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 By Steven Kelly

Liverpool know treble's elusiveness and can use it against Manchester City

Wigan's shocking 1-0 FA Cup win over Manchester City ensured Pep Guardiola's team cannot secure a clean sweep of trophies.

In the often petty world of football fandom this was good news for rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, who despite their own unrivalled success had never achieved that either.

The best any English club has won is three trophies in a season: United in 1998-99; Liverpool in 1983-84 and 2000-01.

It demonstrated once again that talent alone isn't enough. Few fans around at the time who watched Joe Fagan's team win everything but the FA Cup -- thanks to a defeat at Second Division Brighton -- in 1984 could earnestly argue it was the Reds' greatest-ever team.

Talented for sure and experienced, but they won the league averaging less than two points a game -- a rarity even then. Two points a game got Jurgen Klopp to a distant fourth last season, for perspective.

The run to the League Cup featured extra matches in every round, actually needing three replays to dispatch Fulham early on.

The famed Anfield atmosphere didn't sweep their European Cup opponents aside, with Liverpool needing all their know-how to vanquish teams in their own stadiums including the final against Roma, and that thanks to a penalty shootout.

For any side wishing to win numerous competitions in a single year, things have to fall into place. Older Liverpool fans will argue the best teams they ever saw were in 1979 and 1988, yet both emerged with "just" the league title to show for their wondrous efforts.

Guardiola may be petty when he says Wigan won with one shot on goal but it's true. It demonstrated that it's almost impossible for any team to be perfect for a whole season.

Liverpool's excellent team of 1988 was just as dominant as this City side. With John Barnes and Peter Beardsley in peak form, they'd reached league game 28 and were 17 points ahead of second-placed Manchester United, having played two games less.

The subsequent cup final failure against Wimbledon left a scar that still aches on cold winter evenings. That's football for you.

Liverpool's history makes all talk of how brilliant and "unique" Manchester City currently are slightly irritating. Reds supporters often get accused of living in the past. They don't really, but it's quite rightly something they're never going to forget. Nobody else would.

City's misfortune is an opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to add to Liverpool's history.

To win any trophy takes strength, character and ability. When Klopp first arrived he was mindful of the club's past but emphasised how much he wanted to add new chapters to the story.

He still has a chance to win the Champions League this season. As Jose Mourinho pointed out, anything can happen once you reach the quarterfinals. Liverpool themselves are proof of that. They were by no means the best team in the 2005 quarterfinals yet beat Juventus, Chelsea and AC Milan to achieve their own miracle.

Locking the past away in a cupboard, never to be cherished or spoken of again, is absurd. Every fan of any club is proud of their past achievements and even celebrates whenever modern teams fail to emulate them.

For example, Arsenal supporters were delighted when Liverpool beat City 4-3 in January, ending Guardiola's hopes of going an entire league season unbeaten like Arsene Wenger in 2003-04. It didn't matter in the slightest their club is way down the table now, far behind Liverpool never mind City.

If Liverpool and United want to remain England's only treble winners they may have to fix it themselves and knock City out of the Champions League.

But is this all irrelevant points-scoring, given how far both clubs are behind the league leaders? Perhaps, but they'll desperately want to win the trophy for themselves obviously and try to confirm that talk of Manchester City having it all their own way -- not just this season but for years to come -- is just talk.

Even after 28 years, when Liverpool last won the league, it's difficult to talk about the race for trophies without mentioning the Reds and their own chances. Anything else feels like an insult, despite obvious facts staring supporters in the face.

Klopp can't be expected to fix Liverpool's trophy drought overnight. All supporters have a right to expect is improvement, and they're getting that.

It stands to reason that if Liverpool keep improving they will end up with silverware eventually. Until that happens, indulging in a little seemingly-jealous pleasure in the failures of others is not such a terrible thing.

In the days when Liverpool won many competitions such pettiness may have been frowned upon, but those days are long gone. If Jurgen Klopp could bring just a fraction of the old success back to Anfield, the time to be noble would be then.

Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.


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