How the champions compare: Liverpool 1990 versus 2020

How the champions compare: Liverpool 1990 versus 2020
Liverpool players with the trophy in 1990: Ronnie Rosenthal, Ian Rush, Ronnie Whelan, Alan Hansen and John Barnes. Picture: INPHO/Allsport

Liverpool have won their first title since 1990. Carl Markham compares the current side with the last one to lift the title...

Bruce Grobbelaar v Alisson Becker: Grobbelaar was the team’s larger-than-life, eccentric character and that sometimes detracted from how good a goalkeeper he was.

However, in 1990 he kept just 12 clean sheets in 38 league appearances, compared to Alisson Becker’s 11 in 21.

Alisson Becker. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Alisson Becker. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Brazil international, who has fully justified his £65million transfer fee, has a certain degree of extravagance but that relates to his confidence with the ball at his feet and his form over the last two seasons has been a crucial component in the season’s success.

Barry Venison v Trent Alexander-Arnold: Venison had been Liverpool’s first-choice right-back for three seasons — although he also filled in on the left when Jim Beglin broke his leg — and as a solid, tough-tackling defender was 25 when he won his second league title.

Local lad Alexander-Arnold, a product of the club’s academy has enjoyed a stellar rise since his debut in October 2016 as an 18-year-old. Good going forward, a brilliant crosser, he has provided 12 assists in the league, equalling the record for a defender he set himself last season.

Alan Hansen v Virgil Van Dijk: Comparisons have already been made between the old and new.

Both calm and composed on the ball and excellent at reading the game, their presence in the team was — and is — a comfort and a confidence boost to team-mates.

Hansen was good at bringing the ball out from the back but Van Dijk probably edges him on that front, as does the Dutchman in his range of passing and his recovery speed. Hansen was good in the air defensively but did not score a goal in their league-winning season. Van Dijk has four goals.

Alan Hansen.
Alan Hansen.

Glenn Hysen v Joe Gomez: The often under-rated Hysen actually made the most league appearances of any defender in 1990.

Another player who was comfortable on the ball he benefited from playing alongside Hansen and was not quite the same player when the Scotland international was not in the team.

Thirty years on Gomez has had to overcome some significant injuries early in his career but has established himself as Van Dijk’s first-choice partner.

Quick and confident in possession, although he is occasionally targeted by more physical opponents.

David Burrows v Andy Robertson: Burrows was a whole-hearted, full-blooded left-back.

Not the most gifted but made up for it with his competitiveness. Robertson, a bargain £8m buy from Hull, has established himself as one of the best left-backs in world football. 

Picture: Alex Pantling/Getty Images
Picture: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

A tremendous engine and a wand of a left-foot, the defender’s relentless energy means he is effective at both ends of the pitch. Contributed seven assists.

Steve Nicol v Georginio Wijnaldum: Both team’s utility men. Nicol could play anywhere in defence plus also in midfield.

The Scot was solid, dependable, good with both feet and super-fit despite his suspect dietary habits and while he was the butt of many jokes about his intelligence he had a natural ability which made him a manager’s favourite. Wijnaldum is the man for all occasions for Jurgen Klopp, having played centre-back, midfield and centre-forward.

Strong in possession, he does not score many goals but tends to raise his game according to the occasion.

Steve McMahon v Fabinho: McMahon (below) was the archetypal midfield tough-tackling hardman.

He was the side’s enforcer in the centre of the park and was pivotal to the 1990 side and was the only outfield player to feature in every league match. Fabinho does a similar job, albeit with a slightly more cultured air.

The Brazil international took a while to settle after his summer arrival from Monaco last season but has become a key figure with his ability to cover the ground, read the game and distribute the ball.

Ronnie Whelan v Jordan Henderson: Liverpool’s Mr Consistency. Clever and composed on the ball, he was an important cog in the Liverpool machine.

He had an eye for goal but, surprisingly, scored only once in the league in 1990. Having divided opinion for years this season Henderson’s qualities are finally being widely acknowledged and the biggest compliment is that Liverpool look a lesser side when he has missed out with injury.

He offers leadership and energy in midfield, a creative outlook which is under-appreciated and the only thing lacking is more goals with just three this season.

Peter Beardsley v Roberto Firmino: Different types of players but both crucial fulcrums in their respective team’s game-plans.

Beardsley was a creative genius, a player who drifted around the opposition’s final third and was able to unlock defences and provide the ammunition for more prolific players, although he still reached double figures in the league for each of the four seasons he was at the club.

Firmino is the key man in Klopp’s counter-pressing tactics. The hard-working Brazilian harries defenders, tracks back and makes off-the-ball runs which opens up space for team-mates.

Not his best goalscoring season with seven, curiously all away from home, but he offers plenty more.

Ian Rush v Mohamed Salah: Rush, Liverpool’s all-time leading goalscorer, was the main man up front with 18 league goals in the 1990 title-winning season.

The hard-working Welshman put in the legwork for his team while still able to be lethal inside the penalty area and was the most feared striker of his generation.

Salah’s record in just under three seasons at the club is incredible, with 70 goals in 100 league appearances.

Mohamed Salah.
Mohamed Salah.

Even more amazing is that he has been criticised for not being clinical enough. His current tally of 16 is only one off the same stage last season and went on to be the league’s joint leading scorer for a second successive campaign.

Salah’s pace wide on the right helps stretch defences but his ability to cut in onto his left foot has proved profitable.

John Barnes v Sadio Mane: Barnes was brilliant in the 1990 season in a slightly more advanced position than his previous left-wing role, and was virtually unplayable in a number of matches.

Such was his huge influence in the title-winning season he outscored Rush 22 to 18.

Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes.
Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes.

Mane emerged from the shadow of Salah’s record-breaking first season to take his goalscoring to another level and he has been Liverpool’s best attacker in the current campaign.

Pace is his main threat but his decision-making and awareness around the penalty area has improved, as has his aerial ability. The Senegal international has scored 14 goals so far.

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