WHEN Liverpool win the Premier League some time in the next few weeks, perhaps they can present them with a silver salver to accompany the trophy.
What better way to commemorate the fact that the champions elect have been handed the title on a plate by their absent rivals?
Jurgen Klopp’s team have been absolutely uncompromising in their pursuit of a first league crown since 1990.
What a pity they have been allowed to freewheel to the finishing post by a complete lack of pressure from the rest of the so-called ‘Big Six’, who chucked in the towel months ago.
When you see the football which current champions Manchester City are capable of producing, it seems almost inconceivable that they can drop points to the likes of Norwich, Newcastle and Crystal Palace.
Maybe they have simply become bored with winning the league and are searching for a new challenge to pique their interest.
For they have become casual to the point of careless this season and that lethargy could prove an awkward habit to shake off next month when they come to face Real Madrid in the next round of the Champions League.
City are by no means the only culprits who have underperformed so badly in what is laughably referred to as ‘the most competitive league in the world’.
Not so long ago, the world sneered at Germany, France, Italy and even Scotland for allowing one team to utterly dominate their title race.
Yet here we are with the relentless Reds so far ahead of the field that they are threatening to lap all other participants.
When City won the league by an implausible 19-point margin two years ago, we all thought it was a record which would stand forever.
But now Liverpool are firmly on course to smash that landmark figure AND top City’s 100-point tally from that season.
Meanwhile, the Feeble Five of City, Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have all accrued fewer points than at the same stage of last season.
United’s shambolic efforts have already been dissected in painful detail but Champions League finalists Spurs are currently 20 points worse off than they were after 24 games last season, while Arsenal are minus 17.
Spurs needed 71 points to snatch fourth place last time out. Now Chelsea could finish the campaign with 55 and probably still stumble into Champions League qualification.
And that is a large part of the problem currently facing English football.
Ambition to win the league has now been replaced by the all-consuming demand to secure Champions League football.
Arsene Wenger was rightly derided during his final years in charge of Arsenal for claiming a top-four finish was his most important trophy.
Yet that indifference to glory is now spreading like the coronavirus across the Premier League, where hard cash is prized so much more than silverware.
Manchester City earned just £9.5million more than sixth-placed United for winning the title last season.
But they will receive in the region of £40m more than their nervous neighbours for competing in the Champions League rather than the Europa League.
So Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford fate will not be decided by the quality of United’s football but the impact their results are having on commercial and sponsorship deals.
Yet the real danger is that once a club lowers its sights and settles for fourth place, they quickly find themselves struggling to get into the top six. Just look at Arsenal.
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Liverpool were in danger of falling into that trap until they appointed a manager with the drive and determination of Klopp.
In a few weeks’ time, the German goofball will have a team of league champions, European champions and World Club champions.
What a pity that achievement will come with a little asterisk to signify the complete absence of domestic opposition.