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Liverpool FC: The 30-Year Wait (2020)

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Jürgen Klopp
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Liverpool FC: The 30-Year Wait
19 September 2020 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

When Liverpool last won the league in 1990. I did not think I would have to wait 30 years for their next title victory. I went from a young student to entering old age!

This was an era where Liverpool would rack up a title win almost every year. If they missed out, then they would win it the next year.

This documentary looked at Liverpool's decline from 1990. The ongoing toll from the grim Hillsborough disaster from 1989 had a detrimental effect on the club and manager Kenny Dalglish.

With Dalglish suddenly resigning. Graeme Souness was the man who people thought could bring stability and a new direction to the club. This was also a time where Manchester United got its act together under Alex Ferguson.

Souness could not replicate the success he had with Rangers. It just demonstrated the widening quality between Scottish football and English football.

Now Liverpool's transfer policy looked shoddy. Other clubs were picking up better players and Liverpool's top signings did not live up to their full expectations. Souness also got rid off existing ageing players that still had something to offer.

Souness might had won the FA Cup, but the gulf between Man Utd was widening. His interview with the Sun newspaper did him few favours with the fans.

Pretty soon, Liverpool were not winning the league, they were also not winning anything else. The last trophy they won in the 20th century was the League Cup in 1995 under manager Roy Evans.

When Gerard Hollier became manager, it looked like Liverpool might have turned a corner. There was the cup treble in 2001. A nucleus of talented young prospects such as Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

Then Houllier had a heart attack and he was never the same afterwards. His transfer targets failed, none of the hyped players went to to become the new Thierry Henry and the club went backwards in the league.

In 2004, Rafa Benitez was brought in to manage the club. This was an era where other clubs such as Chelsea had a sugar daddy with an open cheque book. In 2005 there was the miracle of Istanbul but Chelsea were runaway league winners. In hindsight Liverpool were only half way there to win the league in 2005. There would be another 15 years wait.

When Hicks & Gillett took over, the club hit its nadir. All because outgoing chairman and owner David Moores did not know how to use Google and do basic checks on the shysters he was selling the club to. This really summed up Liverpool under Moores and Rick Parry.

There was a moment where Liverpool were in grave danger of going under. They hit the buffers and went into freefall chaos. As for manager Roy Hodgson and the players bought under his reign. The less said the better.

With FSG as new owners there was stability and a plan for the future. Dalglish returned briefly and won the League Cup, a domestic trophy the eluded him in his original tenure. However it was clear that football had moved on and Dalglish was beginning to look a little old fashioned in his tactics. At least he bought Luis Suarez.

Brendan Rodgers was a young British manager with ideas. He also had Sturridge and Suarez on fire. It is unfair to single out Gerrard's slip for the lost of the title. Liverpool's goal scoring abilities masked their defensive frailties.

Suarez's hunger to move to Barcelona left Rodgers bereft of ideas and Liverpool falling backwards. One reason being that many of his transfer targets fared poorly. I had Rodgers number as soon as Liverpool's failure to make any meaningful progress in European competitions.

When Klopp was appointed, I think I just shrugged my shoulders. At least by now it was clear that foreign managers were more successful than the British ones. It was just that whoever the managers was, Liverpool's transfer policy seems to be put on a blindfold, spin around a few times and throw a dart in the hope you hit bullseye.

For every Suarez, Mascherano, Alonso, Torres. There was a Carroll, Kewell or Benteke or even Konchesky.

Klopp sensed that the club was living in its past and the fans were doubters. He wanted to turn them into believers. The big issue was that other clubs still had sugar daddies to bankroll them. Now it was Manchester City engaged in financial doping, able to buy top players. Liverpool had to buy smart.

Mohamed Salah was the talisman the club needed. Klopp the serial cup final loser still had disappointments. A loss in the UEFA Cup and Champions League finals. This time Liverpool would return the following season and win the Champions League.

They came second to Man City, going toe to toe the whole season and failed to win the Premier League due to their only defeat that season against City. The following season Liverpool almost wrapped it up before Covid struck. Once the season restarted, becoming premier league champions was a formality. There was also a World Club final win.

Even at 90 minutes this documentary was a breezy summary. There was very little that was new or incisive. Former managers and players take part. Souness is absent as the conversation always turns to his article in the Sun.

Some notable footage was Roy Evans still being upset talking about being pushed out as manager. There is an irate Houllier at a press conference knowing his time is up. The Houllier years now gets glossed over but he won more major trophies in the last 30 years for the club than anyone else.

Klopp and current owner John Henry give their thoughts as to why success eventually returned. Under sporting director Michael Edwards, Liverpool have finally bought value players that Klopp would mould into an effective team. Salah was regarded as a Chelsea flop when he was purchased.

There was a more in depth article on Liverpool I read in the online Athletic magazine which is behind a paywall. That had more details regarding the club's decline. Liverpool almost appeared to have become toxic in some quarters after the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters. There was a sense that despite the success the club was somehow cursed.

The famed boot room which gave the club continuity also went out of date. It could not keep up in an era of Arsene Wenger with his modern approach to management.

Stan Collymore who moved to the club talks about how shocked he was with the diet regime. He thought top clubs like Liverpool would be a centre of excellence. What he saw in the canteen was bacon sarnies in slabs of thick slices of bread with margarine lashed on. Extra sarnie for Neil Ruddock with even more bacon and margarine.

Souness tried to modernise. Only to be met with resistance from existing players and enticing new players was not easy. Roy Evans, nice guy but regarded as a soft touch by the players. His era was summed up as the Spice Boys wearing cream suits in the 1996 FA Cup final.

I thought this was the kind of deep analysis we would get in this documentary. Instead it was aimed at the general audience with discussions that had been heard several times in the run up to the title win.


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30 August 2020 (UK) See more »

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BBC Films See more »
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