What was football like when Liverpool last won the league?
With Liverpool winning the title for the first time in 30 years, we take a look at what was going on the last time they were champions.
More of the Same for Liverpool
The 1990s started off with a familiar sight for Liverpool fans as their club was crowned champions of England for the 1989/90 season. A 2-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers on 28 April 1990 secured the Red’s 18th league title ahead of challengers Aston Villa. After winning six league titles and two European Cups in the previous decade it seemed like their success would continue for years to come.
Winger John Barnes was voted Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year and finished as the club’s top goal-scorer with 28 in all competitions. He was closely followed in the scoring charts by Ian Rush, who had recently returned from Italy in a club-record £2.8million deal from Juventus. Player-manager Sir Kenny Dalglish, at the age of 39, played his last game for the club on 5 May 1990 but continued as manager the following season. Following the title win in 1990 Liverpool spent £350,000 on a 17-year-old Jamie Redknapp who had impressed at AFC Bournemouth under his father, Harry.
A Turning Point in English Football
Liverpool had beaten Aston Villa to the First Division title but were knocked out of the 1990 FA Cup in the semi-finals by Crystal Palace, thanks to a 109th minute winner from Alan Pardew. Palace would go on to lose in the final to Manchester United who collected their first piece of silverware under Sir Alex Ferguson. Later in 1990 the United boss offered a professional contract to young academy prospect Ryan Giggs, on the day of his 17th birthday.
At the start of the 1990s the English top flight was still in the old First Division format but plans were being put in place for the formation of a new competition; the Premier League. Greg Dyke, then the managing director of London Weekend Television, met with officials from the ‘Big Five’ English clubs (Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Arsenal) to discuss the idea of a more lucrative ‘breakaway league’. At the time ITV was paying £11million a year for an exclusive deal to broadcast live English football. Thirty years later, Premier League clubs receive a total of almost £2.5billion in broadcasting revenue a season.
A World in Motion
The 1990 World Cup in Italy was an important one in English football as the international side reached the semi-finals, their best international performance since 1966. Young Tottenham midfielder Paul Gascoigne was the star for the Three Lions and he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 1990. That tournament also marked the end of England goalkeeper Peter Shilton’s 20-year international career, picking up the last of his 125 caps in the third-place play-off.
West Germany knocked out England in the semis and beat Diego Maradona’s Argentina in the final to be crowned champions for the third time. It was the final tournament with a divided Germany before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The 1990 World Cup was also the last played before some major alterations were made to the rules. The 1990 World Cup had a record low goals-per-game of 2.2 so the back-pass rule and three points for a win were introduced before the next tournament to encourage attacking play.
Away from the bright lights of the World Cup, German second division side Mainz 05 offered a 23-year-old recent graduate from the University of Frankfurt his first semi-professional contract as a footballer. Thirty years later, Jürgen Klopp would go on to lead Liverpool to their 19th league title.
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