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This time Liverpool’s title challenge is different – because it’s just the start

Unlike in 2013/14, the Reds are building under Jurgen Klopp

It is, after all, the hope that kills you.

It was only fitting that after a season of the finest margins this unprecedented title race went right down to the wire.

But after the most odds-defying, jaw-dropping week of football, there wasn’t to be a final twist in the plot.

Back to back champions

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Back to back champions

Man City are champions – and deservedly so – but Liverpool gave Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Harlem Globetrotters the fright of their life this season.

This was not about the ‘Hearts and Minds’ trophy or an award for second place. As the great Billy Shankly said once said ‘if you are first you are first, if you are second you are nothing’.

But unlike five years ago when a Luis Suarez-inspired team of misfits so nearly rode the crest of a wave to the title, there isn’t a Luis Suarez type figure hoping to leave Anfield this summer.

Suarez was quick to leave Anfield

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Suarez was quick to leave Anfield

Suarez, of course, left fairly hastily for Barcelona and Liverpool’s reinvestment was shambolic, setting them back several years in the process.

But this summer is very different.

Liverpool are likely to be the only ‘top six’ club not to lose star names over the coming months, with Leroy Sane, Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen, Alexandre Lacazette and Paul Pogba all reportedly itching for pastures new.

Salah and his team-mates are staying for years

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Salah and his team-mates are staying for years

No, Liverpool are building; this agonising failure is just another step on the ladder under Jurgen Klopp.

Alisson and Virgil van Dijk are still fresh acquisitions while Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have all recently penned new deals.

In Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson they have the best full back pairing around and Fabinho and Naby Keita are slowly transforming their somewhat stodgy midfield.

There’s also a big difference between success and progress.

Close but no cigar

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Close but no cigar

Yes the ultimate prize evaded them yet again, but last season they were 25 points adrift of City in a distant fourth.

That gap has been cut significantly and without them the Premier League would look dangerously like Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 in terms of one team’s dominance.

With a bit of fine tuning here and there Klopp will have the squad to compete against City on all fronts rather than sacrificing the domestic cups.

Distraught

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Distraught

From top to bottom the club is being run impeccably while Man United and Arsenal look on in jealousy.

For 83 seconds Glenn Murray made the unthinkable looked thinkable, but Liverpool will lick their wounds, recover and recoup to go again next season.

That’s what Klopp ultimately promised to do; turn doubters into believers.

The blue ribbons on the trophy

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The blue ribbons on the trophy

There could even be the small consolation of a sixth European Cup triumph in a few weeks which has almost gone under the radar this season, such has been the distraction of the title race.

If City can clock close to 100 points for a third successive season, so be it, they are freaks, but Liverpool will come for them again.

As neutrals we owe it to them, as without them ‘the best league in the world’ would be a walk in the park.