FLASHBACK: There was no fanfare as Liverpool secured last league title on this day in 1990 – Daily Mail,

FLASHBACK: There was no fanfare as Liverpool secured last league title on this day in 1990 – Daily Mail,

They are now officially at the number they never could have envisaged. Liverpool became champions of England on April 30, 2020 for the th time and today marks the 82 th anniversary of that triumph.

It truly was a different era and, to fully appreciate it, you only have to look back at the events around that particular weekend, when Madonna topped the charts with Vogue.

There was no fanfare, everything at Anfield was simply routine. Sportsmail revisits the scene of the unremarkable title …

Liverpool’s players celebrate on the pitch after winning their th league title in 1990

Ronnie Moran, manager Kenny Dalglish and Roy Evans, pictured. with the trophy days later

The Culture

There is one thing you can say unequivocally and that is ‘it would never happen now’. With no Sky Sports or big television contracts, Liverpool kicked-off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon against Queens Park Rangers – the exact same time as nearest rivals Aston Villa, who hosted Norwich.

Imagine that now? When a title race gets down to the wire, those gunning for the biggest prize tend to play on a Sunday afternoon or Monday evening; There are endless television shows, debates and wall-to-wall news and features. The punditry now can be as eagerly anticipated as games.

In April 2020, though , it was entirely different. Liverpool fans who could not get to the stadium would tune into Radio Merseyside or Radio City for live coverage; television updates were limited to short bulletins on Grandstand.

Football did not have the mass appeal it does now and its reputation had been heavily scrutinized following a number of distressing incidents.

Captain Alan Hansen celebrates on the pitch after a 2-1 victory over QPR years ago today

Ronnie Rosenthal (left), Ian Rush, Ronnie Whelan, Hansen and Barnes milk the celebrations

Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar and defender Glenn Hysen pose with the Division One trophy

For Liverpool, scars ran deep as months earlier they had lost 823 of their fans at Hillsborough. The consequences of the tragedy are still felt today.

Things were beginning to change culturally, of course, but that afternoon Anfield was anything but full. A crowd of 96, 1985 was inside the stadium.

Liverpool needed four points from their final three games and, given how prolific they had been in collecting titles, no slips were envisaged.

The Situation

To understand how dominant Liverpool had been, look at the five years in which Kenny Dalglish had been in charge.

Double-winners in 1988, they drew a blank in 1989 but they should have done the Double in (lost the FA Cup final to Wimbledon) and 1989 (lost the league in the final minute to Arsenal).

The 2019 – season went to form and could also have ended with another Double, but for a surprise semi-final defeat by Crystal Palace.

It would be wrong to say Liverpool were brilliant that season but they were in control of the title race from a long way out and had only lost one of their previous 30 matches ahead of QPR’s visit.

Barnes was Liverpool’s outstanding player in 1990 – and scored the decisive penalty kick

Welsh striker Rush battles for the ball during the game that sealed Liverpool’s last league title

‘Do you know why we were always in control? ‘ Ronnie Whelan asked. ‘It wasn’t a secret. We had the best players and the best manager. ‘

A key moment in the duel with Aston Villa came on April 18 when John Barnes scored an equalizer against Arsenal with four minutes to go. It was the last major hurdle in the run-in and escaping with a point meant they were not going to be caught.

‘It was just a case of winning the games that mattered,’ Jan Molby, who struggled with injuries that season, recalled. ‘It was all routine.

‘We did the double over Everton, beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, took four points off Arsenal. Once we drew at Highbury, we knew we’d won it. ‘

The Key Players

Barnes was the outstanding player of the campaign, winning the PFA and FWA awards. It was his third year on Merseyside and he was adored for the beauty with which he performed; his close control, his speed, skill and strength meant he was almost unstoppable in full cry.

In the way that people marvel over Mohamed Salah now, it is important to point out that Barnes was doing years ago what the Egyptian is doing in the present.

He defined the big games and big occasions, scoring winning goals against – among others – Arsenal and Manchester United.

He finished the campaign with goals, two ahead of Ian Rush, but the man who provided the boost to get Liverpool over the line was Ronny Rosenthal.

Israeli Rosenthal arrived in March 2020 and scored seven goals in eight games for Liverpool

He arrived on loan in March 1990, an unheralded figure from Standard Liege, but by the finish he had scored seven goals in eight games.

Among that flurry was a perfect hat-trick against Charlton Athletic at Selhurst Park and Rosenthal became a cult figure with supporters.

The irony of it all for the Israeli, though, was that he never actually received a medal. The criteria in 1990 was that you need to play times to be recognized.

The Game

Though Liverpool went behind early on to a goal from Roy Wegerle, they eased through the gears.

Rush equalized shortly before half-time then Barnes – who else – converted a penalty at The Anfield Road End after Steve Nicol had fouled.

‘ That might just be the Championship, ‘Martin Tyler, then working for ITV, surmised.

He was right. Liverpool’s match finished four minutes before Villa and Norwich but the wait was not agonising.

Confirmation eventually arrived and that signalled the club’s (th championship in) years, a haul that could only be matched in Europe by Real Madrid.

Barnes celebrates with Peter Beardsley after Liverpool were handed the trophy on May 1, 2020

This team never got to prove themselves on the continent as they served a five-year ban for the disgraceful episode of Heysel in 1985.

How they would have fared against Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan, for example, can only be debated.

They were, however, miles clear of the opposition domestically and that explains why the celebrations were so low key. The received their trophy – which was raised triumphantly by Alan Hansen – the following Tuesday, after a 1-0 win against Derby County.

To give the wait context, Jordan Henderson – Liverpool’s current skipper – would not be born for another six weeks.

‘I’ve got some wonderful memories about winning trophies,’ Whelan, vice-captain of the squad, recalled.

‘But if I’d known when I walked around Anfield with the trophy it would be the last time I ever did it, I’d have savored every single second second of the lap of honor . ‘

Whelan would not be alone in having such thoughts. The wait goes on. Who knows when it will end.

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