Football: ...old boys...

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The Independent Online
Hard though life at the top may seem to Alex Ferguson, he clearly has little recollection of the arduous road Liverpool trod when they completed the championship and European Cup double in 1977, the last English team to achieve the feat.

Quite apart from the demands placed upon them by those two competitions, he ought to remember - given that they lost to Manchester United at Wembley - that Bob Paisley's side reached the FA Cup final as well.

During a stamina-sapping sequence between 2 April and 3 May, Liverpool had to negotiate 10 critical matches in 31 days, the last two weeks of which included an FA Cup semi-final against Everton, replayed four days later, the second leg of the European Cup semi-final against Grasshopper Zurich, and First Division matches against their championship rivals Ipswich and their FA Cup final opponents Manchester United.

Of those 10 matches, Liverpool won eight and lost none. The championship season ended bang on schedule on 14 May, when Liverpool won the title with a goalless draw against West Ham. A week later they were beaten at Wembley and the general view was that the stresses of chasing three trophies had taken their toll. "All the pressures of chasing the treble crowded in on us," Kevin Keegan said later.

Only four days later, despite their fatigue, they lifted themselves to defeat Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 in Rome, with a performance that rates alongside the best by English teams on foreign fields, to bring the European Cup to Anfield for the first time.