FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 1st MAY, 1999
LIVERPOOL 3 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)
Redknapp 49 pen,
Carragher o.g 12,
Referee:- Stephen Lodge
Liverpool:- Friedel; Kvarme ( sub Gerrard 46 ), Staunton, Matteo, Carragher; Leonhardsen ( sub Song, 76 ), Thompson ( sub Bjornebye, 88 ), Ince, Redknapp; McManaman, Riedle
Subs not used:- James; Dundee
Spurs:- Walker; Carr, Campbell, Nilsen, Taricco;Anderton, Freund ( sub Sherwood, 66 ), Clemence ( sub King, 46 ), Dominguez ( sub Fox, 80 );Armstrong, Iversen
Subs not used:- Baardsen; Ginola
Booked:- Taricco, Armstrong, Walker, Freund
Sent off:- Taricco ( 2nd yellow card offence )
Spurs squandered a two goal lead, after Carragher scored another own goal for us ( having done so at the lane earlier this season ), and Iversen gave us the first half lead. Apparently, Taricco was unlucky to be sent off by Lodge for two bookings, and the penalty award was a bit harsh, with Walker getting booked into the bargain as well. George Graham was not at the game, and it will be interesting to find out where he was. I like to think that he is saving his best performances for a while for the remaining three games, which offer us a chance to have a say in the championship, and to have a rip-roaring finish to the season.
Here's an eye witness account from Bruce Lewis:-
Report Liverpool v Spurs, 1 May 1999
Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, North West England (Credit cards not accepted).
Going into May, our remaining fixture list showed games against four of the best teams in the country. Chelsea and Arse at home, Liverpool away and then Manchester Utd away at the end of the season. On first looking at this fixture list when it came out last year, we had to hope big time that we were secure from relegation before this time of the year came around. Thankfully we are, as my prediction of maybe one point from twelve for this period is still unfortunately a distinct possibility.
My Legendette Elaine and I journeyed up to the home of what used to be arguably the best team in the world. Now Liverpool are a pale shadow of themselves; they’re still a top half Premiership team, but they are a long way from winning the league again, a feat they achieved eighteen times, their last championship being nine long years ago now.
Of course, Tottenham had already won once at Anfield this season when we came away with our best win ever with a 3-1 result in the League Cup back in November. That happily eventually led onto an incredible cup win at Wembley just over a month ago.
Elaine and I drove up to Liverpool, and paid four quid for the honour of shoving the car in a school car park. One finds it preferable to leave the car in a reasonably secure area when venturing further north than a 100 miles from London, as the local scallywags tend to bribe you for the honour of not scratching up your horseless carriage.
We arrived at the ground at about 1.45 p.m. to see the Spurs coach pull away after having just deposited the players outside the ground. It was at about this time that Elaine told her first Scouse git where to go. The Barry Grant was crossing the road with an armful of red and white flags (yes, a sick sight at the best of times for a true Yid). As he shuffled in front of us, with his Terry Sullivan moustache and flat cap not gleeming in the mid day sun, he sang "We’re gonna shite on the Cockneys" in a tuneless local dirge. "You’ll be lucky," I quipped at the wee bonny bastard. He then grunted another insult that we couldn’t translate from Scouse to English, to which Elaine threw back, "Piss off yer Scouse git!"
Off course, Spurs being a North London team and neither of us actually having been born anywhere near the sound of Bow Bells, calling us Cockneys was obviously down to a lack of information on his part.
The coppers searched my bag on the way into the ground, and I told him that my ham sandwiches were not dangerous. The copper moaned that he was starving. Elaine told him that the sandwiches were poisonous.
I picked up a programme for the mandatory two quid, and we made our way onto the terraces. The sun was shining brightly high above Anfield, making it nice and warm. We made our way up to row 25, well deep into the shadow cast by the terrace above. Here it was surprisingly much cooler, and the cool breeze much more noticeable. So we stepped back down to the lower part of the terrace still bathed in sunshine and stood there talking to other Spurs supporters for a while. The ground was still mostly empty at this time. In November only 20,000 or so attended the game, leaving the ground more than half empty. Yesterday the ground was full.
About twenty minutes later the players came out for their warm up. Chris Hughton was putting the players through their paces, with some stretching and gentle (almost careless) jogging between the touchlines.
Later, the teams were announced; no Ginola or Sherwood, yet Stephen Clemence was playing. How were we to do anything with a line up like that?
As the game kicked off, it was clear that the battle wasn’t necessarily going to be as one might have thought it would be. Liverpool were even less than their old selves. We began to exploit and find holes in their lines, and Steffen Iversen was making fantastic inroads down the right hand side. He was tending towards the wing, with Jose Dominguez playing the other side of Chris Armstrong up front.
On 13 minutes, Steffen Iversen played a short cross into the edge of the six yard area. Chris Armstrong managed to miss it or ignore it or something else equally outrageous for a Premiership player, when scoring would have been much easier. Fortunately for Spurs though Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was shadowing Armstrong, and found himself in the path of the advancing ball. There was little he could do as his attempted tackle resulted in the ball passing through Brad Friedel’s legs and trickling into the back of the net.
Spurs should have scored through Chris Armstrong, when he was gloriously put through by I think Steffen Iversen. Iversen lofted the ball over the Liverpool defence, and Armstrong ran onto it. The Liverpool defence gave up, the Spurs players watched on expectantly and we all held our hearts in our mouths as Armstrong shot straight at Friedel instead of the yawning, gaping jaws of the empty, empty goal. The abuse Armstrong took from the Spurs crowd for that miss was plentiful and some would say justifiable. He tries, but he’s just not good enough.
However, Spurs did get a second goal on 35, through a dangerously flighted Darren Anderton free-kick. His cross floated near to Friedel, and Steffen Iversen came flying in to nod the ball into the back of the net before Friedel could get his hands to it, and also beating a few Liverpool defenders into the bargain too.
Now we could start to sing dodgy keeper. I guess it’s just written; American goalie, hasn’t a clue.
While Liverpool were having their moments and trying to break through, they really couldn’t contend with the way Spurs were handling the midfield. So many times a ball was almost played through that we could have tested their defence so many times. We were 2-0 up, things were looking okay, and Spurs were almost cruising. We even started singing to the Scousers, "Quite good, you used to be quite good"
And then, just before half time, disaster struck. Maricio Taricco was booked a second time, and was sent off. To us and some dodgy tv pictures afterwards it looked as if Taricco had left his foot stretched out on the ground and a Liverpool player just fell over it. The referee blew for a free-kick and ran over to see over it, and when he saw who it was he reached for his pocket. The game was not a dirty affair by any stretch of the imagination, and the incident was not even a particularly bad foul either. On top of that Taricco’s first yellow card was for a fairly innocuous challenge as well.
Spurs had to put someone in at left back to cover the departed Taricco. At the start of the second half, reserve defender Ledley King made his debut for Spurs in this position, replacing Stephen Clemence. Although King has been very impressive in the Reserves, his inclusion had to be questionable at best. While he gave a reasonable account of himself, the sending off of Taricco was the turning point in the game. Liverpool’s attacks tended to test King more than Carr who plays on the right. With Scales injured, Calderwood sold to Aston Villa and Luke Young???, choices were limited for who to have on the bench if we needed to replace a defender. Very surprised therefore that Justin Edinburgh, an experienced defender and left back, was not made available for this game by the powers that be as he was supposed to be available again after coming back from suspension. Not having Edinburgh to replace Taricco ultimately cost us the match.
Another player who I believe could have played in that position is Tim Sherwood. Since he arrived from Blackburn a few months ago, Sherwood has shown an appetite for doing almost anything. He can control the midfield, get stuck in, and has even scored a few goals too. With his keenness, experience and ability, he could have been played in that position without too much of a problem.
The other option that could and should have been played was to bring on David Ginola. He always needs two men from the other team to keep him in check, and this would have helped in a way to even up the numbers a bit. The natural swap out would have been Jose Dominguez, who tires after about an hour.
Unfortunately for us, after our effort of schlepping up to Anfield (crap drive up on the motorway by the way) and the money we spent getting there, none of these potential options were realised. Even when Liverpool began hitting us and hitting us and hitting us until we fell over and died did it occur to anyone to do anything about it.
Most of Liverpool’s goals came about due to weaknesses on the left side of defence. First, Roger Nilsen inexplicably stood out of the way of Karkheinz Riedle as he jogged into the left side of the Spurs penalty area. With no defenders interested in doing anything about this potentially dangerous situation, Ian Walker took it upon himself to bravely dive at Riedle’s feet to try and dispossess him. However, Riedle timed things just right, made sure he got some contact by Walker, and hit dirt. As they say, ‘that is how a German would do it.’
Referee Stephen Lodge had received his bundle of fifties through the post that morning in an envelope franked with an ‘L’ postcode. Jamie Redknapp stepped up to take the penalty, and despite our simple attempts to put him off, his shot easily beat Walker.
The Liverpool supporter behind me cheered. Another impressive cock-up by the Spurs ticket office; how could a Liverpool supporter possibly get a ticket in the away end, in the section populated by those of us with away season tickets? The mind boggles.
Liverpool’s second goal came from a free-kick taken from almost exactly the same position as Tottenham’s second goal. Paul Ince nodded the ball past Walker, who almost got a finger to it.
During the second half Liverpool brought on Rigobert Song to play down their right wing, who terrorised Ledley King down our left side. More than once he beat him, and his work contributed to Liverpool winning this game. One such move fell to Steve McManaman, whose shot left Ian Walker completely unsighted as it curled in.
Things were turning ugly, and I’m not just talking about your average Scouse face. Steffen Freund has a temper that needs checking urgently; it is surprising that he hasn’t been sent off yet, as he tends to get upset too easily, as he did yesterday when he got booked straight after Redknapp’s penalty for hassling the referee. He also got booked in his first three or four games for Spurs. He was replaced before he received a second yellow from the referee, who was more fond of showing off what he had in his pocket than Bill Clinton.
Freund was replaced by Tim Sherwood, and Dominguez was later replaced by Ruel Fox. Of course, everyone wanted to know why David Ginola was prevented from setting foot on grass for this game; his presence would surely have influenced the outcome in Tottenham’s favour.
Again the Spurs ticket office gave us seats very near to where the home supporters were sitting. Nice of them to do that, so if there is trouble, we get a good view of it. At one point during the game things were very quiet. We made "ssshhh" noises to highlight the notoriously pathetic atmosphere and lack of home chanting by the Anfield crowd. When it was so quiet that you could hear an Ian Rush drop from a hundred paces away, one member of the Liverpool crowd shouted "Turn on the gas." (An obvious reference to gassing Jews). There were a few angry gasps of disbelief at this shocking statement, and a few of us stood up to look at who said it.
One of the Spurs supporters near me took particular exception to this unprovoked piece of racism. He stood up and shouted "Which one of you Scouse bastards said that?" He tried to make his way over to the barrier separating us from them, but others told him to stop. He then complained to the steward who just sat there not caring at all. Someone mentioned that if you made a joke about Hillsborough to them, they’d be all over you. Seems it’s okay for them to make racist comments though.
In the end the game slipped away from Spurs, as Liverpool equalised and then went on to win. Through the referee’s staggering ineptitude and the lack of ability in shoring up the Spurs side, a promising three points faded into nothingness. George Graham wasn’t at the game yesterday, and one wonders if the failure to cope with being down to ten men was down to rigid instructions from Graham, or Stewart Houston’s possible (though doubtful) carte blanche also being utterly unable to cope with reduced numbers.
The non-use of Ginola is particularly worrying; I remain unconvinced that Graham likes him, despite him picking up the Players’ Player of the Year Award last week. If Ginola and Anderton do leave in the close season then the flair will have drained somewhat from the team, and with a few other factors our style of play will tend towards the mob that Graham used to command a few years ago.
As I have said earlier on, we are safe from relegation. But the next few weeks may just show how close we could have come to it if we fail to pick up many more points at all this season. Although the referee stitched us up, we did nothing to adequately compensate for the resulting weaknesses.
· Brian Judson's preview
Top of page | Back to Fixtures and Results