Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stoppage time winner over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final is still talked about to this day. It wasn’t just the moment that crowned Manchester United European champions, it also made them Treble winners. This was the defining achievement of Sir Alex Ferguson’s long and illustrious managerial career and the greatest achievement of any English team in the modern era.
Now, there is the realistic prospect that United’s glory 23 years ago could be eclipsed. Liverpool are fighting on three fronts having already lifted the Carabao Cup earlier this season. Tuesday’s win over Ralf Rangnick’s team kept the Reds on Manchester City’s tail at the top of the Premier League table while the Anfield outfit also have a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal and an FA Cup final against Chelsea to come.
Liverpool have never been stronger under Klopp than they are now. Tuesday night’s one-sided performance against Manchester United was a reflection of what the Reds have become in recent years with Rangnick’s team unable to handle the intensity and tempo of their rivals. The hosts dominated from start to finish.
There is nothing Liverpool can’t do. They are one of the most proactive teams around, pressing high to force opponents into mistakes, but can also control possession when they need to. It used to be the case that Liverpool’s squad wasn’t as deep as some of the teams around them, but the addition of players like Thiago Alcantara, Kostas Tsimikas, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota has changed this.
It is almost unfathomable that a team could win all four major honours in one season such is the stress, physical and mental, of the modern game, but Liverpool are a team built for the modern game. They appear emboldened by the rigours of the sport. Liverpool embrace chaos to gain an advantage over their opponents.
Of course, Liverpool still have to get the better of a Manchester City team that has won three of the last four titles to lift the Premier League trophy this season. It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that the two sides will also meet in the final of the Champions League. City and Liverpool’s rivalry could define the whole campaign.
This is another reason why a Liverpool Quadruple this season would eclipse Manchester United’s Treble of 1999. The competition provided by City is unlike anything experienced by Sir Alex Ferguson’s side over two decades ago. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were strong back then, but United faced Newcastle United in the FA Cup final and Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
At this moment in time, City and Liverpool are the best two teams in European football. If Liverpool can come out on top of every contest between them and Pep Guardiola’s team, it will be a mark of their own brilliance. The current momentum of the Reds suggests they might just do this.
Quadruples aren’t meant to happen in the modern game. It’s frequently said only legendary teams can win a league title and the Champions League in the same season – Manchester United are the only English team to have ever done it in the Premier League era. Liverpool could do this and more. There would be nothing else for them to win.
While Liverpool have collected silverware during the Klopp era, their haul of one Premier League title, one Champions League, one Carabao Cup and one European Super Cup doesn’t quite reflect the quality of the team they have built and the performances they have produced. A Quadruple would readdress that balance and eclipse anything achieved by any of their rivals, including the Treble.