1990–91 Liverpool F.C. season
|FA Cup||5th Round|
|League Cup||3rd Round|
|Top goalscorer||League: Ian Rush (16)
John Barnes (16)
All: Ian Rush (26)
Liverpool F.C. did not manage to defend its league title, and more than 20 years on has still yet to added to its 18th top division title won in 1990.
Manager Kenny Dalglish resigned on 22 February 1991 following a dramatic 4–4 draw with local rivals Everton, citing personal reasons for his decision. With caretaker Ronnie Moran in charge, Liverpool was unable to sustain a title challenge, Arsenal running away with the title having lost just one game all season, with Liverpool having to settle for 2nd after being leapfrogged by the North Londoners after Christmas. Graeme Souness was appointed manager for the five last matches of the season, resulting in three wins and two defeats.
Captain Alan Hansen, out of action for a nearly a year, announced his retirement as a player not long after Dalglish's resignation.
It was also the final season at Anfield for striker Peter Beardsley, who enjoyed a fine start to his fourth season at the club but was then dropped in favour of new signing David Speedie halfway through the season. Both players left the club in the close season; Speedie to Blackburn Rovers and Beardsley to local rivals Everton. Also on their way out of Anfield that summer were defenders Gary Gillespie and Steve Staunton to Celtic and Aston Villa respectively.
Just weeks before his resignation, Dalglish invested for the future with a move for 17-year-old AFC Bournemouth midfielder Jamie Redknapp, while fellow teenage midfielder Steve McManaman made his first two senior appearances during the season.
|First Division||Runners-Up|| John Barnes, 16
Ian Rush, 16
|FA Cup||Fifth Round||Ian Rush, 5|
|League Cup||Third Round||Ian Rush, 5|
|Charity Shied||Winners||John Barnes, 1|
|Overall||Ian Rush, 26|
Events of the season
Liverpool's defence of their record 18th top division league title began on 25 August 1990 at Bramall Lane, where they defeated newly promoted Sheffield United 3–1. A visit to Wembley a week earlier for the FA Charity Shield had seen Liverpool share the honour with FA Cup holders Manchester United in a 1–1 draw.
September ended with Liverpool top of the First Division, having won all of their seven opening league games, including a 3–2 win at Goodison Park in the Merseyside derby in which Peter Beardsley scored twice, and even more impressively a 4–0 demolition of Manchester United at Anfield in which Beardsley hit a hat-trick. Beardsley ended the month as the First Division's top goalscorer with seven goals in as many games.
Liverpool's winning start to the season reached an eighth successive game as they triumphed 2–0 at home to struggling Derby County, and in the next game they dropped points for the first time when Norwich City held them to a 1–1 draw at Carrow Road. The month ended in disappointment when Manchester United dumped them out of the Football League Cup with a 3–1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Peter Beardsley's excellent form continued as he reached the 10-goal mark in the First Division on 10 November, finding the net in a 4–0 home win over Luton Town. It was also a fine month for Ian Rush, who was on the scoresheet twice against both Luton Town and Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool remained comfortably in the lead at the top of the First Division as November ended.
Liverpool's unbeaten start to the season ended after 14 games when they crashed 3–0 to their nearest challengers Arsenal at Highbury on 2 December, but their lead of the First Division remained intact. The month ended with a second defeat at Crystal Palace, slowly emerging as outsiders in the title race, but also included wins over Sheffield United and Southampton.
The new year brought two significant signings for Liverpool, in the shape of experienced striker David Speedie from Coventry City and promising 17-year-old midfielder Jamie Redknapp from AFC Bournemouth. There were just three league games for the Reds this month, starting with a 3–0 win over Leeds United at Anfield on New Year's Day, followed by draws against Aston Villa at Wimbledon.
The FA Cup quest got off to a rocky start, with the Reds needing replays to see off Second Division competition in the shape of Blackburn Rovers in the third round and Brighton & Hove Albion in the fourth. However, Arsenal had overtaken the Reds as league leaders by the end of the month.
Kenny Dalglish stunned the football world on 22 February 1991 by suddenly announcing his resignation as Liverpool manager after nearly six years in charge, during which time he had guided them to three league titles, two FA Cups, and they had never finished lower than runners-up in the league. They were also in contention for the double when he handed in his resignation, having just forced a second replay against Everton in the fifth round following a goalless draw at Anfield and a 4–4 thriller at Goodison Park less than 48 hours before the bombshell was dropped. They had also beaten Everton in the league earlier in the month.
Long-serving coach Ronnie Moran was put in temporary charge of the first team until a permanent successor could be found. However, the month ended with Everton finally getting the better of the Reds in the second replay of the FA Cup fifth round.
Arsenal extended their lead over the Reds with a 1–0 win at Anfield on 3 March, but wins in the next three games (including a 7–1 demolition of bottom club Derby County at Anfield) kept the Reds in contention for a 19th league title.
13 goals and three straight wins meant that Liverpool ended the month still capable of catching Arsenal in the race for the league title, giving new manager Graeme Souness every chance of a dream return to the club he served so well as a player.
Successive defeats to Chelsea and Nottingham Forest ended Liverpool's hopes of another league title as the championship trophy headed back to Arsenal, who had seized it from Liverpool's grasp with the last kick of the season two years earlier. The last league action of the season was a 2–0 home win over Tottenham Hotspur, and the Reds at least had the consolation of a record 10th successive top two finish.
Much speculation surrounded Anfield at the end of the season regarding who would be joining Liverpool and who might be leaving. The future of Peter Beardsley at Anfield was looking particularly bleak; after an excellent start to the season which saw him hit the back of the net 11 times in the league before the end of November, he had struggled to hold down his place in the first team due to competition from Ronny Rosenthal and then David Speedie for the position as Ian Rush's strike partner. There was also talk that David Speedie could soon be on his way out of Anfield just months after arriving as Souness looked to sign a new striker, with Mo Johnston of Rangers and Dean Saunders of Derby County being two names most strongly linked with a move to Anfield. Following the retirement of Alan Hansen in the centre of defence, Derby County's Mark Wright also became a transfer target. Midfielder Craig Johnston, who had announced his retirement from playing three years earlier in order to care for his sister following a serious accident, was offered the chance of reviving his career by Souness.
- Gary Ablett
- David Burrows
- Gary Gillespie
- Alex Watson
- Glenn Hysén
- Steve Nicol
- Steve Staunton
- Barry Venison
- Nick Tanner
- Don Hutchison
- Steve McMahon
- Steve McManaman
- Ronnie Whelan
- John Barnes
- Ray Houghton
- Mike Marsh
- Jan Mølby
- Jamie Redknapp
- Jimmy Carter
- Jim Magilton
|1||Arsenal||38||15||4||0||51||10||9||9||1||23||8||74||18||+ 56||83||European Cup 1991–92
|2||Liverpool||38||14||3||2||42||13||9||4||6||35||27||77||40||+ 37||76||UEFA Cup 1991–92
|3||Crystal Palace||38||11||6||2||26||17||9||3||7||24||24||50||41||+ 9||69|||
|4||Leeds United||38||12||2||5||46||23||7||5||7||19||24||65||47||+ 18||64|||
|5||Manchester City||38||12||3||4||35||25||5||8||6||29||28||64||53||+ 11||62|
|6||Manchester United||38||11||4||4||34||17||5||8||6||24||28||58||45||+ 13||59||UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1991–92
|8||Nottingham Forest||38||11||4||4||42||21||3||8||8||23||29||65||50||+ 15||54|
|10||Tottenham Hotspur||38||8||9||2||35||22||3||7||9||16||28||51||50||+ 1||49||UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1991–92
|12||Queens Park Rangers||38||8||5||6||27||22||4||5||10||17||31||44||53||– 9||46|
|13||Sheffield United||38||9||3||7||23||23||4||4||11||13||32||36||55||– 19||46|
|15||Norwich City||38||9||3||7||27||32||4||3||12||14||32||43||64||– 21||45|
|16||Coventry City||38||10||6||3||30||16||1||5||13||12||33||42||49||– 7||44|
|17||Aston Villa||38||7||9||3||29||25||2||5||12||17||33||46||58||– 12||41|
|18||Luton Town||38||7||5||7||22||18||3||2||14||20||43||42||61||– 19||37|
|20||Derby County||38||3||8||8||25||36||2||1||16||12||39||37||75||– 38||24|
Note: Arsenal deducted two points for on-field brawl and Manchester United deducted one point also for on-field brawl.
|Deane 60'||Barnes 59'
|Stadium: Bramall Lane
|Platt 26'||Stadium: Anfield
|Cork 74'||Barnes 27'
|Stadium: Plough Lane
|Beardsley 11, 32, 81'
|Beardsley 36, 68'
|Stadium: Goodison Park
|Houghton 44'||Stadium: Roker Park
|Fox 7'||Gillespie 2'||Stadium: Carrow Road
|Lineker 50'||Rush 38, 48'
|Stadium: White Hart Lane
|Rush 5, 39'
Mølby 9' (pen.)
|Beardsley 73'||Stadium: Highfield Road
|Rosenthal 33, 43'
|Rod Wallace 18', 48'||Stadium: Anfield
|18||Queens Park Rangers||1–1||Liverpool||London|
|Falco 67'||Barnes 49'||Stadium: Loftus Road
|19 30 December 1990||Crystal Palace||1–0||Liverpool||London|
|Bright 44'||Stadium: Selhurst Park
|Stadium: Villa Park
|22 19 January||Liverpool||1–1||Wimbledon||Liverpool|
|15:00||Barnes 33'||Barton 81'||Stadium: Anfield
|Bruce 26'||Speedie 39'||Stadium: Old Trafford
Speedie 49, 53'
|Nevin 45'||Stadium: Anfield
|Black 47'||Mølby 13' (pen.)||Stadium: Kenilworth Road
|Mølby 39' (pen.), 44' (pen.)
|Stadium: Maine Road
Owers 44' (o.g.)
|Mølby 7' (pen.)
Barnes 23, 47'
Nicol 56, 63'
|Stadium: The Baseball Ground
|30||Liverpool||1–3||Queens Park Rangers||Liverpool|
|Mølby 64' (pen.)||Stadium: Anfield
|Stadium: The Dell
|Rush 82'||Stadium: Anfield
|Chapman 68', 81', 88'
Mølby 16' (pen.)
Barnes 28, 79'
|Stadium: Elland Road
McGoldrick 88' (o.g.)
|Stadium: Stamford Bridge
|Mølby 56' (pen.)||Stadium: City Ground
- Ian Rush 16
- John Barnes 16
- Peter Beardsley 11
- Jan Mølby 9
- Ray Houghton 7
- David Speedie 6
- Ronnie Rosenthal 5
- English teams were still affected by the 1985 UEFA ban, imposed upon the Heysel Disaster, in that they had to earn back
additional places to the UEFA Cup. The teams that missed out on this competition due to UEFA regulations are marked here with grey.
- Manchester United qualified as defending champions of the Cup Winners' Cup.
- Tottenham Hotspur were this season's FA Cup winners.