Should Liverpool's players be proud of coming second?
By Joe Harker
While some of Europe's big league title winners have been easily predicted for months the Premier League title race has gone right down to the final day.
In France and Italy, PSG and Juventus practically had their titles sewn up from the start of the season, while it became clear early in the La Liga campaign that Barcelona were going to win it. The Bundesliga is yet to be decided, with one final matchday determining who of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will claim the title.
In England the drama has long been between title holders Manchester City and contenders Liverpool. For months a solitary point separated the two teams and that has proven vital. Both clubs won and City retained their title, the first time a Premier League team has done so in a decade.
City's 4-1 win against Brighton meant there was no chance for Liverpool to win the title, Jurgen Klopp's men were a point behind at the start of the last round of fixtures and they continued to be thus as the final whistle blew.
There was a brief period where Liverpool went ahead against Wolves and City conceded to Brighton, though they soon equalised and then took the lead. There is no shame in finishing second to such great opponents and coming within a hair's breadth of beating them to the title.
Liverpool faced a City side that last season set a new record points total in the Premier League, breaking the 100 point barrier for the first time. Against a record breaking side like that it is not evidence of failings and mismanagement to end the season without the title.
Nobody "bottled it" this season, City are one of the best sides in the history of the competition and Liverpool were ever so slightly not quite as good. There was no mental collapse or great failing, just two teams trying their best that finished a point apart from each other and at least 25 points clear of the next team.
The Counter Claim:
Then again, there are no great accolades for coming in second. Even against such a great opponent the prize is for first place, not for getting ever so close.
Two time Premier League champion Paul Parker insisted finishing with 97 points was "irrelevant" without a league title to show for it.
When they've hung up their boots the players will not be wistfully talking about seasons where they almost won the title, the point of being in the title race is to win the league and the cold hard truth is that Liverpool didn't this season.
Parker believes the high praise for Klopp's Liverpool side during this season will be forgotten without a title to show for it. Perhaps in subsequent seasons they will be earning praise for other things but he argued that people won't be talking about how good they were when they were runners up. Winners or nothing, that's what he believes.
Liverpool's tally of 97 is the new record for most points won in the Premier League without winning the title, surpassing Manchester United's tally of 89 in the 2011/12 season where a last minute Sergio Aguero goal meant Man City won the title on goal difference.
Hitting 97 points in the League is also better than all but two teams in the history of the competition, it is perhaps Klopp's bad luck that both of those teams happen to be Manchester City in the last two seasons. Had they faced any other opponent in Premier League history besides Pep Guardiola's City team they would be lifting their first league title since 1990.
Had things gone differently at the weekend we could have been looking at the first ever Premier League title play off. That would have required Liverpool to draw 4-4 in their final game and City lose 4-0, a rather unlikely set of circumstances.