Are this quadruple-chasing Liverpool team the best in club history?

Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasers have been hailed as the best Liverpool side ever, but is it true? The 1977 history-makers, Joe Fagan’s treble winners and the great entertainers of 1988 can all stake a claim. So who comes out on top?

  • Quadruple-chasing Liverpool team has been compared to the club’s great sides 
  • The 1977 group were able to make history with the league title and European Cup
  • In 1984, Kenny Dalglish and Co had incredible success in Joe Fagan’s first season
  • Four years later, Reds were an attacking tour de force with John Barnes starring 
  • So where do the current crop rank among Liverpool’s great teams of the past? 

Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasers are being hailed as the best team in Liverpool’s history. 

It is quite a claim to fame given the outstanding sides seen before at Anfield but they definitely deserve to be in the conversation.

From the 1977 history-makers to 1984 treble-winners and brilliant entertainers of 1988, Sportsmail looks at the various contenders before delivering our verdict.

Liverpool are chasing a quadruple and some pundits are calling them the club’s best ever side 

THE 1977 HISTORY-MAKERS 

League champions, European Cup winners, FA Cup runners-up 

Manager: Bob Paisley

Team: Clemence – Neal, Hughes, Smith, Jones – Callaghan, Kennedy, Case, McDermott – Heighway – Keegan

Other notables: Thompson, Johnson, Fairclough, Toshack

Bob Paisley somehow improved on the dynasty Bill Shankly had carefully built over 15 years. The crowning glory came in 1977 when they retained the league title and won the European Cup for the first time, beating Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 in Rome.

Only defeat against Manchester United in the FA Cup final stopped a Treble 22 years before Fergie.

For good measure they won the European Cup again the following year and in 1979 won the league title conceding only 16 goals – a record in a 42-match season.

Liverpool won the European Cup against Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome in 1977

Tommy Smith enjoys a bottle of beer as he sits with the famous trophy after the win

STRENGTHS

Liverpool went against the normal English football practises of the time. They passed and kept possession rather than lumping it long. Once ahead, they shut up shop. Goalkeeper Ray Clemence started the trend of sweeper-keepers.

Liverpool’s scouting system was unparalleled before the term “recruitment” became popular. Phil Neal was signed from Northampton, Clemence and Kevin Keegan from Scunthorpe. And they retained a strong Scouse core in Phil Thompson, Terry McDermott, hard-man Tommy Smith, super-sub David Fairclough and veteran Ian Callaghan, who caught the bus from Toxteth into Anfield in his early days.

Paisley didn’t have Shankly’s charisma but possessed an incredible eye. He turned striker Ray Kennedy into an England midfielder. For the European Cup final, he ditched having a traditional target man, using the mobile Kevin Keegan up front supported by Steve Heighway, usually a winger.

‘Winning that European Cup was a culmination of everything that Shanks, Bob and the board had all worked for,’ said Thompson. ‘Once you saw that embankment of Liverpool fans in Rome, there was no way we were going to lose the game.’

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Bob Paisley somehow managed to improve on the legacy of the club left by Bill Shankly

Terry McDermott lifts the Division One Championship Trophy in May 1977

WEAKNESSES

Liverpool were restricted to the best of British before importing the best players from around the world became commonplace. Nine of the starting XI in Rome were English, supplemented by Welshman Joey Jones and Steve Heighway, who was born in Dublin and played for the Republic of Ireland though he grew up in Sheffield.

Stalwarts like Smith, John Toshack and Callaghan were past their best, forcing the board to bring in new blood over the next couple of years with the likes of Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness. Star man Kevin Keegan joined Hamburg and was replaced by Kenny Dalglish.

Kevin Keegan and Ray Clemence embrace at full time having beaten Monchengladbach 3-1

League champions, European Cup winners, League Cup winners

Manager: Joe Fagan

Team: Grobbelaar – Neal, Hansen, Lawrenson, Kennedy – Johnston, Souness, Lee, Whelan – Rush, Dalglish 

Other notables: Nicol, Wark, Robinson

Bob Paisley’s retirement the previous summer had sent shockwaves around Anfield but their seamless tradition of appointing from within brought incredible success in Joe Fagan’s first season.

To be fair, the players he had were incredible. The centre-half pairing of Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson kept things tight at one end, the goals of Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish blew teams away at the other.

They completed a hat-trick of league titles – nobody in history has exceeded that – before winning the European Cup against Roma on penalties, in Rome’s own Stadio Olimpico.

Liverpool beat Roma on penalties in the Eternal City on May 30, 1984

Left-back Alan Kennedy celebrates after his penalty won the European Cup final

STRENGTHS

Though Liverpool’s success has always been based around a strong team ethic, the 1984 team could also boast world-class individuals. Three of them were Scots; Kenny Dalglish is regarded the club’s greatest-ever player, Graeme Souness was the perfect all-round midfield player and Alan Hansen the forerunner to central defenders who were comfortable on the ball.

They could outplay teams with skill or beat them in a fight. Souness wasn’t to be messed, even goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was king of the mind games and his wobbly-knee routine is credited with putting off Roma’s players in the European Cup final penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw.

Common to the era, Liverpool’s players played hard as well as working hard but their team bonding was invaluable. They won the league by three points, beat neighbours Everton to lift the League Cup though their hopes of a grand slam were ended by Brighton in the FA Cup.

Local lad Sammy Lee said the ‘84 team summed up the city. ‘Liverpool don’t like sycophants and they all had opinions. But when they faced the outside world, they spoke with one voice,’ he said.

Bruce Grobbelaar holds the European Cup as Graeme Souness lifts the Division One trophy

WEAKNESSES

There was a huge onus on Rush to score the goals. He usually obliged but if he had an off-day, there weren’t many alternatives. He scored 32 of Liverpool’s 73 goals in the 1983/84 league season with Dalglish – in the autumn of his career – and Souness next-best with seven.

Other teams were beginning to sign players from Europe and South America. For now, Liverpool could get away with having the best Irish, Scottish and Welsh players, though they also had Aussie Craig Johnston and Grobbelaar hailed from Zimbabwe.

Joe Fagan achieved more than anyone expected in his first season in charge 

Liverpool’s clash with Roma ended 1-1 after extra time and the penalties went their way

1988 – THE GREAT ENTERTAINERS

League champions, FA Cup runners-up

Player-manager: Kenny Dalglish

Team: Grobelaar – Nicol, Hansen, Gillespie, Venison – Johnston, Houghton, McMahon, Barnes – Aldridge, Beardsley

Other notables: Ablett, Lawrenson, Spackman, Molby, Walsh, Dalglish

The departure of Ian Rush left a great hole at Anfield that manager Kenny Dalglish felt could only be filled by signing three players. So John Barnes, John Aldridge and Peter Beardsley arrived and Liverpool became an attacking tour de force that thrilled the public, something that had eluded them even in the glory days of Paisley and Fagan.

The 5-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in April 1988 was recognised as some kind of footballing perfection. ‘The finest exhibition I’ve seen the whole time I’ve played and watched the game,’ according to the legendary Sir Tom Finney, who had been Shankly’s team-mate at Preston.

The league was claimed by a whopping nine points with 87 goals scored. A Double looked a formality until they were upset 1-0 in the FA Cup Final by Wimbledon. ‘The Crazy Gang beats the Culture Club,’ was commentator John Motson’s famous pay-off line.

Peter Beardsley was one of the attacking stars brought in when Ian Rush departed

Kenny Dalglish holds the Canon League Division One trophy on an open top bus parade

STRENGTHS

It’s rare three new signings click so quickly but the combination of Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge took Liverpool to a new attacking level.

They scored 64 goals between them and Barnes gave the club a wider profile that transcended football. Their cup final song Anfield Rap reached number three in the music charts.

Besides the new boys, the serial winners were still around. 1988 represented a fifth league championship for Bruce Grobelaar and Ronnie Whelan.

Barnes was voted Footballer of the Year. ‘Most of the matches were good that season. It was like we couldn’t put a foot wrong,’ he recalls.

John Barnes was sensational for Liverpool and ended up winning the Player of the Year award

WEAKNESSES

Liverpool’s European ban following the 1985 Heysel Stadium tragedy probably prevented this team from reaching their full potential. The challengers in England simply weren’t strong enough to test them.

The return of Ian Rush in the summer of 1988 after a season in Italy also presented a conundrum. There wasn’t room for him and John Aldridge in the same team – it was tried but didn’t work particularly well – and Aldridge eventually left.

John Aldridge (back) left the club when Ian Rush returned having gone to Italy

2022 – QUAD-CHASERS

Manager: Jurgen Klopp

Team: Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago – Salah, Mane, Diaz

Other notables: Konate, Gomez, Keita, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Firmino, Jota

Jurgen Klopp is threatening to make history on so many fronts. If he wins the FA Cup, he’ll be the first Liverpool manager to win every major trophy but there is a lot more at stake than that – if he wins all four trophies this season, it’ll go down as the greatest achievement for any English club at any time.

Liverpool’s success is based on a relentless work ethic that knocks the opposition, even Manchester City, off their stride and can finish teams off with the world-class quality of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane at the other end.

They have already lifted the Carabao Cup, are through to the FA Cup final against Chelsea, are 90 minutes away from reaching the Champions League final after a 2-0 first leg win against Villarreal and only a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race. The impossible is now on.

Liverpool could have an historic season or just end up with the Carabao Cup 

STRENGTHS

Liverpool’s team-building has been sensational in recent years – their success rate in the transfer market under Klopp is amazing.

Every player fits the philosophy, from ball-playing goalkeeper Alisson to the commanding central defender Virgil van Dijk, the mobile midfield and quality strikers. Luis Diaz was signed in January and already looks like he’s been at Anfield for years, his skill matched by his desire to do the “ugly” running back.

Skipper Jordan Henderson is the manager’s voice on the park, always demanding more, while Mo Salah is set to be the Premier League’s top scorer and would walk into any side. Stability is the key and this week’s news that Jurgen Klopp has signed a new contract will only boost their chances.

Luis Diaz has adapted brilliantly and slots into exactly the way Jurgen Klopp wants to play

WEAKNESSES

It’s hard to spot many. For a couple of years, there were fears about a lack of midfield creativity or strength in depth but they have been erased by the arrivals of Thiago, Diogo Jota and Diaz.

There could be problems if either full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold or Andy Robertson were absent for long periods and there will be some uneasiness about Salah’s future until he signs a new contract. Even in a team of superstars, he shines brightest.

Liverpool could be in big trouble if Trent Alexander-Arnold is injured for a sustained period

THE VERDICT

To be the best of all-time, you have to deliver success over a sustained period of time. 

The 1984 team completed a hat-trick of league titles – something only Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United have also achieved since the 1930s – and won domestic and European cups so right now they have to be top of the list, boasting fantastic players like Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Graeme Souness, Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish.

But Klopp’s Liverpool have already won the Premier League and Champions League. 

If they can win two or three trophies this season and are champions in 12 months time, they will be right up there. 

And if they do manage to win the Quadruple, they deserve to go straight in at number one.

Klopp’s side would be considered the greatest ever Liverpool team if they win the quadruple




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