1989–90 Liverpool F.C. season

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1989–90 season
Manager Scotland Kenny Dalglish
First Division 1st
FA Cup Semi-final
League Cup Third round
Top goalscorer League: Barnes (22)
All: Barnes (28)
Highest home attendance 38,730 (vs. Everton, League, 3 February)
Lowest home attendance 19,231 (vs. Wigan Athletic, League Cup, 19 September)
Average home league attendance 36,690
Home colours
Away colours
Third colours

The 1989–90 season was the 98th season in Liverpool F.C.'s existence, and their 27th consecutive year in the top flight. This article covers the period from 1 July 1989 to 30 June 1990.

Liverpool finished the season as league champions for the 18th time, and looked on course for another double, only to be knocked off course in the final stages for the third season running – this time by a dramatic 4–3 semi-final defeat against a Crystal Palace side they had beaten 9–0 in the league earlier in the season. They did finish the season nine points ahead of runners-up Aston Villa in the league, but had faced a stiff challenge from Villa for much of the season and earlier in the season from neighbouring Everton.[1]

The autumn of 1989 saw the departure of striker John Aldridge to Spain. Aldridge had lost his place in the starting line-up to a resurgent Ian Rush, who had returned to the club a year earlier after an unhappy season in Italy. Injury-plagued defender Jim Beglin was transferred to Leeds United just before the start of the season, with the defence being bolstered by the arrival of Swedish star Glenn Hysén.

Pre-season friendlies[edit]

Liverpool's entered the four-team Makita International Tournament, played at Wembley Stadium, where they lost against Arsenal in the final, having beaten Dinamo Kiev. This was followed by a tour of Scandinavia which saw wins against Malmö FF and Halmstads BK and draws with Vasalunds IF and HJK Helsinki.

Regular season[edit]


As FA Cup holders, Liverpool entered the Charity Shield, facing league champions Arsenal, in a rematch of the last game of the previous season when Arsenal had won the title at Anfield in dramatic circumstances. Liverpool gained some small revenge with a 1–0 win, thanks to a Peter Beardsley goal. The league campaign began with a 3–1 win over Manchester City, followed by away draws against Luton Town and Aston Villa. The month ended with a trip to Spain with a friendly against Real Madrid for the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy. The Reds lost 2–0.

The month ended with Liverpool fifth in the table, with newly promoted Chelsea top of the league, Millwall (in only their second top flight campaign) second, local rivals Everton third and Coventry City fourth.[2]


September began with a third consecutive away game, this time a 3–0 win at Derby County, followed by a 9-0 hammering of Crystal Palace at Anfield. Eight different players scored in this game, which was also notable as John Aldridge's last game for the club. Aldridge, who was leaving to join Real Sociedad, came off the bench to convert a penalty, and threw his boots and kit into the Kop at the end of the game. Aldridge had remained a first-choice player in 1988-89 after Rush's return, either playing in a three-man attack alongside Rush and Beardsley or alongside Beardsley in a two-man attack in the 14 league games that Rush was unfit for, but for 1989-90 Dalglish had decided to stick with a two-man attack of Rush and Beardsley, and Aldridge knew that leaving Anfield would be his best chance of regular first team action.

After a 0–0 home draw with Norwich City, Wigan Athletic were defeated 5–2 in the League Cup, before the first Merseyside derby of the season. Just as in the previous season's FA Cup final, and in so many derbies before, Ian Rush was the match winner, as the Reds won 3–1 at Goodison Park.


First up in October were Wigan in the so-called "away" leg (played at Anfield because Wigan's pitch was unplayable) of the League Cup second round. Liverpool won 3–0, with substitute Steve Staunton scoring a hat-trick to secure an 8–2 aggregate victory. Back in the league, Wimbledon were beaten 2–1 at Plough Lane before Southampton dealt the Reds a 4–1 hammering at The Dell. The misery was to continue four days later, as Arsenal ended Liverpool's League Cup campaign with a 1–0 win at Highbury. The league campaign resumed with a 1–0 win over Tottenham Hotspur, which saw Liverpool reclaim their lead of the First Division from Everton, who seemed to be re-emerging as a top club after two slightly less successful seasons under the management of Colin Harvey, since Howard Kendall's departure. Chelsea and Arsenal were still giving the two Merseyside clubs a serious run for their money, while a surprise challenge was also starting to mount from Southampton, Norwich and Aston Villa. After a generally very disappointing September, Manchester United had started to improve and were just seven points (though 10 places) behind Liverpool. The challenge from Millwall and Coventry, however, appeared to have ended as both clubs were now some way down the table.[3]


November was a miserable month for Liverpool. It began with a 1–0 home defeat against Coventry City, which was compounded by a 3–2 loss at QPR. Wins at Millwall and at home to Arsenal followed, before an away game at Sheffield Wednesday. This was Liverpool's first game at Hillsborough after the tragedy of seven months earlier, and it ended in a 2–0 defeat. However, they ended the month top of the league with 27 points - bracketed together on goal difference with Arsenal, Villa and Chelsea. Southampton and Coventry were both just four points behind the leading pack, but Everton's title hopes were fading fast as they had slumped from top place to 12th within a few short weeks. Manchester United's steady improvement had continued as they had continued to narrow the gap between themselves and Liverpool - now standing at nine places but just six points.[4]


December was a better month for Liverpool, who began it with an impressive 4–1 win at Manchester City (now managed by former Everton boss Howard Kendall). A 1-1 home draw with Villa followed, before a superb 5–2 win over fellow title contenders Chelsea on 16 December. A goalless draw with Manchester United came at Anfield on 23 December, with Liverpool's great rivals now enduring another run of bad form and effectively out of the title race. The next two games - against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic - were both won, and so Liverpool ended the 1980s as First Division leaders. They had a four-point lead over their nearest rivals Aston Villa and a four-point lead over Arsenal. The challenge from the likes of Southampton, Chelsea and Norwich was becoming more distant, though a threat from North London was emerging in the shape of a Tottenham Hotspur side spearheaded by two of England's finest players - Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker. The challenge from Everton was now looking well and truly over, as Colin Harvey's men were now 10th in the league and 13 points adrift of Liverpool, though with a game in hand. Any hopes that Manchester United might have had of beating Liverpool to the title were now almost completely dead, as Alex Ferguson's team now stood 15th in the league and were just two points above the relegation zone.[5]


A new year and a new decade began with a 2–2 draw for Liverpool at Nottingham Forest on New Year's Day. Then came an FA Cup third round clash with Swansea City at Vetch Field. The Swans were now in the Third Division and the run for their money that they had given Liverpool eight years earlier was now very much a distant memory, but the Swans gave Liverpool a scare by holding them to a goalless draw. However, Liverpool blew Swansea to pieces in the replay at Anfield three days later by winning 8–0. Their FA Cup action (a fourth round clash with Norwich ending in a 3–1 replay win at Anfield after a goalless draw in the first game at Carrow Road) meant that there would be just two more league games that month - the first a 2–2 home draw with Luton, the second a 2–0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. However, Liverpool remained top of the league - level on points with Aston Villa with Arsenal as the only other serious contenders, though Nottingham Forest had now climbed into fourth place and were starting to raise a few eyebrows among observers in the title race.[6]


Liverpool remained on course for a unique second double as they beat Southampton 3–0 in the fifth round at Anfield on 17 February. Bad weather meant that there were just two league games for Liverpool that month, the first a 2–1 Merseyside derby win over Everton at Anfield, the second a goalless draw at Norwich.[7]


Liverpool moved closer to a second double on 14 March when they beat QPR 1–0 in the quarter-final replay at Anfield, three days after drawing the first match 2–2 at Loftus Road. In the league, they defeated Millwall, Manchester United and Southampton but lost to Tottenham Hotspur. They were still top of the league, on goal difference ahead of Aston Villa and with a game in hand. Arsenal were now the only other team looking like a serious threat to the Reds, and, although Everton's recent revival had seen them climb to fifth place, it was now almost certainly too late for them to pip Liverpool to the league title.

22 March saw the arrival at Anfield of 26-year-old Israeli striker Ronny Rosenthal on loan from Belgian club Standard Liege.[8]


April was a very mixed month for Liverpool. They finally clinched the league title on 28 April with two games to spare, thanks to a 2–1 home win over QPR, but 8 April saw their "double double" hopes ended in dramatic fashion for the third season running, this time in the shape of an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Crystal Palace (the team they had beaten 9–0 in the league seven months earlier) where the South Londoners had beaten them 4–3 in extra time to book a Wembley date with Manchester United in the final. Liverpool had now been champions of England on no fewer than 18 occasions - more than any other side at the time.[9][10][11]


The Reds proved themselves as worthy champions by winning both of their final two games: a slender 1–0 home win over Derby followed by a 6–1 hammering of Coventry at Highfield Road on the final day of the season.[7]

Ronny Rosenthal's loan deal became permanent at the end of the season when Liverpool paid Standard Liege £1 million for his services, which had already seen him net seven goals in just eight league games[12] - including a hat-trick in the 4–0 away win over relegation-bound Charlton.[13]








Pos Player From Fee Date
DF Sweden Glenn Hysén Italy Fiorentina £600,000 01-06-1989
DF England Steve Harkness England Carlisle United £75,000 17-07-1989


Pos Player To Fee Date
DF Republic of Ireland Jim Beglin England Leeds United Free 06-1989
FW Republic of Ireland John Aldridge Spain Real Sociedad £1,250,000 13-09-1989

Loaned In[edit]

Pos Player From Start End
FW Israel Ronnie Rosenthal Belgium Standard Liège 22-03-1990 26-06-1990


Pre-Season Friendlies[edit]

Date Opponents Venue Result Scorers Attendance Report 1 Report 2 Competition
29-Jul-89 Dynamo Kiev N 2–0 BarnesGoal pen' Aldridge 20,374 Report Report Marita Tournament
30-Jul-89 Arsenal N 0–1 23,026 Report Report Marita Tournament
01-Aug-89 Malmö FF A 2–1 Rush Hysén 17,239 Report Report
03-Aug-89 Vasalunds IF A 1–1 Aldridge 9,115 Report Report
05-Aug-89 Halmstads BK A 1–0 Beardsley 8,676 Report Report
07-Aug-89 HJK Helsinki A 0–0 10,820 Report Report
30-Aug-89 Real Madrid A 0–2 45,000 Report Report Bernabeu Trophy

FA Charity Shield[edit]

12 August 1989
15:00 BST[14]
Arsenal 0–1 Liverpool
[15] Beardsley Goal 32'
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 63,149
Referee: Allan Gunn (Sussex)
GK 1 England John Lukic
RB 2 England Lee Dixon
LB 3 England Nigel Winterburn
CM 4 England Michael Thomas
CB 5 Republic of Ireland David O'Leary
CB 6 England Tony Adams
RM 7 England David Rocastle
CM 8 England Kevin Richardson
CF 9 England Alan Smith Substituted off 76'
CB 10 England Gus Caesar Substituted off 58'
LM 11 England Paul Merson
MF England Brian Marwood Substituted in 58'
FW Republic of Ireland Niall Quinn Substituted in 76'
Scotland George Graham
GK 1 Zimbabwe Bruce Grobbelaar
CB 2 Sweden Glenn Hysén
LB 3 England David Burrows
RM 4 Scotland Steve Nicol
CM 5 Republic of Ireland Ronnie Whelan
CB 6 Scotland Alan Hansen
CF 7 England Peter Beardsley
RB 8 England Barry Venison
CF 9 Wales Ian Rush
LM 10 England John Barnes
CM 11 England Steve McMahon
GK 12 England Mike Hooper
DF 14 England Gary Ablett
MF 15 Denmark Jan Molby
FW 16 Republic of Ireland John Aldridge
Scotland Kenny Dalglish

First Division[edit]

Date Opponents Venue Result Scorers Attendance Report 1 Report 2
19-Aug-89 Manchester City H 3–1 Barnes Goal pen 7' Beardsley Goal 60' Nicol Goal 90' 37,628 Report Report
23-Aug-89 Aston Villa A 1–1 Barnes Goal 24' 35,796 Report Report
26-Aug-89 Luton Town A 0–0 11,124 Report Report
09-Sep-89 Derby County A 3–0 Rush Goal 50' Barnes Goal pen 82' Beardsley Goal 90' 20,034 Report Report
12-Sep-89 Crystal Palace H 9–0 Nicol Goal 7'90' McMahon Goal 15' Rush Goal 45' Gillespie Goal 56' Beardsley Goal 61' Aldridge Goal pen 67' Barnes Goal 79' Hysén Goal 82' 35,779 Report Report
16-Sep-89 Norwich City H 0–0 36,885 Report Report
23-Sep-89 Everton A 3–1 Barnes Goal 33' Rush Goal 62'64' 42,453 Report Report
14-Oct-89 Wimbledon A 2–1 Beardsley Goal 3' Whelan Goal 55' 13,510 Report Report
21-Oct-89 Southampton A 1–4 Beardsley Goal pen 57' 20,501 Report Report
29-Oct-89 Tottenham Hotspur H 1–0 Barnes Goal 25' 36,550 Report Report
04-Nov-89 Coventry City H 0–1 36,433 Report Report
11-Nov-89 Queens Park Rangers A 2–3 Barnes Goal pen 32'58' 18,804 Report Report
19-Nov-89 Millwall A 2–1 Barnes Goal 36' Rush Goal 70' 13,547 Report Report
26-Nov-89 Arsenal H 2–1 McMahon Goal 30' Barnes Goal 65' 35,983 Report Report
29-Nov-89 Sheffield Wednesday A 0–2 32,732 Report Report
02-Dec-89 Manchester City A 4–1 Rush Goal 9'88' Beardsley Goal 48' McMahon Goal 58' 31,641 Report Report
09-Dec-89 Aston Villa H 1–1 Beardsley Goal 64' 37,435 Report Report
16-Dec-89 Chelsea A 5–2 Beardsley Goal 3' Rush Goal 5'79' Houghton Goal 23' McMahon Goal 51' 31,005 Report Report
23-Dec-89 Manchester United H 0–0 37,426 Report Report
26-Dec-89 Sheffield Wednesday H 2–1 Mølby Goal 2' Rush Goal 84' 37,488 Report Report
30-Dec-89 Charlton Athletic H 1–0 Barnes Goal 17' 36,678 Report Report
01-Jan-90 Nottingham Forest A 2–2 Rush Goal 13'38' 24,518 Report Report
13-Jan-90 Luton Town H 2–2 Barnes Goal 32' Nicol Goal 75' 35,312 Report Report
20-Jan-90 Crystal Palace A 2–0 Rush Goal 9' Beardsley Goal 62' 29,807 Report Report
03-Feb-90 Everton H 2–1 Barnes Goal 10' Beardsley Goal pen 29' 38,730 Report Report
10-Feb-90 Norwich City A 0–0 20,210 Report Report
03-Mar-90 Millwall H 1–0 Gillespie Goal 83' 36,427 Report Report
18-Mar-90 Manchester United A 2–1 Barnes Goal pen 15'55' 46,629 Report Report
21-Mar-90 Tottenham Hotspur A 0–1 25,656 Report Report
31-Mar-90 Wimbledon H 3–2 Barnes Goal 15' Own Goal Goal 73' Rush Goal 82' 37,027 Report Report
03-Apr-90 Southampton H 2–1 Rush Goal 10' Gillespie Goal 44' 33,319 Report Report
11-Apr-90 Charlton Athletic A 4–0 Rosenthal Goal 26'50'62' Barnes Goal 87' 13,982 Report Report
14-Apr-90 Nottingham Forest H 2–2 Rosenthal Goal 12' McMahon Goal 15' 37,265 Report Report
18-Apr-90 Arsenal A 1–1 Barnes Goal 86' 33,395 Report Report
21-Apr-90 Chelsea H 4–1 Rosenthal Goal 25' Nicol Goal 36'80' Rush Goal 82' 38,431 Report Report
28-Apr-90 Queens Park Rangers H 2–1 Rush Goal 40' Barnes Goal pen 63' 37,758 Report Report
01-May-90 Derby County H 1–0 Gillespie Goal 81' 38,038 Report Report
05-May-90 Coventry City A 6–1 Rush Goal 16' Barnes Goal 37'39'61' Rosenthal Goal 50'69' 23,204 Report Report
Pos Club Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 38 23 10 5 78 37 +41 79
2 Aston Villa 38 21 7 10 57 38 +19 70
3 Tottenham Hotspur 38 19 6 13 59 47 +12 63

Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points

FA Cup[edit]

Main article: 1989-90 FA Cup
Date Opponents Venue Result Scorers Attendance Report 1 Report 2
06-Jan-90 Swansea City A 0–0 16,098 Report Report
09-Jan-90 Swansea City H 8–0 Barnes Goal 21'43' Whelan Goal 40' Rush Goal 53'77'83' Beardsley Goal 54' Nicol Goal 86' 29,194 Report Report
28-Jan-90 Norwich City A 0–0 23,152 Report Report
31-Jan-90 Norwich City H 3–1 Nicol Goal 17' Barnes Goal 56' Beardsley Goal pen 64' 29,339 Report Report
17-Feb-90 Southampton H 3–0 Rush Goal 39' Beardsley Goal 64' Nicol Goal 77' 35,961 Report Report
11-Mar-90 Queens Park Rangers A 2–2 Barnes Goal 55' Rush Goal 80' 21,057 Report Report
14-Mar-90 Queens Park Rangers H 1–0 Beardsley Goal 4' 38,090 Report Report
08-Apr-90 Crystal Palace N 3–4 Rush Goal 14' McMahon Goal 81' Barnes Goal pen 83' 38,389 Report Report

League Cup[edit]

Date Opponents Venue Result Scorers Attendance Report 1 Report 2
19-Sep-89 Wigan Athletic H 5–2 Hysén Goal 4' Rush Goal 64'66' Beardsley Goal 81' Barnes Goal 88' 19,231 Report Report
04-Oct-89 Wigan Athletic A 3–0 Staunton Goal 59'72'88' 17,954 Report Report
25-Oct-89 Arsenal A 0–1 40,814 Report Report


  1. ^ "Liverpool is buzzing as Steven Gerrard and Co close in on title but for the Class of 1990 winning the league was business as usual". Daily Mail. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ [4]
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ a b [6]
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ "Liverpool last won the title 25 years ago today, but what has happened since…?". Sky Sports. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Liverpool have made 190 signings and spent almost £800m during 25-year wait for a 19th league title as John Aldridge blames transfer market failings for barren spell". Daily Mail. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Why Liverpool FC haven't won the league title in 25 years". Liverpool Echo. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  12. ^ [8]
  13. ^ [9]
  14. ^ "Guide to the weekend fixtures". The Times. London. 12 August 1989. p. 42. 
  15. ^ "Match report from Liverpool – Arsenal played on 12 August 1989". LFC History. Retrieved 21 May 2014.