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Liverpool now have a target on their back

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp following the trophy presentation at Anfield

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp following the trophy presentation at Anfield

PA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp following the trophy presentation at Anfield

Liverpool's newly-crowned Premier League champions were on course to claim a place in football folklore as one of the best teams of all-time in English football, but I don't think they will be regarded in that light now.

Jordan Henderson lifted the trophy at Anfield on Wednesday night and no-one can deny that Liverpool are worthy champions in a season when their consistency saw them open up a huge gap on Manchester City at the top of the table.

They have some great players and play a brand of winning football that is hard to stop, but the teams that are etched into the history books as the ultimate champions shatter all the important records and Liverpool have come up short in that mission.

To be fair here, I have some sympathy for Jurgen Klopp and his players because they were in top gear before the lockdown, winning week after week as they pulled clear at the top of the table.

Back in February, it was hard to imagine them not getting well in excess of 100 points, but the maximum they can finish with now is 99 and their failure to beat City's Premier League points total from a couple of years ago will impact on how people look at this team in years to come.

History

Now, in my view, they will just be seen as great champions rather than the best as the history books will not have a special place for this Liverpool team after all.

They had the league all but won before football was brought to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but their foot has come off the gas and now we wait to see whether they can get back in gear when they start the defence of their title in September.

That date will roll around very quickly and Liverpool's players will need to clear their heads and rediscover their focus because they have not been playing at the same tempo consistently over the last six weeks.

Their 4-0 defeat at Manchester City at the start of this month highlighted how they have not quite had their game faces on and you got the impression that the Liverpool players were already looking forward to next season as they went through the motions in some of the games they have played of late.

They are the champions now and need to perform like champs from now on, which will create slightly different pressures for Klopp and his players.

Scalp

Everyone will want to get the scalp of the champions on their record next season and teams will look at the way they have performed in the last few weeks and think they there may be a few little holes in their make-up that can be exposed.

We saw them losing at Arsenal last week after some strange defensive errors from Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk that were very unusual, so they just have to try and get back to doing what they are good at and that means being stable at the back and dynamic up front.

The one area where they have been better than City this season has been defensively, but teams will look at the mistakes they have made at the back recently and it might give them a bit of hope when they play them next season.

You might say that games at the back end of this season when the title was already won don't count for much, but Liverpool would not have enjoyed getting hammered by City or losing at Arsenal and those results will be on the minds of the players when they play again next season.

The drive to win the club's first league title in 30 years was a massive motivating factor that will be absent next season and another factor that could affect Liverpool is an empty Anfield, which looks set to continue for the first few weeks of the next campaign at the very least.

Liverpool fans make their home games pretty special, especially under the lights, and they are like the 12th man that carries them over the line at times.

City will be stronger next season and I'd expect them to look to strengthen their defence this summer, with their success in overturning their UEFA Champions League ban opening up the prospect of being a little more ambitious in the transfer market.

You'd expect Chelsea and Manchester United to go up a few steps as well and Tottenham and Arsenal should be better than they have been this season as well, so it won't be as easy for Liverpool next time.

All credit to Klopp and his players because it took a massive effort to take on a brilliant Man City team and to get 97 points last year and the possibility of ending up with 99 points this season is a fantastic achievement.

Yet it won't be long before they are back under the spotlight once again and if they want to prove themselves to be a truly great team, they need to follow in the footsteps of the current Manchester City team and win big trophies year after year after year.