28 Sept 2011

MOST DEPRESSING MOMENTS: No 1 - Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kills Liverpool's season (1999)

In this new series, I’ll be looking back at some of Liverpool’s FC’s most demoralizing football moments; incidents and games that left fans in a state of shock for weeks – and sometimes months – afterwards. I’ll start off with an infamous game from January 1999 that sent Gerard Houllier's team into freefall and arguably ended the club's season: The soul-destroying FA Cup 4th round defeat to Manchester United.

24th January 1999

FA Cup 1999 - Man Utd 2-1 Liverpool (4th Round)

Anyone who watched this game will remember the sickening feeling of injustice after United scored those 2 goals right at the death. After playing so well for the whole game, to lose in such circumstances was the cruellest blow imaginable, especially since United’s equalizer should never have happened.

And as per usual, refereeing incompetence played its part, with Graham Poll penalizing Jamie Redknapp for a foul on Ronny Johnsen. From the resulting, incorrectly-given free kick, Dwight Yorke bundled home the equalizer.

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier was incensed by the decision:

"It was a crucial moment. I didn't think it was a foul, and Jamie has told me since it wasn't. I have seen it on TV and it looks like Johnsen fell over the ball. That broke our concentration; we were not in the right positions for the free-kick because we were still arguing about it with the referee. Maybe for several seconds it was like that, and they scored from the free-kick."

I remember feeling intense dread after Yorke scored; Liverpool were rattled and tiring – not a good combination – and I just knew in the pit of my stomach that United would somehow conspire to grab the winner.

Steve Harkness in despair after United's winner

Prior to this game, Liverpool had won 5 and drawn 1 of their previous 6 games, scoring 19 goals and conceding only 4 in the process. The team was on a roll and growing in confidence after some woeful losses earlier in the season.

A respectable league finish was still an option. Everything was possible...until losing this game completely knocked the stuffing out of the club and destroyed the team's burgeoning confidence.

I actually remember turning to my one of my friends just after Solskjaer scored and saying ‘that’s killed our season’; and that’s precisely how it turned out.

Liverpool failed to win 11 of their remaining 16 league games (7 defeats/4 draws), and ended the season in 7th place with a paltry 57 points.

The team just couldn’t recover from the disappointment, and this was obvious in the sluggish, disinterested performances that followed. It may have only been an FA Cup game, but to lose like that after giving everything was clearly too much for the players, who clearly didn’t have the mental strength to bounce back.

After the game, Houllier was in a defiant mood, and made the following vow:

"We will beat them one day, I promise you that."

And he was right - Liverpool proceeded to beat United in 3 of the next 5 league games at Old Trafford. Scant consolation though for a horrible, horrible day.

Liverpool team that day:

----------------------- James

Matteo --- Harkness --- Carragher --- Bjornebye

Heggem --- Redknapp – Ince ---- Berger

--------------- Owen --- Fowler.

Subs: Kvarme, McAteer, McManaman, Leonhardsen, Friedel.

NB: This series is in no particular order.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. it was such a good team we had back then, its such a shame we couldn't win much in the late 90's & in the new Millennium


  2. where is the injustice you were talking about, United were head and shoulders above and better than Loserpool! 

  3. As usual Man U have the luck of the devil.One day he will come to claim your soul,Ferguson