Jurgen Klopp has guided Liverpool to an historic Premier League title triumph, but Jamie Carragher admits to having doubted whether the German could deliver a long-awaited crown at Anfield.
The Reds saw their coronation as kings of English football confirmed on Thursday without even kicking a ball.
Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge sparked scenes of wild celebrations on Merseyside, with Pep Guardiola’s side surrendering their grip on the most prestigious of prizes.
Liverpool have waited 30 years to savour top-flight supremacy, with their last success coming way back in 1990.
There have been a number of near misses since then, with Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers carrying the Reds close, and Carragher concedes that he feared another title parade would never happen.
Even the arrival of Klopp as manager in October 2015 failed to convince the former defender that the tide could be turned, but those doubts have been ended in style during a stunning 2019-20 campaign.
Carragher told The Telegraph: “It was shortly after my last meaningful title bid in 2009 that I started to lose my faith.
“The 2010 season was awful. Xabi Alonso had been sold to Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez’s team was unravelling, and the club was braced for another period of reconstruction.
“Reluctantly, I faced up to the disheartening conclusion a championship victory parade would never happen.
“Throughout the 2000s we headed into every pre-season adamant a couple more signings might be the difference. On a few occasions they nearly were.
“But even when looking back upon my career, the times we came closest - in 2002 under Gerard Houllier and 2009 under Benitez - Arsenal and Manchester United were stronger.”
Carragher added: “Once outside the Kop bubble, the more I studied the broader landscape in English football, the more I realised the best Liverpool sides I played in punched above our weight.
“No matter who the manager, and as much as I considered Fenway Sports Group good owners, I could not see how it was possible to change that without a Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour-style investment.
“That feeling grew after Manchester City lured Pep Guardiola to England. I saw Guardiola v Jose Mourinho as the next great Premier League battle, with Klopp in a fight with Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino to finish in the top four.
“I am ecstatic to be wrong.
“As a Liverpool title winner, Jurgen Klopp now stands tall in the ultimate VIP suite alongside Kenny Dalglish, Joe Fagan, [Bob] Paisley and [Bill] Shankly.”
Liverpool have sent a number of records tumbling this season, with the latest seeing them become both the earliest winners of the Premier League title – with seven games to spare – and the latest in a calendar year – with the coronavirus pandemic forcing them to wait until late June to get over the line.