Former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia has revealed that the Reds’ title capitulation in the 2008/09 season was due to the team’s off-field distractions with the media – specifically the notorious ‘facts’ rant from Rafa Benitez.
The 2005 Champions League-winning manager who inspired Liverpool to one of the greatest nights in the clubs illustrious 127-year history was guilty of letting the pressure get the better of him despite the Reds sitting top of the table at Christmas back in 2008.
Of course, Liverpool would miss out on the league that season by four points after Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were eventually crowned champions.
It was arguably the Reds’ finest team – excluding Jurgen Klopp’s current squad – since the early 1990s with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger, Pepe Reina and of course Hyypia all at Benitez’s disposal.
However, it wasn’t to be the year Liverpool secured their first-ever Premier League title despite registering their second-highest points tally of 86 in Hyypia’s final season as a Reds player.
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Speaking in an exclusive interview with beIN SPORT Hyypia revealed that it was due to off-field incidences that ultimately cost the team the trophy Kopites crave more than anything.
“The 2008/2009 season was the season we could have won it”, Hyypia revealed.
“January time we had too many draws. We were not concentrated on the most important things; to win games and concentrate on that. Our concentration went on other things like the press and that disturbed us a little bit.”
What RTK has to say
Hyypia is spot on. Liverpool sadly have had to learn from their previous shortcomings to finally put a title charge that genuinely feels sustainable.
To the former Real Madrid head coach’s credit, Benitez was up against one of the finest managers the game has ever seen ane his 2009 squad would have certainly won a league title were they not up against a United side that included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Rio Ferdinand.
For Liverpool supporters, the wounds still will not have healed even 11 years on from that famous Benitez press-conference that would haunt the latter stages of his Reds tenure.
Luckily for the former heroes who came so agonisingly close to the holy grail, the current crop of Liverpool stars are not too bad themselves and are in a fine position to end 30 years of hurt on Merseyside.