Liverpool Football Club are the most successful English football team. They have won 5 European Cups and 18 Football League titles. Their home ground is the 45,362 capacity Anfield stadium, which is about three miles from the city centre of Liverpool.
The club was founded on March 15, 1892 by John Houlding, the owner of Anfield. Houlding decided to form his own team after Everton FC were evicted from Anfield in an argument over rent. The original name was to be Everton FC but was changed to Liverpool FC after The Football Association refused to recognise the team as Everton.
On July 30, 2004, the Liverpool City Council granted the club planning permission to build a new 60,000 seat stadium, nearby at Stanley Park. Initially it seemed that the stadium would be shared with local rivals Everton, but talks on a groundshare failed in January 2005, and Liverpool will now have the stadium to itself in spite of continual pressure from Everton. It is envisaged that construction of the new stadium will begin in the summer of 2005 and the new stadium will open in 2007. The old stadium will then become a public plaza surrounded by apartments, offices, bars, restaurants and a hotel. The treatment of the old stadium requires some sensitivity as a number of deceased fans have had their ashes officially scattered on the pitch over the years.
The club was especially dominant in the 1970s and 1980s. Great players from this time include Ray Clemence, Mark Lawrenson, Graeme Souness, Ian Callaghan, Phil Neal, Kevin Keegan, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish (102 Caps) and Ian Rush (346 Goals).
They completed an unprecedented treble of two domestic cups (the League Cup and the FA Cup) and the UEFA Cup in the 2000/01 season. However winning a treble was not something new to Liverpool. In 1984 they were victorious in the European Cup, the League Cup and the Championship. This was the first treble of major honours to be completed by an English club.
Managers and their eras
The Bill Shankly Era
Bill Shankly was appointed manager of Liverpool before the start of the 1959-60 season. The 35-year-old former Preston North End and Scotland player took charge of the Anfield side when they were in the Second Division and were hardly among the biggest clubs in the English league despite having won the League Championship five times in the past.
Promotion to the First Division was achieved in 1962 when Liverpool won the Second Division championship. In that season, centre forward Roger Hunt scored 41 league goals - a club record which remains unbroken to this day. Liverpool won the First Division Championship in 1964 and regained it two years later, winning their first F.A Cup in the season between their two title triumphs. Roger Hunt, Ian St John, Ron Yeats and Tommy Smith were key Liverpool players in this era. Liverpool won their first European trophy, the UEFA Cup, in 1973 - in that season they also lifted another League Championship. Shankly shocked the football world by announcing his retirement after Liverpool won the 1974 F.A Cup. A local factory even threatened to go on strike in protest against Shankly's decision. But Shankly would not be moved, he watched Liverpool play as a spectator from The Kop until his death from a heart attack in 1981 at the age of 67.
The Bob Paisley Era
Bob Paisley, Shankly's 55-year-old assistant, was promoted to the position of manager for the 1974-75 season after failing to persuade his predecessor to carry on. By the time he retired at the end of the 1982-83 season, Bob Paisley was the most successful manager in the history of Liverpool Football Club - he was even the most successful manager in English football, as far as winning trophies was concerned, for almost two decades after his retirement.
Some of the greatest names in English football turned out for Liverpool under Bob Paisley's management. They included goalkeeper Ray Clemence, captain Emlyn Hughes and striker Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool won six league championships in ten seasons while Paisley was manager, as well as lifting three European Cups, one UEFA Cup, three successive League Cups, one European Super Cup and three Charity Shields - a total of 21 trophies. Paisley's achievement remained unsurprassed in English football until Sir Alex Ferguson won the Premiership title with Manchester United in 2001.
Bob Paisley bowed out of management in May 1983 after guiding Liverpool to their second successive League Championship/League Cup double.
The Joe Fagan Era
Joe Fagan, who at the age of 63 became Liverpool manager after Bob Paisley's retirement, was the club's second manager to be promoted from the coaching staff into the manager's seat. He remained in charge for just two seasons before handing in his retirement, but his first season (1983-84) saw Liverpool set some of the most impressive records in English football. They won their fourth successive League Cup and their third successive League Championship as well as winning the European Cup for the fourth time in eight seasons, thanks to the efforts of Fagan and his high quality squad which was mostly made up of players from the Bob Paisley era. A significant breakthrough star in the Liverpool team was young striker Ian Rush, who had been signed from Chester in 1980 and after a couple of seasons in the reserves had broken into the first team and established himself as a prolific goal scorer. Captain Alan Hansen had some of the finest leadership skills in European football. Zimbabweian goalkeeper Bruce Grobelaar was capable of pulling off some of the most impressive saves from opposition players' shots.
Joe Fagan's second and final seasons as Liverpool manager had a traumatic ending. Liverpool lost out on the league title to neighbours Everton - with four matches to spare. They reached the European Cup final to face Italian champions Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium. But before kick-off, violence between Liverpool and Juventus supporters resulted in the death of 39 (mostly Italian) supporters who were crushed to death, when a wall collapsed as they fled from Liverpool supporters. The sequel to the tragedy was a 5-year ban on English clubs in European competition, with a 6-year ban on Liverpool.
Fagan retired after the Heysel Disaster and handed over the reins to Liverpool striker Kenny Dalglish, who was given the role of player-manager.
The Kenny Dalglish era
Kenny Dalglish began his management career in style with League Championship/FA Cup double success in the 1985-86 season. The club finished top of the First Division ahead of neighbours Everton, and to round it all off Liverpool hammered Everton 3-1 in the FA Cup final. Dalglish was still a top striker despite his advancing years, and his partnership with Ian Rush was the most prolific in the English league. Midfielders Craig Johnston and Ray Houghton were also putting on impressive performances. Liverpool's 1986 double success made history as they were only the fifth team in English football to achieve such a feat, and the first team to win the F.A Cup without fielding a single English player.
Liverpool ended the 1986-87 season trophy less as they lost the League Championship to Everton and the League Cup to Arsenal. Pundits were predicting further disappointment for the following season when star striker Ian Rush was off-loaded to Juventus. Dalglish responded by adding John Barnes and John Aldridge to Liverpool's forward line. Liverpool secured the First Division championship with a nine-point gap over runners-up Manchester United and just two league defeats all season. Barnes was voted Footballer of the Year despite having to suffer the humiliation of monkey chants in a game against Everton where the opposition's chairman, Phillip Carter, disowned his own supporters as 'scum'. The downside to Liverpool's season was a shocking 1-0 FA Cup final defeat against Wimbledon, who had been in the Football League for just eleven seasons and had just completed only their second season of top division football.
Ian Rush returned to Liverpool for the 1988-89 season, after an unsuccessful spell at Juventus, and was crucial in getting the club to their third FA Cup final in four years. They beat neighbours Everton 3-2 but the triumph was overshadowed by tragedy in the FA Cup semi final against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough.
Before the FA Cup semi final could kick off, 94 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death and around 300 others injured after forcing their way onto terracing through gates which the police had unlocked in fear of their own safety. A 95th fan died a few days after the tragedy, and the death toll became 96 in March 1993 when Tony Bland died after being in a coma for nearly four years.
After the FA Cup final victory, Liverpool played their final league game of the season - a home fixture against their nearest challengers Arsenal, who were three points behind them and had scored two less goals. Liverpool went 1-0 down but still looked set to win the league until the last minute of the game, when a goal from Arsenal midfielder Michael Thomas (who ironically joined Liverpool a few seasons later) deprived Liverpool of the chance to repeat the double for the second season running.
Kenny Dalglish guided Liverpool to their third league title in five seasons in 1989-90. Although the 5-year ban on English clubs in European competition was lifted for the following season, Liverpool had to serve an extra year and were unable to compete in the 1990-91 European Cup.
On February 22nd 1991, with Liverpool halfway through a two-horse race with Arsenal for the league title, Kenny Dalglish dropped a bombshell on the club by handing in his resignation as manager and claimed he could no longer cope with the pressure of managing the club. First-team coach Ronnie Moran took temporary charge of team affairs for several weeks before Graeme Souness was named the club's new manager. But by that stage, Liverpool were slipping behind in the title race and finished runners-up to Arsenal who completed the season with just one defeat from 38 games.
The Graeme Souness Era
Graeme Souness had a reasonable start to his career as Liverpool manager. His first season as manager saw the club win the F.A Cup with a 2-0 win over Sunderland at Wembley, a success which ensured they would be competing in the European Cup Winners Cup for the 1992-93 season, which would also be the first season of the new Premier League. He spent recklessly on many new players who did not all prove to be successful, especially strikers Paul Stewart and Nigel Clough. Younger players like Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Jamie Redknapp were proving to be successful instead of these expensive acquisitions. The veteran Ian Rush, meanwhile, was still scoring goals as freely as ever despite now being in his thirties. Long serving goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar was often being kept out of the team by promising young shot-stopper David James.
Liverpool finished sixth in the first-ever Premier League and had never looked like title challengers at any stage in the 1992-93 season. The 1993-94 season was no different and Souness was dismissed in January 1994 after Liverpool suffered a shock defeat against Bristol City in the F.A Cup Third Round.
The Roy Evans Era
Roy Evans, a boot room veteran who had been on the club's pay roll since the late 1950's, was promoted to the position of manager following the dismissal of Graeme Souness. He guided Liverpool to an eighth place finish in the 1993-94 Premier League campaign, and made two expensive additions to the squad for the following season - central defenders Phil Babb and John Scales. Young striker Robbie Fowler netted 29 goals in all competitions and was voted Young Player of the Year by the PFA, while veteran striker Ian Rush was still scoring vast numbers of goals in his 34th year. Liverpool made big progress during the 1994-95 season, finishing fourth in the Premiership and beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup final.
In the summer of 1995, Liverpool paid Nottingham Forest a British record fee of £8.5million for striker Stan Collymore. The high fee initially looked to have paid off, but during his second season at the club, Collymore's form dipped (and he appeared to be wasting his talent with incidents off the pitch) and he was sold to Aston Villa for £7million in May 1997. Within four years he had quit the game after brief unsuccessful spells with Fulham, Leicester City, Bradford City and finally Real Oviedo.
Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore formed an impressive partnership for the 1995-96 season which saw the veteran Ian Rush relegated to the substitute bench for much of the season before his departure on a free transfer to Leeds United. Liverpool finished third in the Premiership and were within shouting distance of the title right up to the final weeks of the season. They reached the F.A Cup final and were defeated by Manchester United. But Liverpool still qualified for the European Cup Winners Cup because United had won the Premiership/F.A Cup double.
Liverpool finished fourth in the 1996-97 season having frequently led the table for much of the early part of the season, and were defeated by Paris St. Germain in the semi finals of the European Cup Winners Cup.
1997-98 saw the emergence of a world class young player at Liverpool: Michael Owen. The 18-year-old Chester-born centre forward was a regular player in the first team almost all season long, relegating high profile German striker Karlheinz Reidle to the bench. He became the youngest-ever full England international in February 1998 and was voted Young Player of the Year by the PFA. Liverpool had an outside chance of winning the Premiership title for much of the 1997-98 season but were unable to catch champions Arsenal and runners-up Manchester United, so their place in Europe for 1998-99 was merely the UEFA Cup rather than the Champions League.
The Gérard Houllier Era
Gérard Houllier, the former French national coach, was drafted into the Liverpool management team for the 1998-99 season to work alongside Roy Evans. But Evans found that the partnership did not suit him and he quit during the 1998-99 season, at the end of which Liverpool finished a disappointing seventh - not even enough for a UEFA Cup place.
Liverpool had their best season for years in 2000-01 when they won a unique treble of the League Cup (beating Birmingham on penalties after a 1-1 draw), F.A Cup (beating Arsenal 2-1 with two last minute goals for Michael Owen) and UEFA Cup (beating Alavés 5-4). They became the first club in English football to achieve two 'trebles' of any kind. In 1999, Manchester United had become only the second English team to win a treble of any kind when they won the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League. The 2001 treble success confirmed Houllier's status as a world class manager.
By now, Liverpool's side contained a new set of players including goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, defender and captain Sami Hyypiä, young midfielder Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen's strike partner Emile Heskey. The new generation of players was so impressive that even Robbie Fowler had left the club, joined Leeds United in an £11million deal in November 2001.
2001-02 saw Liverpool progress even further. They ended the season without a major trophy, but finished league runners-up for the first time since 1991 - ironically ending Manchester United's 10-year run of top-two finishes which had begun when Liverpool's 10-year run had ended.
Liverpool won another League Cup in 2003 but Houllier had failed to deliver the league title which had eluded Anfield since 1990, although they did qualify for the Champions League three times during his tenure. Houllier was sacked at the end of the 2003-04 season and replaced by the Spaniard Rafael Benitez, who had just guided Valencia to the Spanish league title. Benitez's hopes of re-establishing Liverpool as a top club were dented when star striker Michael Owen moved to Real Madrid in an £8million deal.
The Rafael Benítez Era
Rafael Benítez has so far guided Liverpool to a League Cup final—losing to Chelsea in extra time—and a Champions League Final in his first season as manager. The club played Chelsea, 2004-05 Premiership winners, in the Champions League semi-final. In the first leg on 27 April 2005 at Stamford Bridge, the clubs drew 0-0, setting up a winner-take-all return leg at Anfield on 3 May. Liverpool won the second leg and the tie 1-0. That set up Liverpool's Champions League final with AC Milan in Istanbul on 25 May, which they won 3-2 on penalties after regulation and extra time ended drawn 3-3. This result made Benítez the third manager (after Bob Paisley and José Mourinho) to win the UEFA Cup and Champions League in consecutive years, but the first to do it for two different clubs.
The Champions League Final 2004-05
The UEFA Champions League Final against AC Milan may have been the most sensational final ever. Only 52 seconds into the match, Paolo Maldini scored for Milan, both scoring the fastest goal and becoming the oldest player to score in a Champions League final. Liverpool's play in the first half both in attack and defence was remarkably poor. In the 39th minute, Alessandro Nesta seemed to have his hand touched the ball in the penalty box but the referee refused a penalty. Within a minute, a Milan counter-attack found Shevchenko with space on the right wing who crossed the ball in for Hernán Crespo to finish first time. 2-0 Milan. 5 minutes later, Gerrard was turned in midfield and a wonderful through-ball from Kaka found Crespo clear on goal who provided an exquisite finish and Milan's third goal. At half-time the score was 3-0, and even the most optimistic Liverpool supporter probably thought the match was over.
A string of quick passing allowed John Arne Riise two chances to cross the ball into the box. At the second attempt he succeeded, and his quality ball found Steven Gerrard, who brilliantly headed the ball into the far corner of the net. That goal gave Liverpool much needed confidence and hope.
Two minutes later, Gerrard slipped the ball across to Vladimir Smicer, twenty yards from goal. Smicer struck the ball with power and precision to bury it past Dida, who will be disappointed to have not done better. 3-2 to Milan.
The Liverpool fans' powerful singing turned Istanbul into Liverpool's back yard, providing another player at the stadium.
Liverpool continued to dominate the game and pressure Milan, and more quick passing found Steven Gerrard running through on goal in the penalty box, but Gennaro Iván Gattuso tripped him from behind leaving the referee with no choice but to give a penalty. Xabi Alonso stepped up to take it and struck it hard into the bottom left corner. Dida pulled off a brilliant save, however the rebound from it allowed Alonso to hammer the ball into the roof of the net with his left foot, and brought Liverpool level at 3-3.
At this point the game began to settle, and both teams had chances to score and took it in turns of controlling the play. There was nothing to separate the teams as regular time finished and the game went to extra time. Milan were probably the better team in extra time, as Liverpool's players tired and were visibly drained, Vladimir Smicer and Jamie Carragher having to receive treatment for cramp.
In the 119th minute, Milan's Andriy Shevchenko had a good header saved and then the rebounded first time volley brilliantly stopped by Jerzy Dudek's lightning reflexes. The score remained level and the two sides entered the penalty shootout. Both sides won the last time they were involved in a penalty shootout in the European Cup/Champions League final. For Milan, it was the 2002-2003 Champions League final against Juventus and for Liverpool, it was the 1983-1984 season when they beat AS Roma to claim the cup.
By winning the European Cup/Champions League a fifth time, Liverpool earned the privilege of permanently keeping the actual trophy. Under the competition rules, the winning club gets to keep the trophy for only 10 months, as they must deliver it to UEFA two months before the next year's final, and permanently receives a scaled-down replica. However, the rules also specify that the actual trophy becomes the permanent possession of a club that wins the competition three consecutive years or five times in all. The 2005-06 participants will compete for a new trophy.
As another ironic footnote, Liverpool will be able to keep the 2005 Champions League trophy permanently, but as of May 25, 2005, may not be able to defend their crown in the next season. England can only send four clubs into the next Champions League season, and Liverpool finished fifth in the Premier League. In order to avoid the strange situation of starting the next season without the title defender, UEFA and The FA would have to introduce a special regulation. However, this is not a unique situation. Both Juventus and Marseille were prohibited from defending their titles due to crowd trouble and match-fixing respectively.
Facts and figures
* More than any other English club + Title shared
PRE-SHANKLY (1892 - 1959)
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