Liverpool came close a couple of times but could never really match Manchester United at the turn of the century.
They just didn’t have the players to keep up with Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams — and they didn’t have a manager in the same league as the Scot.
However, after winning three cup competitions in 2000/01, people thought Gerard Houllier could take Liverpool back to the good times and win the league as manager. They finished above United in second place the following season — but nobody really remembers runners-up.
The following summer Ferguson would go and sign Rio Ferdinand for a record fee. Liverpool, on the other hand, signed El Hadji Diouf, Bruno Cheyrou, and Salif Diao.
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville say this was ultimately the difference between the two rivals during that time.
Neville: “For me, at Liverpool it felt like every time you got close you either lost players or you didn’t recruit well.”
Carragher: “That was the story of that (00/01) team. The next season we bought one player in John Arne Riise. I think Gerard Houllier felt that team done so well that he didn’t have to team change the team so much.
“Then next season I think we actually finished above you in the league and Arsenal won it…
“I just think at that time, if things didn’t go well for you you had the ability, because you were Manchester United and financially, you went and signed Rio Ferdinand for £30million.
“We spent that money, but probably on about four players. You kind of needed them all to work and it didn’t quite, that was probably the end of Gerard Houllier’s time looking back.”
Neville: “It always felt that you were kind of toying with it in the transfer market, that you wouldn’t quite go for the best players.
“There was a feeling that you couldn’t quite go for the best players because you didn’t have the money, or you couldn’t attract the best players to come to Liverpool because Arsenal were better, we were better…
“If the the market was at £15million, Liverpool were at £8million. If the market was at £25million, you were at £16million.”
Liverpool were on course to win their first league title in 30-years this season until the coronavirus forced football campaigns throughout Europe into suspension. They are two games away from winning the title which is likely to happen whenever action resumes.
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