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Ray Houghton: No asterisk can take away from Liverpool's stunning league title

 

Ray Houghton

Former Liverpool star Ray Houghton insists having an asterisk next to the club's title win will not demean their achievement.

Each top-flight club has nine games remaining of their League season and while relegation and European places remain in the balance, Liverpool's 30-year wait for the title has just seemed a formality.

The Reds were 25 points clear at the top of the table when League business was suspended due to the pandemic lockdown on March 13 and were just two wins away from being confirmed champions.

Although there is a determination to finish the season, it is unlikely to end the conventional way.

Options range from using points per game to determine League positions to playing behind closed doors at neutral venues.

Whatever the outcome, this season will need an asterisk to explain an unprecedented situation.

"There is bound to be an asterisk next to Liverpool's name if the season doesn't finish properly," said Houghton, who was in the Reds' last title-winning team in 1990.

"If they are given the title but hadn't earned it then no Liverpool fan or player would want that. They want to win it outright.

"There is a lot of pride at that club in what has been achieved so far this season and, rightly, they want to prove they are champions. The only way to do that is to have enough points that no one can catch you.

"But to say an asterisk would lessen the achievement would be wrong. At the very least they will be regarded as champions-elect and no one can take that away after what they've done."

Houghton believes that while Jurgen Klopp's men were on course for a record-breaking season, having dropped just five points all term, it is the manner of their success that is the most impressive.

The last title-winning Reds side bounced back from losing out in the last minute of the last game the previous season.

Just who can forget Michael Thomas' injury-time goal at Anfield in May 1989 to give Arsenal a 2-0 win and the title by the smallest of margins?

Liverpool lost out last season on the last day when Manchester City won at Brighton to claim the title by two points.

"There are certain traits that we showed and what the current team has shown now," Houghton said.

"Not just winning games, but the way they have won games. There have been games where they have not outplayed teams, but they have found a way.

"They won 1-0 at Sheffield United, coming up with answers when they were not at their best, and again 2-1 at Anfield against Watford. Those are just two examples, but there were many. They also scored a lot of late goals.

"That is the mark of champions. We had them 30 years ago and they have them now.

"It is often not about the best football, but resilience and desire, which gives you rewards late on by winning matches."

Belfast Telegraph