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History of Liverpool F.C. (1985–present)

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Title: History of Liverpool F.C. (1985–present)  
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Language: English
Subject: Well Red magazine, Respect 4 All, Reclaim The Kop, The Fields of Anfield Road, Hillsborough disaster
Collection: History of Association Football by Club, History of Football in England, Liverpool F.C.
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History of Liverpool F.C. (1985–present)

A silver trophy with red ribbons on it, set against a green background
The European Champion Clubs' Cup trophy won by Liverpool for a fifth time in 2005

The history of Liverpool Football Club from 1985 to the 2013–14 Liverpool F.C. season covers the period from the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as manager, the Hillsborough disaster, the club's return to European competition in 1991, and the club's performance in the Premier League.

Dalglish was appointed as manager after Joe Fagan resigned following the Heysel Stadium disaster, which resulted in Liverpool being banned from European competition for an indefinite period. Dalglish had the dual role of player and manager and in his first season the club won the league championship and FA Cup. This marked the first time the club had won the competitions in the same season, thus completing their first double. They failed to retain the title the following season finishing second to neighbours Everton F.C. Dalglish reshaped the team, signing John Aldridge, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley to replace outgoing players such as Ian Rush and Sammy Lee. The club regained the league championship, but lost the final of the FA Cup to Wimbledon F.C., to prevent a repeat of the double. The following season saw the club involved in one of the worst disasters to occur at an English football stadium. 96 of the club's supports lost their lives on 15 April 1989, as a consequence of being crushed against perimeter fencing due to overcrowding at the Leppings Lane End of Hillsborough stadium, during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest. Liverpool subsequently won the FA Cup, defeating Everton in the final. They again missed out on the double, as they were beaten to the league championship by Arsenal by goals scored, after the two teams finished the season tied on 76 points. Liverpool regained the league championship in the 1989–90 season to win their 18th title. Dalglish resigned the following season, as Liverpool finished second to Arsenal.

Former player Graeme Souness was appointed as manager and he won the FA Cup in his first full season in charge. Liverpool beat Sunderland 2–0 in the final. Despite this, the club finished in sixth position, the first time they had finished outside the top two since 1981. Liverpool fared no better in the 1992–93 season, again finishing sixth. A poor start to the 1993–94 season resulted in Souness being replaced by Roy Evans midway through the season. Liverpool improved to fourth the following season and won the Football League Cup. The team improved under Evans' stewardship finishing fourth, third and fourth in the following season under his reign. They also reached the final of the FA Cup in 1996, but lost to Manchester United. After finishing third during the 1997–98 season, Gérard Houllier was appointed co-manager alongside Evans. The arrangement lasted until November when Evans resigned. The team improved under Houllier and after finishing fourth during the 1999–2000 season, they won a unique treble of trophies the following season. They finished second to Arsenal during the 2001–02 season, their highest league finish since 1991. The following seasons were disappointing as Liverpool were unable to improve on the previous season's exploits finishing fifth and fourth respectively. As a result, Houllier was sacked at the end of the 2003–04 season.

Houllier's replacement was final of the UEFA Champions League against Milan, but this time they were defeated by 2–1. The 2008–09 season saw Liverpool finish second in the league to Manchester United. Despite this, the following season was a disappointment, as the club finished in seventh place. Benítez left at the end of the season and was replaced by Roy Hodgson. At the start of the 2010–11 season, Liverpool were on the verge of bankruptcy. The club were sold to New England Sports Ventures following a high court ruling after the club's creditors requested the club be sold. Hodgson was replaced by former manager Dalglish midway through the season. He won the Football League Cup in his second spell, but was replaced by Brendan Rodgers after finishing eighth in the 2011–12 season.

Contents

  • Success at a cost 1
  • Decline 2
  • Fluctuating fortunes 3
  • Downturn 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6

Success at a cost

Dalglish became manager following the resignation of Fagan after the Heysel Stadium disaster. He started by replacing long-serving full-backs Phil Neal and Alan Kennedy with Steve Nicol and Jim Beglin. Liverpool started the 1985–86 season poorly and were ten points behind Manchester United at the end of September.[1] They continued to stutter until the end of the season when they won eleven of their last twelve matches, as their rivals were dropping points. Liverpool needed to beat Chelsea in the last game of the season to win the league championship. A goal from Dalglish secured the championship.[2] The club also progressed to the final of the FA Cup, where they faced Everton. Liverpool went behind to a first half goal from Gary Lineker, but two goals from Ian Rush and a Craig Johnston goal in the second half secured a 3–1 victory. Thus the club had achieved a double of league championship and FA Cup in the same season for the first time.[3]

3 burgundy tablets with gold engraved writing. Below the tablets are flowers.
The Hillsborough memorial, which is engraved with the names of the 96 people who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

At the start of the 1986–87 season, it was announced that Rush would leave the club for Italian team Juventus when the season was finished. Midway through the season Dalglish signed John Aldridge, who would replace Rush when he left. Despite his impending departure, Rush scored 40 goals during the season.[4] It was not enough to help Liverpool retain the trophies they won the previous season, as they finished second in the league behind Everton, and were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Luton Town.[5] The club did reach the final of the Football League Cup, but they were beaten 2–1 by Arsenal.[6] At the end of the season Dalglish signed Peter Beardsley and John Barnes to improve their attacking options. The signings had the desired effect as Liverpool only lost two games during the league. They did not suffer defeat until their 29th match against Everton and regained the league championship.[7] The club had the chance to complete the double, as they reached the final of the FA Cup against Wimbledon. Despite being favourites against a club who had only become a member of The Football League eleven years previously, they lost the match 1–0.[8]

Rush returned to Liverpool for the start of the 1988–89 season. Liverpool struggled at the start of the season and by January they were nine points behind leaders Arsenal. However, by April the teams were level on points, with Arsenal leading on goal difference.[9] By this time, Liverpool had reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough stadium on 15 April 1989. Six minutes into the match it was abandoned; overcrowding at the Leppings Lane end of the ground resulted in the death of ninety-six people, as they were crushed against perimeter fencing. Ninety-four fans died, in what became known as the Hillsborough disaster, that day; the 95th victim died in hospital from his injuries four days later and the 96th died nearly four years later, without regaining consciousness.[10] Liverpool won the replayed match 3–1 to reach the final against Everton. They led for the majority of the match courtesy of a goal from Aldrdige. Stuart McCall scored in the 89th minute to take the game into extra-time. Substitute Rush scored in the 95th minute, but McCall scored again in the 102nd minute to level the match. Another goal from Rush two minutes later, secured a 3–2 victory for Liverpool.[11] Once again, Liverpool had a chance to complete the double. Their last match of the season was against second placed Arsenal, who were three points behind the club. Arsenal needed to win the match by two clear goals to win the league championship, they took the lead in the 52nd minute, with the match in injury time, Michael Thomas scored to give Arsenal a 2–0 victory. The result meant Arsenal won the championship on goals scored.[12]

Following the end of the season, an inquiry, headed by Lord Taylor was set up to establish the causes of the Hillsborough disaster. The subsequent Taylor Report, found that failure of place control was the main reason for the disaster and recommended that major stadia remove terracing and become all-seater stadia.[13] Liverpool started the 1989–90 season in good form, which included a 9–0 victory over newly promoted Crystal Palace. Eight different players scored for the club, the only time this has occurred in English football.[14] The club suffered a blip in October and November when they lost four games, but they recovered to go unbeaten until a 1–0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur in March.[7] Following the match Liverpool signed forward Ronny Rosenthal on loan from Standard Liège to boost their attacking options. His impact was immediate, he scored seven goals in eight appearances, including a hat-trick against Charlton Athletic to help Liverpool to their eighteenth league championship.[15] The club progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but they were unable to defend the trophy, losing 4–3 to Crystal Palace after extra time.[16]

Decline

The Spion Kop before a game against Norwich City in 1994. It was redeveloped into an all-seater stand for the start of the next season, following the recommendations of the Taylor Report.

Liverpool started the 1990–91 season in good form, as they won their first eight league games.[17] They remained unbeaten until a 3–0 loss to Arsenal in December, which was followed by another to Crystal Palace at the end of the month. The club's form began to tail off and Arsenal moved above them in January. After a 4–4 draw against Everton in an FA Cup replay in February, Dalglish announced his resignation as manager, citing stress as the reason.[18] Coach Ronnie Moran was installed as caretaker manager, he won three of the ten matches he was in charge of, as they fell further behind Arsenal. Former player Graeme Souness was announced as manager in April, but the club were unable to catch Arsenal, who won the league by seven points.[19] Souness reshaped the team during the 1991–92 season, as he sold a number of players including Bearsdley, Gary Gillespie and Steve McMahon. He bought Dean Saunders for £2.9 million, but the league campaign was unsuccessful for Liverpool, as they finished in sixth position, the first time they had finished outside the top two since 1981. The club did reach the final of the FA Cup against Sunderland, which they won 2–0.[20] The season saw Liverpool compete in Europe for the first time since the Heysel stadium disaster in 1985, they were readmitted a year after other English clubs.[21] Competing in the UEFA Cup, Liverpool reached the quarter-finals where they beaten by Italian team Genoa 4–1 over two-legs.[22]

The start of the 1992–93 season saw the start of the redevelopment of Anfield following the recommendations of the Taylor report. A second tier was added to the Kemlyn Road stand, which included executive boxes and function suites as well as 11,000 seats. Renamed the Centenary Stand, it was officially opened on 1 September 1992 by Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president Lennart Johansson.[23] In the inaugural season of the Premier League, Liverpool had a poor season; they again finished in sixth place, losing fifteen of their forty-two matches.[24] They did not fare better in cup competitions, exiting early in the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.[25] The 1993–94 season started well for Liverpool as they won their first three games. However, their form dipped in the league as they lost four consecutive games. One positive was the emergence of striker Robbie Fowler from the club's youth team. He scored on his first-team debut against Fulham in the first leg of the League Cup and scored all five goals in the return leg as Liverpool won 5–0.[26] Liverpool continued to struggle during the season, culminating in a defeat to Bristol City in an FA Cup replay. Souness was sacked after the match and replaced by coach Roy Evans.[27] The club's form did not improve under Evans and they ended the season in eighth place after losing sixteen of their forty-two games.[28]

Following on from the construction of the Centenary Stand, the Spion Kop was redeveloped for the start of the 1994–95 season. The stand became all-seater, retaining the single tier with a reduced capacity of 12,000.[29] Evans first full season in charge was more successful than the previous seasons. Liverpool finished the season in fourth place, their best finish since the departure of Dalglish. The club performed well in cup competitions; they reached the sixth round of the FA Cup, before losing 2–1 to Tottenham Hotspur and reached the final of the League Cup against Bolton Wanderers.[30][31] Two goals from Steve McManaman helped Liverpool to a 2–1 victory as they won their fifth League Cup.[32] The season also saw a number of long-serving players leave the club, as Grobbelaar, Steve Nicol and Ronnie Whelan all left during the season.[33] Before the start of the 1995–96 season, Liverpool signalled their intent to improve upon the previous season by signing forward Stan Collymore for a British club record £8.5 million.[34] Collymore made an immediate impact scoring the only goal in a 1–0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the first game of the season.[35] Liverpool were unable to sustain a challenge for the league championship over the course of the season and finished in third place.[36] Despite exiting the UEFA Cup and League Cup in the early rounds, the club reached the final of the FA Cup against Manchester United. However, an 85th-minute goal from Eric Cantona secured a 1–0 victory for United.[37]

Paris SG halted Liverpool's progress at the semi-final stage of the 1996–97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

Liverpool started the 1996–97 season in good form, by the turn of the year they were top of the league, two points clear of Arsenal.[38] The club were unable to maintain their form during the rest of the season, losses to Coventry City, Manchester United and Wimbledon resulted in the club finishing the season in fourth position.[39][40] Despite early exits in the League and FA Cup, Liverpool reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. They were unable to progress after a 3–0 defeat in the first-leg,[41] despite winning the second leg 2–0 and were knocked out 3–2 on aggregate against French team Paris Saint-Germain.[42] Liverpool were without striker Fowler for the start of the 1997–98 season after he suffered knee ligament damage in a pre-season friendly.[43] This was offset by the emergence of Michael Owen, who scored eighteen goals from thirty-six appearances. Paul Ince was signed to replace Barnes who left the club to join Newcastle United.[44] Despite this, Liverpool were unable to challenge eventual winners Arsenal and finished thirteen points behind in third place.[45] Further redevelopment took place at Anfield during the season with a second tier added to the Anfield Road stand.[46]

Fluctuating fortunes

Liverpool decided to appoint Frenchman Gérard Houllier as co-manager alongside Evans for the 1998–99 season. The arrangement did not last long, poor results put pressure on the partnership and after a 3–1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup, Evans resigned.[47] Houllier's first game as sole manager was a 3–1 defeat to Leeds United.[48] Liverpool's form did not improve under Houllier and early exits in the UEFA and FA Cup, where followed with the club finishing the season in seventh place outside of the qualification spots for European competition.[49] Houllier began to reshape the squad at the start of the 1999–2000 season. A number of players were brought into the squad such as Dietmar Hamann, Sami Hyypiä and Sander Westerveld, while players such as David James, Ince and McManaman left the club.[50] Houllier continued the reshaping into the season when he signed forward Emile Heskey for a club record £11 million in March.[51] With the absence of European competition, Liverpool's performance in the league improved. They finished the season in fourth place, though they did not fare so well in FA and League Cup, exiting early in both competitions.[52]

Players from Liverpool and West Ham United line up before the start of the 2006 FA Cup Final.

The 2000–01 season was the best in recent years for Liverpool, as they won three competitions to complete a unique treble of trophies. The first trophy the club won was the League Cup after they beat Birmingham City 5–4 in a penalty shoot-out after the match had finished 1–1.[53] They then won the FA Cup, as Owen scored two goals in the last ten minutes to overturn a one-goal deficit to win the match 2–1 against Arsenal.[54] The final trophy the club won as the UEFA Cup. An own goal in the last minute of extra time by Delfí Geli secured a 5–4 victory over Spanish team Alavés.[55] Liverpool finished the season in third place in the league, securing a return to the European Cup (now rebranded as the UEFA Champions League) for the first time since the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985.[56] The club's participation in the UEFA Champions League in the 2001–02 season saw the club reach the quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by German team Bayer Leverkusen 4–3 on aggregate.[57] The season was Liverpool's best in the league in recent years, as they finished in second place, seven points behind Arsenal.[58] Despite their improved performance in the league, Liverpool were unable to defend the FA and League Cup they won the previous season exiting in the fourth and third rounds respectively.[59]

Liverpool started the 2002–03 season in good form, they were unbeaten in their first twelve games in the league, which gave them a seven-point lead.[60] A defeat to Middlesbrough in their next game, started a run of twelve games without victory until they beat Southampton 1–0 in January.[61] The club were unable to regain their form from earlier in the season and finished the season in fifth place. Despite early exits in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, Liverpool won the League Cup defeating Manchester United in the final.[62] The 2003–04 season started poorly for Liverpool as they lost their first game 2–1 to Chelsea.[63] Their form did not improve and by the end of the year they had lost six of their eighteen matches in the league.[64] The club's form improved in the second half of the season and they only lost a further four games to finish in fourth position securing a place in the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League.[65] Liverpool's form cup competitions was poor as they exited the UEFA and League Cup in the fourth round. They progressed a round further in the FA Cup, but were eliminated by Portsmouth 1–0 in a replay.[66] At the end of the season Houllier was replaced as manager by Rafael Benítez.[67]

The 2004–05 season was a disappointment in the league as Liverpool finished in fifth place outside of the UEFA Champions League qualification places.[68] Despite their poor form in the league, the club performed well in cup competitions, the FA Cup withstanding, where they were eliminated in the third round by Burnley.[69] The club reached the final of the League Cup, but were unable to beat Chelsea, losing 3–2.[70] Liverpool also reached the final of the UEFA Champions League and it appeared the club would lose their second final of the season when they were 3–0 down to Italian team Milan at half-time. However, three goals in six minutes saw Liverpool draw level at 3–3, no goals in extra time meant the match went to a penalty shoot-out, which they won 3–2.[71] A fifth-place finish in the Premier League meant Liverpool were not guaranteed entry into the Champions League, and faced the prospect of not being able to defend their European title. UEFA eventually ruled that they would be allowed to do so, but would be required to start in the first qualifying round.[72] Despite being allowed to enter the competition they were unable to defend the trophy, as they were eliminated in the first knockout round by Portuguese team Benfica.[73] Liverpool's performance in the league improved in the 2005–06 season as they finished in third place. They also reached the final of the FA Cup where they faced West Ham United. Liverpool won 3–1 in a penalty shoot-out after the match finished 3–3 to win the competition.[74]

Downturn

Cardiff and Liverpool players during the 2012 Football League Cup Final

The Tom Hicks bought the club in a deal which valued it and its outstanding debts at £218.9 million.[75] Liverpool again finished the season in third place, as they finished twenty-one points behind Manchester United. Despite exiting to Arsenal in both the FA and League Cup, the club reached final of the UEFA Champions League where they again faced Milan. The result was different from the match in 2005, as Liverpool were unable to recover a two-goal deficit and lost the match 2–1[76] Benítez made a number of signings, including Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun and Fernando Torres for a club record £24 million,[77] in an attempt to improve the club's performance during the 2007–08 season. The signings, Torres in particular scoring 33 goals during the season, had an effect as the club only lost four league games during the season. However, they drew thirteen of their thirty-eight matches and finished the season in fourth place.[78] Liverpool exited the FA and League Cup in the fifth round, but performed well in the UEFA Champions League. They reached the semi-finals for the third time in four seasons, where they faced Chelsea, who won 4–3 on aggregate.[79]

The 2008–09 season was the club's best in recent years. A 5–1 victory over Newcastle United in December gave Liverpool a three-point lead in the league with half of the season remaining.[80][81] They suffered a blip in January, not winning any games and despite good form for the remainder of the season, they were unable to catch Manchester United and finished in second place.[82][83] Liverpool's form in the league did not carry over to the FA and League Cup as they were eliminated in the fourth round of both competitions. They performed better in the UEFA Champions League, where the club reached the quarter-finals, but were again eliminated by Chelsea.[84] The 2009–10 season was a disappointment for Liverpool as they were unable to improve on the previous season's performance, finishing seventh in the league. They lost eleven matches, nine more than the previous season, to finish outside the top four for the first time since 2005.[85] The club also suffered poor form in the UEFA Champions League, they were eliminated in the group stages and subsequently entered the UEFA Cup (now rebranded as the UEFA Europa League).[86] They performed better in the Europa League, where they reached the semi-finals. Their opponents were Spanish team Atlético Madrid, who progressed to the final on the away goals rule after the tie finished 2–2 on aggregate.[87] Benitez left the club by mutual consent at the end of the season and was replaced by Roy Hodgson.[88]

The club was sold to Fenway Sports Group during the 2010–11 season. Accounts had shown that Liverpool were £350 million in debt with losses of £55 million, causing auditor KPMG to qualify its audit opinion.[89] The Royal Bank of Scotland who were the club's creditors, took owners Gillett and Hicks to court to force through a sale. The court ruled in the creditors favour and the club was sold to Fenway Sports Group for £300 million on 15 October 2010.[90] On the pitch, Liverpool's performances were poor. A 3–1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers in January,[91] left the club in twelfth place in the league with nine defeats from twenty games.[92] Hodgson was sacked after the match and replaced by former manager Dalglish.[93] Despite a loss in his first match against Manchester United in the FA Cup, Liverpool improved under Dalglish and eventually finished the season in sixth place.[94] Dalglish bought a number of players at the start of the 2011–12 season, including Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. Despite the arrival of new players, their performance in the league did not improve, as they finished in eighth place, the club's worst finish in eighteen years.[95] Liverpool's performed markedly better in the League and FA Cup, as they reached the final of both competitions. The club won a record eighth League Cup, with a 3–2 penalty shoot-out victory against Cardiff City after the match finished 2–2.[96] Liverpool were unable to repeat their success in the FA Cup, as they lost the final 2–1 to Chelsea.[97] The season was marred by the Luis Suárez racial abuse incident in October during a match against Manchester United, in which Suarez racially abused Patrice Evra,[98] and was fined £40k and banned for eight games.[99][100] Dalglish was sacked at the end of the season and replaced by Brendan Rodgers.[101]

Notes

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  2. ^ Pead 1986, p. 42.
  3. ^ Kelly 1988, p. 179.
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References

  • Hale, Steve; Ponting, Ivan (1992). Liverpool in Europe. Enfield: Guinness.  
  •  
  • Liversedge, Stan (1991). Liverpool:The Official Centenary History. London: Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd.  
  • Pead, Brian (1986). Liverpool A Complete Record. Derby: Breedon Books Sport.  
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