Would you swap our season for Arsenal's or United's?
If we're completely disregarding context and simply asking. Would you rather finish fourth, fifth with one trophy, or sixth with two trophies, then I’m taking option three every time, obviously. However, when you factor everything else into it then as a Liverpool fan it becomes more complex.
On paper United's season has been the most successful by far and only a fool would try to argue otherwise (it was also the most spectacularly spawny, but that's another story). They were also clearly the worst team of the three and certainly the most tedious to watch.
If my team was the most expensively assembled in the history of football, I'd be a little disappointed if it felt like I was watching West Brom every week. With that in mind, two trophies (that until very recently Mourinho and Utd fans both looked down their noses at) isn't enough to make me think I'd want to swap places with them.
Arsenal spent most of the season in turmoil and with the fans fighting among themselves, yet they finished only one point behind us and deservedly beat the Champions in the FA Cup final. Had they won just one more league game we’d have had absolutely nothing to show for our season.
Still, it's difficult to shake the notion that they are a club going backwards while we are going in the other direction. The league table suggests we've passed them already, but it's such a fine margin that it's difficult to say that with any certainty. Next year might be totally different.
So from a purely results based perspective I’d take United’s season, as it's trophies you remember in years to come, not "that year we finished fourth". I'd have loved to have won a trophy (or two), but that said, I wouldn’t swap our current situation with United or Arsenal because I believe we're a better team than both.
If we're all in the same situation this time next year and you ask me this question, my answer will no doubt be different as we need to start adding some silverware quickly. Right now though I wouldn't swap places.
It’s been a perverse sort of a season where every team in the top six could probably argue that they have had a successful year, so context and perspective mean absolutely everything when making a call on this.
You can immediately discount Arsenal though. Three FA Cups in four seasons and a quite respectable 75 points in the league may sound like the work of a pretty solid club but the Arsenal of 2017 reeks of decay and stagnation.
They feel like an empire collapsing in on itself, one where all the talk is of holding onto ambitious players and damage reduction rather than progressing. FA Cups do not paper over the cracks for them, it feels like recruitment may be tough.
The comparisons of Utd and Liverpool’s seasons are a little more interesting. If you are from the Utd camp then it would be hard not to conclude that winning two trophies and being back in the Champions League is preferable to finishing 4th. Utd are of a size and stature that, even with a few seasons’ absence from the top table, players are not going to be in much doubt of their potential to compete at that level consistently in the near future.
Despite being cut off from the top five sides this season and being comfortably, unswervingly the sixth best performers in the Premier League, and despite the overarching narrative of playing misfiring and defensive football, they are a giant and retain huge clout.
The situation with Liverpool is a little different. The club have been in the Champions League on only the single occasion since the brilliant 08/09 season of Rafa Benitez and, the 13/14 Rodgers title challenge aside, had finished no higher than 6th during that time.
In that context, a season where you are clearly not at the level of the other big boys, but managed to get yourself into the Champions League through one of your two cup wins, is simply not as transformative as the season Liverpool have just had.
A season where you wipe the floor with the other top teams and show that you have the potential to be a viable, exciting, attractive prospect to interested players looking at the next few seasons of their careers is huge. You cannot underestimate the value of the outside perception of being a club with momentum on their side this summer, something a Liverpool side cut adrift from the top five would not have to the same extent, cup wins or not.
What may now define the next decade of the club is the ability to concrete that status with a second top four finish in the coming season. Above trophies, even possibly above points totals, a confirmation of being back at the big table, consistently and reliably, will be huge.
Our season wasn’t all that as far as I’m concerned. Yes, we improved in the league and our points haul was good, but given our position on 2nd January it all feels a bit hollow. Not qualifying automatically feels a bit of a let-down to me.
Our league campaign was the fantastic mixed with the abysmal but at least I can see a direction the club is headed in. But losing the semi-final to Southampton sticks in the throat and our failure to make any mark on the FA Cup at all was very disappointing too.
Instead of a guaranteed place in the group stages we are faced with some kind of playoff which disrupts our pre-season, although thankfully we seem to have missed most of the truly massive names.
Firstly let me rule out swapping with Arsenal. We are at that phase in our rebuild where we need to fund a better squad packed with depth as we got horribly exposed this season. We needed Champions League football. I’m one of the dwindling number of people who loves the FA Cup and I’d love to win it but no, I wouldn’t swap our season for theirs.
Unfortunately, the Mancs have had a better season than us and I would swap their season for ours. Football is all about winning trophies (something that FSG need to be reminded of) and they won two and secured Champions League qualification in the process. Whilst they got very lucky along the way (because they played nobody whatsoever in that cup and John Guidetti missed a sitter with the last kick of the semi-final) they still have two cups.
Nobody will look back at 2016-2017 as the season Liverpool dominated the top team table and scored lots of goals, it will just dwindle into history as people look at the one thing that matters in the record books – trophies.
I hate United and everything The Translator stands for and I absolutely would not swap the managers or style of play and approach to the game, but that’s what sport is about – winning cups.
Have you seen our new stand though?