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Column: Liverpool's winning formula

By Tim Fontenault
On April 21, 2014

I should hate Liverpool, but it is hard to resist the passion and tradition of such a storied club.
Even as a Milan fan, I cannot hate them. I have had my nightmares haunted by the memory of the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, when Milan took a 3-0 lead into halftime, only to see Liverpool pull level during a six-minute stretch in the second half and ultimately win in penalties.
That was the only time in 24 years that Liverpool and its fans were able to feel joy.
Twenty-four years have passed since Liverpool won a league title in England and there have been very few times that it seemed like the drought had a chance of coming to an end.
There was always talent-Liverpool was good enough to make the Champions League Final in 2005 and 2007-but there was always something holding them back, and nothing was working.
Rafa Benitez could not win the title, nor could "King" Kenny Dalglish, winner of six titles as a Liverpool player and three more during his first stint as the club's manager.
Enter Brendan Rodgers.
Questions were asked at the beginning. Rodgers had been brilliant for Swansea, bringing the Welsh side to the Premier League, but at 39, he was tasked with bringing Liverpool back to the summit.
Now in his second season on the Liverpool bench, Rodgers has Liverpool in a position it has not been in very often, one that could make for a Mother's Day that will never be forgotten, one that could end with the most incredible rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" sung in years.
Liverpool is on top of the Premier League, edging closer to the title by capitalizing on Chelsea's loss Saturday to Sunderland with a victory over Norwich City Sunday morning.
More and more, I have found myself thinking back to the opening game of the season for Liverpool, a victory over Stoke City. NBC Sports could not have had a better match to debut its Premier League coverage, but more importantly, there was something about Liverpool that day that I had not seen in a long time.
It was not Liverpool's best performance this season by any means, but after Simon Mignolet stopped Jonathan Walters' 89th minute penalty kick to secure a 1-0 victory, I remember thinking that this Liverpool squad had that something special, an inexplicable tick that could propel them to the title.
Liverpool's squad is far from a star-studded lineup. Where Chelsea has Oscar, Samuel Eto'o and Cesar Azpilicueta, Liverpool has Joe Allen, Daniel Sturridge and John Flanagan. Where Manchester City has Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta, Liverpool has Mignolet and Glen Johnson.
Sure, Luis Suarez is easily the best player in the Premier League this season and he can create a goal out of practically nothing, but how many times has he benefitted from his teammates getting the ball into a threatening position for him?
If Liverpool wins the title, it would be John Henry's second title in seven months. Henry, of course, also owns the Boston Red Sox, World Series champions in 2013.
Like with Liverpool, Henry's Red Sox were not the most talented team in the league, but Henry and his staff know how to build a champion.
After all, were the 2004 Red Sox the most talented team in baseball?
The Red Sox had the right players, a great manager and a never-say-die attitude.
Liverpool has the right players, a great manager and a never-say-die attitude.
That formula has Liverpool looking well on its way to restoring glory 'round the fields of Anfield Road.

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