In English football, all teams, players and fans dream of winning the treble. This is when a club wins the (top-flight) league title, the FA Cup, and the Champions League (European Cup), all in the same season. At the time of writing, the only English team to win the treble was Liverpool’s long-time rivals, Manchester United, who completed this feat in the 1998/99 season. It was regarded across world football as one of the most impressive accomplishments of an English team ever. This is something that many teams in the top tier of English football have since tried to emulate, but have never quite managed it, including Liverpool.
Looking away from England, the first team to ever complete the treble was Scottish side Celtic FC in the season of 1966/67 and has since been won by eight other sides in their respective leagues. Most recently by Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 season when they beat Paris Saint-Germain in the final of the Champions League.
Three Trophy Seasons
Although Liverpool have never won the traditional treble, they have still had their fair share of seasons where they have managed to win three trophies.
The first of these seasons came in the 1976/77 campaign when Liverpool secured the Division One (as it was then) league title, the Charity Shield, and the European Cup (the forerunner of the Champions League). This was also the first time Liverpool had won the European Cup, beating Borussia Mönchengladbach in the final.
Liverpool managed again to win three trophies the year after by once again securing the Charity Shield and the European Cup. However, they did not manage to win the league title this season, finishing second, but did win the European Super Cup. In the 1977/78 season Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning five trophies but only managed second place in both the league and the League Cup where they unfortunately lost out to Nottingham Forest in both competitions.
Liverpool came close again by winning three trophies in the 1980/81 season where they won the League Cup, the Charity Shield, and the European Cup. However, with a fifth-place finish in the league the Reds never quite completed the treble. Liverpool managed to win three trophies twice more in the 1980s these coming in the 1982/83 season and the 1983/84 season.
In both of these seasons, Liverpool managed to win the league title and the League Cup and in the 1982/83 season Liverpool won the Charity Shield and the season after in 1984 Liverpool won their fourth European Cup. If Liverpool had managed to win the FA Cup in the 1983/84 season, then they would have been the first English team to complete the treble. However, they got knocked out in the fourth round by Brighton and Hove Albion, losing 2-0.
During the 1983/84 season, club legend Ian Rush managed to score an astonishing 47 goals, the most goals scored by a Liverpool player in a single season. Liverpool almost completed a quadruple in that season but were unfortunately beaten in the Community Shield by rivals Manchester United and lost 2-0.
For the next 16 years, Liverpool never managed to win more than two trophies in the same season and had to wait till the new century in the 2000/01 season. In this season Liverpool only managed to come third in the league however won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup (the forerunner of the Europa League). Many fans felt this was a turning point for the club after having a few trophyless seasons, especially as Liverpool managed to finish second in the league the year after.
However, this was not to be. Since their triple trophy win in the 2000/01 season, Liverpool have only managed to do this once more. This came in the 2019/20 season when the Reds managed to win the league title for the first time since the 1989/90 season, they also won the UEFA Super Cup, and the Club World Cup. Although this is a very unusual trio of trophies to win these three meant it was a huge season for Liverpool. Especially since they managed to win the league after so many years.
Banned from Europe
During the final of the European Cup in the 1984/85 season where Liverpool came runners-up against Italian side Juventus, there was a disaster in the Heysel Stadium that led to 39 Italian and Belgium football fans losing their lives. Due to this, all English clubs received a five-year ban from European football, while Liverpool received a six-year ban.
During this period Liverpool put themselves in a great position to win the treble in the 1985/86 season as they won the league title, and the FA Cup beating long-time rivals Everton to both. However, due to their ban from playing in Europe Liverpool were never able to attempt the treble. It is often argued that if they had been allowed to play in Europe that season Liverpool would have potentially have become the first English team to win the treble. The team they had that season was unplayable at times with the likes of Kenny Dalglish and a bang-in-form Ian Rush in the side.
The European ban was made even more painful by the fact Liverpool was one of the most dangerous sides in the world at the time. But because of the ban, many star players ended up leaving in search of European football elsewhere and somewhat marking the end of Liverpool’s dominance. Since being banned at the end of the 1984/85 season Liverpool have only managed to win two Champions League trophies. As well as this, Liverpool were beaten to the treble by rivals Manchester United in the 1998/99 season with their fantastically talented side managed by Alex Ferguson.
A Future Treble
Liverpool didn’t come anywhere near to winning the treble in 2022/23. However, fans are hopeful for the future with a rebuild of the midfield set to happen for the start of the 2023/24 season and Klopp’s men hoping for Champions League football. It is almost inevitable that with Liverpool’s class and history, they will win a triad of trophies again at some point; their fans just hope it comes sooner rather than later.