An Ode to Gerard Houllier’s Treble-Successful Liverpool Staff
It is troublesome to neglect about treble-winning campaigns, however Liverpool’s feat within the 2000/01 season unfairly slips below the radar.
Name it the ‘Mickey Mouse treble’ all you need, nevertheless it’s silverware and it counts.
If Manchester United can rejoice their 2016 Europa League win, and Manchester Metropolis can rejoice a home treble, then Liverpool have each proper to rejoice a very spectacular season initially of the twenty first century.
So the 2000/01 season was Gerard Houllier’s was getting into his third season in cost at Anfield, however solely his second full season as sole chief of the group – having shared these duties with Roy Evans for a interval in 1998.
By 2000, the Frenchman was some two years into his deliberate five-year programme to rebuild the Reds and had guided them to a fourth place league end on the finish of the 1999/00 marketing campaign. It wasn’t sufficient, although, which led to the next season. All or nothing.
The 2000/01 season bought off to a constructive begin. A youthful strategy was paying off with Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard rapidly changing into fan favourites round Anfield for performances past their years, whereas new captain – and man mountain – Sami Hyypia shored up the defence.
New faces arrived, too; Gary McAllister, Emile Heskey and Dietmar Hamann all gave Liverpool some additional high quality in depth to assist them compete throughout a number of fronts.
Manchester United had begun to run away with the Premier League by November, amassing a fairly sizeable 12 level lead atop of the desk. It did not deter Houllier’s Reds although, who saved the strain on, but additionally kicked off their League Cup marketing campaign with 2-1 win over Chelsea in additional time and loved a routine European journey to the Czech Republic to dispatch of Slovan Liberec over two legs.
Whereas as of late prime sides are fast to ignore the League Cup as a ‘nothing trophy’, Houllier arguably connected probably the most significance to it. Talking to Liverpool’s official web site, Phil Thompson – who served as assistant supervisor that season – defined the gaffer’s thought course of: “I can bear in mind Gerard Houllier in his group conferences and he saved saying, ‘Crack this primary trophy and issues will likely be quite a bit simpler.'”
He wasn’t flawed.
Impressed by the gaffers phrases, Liverpool made certain to clinch a trophy on the earliest obtainable alternative – they usually did so in advantageous trend.
With renovation work being performed at Wembley, the Reds have been headed to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff by February 2000 and confronted Birmingham within the remaining. Fowler’s early objective sufficient till a final minute penalty noticed Birmingham take the sport to additional time and penalties, making it the primary English cup remaining to go that far. Houllier’s facet held their nerve and lifted the cup, profitable their first trophy of the season, and Houllier’s first as Liverpool boss.
Issues started to tail off within the league come the flip of the brand new 12 months, nevertheless, and it turned apparent that it was a formality for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Crimson Devils to elevate yet one more Premier League title. So with that in thoughts, all Anfield eyes have been now on home and European cup competitions, with Liverpool in good stead to win each the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup as winter got here to a detailed.
By April, the league was determined, thus it was full steam forward on the treble, powered by a morale-boosting 3-2 away victory in opposition to Everton on 16 April, the place McAllister secured the win with a surprising last-gasp winner to silence Goodison Park.
Three days later, Liverpool have been at it once more and Anfield became a fortress as one other McAllister objective was sufficient to see them previous Barcelona and ship them into the ultimate of the UEFA Cup – their first European remaining of the post-Heysel period.
This was it. Instantly, Houllier’s Reds have been on the cusp of a treble of trophies after years with none for each membership and supervisor.
First up was the FA Cup in opposition to Arsenal, and who else to finish a comeback than academy starlet Michael Owen.
Owen bagged a brace within the remaining 10 minutes of the sport to show the ultimate on its head and clinch his membership the FA Cup in probably the most dramatic of fashions.
But when that wasn’t dramatic sufficient, Liverpool would then play out one of the crucial well-known European finals in historical past simply 4 days later.
Thompson described the top to finish affair as ‘probably the most fascinating however nerve-wracking recreation’ from the dugout as Liverpool scuppered a 2-0 lead in opposition to Alaves, given to them by Markus Babbel and Steven Gerrard, and once more misplaced an eventual 4-3 lead regardless of Robbie Fowler’s finest efforts to win the sport from the bench.
They headed into additional time with the sport at 4-4, and for the entire Reds’ heroes that season, it was opposition defender Delfi Geli who made historical past for Liverpool, scoring an personal objective that received Houllier’s facet the UEFA Cup within the 116th minute of play – by way of golden objective.
Liverpool had received a European trophy for the primary time since 1984, and Houllier had performed the unthinkable by turning the Reds into winners once more. That might be the height of his profession at Anfield, and he would finally depart in 2004, however his legacy was by no means to be forgotten.
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