Despite a recent First Division title win and tasting FA Cup glory, the early 1990’s weren’t a good time for Liverpool Football Club. Liverpool fan or not, the very recent Hillsborough tragedy was very much on the minds of people of Britain back then. Liverpool fans, the people of Liverpool and the countless supporters everywhere would have to wait years before seeing any kind of truth to come out of the tragedy, even now twenty six years on we’ve seen recent legal goings on in the courts regarding Hillsborough. During those dark days whilst the players and manager of Liverpool Football Club attended funerals and spoke at memorial gatherings, the club itself did its best to carry on as normal, if such a thing was possible. Kenny Dalglish was to hand over the managerial reins to fellow Scot Graham Souness early in ’91, Dalglish’s time in the managers hot seat at Anfield mirrored his playing career lifting various silverware, he also brought Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge to the club, two players who would flourish at Liverpool. Immediately after Hillsborough the team did all that could have been asked of them, they won the league, the season after they finished runners up. It would have been almost impossible to see at the start of the 92 – 93 season, but Liverpool’s days of dominance in English football were as good as over. Liverpool’s reputation as a European super power were pretty much over too for a while. Liverpool were straight away entered into the UEFA Cup once the European ban was lifted, they had a decent start beating Finland’s Kuusysi Lahti 6 – 2 on aggregate. In the second round they had a narrow victory over Auxerre of France, they then had a walk in the park win against Austrians Swarovski Tirol, winning over two legs 6 – 0. It looked like another European final was on the cards for the Anfield club. Unfortunately, Genoa of Italy defeated Liverpool 4 – 1 on aggregate, the Italian club winning both legs. Genoa would be knocked out of the UEFA Cup in the next round by eventual tournament winners, Ajax Amsterdam. A disappointing end in Europe that season for Liverpool, however they would go on to lift the FA Cup in England, therefore putting themselves in next seasons European Cup Winners Cup. It was a short lived Cup Winners Cup for Liverpool, after a first round victory over Apollon Limassol of Cyprus Liverpool fell at the second hurdle, losing 6 – 2 to Spartak Moscow.
At the end of the 92 – 93 season Liverpool finished in 6th place and they had been knocked out of the domestic cups fairly early too. Despite the disappointing form Liverpool still had some class players turning out for them. Anfield legend Ian Rush was still at he club, as was Ronnie Whelan, Bruce Grobbelaar, Steve Nichol and John Barnes. Ian Rush was acquired from nearby Third Division club Chester City in 1980. Since making his debut for The Seals in 1978, he had quickly earned himself a reputation as an impressive goal scorer, he had even scored for Chester City in their giant killing third round FA Cup victory over Newcastle United about four months before he signed for Liverpool. He cost the Anfield club £300,000, a Chester City record for a player. Fourteen years at Liverpool, and Rush was still finishing the season as Liverpool’s top goal scorer, at the end of the 93 – 94 season Rush had scored nineteen goals in all competitions.
Souness would bring in Nigel Clough, Neil Ruddock and Julian Dicks, Liverpool fans saw also the emergence of Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman. At that time Liverpool had began to wear a new design on the shirt, on the red home shirt three white lines would be added to the shirt on either side, the shirt sponsors name (Carlsberg) would sit in the middle of the shirt, above would be club badge directly under the Adidas logo.
The 93 – 94 season would see another change in the managerial hot seat. The season started well for Liverpool, three wins in their first three games, which included a 5 – 0 hammering of Swindon Town. As Christmas loomed nearer Liverpool underwent a run of four straight draws as well as suffering recent defeats to Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday. After a run of patchy form and inconsistent results, Graham Souness resigned as Liverpool boss in the late January of 1994. Graham Souness was replaced by another club legend, Roy Evans, a Liverpool man if ever there was one.
Evans, originally from Bootle in Liverpool began his career at Anfield, although only having rare appearances he was at Liverpool for nine seasons. The rest of the season would see no improvement for Liverpool, going out on the domestic cups and come the end of the season they finished 8th. Roy Evans first full season in charge brought League Cup glory, winning the cup at Wembley courtesy of a 2 – 1 win over Bolton Wanderers, both goals coming from Steve McManaman. In the FA Cup they would go out in the 6th round to Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield.
In the recently reformatted Division One, now known as the Premier League, Roy Evans’s Liverpool showed some improvement. That season would see the departure of Liverpool stalwarts Ronnie Whelan and Steve Nichol, in would come Phil Babb and John Scales amongst others. Liverpool’s first three goals of the season saw the Anfield club hit the net eleven times, their first game of the season a 6 – 1 hammering of Palace in south east London. Like I said, they had a season of improved form, it included good wins at home against Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday. Improvement in the league yes, but they weren’t really able to mount a serious title challenge, Blackburn Rovers would go on to lift their only Premier League title, managed by Kenny Dalglish.
Richard Fenton. June 2015Follow @ricky_red_manc