Player and Staff movement aside, we headed off to America for a pre-season training camp and had three very low-key friendlies against Edmonton, Oklahoma City and Arizona United, all won as you would expect. Back on British soil, we had friendlies with Sheff Wed and Wigan, both drew as I experimented with the players and they got used to my formation and tactics.
Ideally we would have played better quality opponents and had more than 5 pre-season friendlies, but it was all arranged by the time I arrived so we made do, but to be honest looking at the performances, it was a blessing in disguise.
A sluggish start to the month as we started the campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley, followed by a 2-2 draw at Swansea. Our fortunes picked up considerably in the next game as we beat title favourites Man City 1-0 at home, but the league form didn't last long as we lost to Spurs at the end of the month 1-0. Sturridge was in fine form with 3 goals in 4 games, but he couldn't find the net against Bradford in the league cup, as a B team scraped through on penalties after a goalless draw through extra time.
With deadline day signing Morata on board and the players returning from an international break, a new attitude was obvious. With Sturridge out injured, Morata was thrust straight into the first team, scoring the fourth on his debut as we beat QPR 4-1, although he sadly picked up a knock that would keep him out for a couple of games. Our next two games were both won 3-1 against Derby and WBA respectively (the latter in the league cup) before we lost to Villa 2-1. But we were straight back with another 3-1 win over Leicester the following week to close out quite a good month for us.
A mixed month that saw two defeats (2-0 to Watford and 1-0 to Southampton in the cup) sandwiched between a 2-0 at home to Newcastle and away at Norwich
Only three fixtures this month but a tough run, home to Stoke which we won 2-1, was followed by a trip to Old Trafford which was drawn 0-0, with United finishing the game with 10 men. My bogey team at West Ham was next up as Arsenal came to town who also finished the game with 10 men as Marc Bartra was given his marching orders. Alvaro Morata proving the match-winner with 5 minutes to go.
The tough fixtures kept coming as we visited Chelsea to begin the month, with confidence high from the United and Arsenal performances, the lads put in a great effort and despite going 1 down to a Higuain goal, we fought back to earn a draw with Alberto Moreno the most unlikely of heroes.
My first Merseyside derby was up next as Everton came to Anfield, a hot-headed game which we came out on top by 3-0, the team were flying now and went on to win their next four games in December 2-0 against Southampton, West Brom and Burnley and a 5-0 win at Palace on Boxing Day.
16 points out of 18 in December earned me my first Manager of the Month award at Anfield and had propelled us to the top of the table.
With January came the transfer window. No players were brought in and despite our blistering league form, Mamadou Sakho wanted to leave, which he did to Real Madrid for 18m, a small fee in the scheme of things, but he was making waves and like my actions in the summer, disruptive players were out of the door immediately.
Danny Ings was also a casualty, going to Watford for 5.25m, I wanted him to stay but he wanted guaranteed first-team football, he was third in the pecking order behind Morata and Sturridge and I didn't want to stand in his way.
Luckily the manager of the month curse didn't strike as we continued with two 3-0 home wins against Brighton and Swansea only to be beaten at home by Spurs (AGAIN!!) , the league form was back on track though winning our other two league games 2-0 at QPR and 3-1 at home to Derby which was strange as Henderson got a hat-trick.
Spurs were up in the FA Cup and after two league defeats to them, we got our revenge, dumping them out 6-1 at their place.
We were looking like serious title contenders now. One defeat in our last 16 games, we went through February winning all four games scoring 10 goals without reply as Villa, Leicester, Cardiff (FA Cup) and Newcastle were all beaten
The month started well with a 5-2 win at home to Norwich and was followed by a 3-0 also at home to Watford. The guys were really enjoying the attacking football I employed. Morata being the example with 7 goals in his last 4 games.
Arrogance and a lack of concentration saw us dumped out of the FA Cup, conceding in the first minute of each half against United as they ran out 3-1 winners, but they were visitors to Anfield three days later and we still hadn't learned from the last game. Kevin Volland put them ahead in the first minute, but we dug in and got back into the game with a goal from Bruno Fernandes (the only good thing to come from Mancini's reign) with Morata putting us in front on the stroke of halftime. United finished with 10 men again as Schneiderlin was sent off in the second half, the game remained 2-1 to Liverpool.
A goalless draw away at Stoke followed by an emphatic 3-0 home win against Chelsea kept the title challenge alive as the main favourites were struggling to keep up with the pace we were setting, this was recognized as I picked up my second manager of the month award of the season
April and May 2018
It was a World Cup year and there was only one fixture in May. Bloody Arsenal was up next and they spoiled our unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at the Emirates. Luckily another Merseyside derby was up next, we were so close to our first title in 38 years, would the Arsenal game make heads drop? Far from it, despite a hostile Goodison atmosphere we came out 5-1 winners to seal the title, made only sweeter by doing it at Goodison.
With the title won but still four games to go, you could have forgiven the lads for taking their foot off the pedal, but we won our remaining four games against Southampton, Man City, West Brom and Palace as we ran out title winners by 11 points.
I'd won another award for April to go with my Manager of the Season, but the players were getting awards too. Jordan Henderson was named Footballer of the Year and included in the team of the year with Nathanial Clyne, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Bruno Fernandes and the club was named Overachievers of the season
Morata led the goalscoring charts with 17 league goals, still not good enough to get striker of the season, which went to Giroud.
Liverpool Team of the Year
Moreno Lovren - Matip Clyne
Season Overview - The Winners
- Premier League - Liverpool
- FA Cup - Stoke City
- League Cup - Everton
- Champs League - Leverkusen (beating United in the final)
- Europa League - Tottenham
- World Club Cup - Man City
- European Super Cup - Napoli
- World Cup - Italy