Honours Won : League Cup (1995)
“Boot room” veteran Roy Evans took over from Souness. Evans had been on the club’s pay roll since the late 1950s. In his first game incharge against Norwich City at Carrow Road, the team looked rejuvenated and managed to grab a point in a 2-2 draw. He guided Liverpool to an eighth place finish in the 1993-94 Premier League campaign, young striker Robbie Fowler scoring 29 goals in all competitions which led to him being voted PFA Young Player of the Year.
During pre-season, he gave an ultimatim to several of his players like Neil Ruddock and Julian Dicks to get into shape or find another club. Evans signed only one player during the summer of 1994, Danish reserve team keeper Michael Stensgaard a £300.000 buy from Hvidovre. Despite a promising career ahead of him, he would never play for the Liverpool first team, and retired after an injury he sustained setting up an ironing board. Evans was determined to get his players into shape, and in the club’s first game of the season, they trashed Crystal Palace 6-0 at Selhurst Park, a result that vindicated the manager’s decision not to buy big over the summer. The manager lined up with a 4-4-2 formation with David James, right back Rob Jones, left back Stig Inge Bjørnebye, centre back Steve Nicol, centre back Neil Ruddock, centre midfield John Barnes, right wing Steve McManaman, centre midfield Jan Molby, left wing Mark Walters, and strikers Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler. On the first two days of September 1994, Evans signed prmising Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb from Coventry City for £3.75m and Wimbledon’s John Scales for £3.5m, and the duo were introduced to the side in a new-look 3-5-2 formation at St’James Park against Newcastle. Liverpool drew 1-1 but the formation would revoltionise the English game, with many clubs adopting the 3-5-2 formation.
In his first full season (1994-95) Liverpool finished fourth in the Premiership and won the League Cup, beating Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the final.
In the summer of 1995, Liverpool paid Nottingham Forest a British record fee of £8.5 million for striker Stan Collymore. Fowler and Collymore formed an impressive partnership for the 1995-96 season which saw veteran striker Ian Rush relegated to the substitute bench for much of the season before his departure on a free transfer to Leeds United. Liverpool continued to progress that season, being within a shout of the domestic double right up to the final few weeks of the season. But they finished third in the Premiership, eleven points behind champions Manchester United, seven behind runners-up Newcastle, and lost 1-0 to Man United in the FA Cup final. Still, Liverpool were recognised as a top team once again, and were starting to attract top players once more, to aid a talented group of young stars like Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp, who were peaking.
Liverpool led the Premiership at several stages during the 1996-97 season, but in the end they finished fourth and had to settle for a UEFA Cup place. They had been hoping to win the Cup Winners Cup for the first time, but lost to Paris St Germain in the semi finals. The squad’s off the field lad culture excesses and underachievement tag on it had also resulted in the team getting derogatorily labelled as the ‘Spice Boys’.
1997-98 saw Liverpool finish third in the Premiership for the second time in four years where they finished fourth on both other occasions. Though the critics had accused them as being ‘nearly men’ again, the highlight of the club’s season was the emergence of young striker Michael Owen. Owen became the Premiership’s equal top scorer in 1998 with eighteen goals and became the youngest full England international at the time. He was also awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year Award.