Just 10 years ago we were in the midst of a massive downward spiral, similar to those of Manchester United and Arsenal now, after coming close to winning the Premier League with Rafa Benítez and were lingering in mid-table.
In fact, 10 years ago exactly we had just lost to Wolves 1-0 at home and we were three points off the relegation zone.
Well, times have certainly changed. Back then, believe me, it would have been hard for me to write a year review and give out shouts for ‘best ofs’ — mainly because this website didn’t exist back then, but also because Liverpool were dreadful.
Anyway, enough about the dark times, time to delve into our unbelievable 2019 and give props to the players who have made us dream once again.
Best Player 2019: Sadio Mané
It was a tight decision here between a lot of players, trust me. It really isn’t easy having to pick a stand-out player from this squad but, in my opinion, Sadio Mané pips it.
Seemingly in Mohamed Salah’s shadow a couple of years ago, the Senegalese has continually taken his game to higher levels for the past couple of seasons now, with his improvement culminating in a fourth-placed finish in the Ballon d’Or award — though many believed he should have placed better than a bloke called Ronny, who came third.
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Now, I know many of you will be saying ‘Matt, Virgil van Dijk finished second and should have won the Ballon d’Or’ and yes, I agree to a point. But I would argue that Mané has had a better end to the year than Virgil and therefore earns this highly prestigious Kopite Award.
In total, our Senegalese Gandalf has 31 goals and 13 assists for us this year which makes him our highest scoring player of 2019. I’m not usually one for giving the top goalscorer the best player award, but I am this time.
Most Important Player 2019: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Before I explain this, I need to say that I disagree with the notion that a club’s best player has to be their most important. There is a difference.
To that end, it is my absolute honour to welcome Mr Trent Alexander-Arnold to the stage to receive his award.
2018/19 saw him break the record for the most assists by a defender in a single Premier League season. But, as this is only an award for 2019 I couldn’t take all those assists into consideration.
I can, however, count the 22 assists he has in this calendar year placing him only one behind both Thomas Müller and Kevin De Bruyne in the assists charts for 2019 — both of whom play in an attacking midfield role for clubs that arguably dominate the majority of their opponents. Trent, you absolute hero.
Aside from the assists, the main reason for me naming Trent as our most important player of the year is his importance to the system we play. Simply put, he is absolutely irreplaceable and when he is out of the squad the difference to our attacking game is notable — madness, considering he is a right-back.
Also take into consideration the fact that he is our set-piece taker and specifically that ‘corner taken quickly… ORIGI’ moment against Barca and well it’s no contest.
Most Improved Player 2019: Divock Origi
Speaking of Divock Origi, 2019 has seen the Belgian quite simply go from being the second coming of David N’Gog to an Anfield legend in every sense of the word.
11 goals and two assists are hardly anything to shout about, but this is where stats can sometimes be misleading because Origi has become Liverpool’s go-to guy off the bench and has revived his Anfield career with some dominant performances and important goals.
Having scored the winner in the derby towards the end of 2018, many thought it wouldn’t get much better for Divock in 2019. They’d have no idea how wrong they would have been.
He produced his best Didier Drogba impression to drag Liverpool to their sixth Champions League triumph and performances saw him usurp Daniel Sturridge in the pecking order to become Roberto Firmino’s understudy.
He scored yet another late goal to keep our Premier League dream alive last season against Newcastle before ingraining himself within the very fibres of Anfield folklore with his performance against Barcelona. It wasn’t just the goals, he was actually immense in his all-round play.
Of course the goals, specifically the one against Los Culés, sent me, you, and every Red on this planet into delirium. That, along with the small achievement of clinching the Champions League with his goal in the final, sees him claim this award. Kop Legend Origi, most improved.
Honorary mention for Joël Matip, who was also a strong contender for this one.
Under-rated Player 2019: Jordan Henderson
I can hear some of you moaning already, but the disrespect this man gets is unjust. Now that he has lifted the continental treble we’re finally starting to sing about him.
Unfortunately for him, and by no choice of his own, Henderson was chosen as the man to replace Steven Gerrard. For some absurd reason, a section of our fanbase decided to continuously compare the former Sunderland man to one of our club’s living legends — hardly a fair yardstick.
Despite not possessing the same talent as Gerrard, Henderson is undoubtedly a born leader and has moulded himself to become an absolutely vital part of Klopp’s team.
Let’s look at what he has done in 2019, aside from leading us to the Champions League, Super Cup and Club World Cup for the first time in our history.
When Fabinho began to consistently get in the starting XI in January, many wrote Henderson off as he was the one playing in the holding role while the Brazilian acclimatised to the league. Instead, our captain developed his game and forced his way back into the side in a box-to-box role similar to the one he filled in the 2013/14 season.
Skip to the start of this season, where he fought off the resurgence of both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta to keep his place and become our most used midfielder.
Then, when Fabinho was injured, he reverted back and has unquestionably put in amazing performances week in, week out in the base of midfield during our busy December period — not to mention his foray into the heart of our defence in Qatar.
Put some respect on his name.
Best Save 2019: Adrián v Napoli
Time to give the goalkeepers some love and, although I adore Alisson with every fibre of my being, props have to be given to Adrián for his flying save to deny Dries Mertens in our 2-0 defeat to Napoli in September.
The Spaniard was brought in as cover for Alisson on a free and boy has he proved value for money after being thrust into a starting spot due to Alisson’s injury in August.
In his short Liverpool career so far, Adrián has already won the UEFA Super Cup — where he clinched the trophy after making a vital penalty shootout save to deny Tammy Abraham — and the Club World Cup.
So far he has featured 13 times for the Reds and kept two clean sheets but, despite his lack of shutouts, the Spaniard made crucial saves as he helped Liverpool open up a commanding lead at the summit of the Premier League.
His finest save, however, and the reason why he wins this award, comes in a Champions League defeat. A ball to the back post found its way to the arriving Dries Mertens — Napoli’s record goalscorer — with Adrián scrambling across his goal-line. The Belgian connected well with the ball, which seemed destined for the top corner if it were not for the fingertips of our diving Spaniard. Amazing save, and a worthy winner of this prize.
Game of 2019: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (UCL semi-final)
Do I really need to say more?
Just amazing. I must admit I went into that game thinking ‘at least I get to see Messi play at Anfield’. Well, Messi didn’t get a sniff and we smashed them.
I still can’t believe we did it and that I was there to bear witness. I honestly do not have words to explain how well we played as a team — a weakened team, as we were missing both Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah while Andy Robertson came off at half-time with an injury.
A close runner-up for me would be our recent 4-0 demolition away at Leicester on Boxing Day. However, I really can’t look past this victory and I really haven’t got the words to describe it. Just perfection.
The players gave their all for the team, encapsulated no better than Jordan Henderson — yeah, I squeezed him in again — who at full-time collapsed to the floor after playing through the pain for the majority of the game.
Moment of 2019: YNWA after Barcelona demolition
Again wow, just wow. Hairs stand up on the back of my neck just thinking about it. I can’t begin to describe the pride I felt at being a Red during that moment at Anfield.
Seeing the team just embrace and join in with a packed stadium — who stayed behind after full-time — to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone encapsulated what this club and this city are all about.
The fans still in disbelief with what they had seen, the players not quite believing what they had achieved and Salah with his ‘Never Give Up’ t-shirt. I have never heard You’ll Never Walk Alone belted like that before and I doubt I ever will again.
Inject. This. Moment. Into. My. Veins. For. The. Rest. Of. My. Days.