Manchester City are a pretty dominant force in English football these days, but this wasn’t always the case. Back before Sheikh Mansour and his glorious oil money ran the roost in Manchester, there was a different big guy in charge. Whilst they now dwindle in the tepid waters of the Europa League, Liverpool were once a force to be reckoned with.
And this was shown in one emphatic victory back in 1995.
As we all know, the mid-90s were the glory days for English football. We’d just cleared ourselves from the ‘British disease’ of hooliganism and were enjoying the first intrepid steps of the Premier League.
The national side was absolutely king and we were all marvelling at the thrilling spectacle of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United surge, Alan Shearer’s lethal striking spree and the come down from Blackburn’s astonishing ’94/95 victory.
Liverpool had serious quality in the squad in 1995/96 but could only place 3rd in the Premier League. Fowler hit 28 PL goals ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/so1zi0708O
— footballreminder (@footballremind) December 5, 2016
The Premier League had just been reduced to 20 teams for the first ever time and Alan Hansen had uttered those infamous, haunting words; “You can’t win anything with kids”.
The Class of ’92 thankfully proved the perma-moaning pundit wrong and set the league alight. This was the season of Kevin Keegan’s advertising board slump, Eric Cantona’s return and what is regarded to be the single greatest game of domestic football in English history. You know the one: Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle. How many times has that and boy run on ESPN?
Players like Bergkamp, Ginola, Fowler and Kanchelskis lit up the league along with the rest.
The mid-90s were the time to be an English football fan. Unless, of course, that meant supporting Manchester City.
Because City used to be a shambles just like the rest of the riff raff. And at the end of October 1995, they sat nervously in the relegation zone.
With Alan Ball taking the job that was “the envy of millions”, in his own deluded words, City got off to a torrid start to the season.
When they faced Liverpool at the end of October in 1995, things were very, very bleak for the Citizens. On the back of an 11 game winless streak – in fact, earning only two points – City were miles behind their superiors, Liverpool.
— The Cityzen Blues (@TheCityzenBlues) July 15, 2017
So perhaps the result shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Reds had the likes of Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler and John Barnes in their team whilst City had the more modest names of Niall Quinn, Nicky Summerbee and Georgi Kinkladze among their ranks.
You can guess, then, who was odds-on favourite to win.
Anfield play host to the battle, the David and Goliath moment.
Sadly for City, David had left his slingshot at home that day. And, to start, things went as expected; with Ian Rush and Jamie Redknapp nabbing a goal each within five minutes. City were well and truly up against it. But after that, the storm calmed somewhat. Despite trailing 2-0, City were shockingly holding their own.
At the half-hour mark, the England international John Barnes was replaced by another England international, Neil Ruddock. Off went Barnes’ skill, class and brains and on came Ruddock’s strength, force and big mouth. Quite the swap.
And not a swap you’d expect to catalyse a four-goal spree.
Nevertheless, it did. Well, in some respects it did because there was eventually a four-goal spree down the line, though we’re not entirely sure it was thanks to ‘Razor’ Ruddock.
But it came and it absolutely rained goals. However that day, sadly for Ball’s City team, it didn’t just rain, it poured.
Liverpool netted four goals within 17 minutes against a dishevelled Eike Immel in goal and City were left hanging in limbo, without a chance to recover anything from the game.
6-0 is a pretty harrowing scoreline for anyone, but it’s particularly interesting to look back on games like these given the situation today.
Net spend this summer (approx)
Man Utd £160m
Man City £130m
Hard to compete with that.#LFC £35m
— Spion Kop (@TheKopHQ) September 1, 2017
City were once the ultimate whipping boy of the Premier League and yet today they’re the real kingpins of it.
But on that day 22 years ago, it was Roy Evans’ Liverpool who walked away smelling of success.
Following that game, City did actually manage to turn things around quite a bit and looked as if they were somehow going to salvage their already diabolical season. They went on a five game unbeaten run and picked up 13 points from a possible 15. That’s over seven times the points they’d taken in over double the amount of games previously.
From there, City had a mixed bag of results and were flirting with relegation all season. Things went right down to the wire in the end.
The Manchester club were third from bottom and had a chance for salvation, with both Coventry City and Southampton sitting awkwardly with them on level points.
But when it came to it, it was Liverpool who again dealt the killer blow and sent the Citizens tumbling back down the tiers.
A 2-2 draw proved not to be enough, as the Sky Blues and Saints did just enough to retain their Premier status. Though it was only on goal difference, so clearly games such as the Reds’ 6-0 thrashing did their bit to ruin the season for City.
In the other half of Manchester, things were much prettier and Alex Ferguson’s United went on to snatch what should have been Kevin Keegan’s title. He, sadly, didn’t love it, after all.
And neither did Manchester City. We’re sure today’s success makes up for it, though.