Tuesday, 16 December 2008


ANOTHER home draw and yet more doubters jumped aboard the bandwagon of doubt and bought a single to doomsville.

Of course, like everyone else, I was disappointed that we failed to beat Hull. But there was a tangible difference this time - we played well.

And with Crimbo in sight, we're top of the league, after our best ever start to a "Premier League" campaign.

So unlike so many other seasons, there's everything to play for going into the New Year. Progress in itself.

But it's also worth slipping on your semi-flared cords, lacing up your Adidas Sunny and putting Flowered Up on your walkman for a stroll down memory lane.

Because if we rewind to 1989-1990, the last time we won the league title, there is some perspective to be gained from a glance through the facts.

Now you'd think, from the way many fans talk, that to win the league you have to sweep aside every team that dares to turn up at Anfield.

That your team, which should made of world-class internationals in EVERY position, should be unbeatable, invincible and unstoppable. And preferably not foreign.

So to 1990. Here's the facts:
  • Liverpool used 23 players. Bruce Grobbelaar, Steve McMahon, Ian Rush, Ronnie Whelan, Glenn Hysen, John Barnes, Alan Hansen and Peter Bearsdsley made the most appearances.

  • They were helped by, amongst others, Barry Venison, David Burrows, Steve Staunton, Ray Houghton and Gary Ablett.

  • In September it was 0-0 at Anfield against Norwich; In October, we lost 4-1 away to Southampton and in November, the Reds lost 1-0 at home to Coventry

  • December, two more draws at home - 1-1 with Aston Villa and 0-0 with Manchester United. On to January - 2-2 at Anfield against Luton.

I could go on, but the point is made. It's very difficult to remember how you would have felt in December 1989, or January 1990. I'll be honest, I don't know what I felt. But was it like it was now? I doubt it.

Four draws at home and defeats to inferior opposition with only half the season gone - if that was now the 'experts' would be wheeling out their computers. Showing where Kenny Dalglish was going wrong. Questioning every team selection. Making mischief about players not being in the side.

They'd question the quality of his signings, sigh, shake their heads, and say 'For me, Arsenal have got just that bit more quality.'

Of course, then it was different. Everything wasn't analysed to death. You had your radio phone-in and Tommy Smith's letter page in the Pink Echo. That was about it. No Sky, no internet forums, and no 'final word' from Andy Gray.

And so it was left to Dalglish to prove the doubters, if there were any, wrong. So he did. After the Coventry defeat, Liverpool didn't lose another league game at home that season.

We went on to win the league, Ronny Rosenthal chipped in with some vital goals and we were all happy (especially when we beat Crystal Palace 9-0 - see video below).

Rafa Benitez's Liverpool (unbeaten at Anfield in the league let's remember) are more than capable of the same feat. And, crucially, the Reds, have actually performed better on the road, winning six, drawing one and losing one so far.

Benitez's sides have typically been better in the second half of the season, Fernando Torres is on the comeback trail, Robbie Keane will surely play a telling part at some point, and, who knows, we might even strengthen the squad come January.

Then there's the opposition. United have stuttered, Dimitar Berbatov has hardly set the world alight, and now they're off to Japan.

Thanks to us, Chelsea are having some home discomfort, they've (amazingly) got money worries and now (ridcuously) there's doubts creeping in about Luiz Felipe Scolari (there's that change in culture again).

Arsenal, well, fingers crossed, if we can beat them at the Emirates on Sunday, they are out all but out of the title race...not that Arsene Wenger will see that of course...

So forgive me for being Doctor Feelgood, but if you step out of the noughties' culture of "I want that NOW" you'll see we've got a great manager, some great players and as good a chance as any of other big boys of winning the league.

Now where's that Northside album...


Dave Molyneux said...

Must admit, I’m guilty of showing a bit of unrest myself

Bit frustrating when you see Sue’s nephew (Lucas) coming on for Mascha when the game was crying out for a striker (Keane)

But, as you say skipper: we’re in a better position than we have been for many many years.

robbohuyton said...

I just think a lot of people are too simplistic in their analysis; too knee-jerk. Even all the moaners about Keane - why should he come on? He's a second striker, the deeper man, and Gerrard was playing in that position on Saturday. I think sometimes, as baffling as some of his decisions can initially seem, we've just got to trust Rafa!

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