The Graeme Souness Era (1991-1994)

Posted on May 2, 2008


Honours Won : FA Cup (1992)

Graeme Souness had a reasonable start to his career as Liverpool manager. His first season saw the club win the FA 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. He sold several good players such as Ray Houghton, and Steve Staunton and spent recklessly on expensive new players like the 2m spent on Paul Stewart, Torben Piechnik and Istvan Kozma who did not all prove to be successful. While Michael Thomas and Mark Wright were signed for 1.5m and 2.2m respectively however spent most of the time under Souness’ tenure at Liverpool on the sidelines injured. Goalkeeper David James a 1m signing from Watford, and full backs Stig-Inge Bjørnebye a £600,000 signing from Rosenborg and Rob Jones signed from Crewe at the cost of just £300.000 would excel at Liverpool, but under Souness’ sucessecer. One of the most bizarre transfers was the signing of striker Dean Saunders for a British transfer record of 2.9m from Derby County in the summer of 1991. He proved to be a success alongside fellow Welshman Ian Rush up front but after only six matches into the 1992-1993 season he was surprisingly sold onto Aston Villa for 2.5m, making a loss of £400,000.

The youth team coached by Liverpool legend Steve Heighway produced several players for the first team, like Robbie Fowler, Dominic Matteo and Steve McManaman, while two of Daglish’s last signings Jamie Redknapp, and Don Hutchinson broke into the first team under Souness. However Hutchinson was sold on after several disciplinary problems. The veteran striker Ian Rush meanwhile, was still scoring goals as freely as ever despite 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 FA Premier League and never looked like title challengers at any stage during the season. In the summer the coach pinned his hopes for the new season on two players, current England international Nigel Clough signed for 2.275m from relegated Nottingham Forest and central defender Neil Ruddock for 2.5m from Tottenham Hotspur.

The duo fitted in perfectly into Souness’ 4-4-2 formation, and in the first game of the season against Sheffield Wednesday, Clough bagged a double in a 2-0 victory, and then scored a goal from a beautifuly executed backheel at Loftus Road in a 3-1 win over QPR, and then Souness’ team trashed Premier League newcomers Swindon Town 5-0 with Neil Ruddock netting his first goal. However that was as good as it got, as Liverpool despite taking the lead with Clough’s four goal in his first match for the Reds, lost 2-1 to Tottenham at Anfield. Liverpool did beat Leeds United 2-0 in the following match but two 1-0 defeats to Coventry City, and Blackburn Rovers clearly showed that nothing had changed from the previous season. It all come to ahead in the Merseyside derby in the next match, when Steve McManaman and Bruce Grobbelaar got into a scuffle during the match. The team was in disarray and the title looked further than ever. On Match of the Day, Alan Hansen pinpointed the weakness in Nigel Clough in tackles and winning the ball back as one of the problems. The striker’s form dipped and he was played in midfield as emerging youngster Robbie Fowler was given his first start in the Coca Cola Cup match against Fulham FC, in which he scored in a 3-1 victory. In the return leg at Anfield, he scored all five goals in a 5-0 rout. A legend was born. To instil some strength in the Liverpool ranks, Souness signed hardman Julian Dicks from West Ham, costing £1.6m with David Burrows and Mike Marsh moving in the other direction.

In the end Liverpool were dumped out of the Coca Cola Cup by Wimbledon on penalties. The FA Cup seemed to be Liverpool’s only hope of silverware that season, and were drawn against Bristol City. The first match was played at Ashton Gate, where Fowler nearly scored with his backside after a miskick from the City keeper. Ian Rush scored for the Reds, and Wayne Allison scored for the Bristol club, however floodlight failure meant the match had to be played again. It finished 1-1 again, with the same players scoring for their respective clubs and a replay was scheduled for Anfield. At home, Liverpool were poor, with Bristol’s strike duo Junior Bent and Wayne Allsion causing problems for Steve Nicol and Neil Ruddock in the Reds defence. Liverpool lost 1-0 after curling left footed effort from Brian Tinnion, and days later Souness resigned on 28th January 1994, and Roy Evans was appointed as manager.

During his tenure as Liverpool manager, Graeme Souness suffered from heart problems. This indirectly led to him falling out of favour with Liverpool fans as he sold the story of his recovery to The Sun. The Sun has long been boycotted by people from Merseyside (regardless of footballing allegiance) due to its reporting of the Hillsborough disaster.

(sumber: Wikipedia)

Posted in: History of LFC