
With Liverpool set to add their 19th English top-flight league silverware to their cabinet, Timesofindia.com caught up with former Liverpool footballers Emile Heskey and Jason McAteer for an exclusive interview.
Heskey and McAteer, who were in the capital for a promotional event, spoke about Liverpool’s dominance, Klopp’s tactics, goalkeeper Alisson’s stupendous glovework, Reds’ Champions League chances and much more.
Heseky made 150 Premier League appearances for Liverpool between 1999 and 2004 and the star striker scored 39 goals for the club. McAteer, a centre midfielder, made 139 appearance for the Reds (overall) and scored six goals.
You have had a long stint at Leicester and Liverpool. What did you enjoy most about your time at both clubs?
Emile: I had a lot of great memories at both, but winning trophies is always a highlight. I won two league cups at Leicester and five trophies in total at Liverpool, so I had a lot of enjoyment at both clubs. I couldn’t pick one that I enjoyed most – both clubs gave me just as much satisfaction.
Liverpool have been dominant this season. What is the reason behind their success? Which player/players have changed the club’s fortunes?
Jason: I think the team’s mentality has been the difference this season – they don’t give up. They are thinking like champions and grinding out those results.
Emile: I don’t think you can put it down to individual players – it’s been a real team effort and every single player has contributed to the success we’ve seen this season.
A 30-year wait is expected to come to an end for Liverpool. What was the reason the club didn’t win the title despite coming very close earlier, including last season?
Jason: Again, I think mentality has been the difference this season. They came extremely close last season, and that has spurred them on to play even better. As a player, you don’t want to have that feeling again, so that will have really pushed them on.
How would you define Jurgen Klopp’s role in Liverpool’s success?
Emile: Jurgen is a fantastic man-manager and he knows how to get the best out of his players. You can see the love he has for all of them and they have all taken such large steps forward under Jurgen. He has improved every single player in the team.
What makes Klopp stand out in comparison to Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola according to you?
Jason: They are all different managers with their own individual qualities, but they share that winning mentality. It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing that makes Jurgen stand out – but he’s a fantastic manager. They all are.
How will you rate Alisson’s performance? Would you say he is the number one goalkeeper in the World currently?
Jason: He’s certainly up there with the best. He’s a fantastic keeper and you can see that the players have so much faith in him, which is extremely important. He has been outstanding this season and certainly deserves to be talked about in the “best in the world” category.
Can Liverpool lift both EPL and Champions League titles this season?
Emile: It’s certainly possible. The team is playing out of their skin this season and they will absolutely want to challenge in both competitions. We saw last season how they turned things around in the Champions League and Anfield is a tough place to come for opponents – the fans truly are the 12th man and they will give the players a great lift.
What is your take on Mohamed Salah and the role he plays?
Jason: He’s an outstanding player and he contributes to the team in so many ways, not just with his goals. He’s very important for Liverpool.
What should Liverpool do to dominate next season?
Emile: Just carry on playing with the intensity and belief they have played with this season. It’s been incredible to watch and they are absolutely playing and thinking like champions now. But it’s a very competitive league and every other team will be fighting for success too.
Your favourite Liverpool moment?
Jason: I’ve had a lot of fantastic moments at the club, both during my playing career and also now as an ambassador being involved with things like this trip to Delhi with LFC World. But the one standout for me – as a lifelong Liverpool fan, the moment I got the call to say I was being signed for the club, it was something I’ll never forget. It changed my life.