A Quarter of a Century of Liverpool FC in the Premier League Era, 1992-2017, Part 5
Partnering of the Ways
The fifth instalment of this major new series on Dynasty covers the period of Liverpool’s radical but ultimately unsuccessful experiment of having two managers, with Gérard Houllier joining the incumbent Roy Evans.
Originally a series of articles covering the period 1992 to Klopp’s arrival in 2017, it was written by TTT Subscriber Anthony Stanley, serialised on The Tomkins Times and then published by TTT as a book called A BANQUET WITHOUT WINE - A Quarter-Century of Liverpool FC in the Premier League Era.
The book is available from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Banquet-Without-Wine-Quarter-Century-Liverpool/dp/1521850674. It remains a definitive matter of record of Liverpool FC during the period in question.
There have been myriad words written about the beginning of the Gérard Houllier regime at Anfield, and in particular, about the dynamics of his relationship with Roy Evans and how the partnership could work. Would it be too much of a stretch to suggest that it was an experiment doomed to failure and that it saved the Liverpool board from making a harsh and painful decision – to dispense with the services of one of their most loyal and well-liked servants? Perhaps, but the impression remains that Liverpool’s owners were working in the realms of realpolitik; the end would justify the means and if success followed, all would be well. If not, a servant of the club who bled the red of the city, would more than likely fall upon his sword.
Following the recent success of the hitherto unknown Arsène Wenger at Arsenal – a club cast in a similar mould to Liverpool – it was natural that Peter Robinson and the newly arriving Rick Parry (the latter of whom was a confirmed embracer of modernity and had been one of the driving architects of the Premier League) would finally look to the continent to try to get the club back on track. Though the Evans’ years had witnessed some sparkling football, the lingering spectres of ill-discipline and a soft underbelly would perhaps need a more authoritarian figure to exorcise them. Moreover, perhaps the fact that sports science, players’ diets and analytics were becoming ever more central on the continent might give Liverpool an advantage in a game that was now deadly competitive as the financial rewards continued to spiral. At the very least, it is reasonable to surmise that an outside figure – a break with tradition – might be able to excise the niggling malignancy that was dressing room bad habits.
Peter Robinson was a fan of Houllier and the Frenchman was a fan of the Reds, having fallen in love with the club and the city during his college days in the Sixties. Gérard had actually had a chequered managerial career and had infamously overseen the French national side’s late capitulation in their quest to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. But the recent success of Les Bleus in the same competition four years later gave Houllier massive kudos as it was he who had sown many of the seeds in French youth football. In short, in the summer of 1998 his stock had never been higher and the disciplinarian and moderniser was mooted as being the perfect tonic for the ills that had beset the Reds.
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