Author Topic: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)  (Read 4812 times)

Offline PhaseOfPlay

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UEFA Super Cup 2001


Without going all diagram-happy, the subject of this game will be less about the tactics of a game, and what that game represented at the time, particularly to a younger PhaseofPlay who was a few years into coaching, still playing, and who had been in awe of the football Evans’ team had played, and was at that point (2000-2001) a little suspicious of the little French Commander who masterminded one of our best years in a long time at that point. It was a season to remember, as we all know. But more than the trophies, it was what the season represented that was most important.


Five Games to Greatness


What a year 2001 became. Less than a year after the European Super Cup, Houllier was planning for Liverpool to be “ten games from greatness”, before a tie against Leverkeusen that was supposed to send Liverpool on their way to a Champions League Final, along with League games that could have resulted in a first league title since 1991. Ultimately, it wasn’t to be. But before that pronouncement – just over a year before it, in fact – Liverpool did play five games that led to one of the greatest seasons in Liverpool history.

Four Trophies in a row


Starting in February 2001, at the League Cup Final against Birmingham, Liverpool were to step into an odyssey that would be the envy of almost any club in England, if not the whole of Europe. Playing in a first final since the ill-fated “White Suit” FA Cup final of 1996, Liverpool took on a lower division club, in a scrappy and nervous game that belied Liverpool’s status and experience, but was perfectly in keeping with their desire to win a first trophy under a burgeoning new team ruled by an authoritarian and ultra-professional manager. This was the new Liverpool – lacking some of the verve of the previous Evans side, but replete with steel, vigour, determination and a cold eye for exploiting a weakness with pace and precision. A combination of nerves, Birmingham’s work-rate, and a last minute flash of insanity from Henchoz meant that the game itself would go into extra time and penalties – a shame, since Fowler’s goal was good enough to win any final on its own. However, saves from Grainger and Johnson by Westerveld, who seemed to be 7 feet tall in goal, meant that Liverpool had won their first trophy since 1995, and the first step on an immense journey began.

Next up was the FA Cup. In any other situation, the outcome of that final was daylight robbery. Arsenal were not as clinical as they were in the league (and Liverpool rode their luck a few times), but they dominated large parts of this game with their trademark fluent passing game. It was fortunate for Liverpool that Henry seemed to be having an off-day – or an unlucky one at least – and it wasn’t until the second half that Arsenal broke the deadlock, through Ljunberg. A poor kick from Westerveld allowed Arsenal to break and release Ljunberg, who easily rounded the keeper and placed the ball into the net. For all intents and purposes, game over. But this wasn’t the Spice Boys of ’96. For all that Liverpool lost in flair under Houllier, they gained a resilience and never-say-die attitude (at least in 2000-2002) that would stand them in good stead for a long time to come. A free kick, badly cleared by Arsenal, dropped to the hottest property in football at the time, Michael Owen, and he volleyed it into the back of the net. With minutes to go later on, a long pass found a galloping Owen burn Adams and Bould Dixon for pace, before slotting a delightful shot in at the far post. 2-1 Owen, 2-1 Liverpool, a second trophy for the cabinet.

As if the adventure of the FA Cup wasn’t enough, four days later, Liverpool traipsed to Dortmund to take part in what would become one of the most entertaining European final games of modern times, if not all time. A resolute Alaves had largely shocked their way to the final, and a dour game of counter-attacking football was predicted. The pundits couldn’t have been more wrong, as a rampant Gerrard and a wily McAllister tore Liverpool in front, with power, precision, and a helping hand from Markus Babbel. But Alaves were determined to have their say, and Javi Moreno and Jordi Cruyff would help Alaves to a last minute 4-4 draw, prompting extra time and a Golden Goal scenario. The excitement must have got to Alaves, though, as they had two players sent off in this period, and the Karmona foul allowed McAllister (appropriately, given his effect on the team all season) to float in a dangerous free kick that Geli from Alaves took off his keepers hands and directed into his own net, with the deftest of touches. Golden Goal, 5-4 Liverpool, and another European trophy to sing songs about.

That brought an end to a great season in all, along with a 4-0 thrashing of Charlton that put Liverpool in the “Champions League” for the first time ever (as if the four previous European Cups counted for nothing). The following season’s curtain raiser – the Community Shield – saw Liverpool face their greatest rivals, Manchester United, for what is ostensibly a trinket, but nonetheless showed the continuing rise of a mostly young team that just didn’t know how to say “I quit” at that point. A penalty from McAllister and a clinical piece of opportunism from Owen saw a 2-1 victory for Liverpool, and the train continued on its way, for its final trophy destination of the year – Stade Louis II, in Monaco.

Three-Two to Liverpool

In the UEFA Super Cup, Liverpool faced the might of Bayern Munich, who were also fresh from a heady season where they beat Valencia 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out the previous season. Additionally, they had won the Bundesliga in the same season, so they were coming into this game from a position of some strength. Liverpool were looking to complete a shopping list of trophies and cups, and were to look forward to a maiden campaign in the Champions League. The season was soon to take a turn for the worse, due to the heart problems of Gerard Houllier. But at that point, the view from the Kop was a rosy one, and Liverpool were not only at the top of the hill – they were looking for other hills to conquer nearby.
 
The game itself was another one that displayed the sheer power of Houllier’s team when they got into their stride. In a game almost prescient of the 5-1 England victory over Germany later that year, the combination of Gerrard, Owen and Heskey proved to be far too hot for Munich to handle in the first half. Scoring was started early on, with new signing John Arne Riise finishing a rapid counter-attack on the ground he had played so many games on for Monaco. Heskey displayed the kind of strength, speed, and determination that would later become absent from his game – but which in this instance led to an unstoppable goal. Owen completed the Liverpool rout just after half-time, capitalising on a great Carragher long ball immediately after kick-off. Munich managed to pull one back soon after, and Jancker’s goal for Munich’s second was mere consolation. Liverpool had completed not only a historic treble, but had won 5 trophies in a calendar year. The trophies may not have included the big two, but they nevertheless represented a team coming to the prime of its existence – a team that should have gone on and achieved a lot more. Despite the denouement of this team, though, the achievements of 2001 can never be underestimated, as they were enough to last most team for a decade of achievement. For Liverpool to have done it all in the space of little over a season was a phenomenal achievement.

Teams:



Too Much Too Soon?

The question, though, will always be “Did this team peak too early?” Liverpool went into the 2001-02 on a high and continued to progress rapidly as the weeks went on. Unfortunately, the events at half-time in the Leeds game at Anfield that October would almost completely derail Liverpool’s season. The continuity needed to push a team onwards was lost, and although Phil Thompson did an admirable job in maintaining pressure in both the Champions League and the Premier League, without the Admiral at the helm – the chief navigator – something was lost. A second place finish, a dramatic Anfield European night against Roma, and getting to the quarter finals of the Champions League were merely mirages. The following season’s tribulation on the field, rather than 2002’s tribulations off it, would ensure that this Liverpool team would somehow always be seen as merely a very, very good one, rather than a great one.

One Legendary Year


That game capped an incredible year in the life of every true Red. When the forces of destiny pitted us against the might of Roma, we swatted them aside. When we were faced with the unstoppable force of Barcelona, we built an impregnable wall (oh how they mocked us, but they could have played 14 Barcelona players over those two legs – they still weren’t getting through). When they put the about-to-be-one-of-the-greatest-teams Arsenal in front of us, we absorbed their talent and unleashed some of our own – not only did we have tactics and players and resolve, but we now also had Lady Luck on our side, and she was a flirtatious damsel with this Liverpool team. When they said that Alaves and Liverpool would provide one of the drabbest games of the season, we treated their tired, cynical eyes to one of the games of the decade. When the Manchester behemoth (Beta version) rolled into Cardiff to assert their authority, we "High-Nooned" them back to East Lancs. And finally, when the mighty German Fußball machine was dispatched in Monaco, we stole the ignition and showed it how to purr.

Despite the wheels off the future of this Liverpool team eventually coming off – through circumstance more than anything - the UEFA Super Cup capped an incredible year. It was a game that showed that Liverpool deserved to be at the top table in Europe again, finally. It was a game that showed that the UEFA Cup was no fluke – that Liverpool could play with the big boys, and that the good times were on the way back. Opening up Munich’s back five with three of the hottest talents in English football at the time, gave every Liverpool fan the hope that we would begin to step out of the shadows of our closest rivals; that finally we had a glimpse of realised potential; that finally we had a team with skill, power, pace, and more importantly, balls. It didn’t matter whether it was Barcelona, Roma or a Hitzfeld-managed Bayern Munich. Whoever was set-up in front of us was getting knocked down. This game, probably more than any of the previous finals of the year, showed what a Houllier team could be like – confident, tricky, strong, unbowed, unperturbed by reputation, and brazen. If nobody believed that Liverpool meant business before, then they would believe it now. History will, of course, tell a different story. But at the time, this game – this finale to an incredible year – would be proof-positive that Liverpool were back. And they were ready to take some major scalps.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 05:18:24 PM by BalesofHay »
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Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 12:24:01 AM »
Great stuff and not just tactical nous but a lovely read. Thanks !
Yep.

Offline BIG DICK NICK

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2013, 12:41:47 AM »
I don't think I've seen that Heskey goal since the day be scored it but it was phenomenal. Without sounding like Hansen doing lazy punditry...pace, power, finesse...it had it all. What a great time to be a fan, there was a belief back then that we were progressing with every season.

To be annoying, Houllier was taken I'll at Anfield, not Elland Road though.

Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 12:48:32 AM »
And taken ill not I'll. ;)
Yep.

Offline PhaseOfPlay

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2013, 12:51:15 AM »
I don't think I've seen that Heskey goal since the day be scored it but it was phenomenal. Without sounding like Hansen doing lazy punditry...pace, power, finesse...it had it all. What a great time to be a fan, there was a belief back then that we were progressing with every season.

To be annoying, Houllier was taken I'll at Anfield, not Elland Road though.

Good spot!
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Offline BIG DICK NICK

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Offline Corkboy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 02:34:21 PM »
Good read PoP, thanks.

Offline Redsnappa

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 02:55:28 PM »
Thanks PoP, I really enjoyed that article. What a breathless year that was.

I'd completely forgotten the Heskey goal in the Super Cup, so I checked it on YouTube - where did he get that pace? Astonishingly quick burst there.

Here we go for others of advancing years and receding memories:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/P3-C6uS7e5A" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/P3-C6uS7e5A</a>

Offline Spanish Al

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 03:26:30 PM »
Where did that pace go is probably the more appropriate question. What a monster of a player he could have been.

Good read that.
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Offline Hellrazor

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 04:34:07 PM »
pretty sure steve bould was long out of the game, Lee dixon i think you meant

but i loved that read

brought me back to a happy time in my life

one ill cherish

some tremendous little snippets in there too, love the one about the germans been shown how to purr

ill always have fond memories and a place in my heart for houllier for these years. they were good times.
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline PhaseOfPlay

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 05:14:48 PM »
pretty sure steve bould was long out of the game, Lee dixon i think you meant

but i loved that read

brought me back to a happy time in my life

one ill cherish

some tremendous little snippets in there too, love the one about the germans been shown how to purr

ill always have fond memories and a place in my heart for houllier for these years. they were good times.

See this is what happens when I try to be less... "PhaseofPlay"-ish lol, and write from pure memory, and less like a scouting report, haha.
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Offline Hellrazor

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2013, 09:49:45 PM »
See this is what happens when I try to be less... "PhaseofPlay"-ish lol, and write from pure memory, and less like a scouting report, haha.
thanks for the throwback though. That was the most important thing
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Offline Dingle Red

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 10:00:31 PM »
Where did that pace go is probably the more appropriate question. What a monster of a player he could have been.

Good read that.
Beast on his day, watched the 2000-1 season review couple of months ago, Didn't half hit a few purple patches.

Also remember think it was his 1st goal for us forget who it was against, (was similar to that goal in the Super cup)and thinking "what a fucking monster we've got on our hands".
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 10:02:47 PM by Dingle Red »

Offline rafa4eva

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2013, 03:17:59 PM »
Impressive post and what a year.

For me the highlights were ...

Mcallister made such a massive impact, he was good at the time, hindsight made him great, hyppia and henchoz were brilliant, babel ( ze German ) was an amazing footballer for a defender and Owen, well he's a bonafide twat but by god could he score even when we didn't deserve it from general play.

For me though, fowler will always stand out, that 2001 side was rocked with babel getting ill, Mcallister leaving and for me, letting fowler leave was a massive mistake. I don't have science or facts on my side, just this feeling that fowler could never play as well for another side, as he could for us. I know 11million was a good sum and his injuries piled up after we sold him but I still think if he had stayed he would have become a better player and he would not have got injured or not as much.... Hopes and Aspirations but fowler had shown me he had more in his locker than just scoring goals, he could make goals and he had game intelligence ...

Here's to blinkered memories :)



Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #11: UEFA Super Cup 2001 (B. Munich v Liverpool FC)
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2013, 12:02:50 AM »
Bump for Christmas
Yep.