18 Apr 2014

Ex-Red insists: Roy Evans' team 'just as good' as Rodgers' LFC side. Agree...?

I often wax-lyrical about the Roy Evans era at Liverpool, and anyone who watched the Reds regularly from 1994 to 1998 will admit that Evans' team was an absolute joy to watch. Like Brendan Rodgers' current side, the mid-1990s team played relentlessly exciting attacking football, and Stan Collymore - a key part of the side from 1995-1997 - believes Evans' team is just as good as the current Liverpool side.

In his column for The Mirror this week, Collymore - who, in partnership with Robbie Fowler, grabbed over 120 goals/assists for LFC from 1995-1997 - noted:

"My Liverpool team had high hopes back in 1996. When I joined we dreamed of the title and with the likes of Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp, Robbie Fowler, John Barnes and myself I would say the talent pool was just as good as this ­current crop".

I totally agree with Collymore here. In my view, the 1995-1997 team was 'as good' (talent-wise) as the current squad, and both teams had several key similarities:

* Very exciting to watch, and scored a bucketload of goals.
* Brilliant attacking players, but defensively suspect.
* Free-scoring striker partnership (Fowler and Collymore)
* Capable of winning the league.

Between 1995 and 1997, Liverpool came close to winning the title, but in both seasons, the club fell away in the final stretch, mainly due to poor defending, and (arguably) mentality issues. Thankfully, history isn't repeating itself, and despite ongoing defensive issues, Rodgers' team looks mentally well-equipped to go the distance.

Man-for-man, which team has the better players?

* SAS vs. Collymore/Fowler (CAF): Over two seasons, CAF grabbed over 120 goals/assists between them. That is an amazing record. A player like Suarez may have more overt 'skill' than CAF, but scoring/creating goals is the name of the game, and CAF are clearly on a par with SAS. On an individual basis, I'd take Fowler over Suarez, and Sturridge over Collymore (but ony just).

* Steve McManaman vs. Raheem Sterling: Absolutely no contest for me. Sterling is developing into an excellent player, but McManaman was an astonishingly good player for LFC, and one of the Reds' most exciting players to watch over the last 20 years. Plus, he consistently scored/created lots of goals for the club.

* Jamie Redknapp vs. Jordan Henderson: Tough one to call here, but having watched Redknapp live many times during the period, I'd have to go with Hendo. Like Hendo, Redknapp didn't score/create enough goals, but he didn't offer Henderson's energy and purpose, and often went missing in games.

Rodgers' team clearly has the edge overall - the league title is in LFC's hands with four games to go, and short of a catastrophic collapse, the Reds' league drought is all but over. Evans' team always fell away in the final couple of months of the season. Combined team:

---------------- Mignolet

Jones ----- Skrtel --- Carra --- Bjornebye

---------- Gerrard -- Barnes

McManaman ------------------ Sterling

--------- Suarez

--------------- Fowler

McManaman, Sterling, Suarez Fowler: imagine the carnage!

SUBS: James, Hendo, Sturridge, Collymore, McAteer, Coutinho, Agger

* Carra became a semi-regular in the last year of Evans' reign, so I'm having him in defence.
* Sterling gets the nod over Coutinho due to his pace.

* There's no way Robbie Fowler can be left out of this team. In the mid-'90s, he was on a par with Suarez.

* Barnes converted to a central-mid in the later stages of his career, and continued to play brilliantly. I'll have Barnesy over Hendo any day of the week.

* Stig Inge Bjornebye was (IMO) a much underrated left-back, and he regularly topped the assist charts under Evans.



  1. Hmmmm
    What was Fowler's assist record in the year he scored 28?

  2. JK - great analysis and pretty much agree with everything you've said. I think the big difference with this current team is that they are stronger mentally. Much of that is down to characters like Gerrard and Suarez - tow out and out winners who have the ability to carry the team and drive lesser players (mentally) on. Yes, the RE side had fantastic flair players but I don't think they had individuals with that same drive - especially when under pressure or a goal down.

  3. Loved the Roy Evans era but if you had to ask me which team I would rather not face then it would have to be Rodgers team.

  4. I disagree on the defense. Mark Wright would always have a spot for me. Rate him as highly as Sami. Jones could have an Anfield great, if not for the injuries, so Johnson gets the nod for the longer good service. And Bjornebye? He was mediocre at best, maybe a bit better than Harkness. I would put José Enrique without a shadow of a doubt. And I'm not sure for all the ability on the ball he had that old Barnes could play middle alongside old Gerrard. I'm a big fan of Lucas, so he would get my vote ahead of barnes, redknapp and Henderson.

  5. We just did not have what United and Arsenal had. Roy Keane and Viera.
    Leaders. Or the magic men, Cantona or Bergkamp.

  6. I always loved Bjornebye, was a great left back for us with some wicked crosses!! And Rob Jones was another great attacking full back. Great choices JK!!!

  7. Three Liverpool players – captain Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and top scorer Luis Suarez – have today been named on the six-man shortlist for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award.

  8. The great thing for the current team is that they are coming out favourably against players who had their whole careers and many of the current crop are only just starting

  9. biggestfandownunder1:11 pm, April 18, 2014

    Key difference between the two teams is mentality. There seems to be a resilience in this current team that we haven't seen for two decades (touched on at times under Benitez and Hollier, but neither managed to balance relentless flair with mental fortitude.) To be fair, this team needs to show this season's courage over the course of the next before we chalk them up as legends. But winning the title will go along way.

  10. I don't know about "old" Barnes he'd probably have his work cut out a bit now but at his peak he'd be the first on my list. Enrique over Bjornebye what? And I cannot even seriouslty consider Lucas in any composite top team when he can't get in the current side.

    It just goes to show though - it's all about opinions.:-)

  11. Heard a Fowler interview recently and he was saying he thinks Rodgers is more tactically astute than Roy.

  12. Redknapp was a terribly overrated player and that became even more obvious when Gerrard made his debut. (what happened to the haircut Stevie???) but that side was definitely a joy to watch. I never understood why Houllier was brought to the club and I still don't. That was the first step Moores took to destroy LFC imo, ultimately ending in selling us off to those charlatans to line his own pockets.

  13. I can't understand why Bjornebye is so underrated. The likes of Enrique and Johnson can only dream of getting as many assists as him. In 1996-97, for example, he got 12 assists in the league alone, and more in the domestic cups.

  14. I think that squad had as many if not more talented individuals but it also had a lot of pop stars in it. There's just something special about our current crop, humble and balanced

  15. Totally agree, if you haven't read Roy's autobiography you have to and you will be left amazed at the players he wanted to sign but the bored wouldn't sanction.

    If Roy was allowed to sign the players he wanted I am sure we won of won the league with him.

  16. Eh?. Sturridge, Suarez and Stirling they could give the Beverley sisters a run for their money......

  17. They're not the media loving party boys the spice boys were though

  18. Yes fair point I forgot about that tag. What about humble though?

  19. I dont under

  20. Where is Hyypia?

  21. I am such a young Liverpool fan. I don't know anything. :-/

  22. Oh my, whenever Mcmanaman's name is mentioned, I smile with the thought of him making those dazzling runs and showing such arrogance on the ball and terrorising defences.......what a player!! Hence went on to be one of only a few english players who was a huge success at Real Madrid by scoring even more amazing goals.

    Naturally very fit guy and even now on BT sport you can tell with his pressence.
    I remember going to anfield in Oct 1997 when we beat Arsenal 4-2 in the Coca Cola Cup (Captial cup). Only this season since that era I can see where Jamie's coming from as we were so quick and dangerous going forward. Liverpool v newcastle 4-3, voted best PL ever, says it all really. Great going forward but also suspect at the back, especially with David James.

  23. What have they done to warrant you insinuating that they are not humble? They are 3 of the more grounded individuals off the pitch. As was touched upon on this site a few months back, black players especially and foreign players too suffer from unjustified and unsubstantiated claims of arrogance and a lack of humility for no reason other than sheer unadulterated ignorance.

  24. Well my comment was meant semi humourously but they like most current footballing ,mllionaires do not strike me as any more or less humble than those that preceeeded them or those that will undoubtedly follow.

    Just for the record, for me at least, race or colour is irrelevant and your attempt to suggest it may be otherwise without knowing me is frankly an insult.