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Liverpool v Spurs, 08.11.97

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published November, 2017, but first written in 1997


McNanaman, 48
Leonhardsen, 50
Redknapp, 65
Owen, 80

Attendance:- 38,006

Referee:- S.J.Lodge

Liverpool:- James; Jones (sub McAteer), Bjornebye, Kvarme, Matteo; Leonhardsen, Ince, Redknapp, McNanaman (sub Berger); Riedle (sub Owen), Fowler

Spurs:- Walker; Carr, Scales, Calderwood (sub Sinton, 68), Campbell, Edinburgh; Anderton (sub Dominguez, 68), Howells, Ginola; Iversen, Allen (sub Armstrong, 14)

Firstly, here are some comments I made during the game in an Internet conversation:-

Here's the team; the news of which was described as sensational by Capital Gold's Jonathan Pearce:-

I think the word sensational was applied to the fact that Anderton starts; as does Rory Allen! Dominguez and Armstrong are "rested" but on the bench.

Ian Walker plays despite the death of his mother on Monday.

Team in full:-

Walker;Carr, Edinburgh; Scales, Campbell; Calderwood; ( don't know his position yet )Howells, Anderton, Ginola; Iversen, and Allen

Subs:- Bardsen; Sinton, Fox, Dominguez, Armstrong.

Liverpool 0 - Spurs 0

It looks like we're playing 5-3-2.

Allen went down injured early on, and is off the pitch as I write! No editorial comment required. In fact, Armstrong is getting ready to come on! Another astute GF move:)

Liverpool 0 - Spurs 0

Armstrong on for Allen. Soon after he set up Iversen, who missed out. Ginola booked for foul. Cross from Ginola had James flummoxed, but strikers unable to convert. Sounds like we've had a lot of possession, and spirit!

Liverpool 0 - Spurs 0

We're well in this game, and the home crowd are pretty quiet. Scales has brilliantly challenged either Fowler or Riedle just before half-time. There was a loud appeal by the crowd for a back-pass by Edinburgh, but he got away with it. Sounds like a bit of Liverpool pressure just before the half time whistle. Ginola shot into James' chest

Woe is us, after such a good first half, we've been caught on the hop

Liverpool 2 - Spurs 0

Macnanaman ( 48mins ) Leonhardsen ( 50mins )

Walker palmed out a Redknapp shot, for Macnanaman to score from 3 yds. Scales and Carr looking at each other quizzically, over who should have been tracking Macnanaman. 2 minutes later Leonardsen scores, again after Walker saved a shot

Fowler has just hit the post from a sharp angle. Pack yer bags Gerry!

It's getting worse:((

Liverpool 3 - Spurs 0

Macnanaman ( 48mins ) Leonhardsen ( 50mins ) Redknapp ( 65mins)

Haven't heard much mention of Anderton, and he's now been substituted. He and Calderwood are off. Sinton, and Dominguez are on.

It's sounded pretty much oneway traffic this half, and the fans are singing "Bye-bye Gerry, Bye-Bye"

We've used all our subs,and now Iversen is getting treatment:(.

One more up-date to come with the final scores. Glad I didn't pay for the jumbotron:(

FINAL SCORES - ALL CONFIRMED. I wish I could say it had been a pleasure doing the job today. If I hear of Gerry's resignation, maybe I'll do one more up-date. A man of honour would walk now............

Oh the misery...................

Liverpool 4 - Spurs 0

Macnanaman ( 48mins ) Leonhardsen ( 50mins ) Redknapp ( 65mins ) Owen ( 80mins )

Iversen described as a passenger since the last up-date. A resounding "We'll support you evermore" was heard from the Spurs support before this 4th goal. HE MUST GO NOW, MUSTN'T HE? The commentators seem to be shifting the blame onto the players, for being individuals, and not a team, but whose fault is it?

The only consolation is that we don't go bottom three, because Bolton, Barnsley, and Sheffield Wednesday remain below us, and Everton. Southampton move above us.

......and some comments from Ivan Cohen.:-

For the past few years I have always looked forward to a trip to Anfield as one of the highlights of Spurs' season. The games have largely been pleasurable; the trip itself is quite enjoyable; the atmosphere at Anfield is still a notable experience; and the Scousers are among the friendlier supporters in my experience. However, given Spurs' recent run of dire performances I decided to give the trip a miss this year, opting instead for the live-screening of the match on the Jumbotron at White Hart Lane.

My feeling prior to the game was that this was a match that Spurs would gain a creditable draw, or find themselves on the wrong end of a severe thrashing. I said as much to my fellow viewers at WHL, upon meeting them. Along with my wife, the lovely Jeanine, my brother Neil and his wife Linda, and the legendary Bruce Lewis and Elaine, we were also joined by former List-luminary Dave du Vergier, a veritable wit among football cognoscenti and all-time nice bloke!

Spurs had apparently not won an away match since March, and had a current(ish) form of one win in the last nine matches. Whatever the perceived problems with the current Liverpool incarnation, they were always the better team on paper before a ball had been kicked. The Spurs line-up looked to have a much better balance than in previous games:

Ian Walker played in goal despite his bereavement earlier in the week (our condolences to all the Walker family on their sad loss). Manager Gerry Francis opted for a five-man defence, with Sol Campbell, Colin Calderwood and John Scales in the central roles, Steve Carr on the right and Justin Edinburgh on the left.

Midfield consisted of David Howells, Darren Anderton and David Ginola, with the latter playing mostly left-side. The front-line was Steffen Iversen and the returning Rory Allen. Chris Armstrong--who has not looked to be fit enough to be playing first-team football after a long injury lay-off-- was joined on the bench by goalkeeper Espen Baardsen, and wingers Dominguez, Sinton and Fox.

For the first half Spurs played some neat compact football. Movement off-the-ball was good, and the passing which has been notable by its absence for far too long seemed to manifest itself with increasing confidence as the first half wore on. Spurs managed to both attack and defend as a team. When Liverpool were in possession they found an intractable body of Spurs players between them and Ian Walker's goal. What few chances they had were restricted to rather poor long-range efforts. Spurs countered quickly throughout, and probably had a slight edge in first-half play.

The first half contained only two real negatives pertaining to Spurs: first was the loss of Rory Allen to an elbow from Robbie Fowler (not Fowler's first attempt at over-physical intimidation during the game!). Although Armstrong deputised for Allen, his lack of match fitness seemed even more noticable than either Allen or Iversen, both of whom were also returning from long-term injury. Secondly, Iversen palpably tired by the half-hour mark, leaving Spurs with an ineffectual front-line for the remainder.

A nil-nil half-time scoreline suggested that Spurs were doing things well, and that maybe (just maybe) Gerry Francis was finally beginning to turn things round. Although the crowd at White Hart Lane was one of the smallest I have encountered for a Jumbotron screening, there was a manifest optimism among the faithful gathered there. The general feeling was that forty-five more minutes of the same would give Spurs a draw at least. But it was not to be...

Two minutes or so into the second half, Spurs found themselves defending the edge of the box. But, following the switch of McNanaman to the left side of the field, Liverpool hit a shot which Walker could only parry (the surface seemed to be quite greasy on top), yet the Spurs' defenders remained relatively static as a red-shirted player snuck in to score from the rebound. But, these things happen in football. Surely Spurs would regroup quickly and take the game back to Liverpool? No! Within minutes a similar situation saw more static defending by the entire Spurs' team, another parried shot, and a second goal. In short, two minutes of lapsed concentration and Spurs were two goals behind.

Surely now the supreme leadership from the defensive colossus of Sol Campbell would combine with phenomenal support from Spurs' travelling contingent to lift the lads in white to a rousing riposte? No! This was capitulation time. Heads dropped. Spurs ceased to run off the ball. Liverpool could easily play possession football without any real challenge. Pride was wholly absent, yet not from the Spurs' supporters who continually urged the team on. Their vocal efforts deserved more from the characterless caricatures of Spurs' players assembled on the hallowed turf at Anfield. It was no real surprise that Liverpool scored two more goals before referee Lodge blew the final whistle to put us out of our misery.

As we left the ground with our heads hung low, I consoled myself with the fact that I was going to see "The Full Monty" later that evening. At least that lived up to expectation, and provided me with fulfilling entertainment. Part of me felt that this loss could not entirely be chalked up to Gerry Francis: after all, the first half performance was rather good, and gave cause for optimism. It offered the possibility of a sound foundation to build upon. But the other part of my brain was arguing that the lack of character begins with the foundations the manager has laid at the club in the past few seasons. It is a team he has built in his own image. And to the man's credit, when interviewed on the radio he (finally) accepted full responsibility: no more excuses about injuries; no more tales of unfulfilled transfers. Finally, some words about where the buck stops, and who is responsible. The players when interviewed appear to have faith in the manager, although one would hardly expect them to say anything else to the media.

Gerry says that he will be in discussion with Alan Sugar over the next fortnight (ie, before the next Premiership match) about the future at White Hart Lane. With Spurs perilously close to the drop zone, and the shareholders' Annual General Meeting slated for Thursday November 27th (2:30pm) the next fortnight should see most Spurs' supporters biting their nails to the quick, awaiting the outcome of these meetings. Radio suggests that should Francis leave, the favourites for his successor are Jurgen Klinsmann, Joe Kinnear or George Graham. Perhaps they read this List? I suspect that the bookies will have more on the inside track of this particular race ;-)

Ivan "Doctor Hotspur" Cohen

Postscript:- It was a couple of days after this game that Gerry Francis did indeed announce his resignation. Chris Hughton took charge for the next game against Crystal Palace, before the installation of Christian Gross

Read Brian Judson's preview for this game.
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