Long-suffering Liverpool supporters, for whom the mere mention of the word ‘slip’ can bring on a fit of the vapours, won’t want to hear him say it — but Graeme Souness has ruled out any possibility of a collapse for Jurgen Klopp’s team and so, even with the New Year still only in its infancy, he has no hesitation in calling the 2020 title race in favour of his old club.
“They have won it already,” he says. “I don’t think that anybody at Liverpool will be saying that but what could possibly go wrong? Other than half a dozen of their main men getting long-term injuries — and that’s not going to happen. If they win it — you still have to say that, I suppose — it’s been a long, long time since that happened.
“Nobody would have thought 30 years ago that it was going to take this long.
“And they deserve it. After last year missing out by just one point, the consistency between last year and this year has been phenomenal. They landed the Champions League and they are the team of the moment, they are the team that nobody wants to play.
“If you win the league — and I go back to my days at Liverpool — that was always the priority.
“They felt that this said more about you as a player and as a team if you won the league. It’s over nine months, you have dealt with the down times, dealt with injuries, stuck together when the going got tough.”
For all that Liverpool’s fabled front three have hogged the headlines, Souness suggests the importance of the team’s more unsung heroes cannot be overstated.
“You need people to complement what you have already got. Wijnaldum and Henderson and Milner, when he plays, they would be a dream to work with in terms of the attitude that they show. They have worked out that for their experienced players to have an influence in games, they have to play like that.
“They have to be bang at it in a physical sense. And that’s why I just cannot see Liverpool having any sort of a collapse.”
Speaking at Virgin Media’s Spring Schedule launch in Dublin, he also gave an approving nod to the work being done north of the border by Steven Gerrard — like Souness before him, a Liverpool player who has gone on to manage Rangers.
“He’s done a good job though he’s got to win a trophy,” he says. “But it looks like they’ve turned a major corner.
“They now look to be a team that Celtic are having problems with. Celtic, for a good six or seven years, have steamrolled everyone in their path. But that doubt is now in the head of every Celtic player, and that’s a good thing if you’re at Rangers.
“The momentum now is with Rangers, the psychological momentum.”
Addressing one of the Premier League’s most controversial storylines this season, the television pundit says that since, in is belief, VAR is here to stay, then the game’s laws — particularly in relation to offside — will have to be tweaked to keep pace with the technology.
“Just reverse it now so if it’s (holds up fingers) that much of your boot is onside, the goal is given, instead of that much (holds up fingers) is offside and it’s not given. Just reverse it.
“We’d see more goals, we’d see less drama, less time wasted looking at VAR, players would celebrate because they would know nine times out of ten that the goal would stand.
“I think it’s such an obvious thing to do. 100% of people go to football matches to watch goals so you’re adding to the game.”