#1 in a Summer Series: RAWK Reviews - Season 1999-2000

Posted by ashleyrose-66 on May 22, 2013, 12:00:12 PM

In an attempt to break the tedium of the closed season (and an aside from the Transfer Speculation bollocks that will surround RAWK in the coming weeks and months) we're going to take a step back in time and review a season or two gone by.  This is done mainly by memory with the odd Google search to help along the way...  Sit back and take a trip down memory lane.   :wave

Gerard Houllier spent his first summer in sole charge of Liverpool overhauling a squad that finished 7th in the previous season.  Captain Paul Ince departed for Middlesbrough, David James left for Aston Villa and Karl-Heinz Riedle and Oyvind Leonhardsen were not far behind heading out of the Anfield exit.

Houllier brought in Titi Camara and Erik Meijer to bolster his striking options, whilst Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz were recruited to add strength to the defence.  Sander Westerveld came in to replace James in goal, Vladimir Smicer came in to add a bit of creativity in midfield and finally Didi Hamman was signed from Newcastle United to add steal...  Oh! and to squint a lot!

Having failed to qualify for European football the season before, Liverpool embarked on long pre-season, featuring in the Norway Cup and Carlsberg Cup instead!

The Reds kicked off the Premier League season against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on 7th August 1999.  Robbie Fowler opening the scoring for Liverpool with about 15 minutes remaining and Titi Camara getting a debut goal in the 84th minute.  Liverpool were made to sweat for the final 3 minutes of the game as Benito Carbone pulled one back for the hosts.  Liverpool were off a running with a win in their first game, and the usual optimism flowed over Liverpool fans as they made their way back from Sheffield… 
Next up was newly promoted Watford at Anfield.  A banker!

7 days later, Houllier’s Liverpool side faced bookies favourites for relegation Watford at Anfield.  There was an air of anticipation around Anfield, and most were trying to work out just how large Liverpool’s winning margin would be.  The Kop were stunned in to silence when Tommy Mooney tucked away a scruffy effort after a ball in to the Liverpool box was not cleared (14 years on and it’s still an issue!!)  It was still early in the game and there was plenty of time for Liverpool to bounce back, but Liverpool couldn’t find the key to unlock the Watford door and Houllier’s side slumped to a humiliating defeat; Graham Taylor’s men left Anfield with the home fans scratching their heads at what they’d just witnessed.

Things didn’t improve for Liverpool with Brian Deane scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for Middlesbrough in Liverpool’s next league outing just a week later.  The lack of goals was turning in to a bit of a worry, despite the threat of Fowler, Camara, Berger and Gerrard in the Liverpool side.  Michael Owen, who was currently injured was being sorely missed.

Liverpool dropped to 17th in the Premiership table.

Next up, Liverpool would travel to Leeds, who were looking to go top of the table with a win over a faltering Liverpool side.  They were on their way to the summit when Westerveld failed to deal with a Harry Kewell corner, and the ball deflected in off Rigobert Song in to his own net.

However, Liverpool bounced back and Titi Camara cracked a first-time effort in off the Leeds’ crossbar to bring the visitors level.  Things got better for Liverpool when a cross from Paddy Berger was mis-judged by Lucas Radebe and turned in to his own net.  This was the 11th own goal of the Premiership Season, and less than 40 matches had been played at this stage!

Finally, Liverpool had something to cheer about!

A 2-0 home win against Arsenal soon followed with Berger and Fowler getting amongst the goals, and the sense of optimism had returned to Anfield once again.
On Saturday 11th September, Manchester United came to Anfield.  United were buoyant having clinched the “treble” the season before, and took the lead in the 3rd minute when Jamie Carragher glanced a Ryan Giggs cross past Westerveld for an own goal.

Liverpool huffed and puffed, but looked really disjointed and it was no surprise when Andy Cole rose unmarked to double the lead in the 18th minute.
Sami Hyypia pulled one back with what would become a trademark towering header just 5 minutes later, but United were graced good fortune again on the stroke of half-time when Song’s attempted clearance cannoned of Carragher for his second own goal of the game.
Paddy Berger set up a frantic final 25 minutes with a neat finish and Andy Cole was sent off with 20 minutes remaining, but Liverpool were unable to break United down.  Liverpool were becoming consistently inconsistent!

Liverpool then travelled to Hull in the Worthington Cup and came away with a 5-1 win, Djimi Traore made his Liverpool debut and Erik Meijer and Danny Murphy scored their first Liverpool goals (a brace each) in a comfortable win.

Michael Owen returned from injury and bolstered Liverpool’s attack.

Owen scored both Liverpool goals in an entertaining 2-2 draw at 10-man Leicester, and shortly after the international break, Everton came to Anfield for an explosive derby.
Kevin Campbell gave the Toffees an early lead, but the main talking points were the THREE red cards that followed in the second half.  Westerveld and Francis “Fox in the Box” Jeffers getting involved in some fisty-cuffs both got their marching orders, which meant Steve Staunton had to go in goal for the remaining 15 minutes as Liverpool had used all their substitutes.  Steven Gerrard also saw a straight red for almost slicing Kevin Cambell in half on the stroke of full-time.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/0SeU9LuJd4k?fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/0SeU9LuJd4k?fs=1</a>

But this seemed to galvanise Liverpool, and they finally went on an unbeaten run of league games, sandwiched only by a disappointing Worthington Cup exit at the hands of Southampton at The Dell.

Chelsea, fresh from their 5-0 thrashing of Manchester United, were beaten at Anfield, in a game that saw Marcel Desailly and Dennis Wise sent off, Michael Owen miss a penalty and David Thompson nab the winner.  Liverpool may be inconsistent, but at least they were entertaining!

Between October and January, Liverpool would lose just once, a 1-0 defeat at West Ham at the end of November.

Liverpool entered the new Millennium with back-to-back defeats against Tottenham in the Premier League and Blackburn in the FA Cup.

But Liverpool would show their steel once again, and went on a 13 match unbeaten run, including wins against Leeds United and a 1-0 win at Highbury against Arsenal. 

Titi Camara getting the solitary goal in a win which moved Liverpool above Arsenal in to 3rd place and just 6 points behind leaders’ Manchester United.

Gerard Houllier spent a club record £11m in March to bring Leicester and England forward Emile Heskey to Liverpool.  Gerard Houllier was now adopting a more direct approach and teamed Heskey up with Erik Meijer for a battering ram attack, with top scorer Titi Camara relegated to the bench alongside young Michael Owen.  Robbie Fowler was recovering from injury.

Heskey made his debut at Anfield against Sunderland and took just 3 minutes to make his first telling contribution in a Liverpool shirt, when he went over in the box to win a penalty for his new side.  Paddy Berger stepped up and slammed home the penalty, but the reds faltered and dropped more home points when Westerveld brought down Kevin Phillips in the box to concede a penalty.  Phillips dusted himself off to score his 25th goal of the season from the spot and give the Mackems a share of the spoils.

Liverpool won their next 5 games on the bounce and looked to be cruising towards a place in the Champions League for the first time.  Derby County, Newcastle United, Coventry City, Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon all left empty handed, confidence was high, and Liverpool were 2nd in the table behind Manchester United.

Then, inexplicably, Liverpool’s ability to score goals completely stopped.  In fact, they failed to score in their last SIX games of the season, and lost 3 of their last 4 games.
It would have been 4 defeats in 6 had Graham Poll allowed a freak Don Hutchison goal to stand for Everton at the end of the Merseyside Derby..
Westerveld cleared the ball on the 90th minute against former Liverpool midfielder Hutchison, which looped over the Liverpool ‘keeper’s head and in to the back of the net.  Referee Poll, however, blew his full-time whistle with the ball in mid-air to deny the Toffees a victory and spare Westerveld’s blushes.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/B-GHqqI6nUA?fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/B-GHqqI6nUA?fs=1</a> 

Liverpool then drew a blank at home against Aston Villa with Owen missing a host of chances to open the scoring.  Emile Heskey thought he’d won the reds a late penalty but referee Steve Benett waved away the Liverpool appeals, and the reds slipped to 3rd in the table behind Leeds United.

Worse was to follow a fortnight later (following another international break!) when Liverpool were blown away by a blistering start by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.  Former World Footballer of the Year George Weah gave the home side the perfect start after 2 minutes and Roberto Di Matteo added a second with just a quarter of an hour gone.   It could have been worse for Liverpool, but Chelsea wasted a number of opportunities to further extend their lead.

A 2-0 home defeat by Leicester City further compounded Liverpool’s misery and severely dented their fading Champions League hopes, with Tony Cottee and Phil Gilchrist scoring in each half against a Liverpool side that looked devoid of any real ideas.

Liverpool’s final home game of the season saw Southampton come to Anfield with Liverpool’s Champions League ambitions still in their own hands.
Michael Owen was left out of the Liverpool squad and Houllier teamed Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey and Titi Camara in attack to try to get Liverpool firing again after failing to find the net in their 4 previous outings.  However, it was Southampton who would create the better chances with Jo Tessem and Hassan Kachloul forcing Westerveld in to fine saves.

Jamie Carragher had Liverpool’s best effort, but his 30-yard drive was palmed away by Saint’s keeper Neil Moss.

The point would take Liverpool above Leeds United on goal difference in to 3rd and the final Champions League spot, Arsenal had now secured 2nd in the league, but the Yorkshiremen had a game in hand, at Elland Road against Everton the following evening, and a win would see Leeds take a firm grip on securing 3rd with just one game to play.
However, Leeds were held 1-1 at Elland Road with Nick Barmby cancelling out Michael Bridges’ opener to take the Champions League battle to the wire

The final game of the season saw Liverpool head to relegation favourites Bradford City.  Nothing less than 3 points for Bradford would keep them in the Premier League whilst Liverpool had to win to have any chance of snatching the final Champions League spot away from Leeds United who were playing away at West Ham United.

David Wetherall headed Bradford in front early on, and the game remained goalless at Upton Park, so Liverpool pressed for an equaliser.  Michael Owen’s pace was causing Bradford problems, and Paddy Berger forced Bradford goalkeeper Matt Clarke in to a fine save.

Liverpool searched frantically for an equalising goal, and Houllier replaced Gerrard and Berger with Smicer and Camara in search of a foothold back in to the game.

Despite drawing 0-0 at West Ham, Leeds fans were able to celebrate as news filtered through on their radios that Liverpool had lost 1-0 at Bradford and they had secured Champions League football ahead of the Merseysiders, who would have to settle for a place in the UEFA Cup the following season.

Final table...

Just what went wrong towards the end of that season is still a mystery…

Still, the following season didn’t turn out too bad, did it?

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