9 Dec 2011

LFC STAR: "It was our best chance for the title, but we threw it away..."

Apart from Kenny Dalglish's first spell in charge at Anfield, the Roy Evans era is the happiest I've ever been as a Liverpool fan. From 1994 to 1998, Liverpool played fantastic, entertaining football, and were arguably the most exciting team in the country. Indeed, if it wasn't for a suspect defence, Evans' team could've (and should've) won the league title in 1996 or 1997. Alas, it wasn't to be, and former Liverpool defender Dominic Matteo explains why.

1995 to 1997 are my two favourite football years of the 1990s; Liverpool had the likes Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Stan Collymore and Jamie Redknapp playing in the same team as Ian Rush and John Barnes, and it was an absolute joy to watch.

The title could've been won in both years (IMO), but Matteo told LFC Magazine that he believes Liverpool's best chance came in 1996-7:

"I think that [1996-7] was definitely the best change we had of winning the league [Under Roy Evans]"

"I think we threw it away after a midseason break in Marbella. Before that, we were absolutely flying and beating everyone, but we came back and drew 0-0 with Blackburn at Anfield.

"I remember Colin Hendry clearly absolutely everything that day, and not winning that game proved a big turning point for us. I think if we had won that game, things would've been different".

"After that, we went on a really bad run, winning just 4 of the remaining 11 league games.

One of the final 11 games was this amazing victory against Kenny Dalglish's Newcastle:

Man United went on to win the title, but Liverpool finished the season only 7 points behind them.

If only the team had maintained its form! In the last 11 games, Liverpool lost to Coventry, Wimbledon and Aston Villa, and drew with Nottingham Forest, Everton and Sheffield Wednesday, all of which were eminently winnable games.

At the time, I wasn't that disappointed - watching Liverpool play such scintillating football was reward enough. Still, it's just another case of 'what might have been', and looking back now, it's a major disappointment.

On another note: It really bugs me that Roy Evans doesn't get the credit he deserves for what he achieved with Liverpool, but that's another article.

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. Oh to have a Robbie Fowler from his peak up front alongside Luis Suarez, what a pair that'd be

  2. the club were to blame . they did not back roy when he wanted to buy zidane for 3 million. they did not back him when he tried to buy thuram or deschamps. if they had of backed him with those signings we would of not only won the title we would of had a winning era

  3. We should have one it in 2008

  4. Roy Evans wanted Desailly but the player wanted to move to London.

  5. Roy Evans' team was certainly a joy to watch. And if anyone says he's method did not bring success, they should remember in the four full seasons he was in charge, Liverpool finished either 3rd or 4th COMFORTABLY. The season Jaime mentioned above 96/97, we actually finished 4th (not 2nd) after we lost and drew our last match. Newcastle, Arsenal & Liverpool finished the season level on points but Liverpool had the most inferior goal difference. That however, hides the fact that Liverpool were top of the league on New Year's Day, and were either 1st or 2nd throughout the season. Much was said back then about our so-called Spice Boys, who despite being arguably more talented than their counterparts at ManU, were not as dedicated and hardworking. I don't know much about that being an oversea Liverpool supporter and all, but I do I recall reading an article back then which said some of these players like to spend a few hours after training practising goal celebration routines. Compare that to someone like Beckham who used to practice taking free-kicks on his own after training (which I saw myself when he came to Malaysia with ManU as a youngster in 1995), than perhaps the criticism against our Spice Boys may have been valid after all.       

  6. Shoulda,woulda,coulda....bottom line, we haven't won the league in 22 years because even when we've had teams good enough the team spirit and attitude has never been good enough. Two things that those intelligent enough to know the game can see that Kenny is trying to instill in this team both with the players he's bought and the mindset he has introduced. Lucas himself admitted as much when he said the players needed to treat the Norwich's and Swansea's at home like the Chelsea's and Utd's. The F.A saw fit to charge the club for the players behaviour when Spearing was sent off on monday,about time I say, those nearly teams of the past would have took it and meekly surrendered the game cause they didn't have enough unity.Not now. The mancs have done it many times in the last 2 decades,why? Because of the siege mentality fergie has instilled.All for 1 and 1 for all.Have that fight as your foundation then you're much harder to beat and can then impose your game on the opposition. Kenny will know where we're short and address it. Remember we're trying to integrate 7 new players into the squad as well as new coaches and backroom staff.All this while creating enough chances to win every game (except Spurs).Have patience.When we did last win the league in 1990, fergie was 4 yrs into his reign at Old Toilet where did they finish???........13th. IN KENNY WE TRUST YNWA.

  7. Great points, Hati. Just to clarify: I didn't actually say Liverpool finished 2nd; I just said they finished 7 points behind United, which is true :-)

  8. Just get the 3 points today.

  9. 3 years ago under Benetez we were second to MU with 2 losses only and a 5 point difference. if onlu our game with MU was a double win, the title was ours.

  10. Possibly, but when you think our central defence was pretty ropey during that time we only had outselves to blame and I think people started to work out the 3-5-2 system and its faults.  I thought we were brilliant at times under Roy Evans but other times we were unable to defend properly and I think teams saw that and started to launch stuff into our box.

    I think as well, the attitude of some players stunk.  They were more interested in doing modelling jobs (was it David James or someone else that asked Roy how much he would be fined for missing training - he wrote out the cheque and missed training).  Plus Jamie Redknapp spent an awful lot of the time passing sideways and admiring his passes.

    I think we were also shown up in the '96 cup final, where we were so, so defensive, and John Barnes hardly crossed the halfway line.  That match was an embarrassment to watch.  Still riles me now the way we played.  Awful stuff.