Foundations for treble season success,
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This review is from: Liverpool Fc: Official Review Of The Season 1999/2000 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
During Liverpool FC's previous season - the 1998-1999 campaign - the brief joint management team of Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier collapsed under the weight of its lack of leadership and vision. Houllier was left in sole charge - catastrophic defending combined with a lack of committment led to one of Liverpool's weakest performing seasons of the past twenty years in which they finished a mediocre seventh in the league. Liverpool FC had failed to qualify for Europe and (in the season featured on this VHS) had to become a more consistent and revered side. The imperious pair of Stephane Henchoz and Sami Hyypia had been signed along with midfield linchpin Hamann to add more steel, bite and solidity to the defence. Meanwhile, Sander Westerveld replaced the calamitous David James. Other signings such as Titi Camara and Vladimir Smicer (who replaced the departed Steve McManaman) were made to enhance the guile and flair of Liverpool's attack.
The mainstay of Liverpool FC's success this season was the way in which the whole squad pooled their talents together to function as a successful team unit (Houllier's influence). This was the first time in almost a decade that Liverpool's defensive unit was competent and combative. The whole team began to grind out results as well as displaying enough imagination and creativity on most occasions.
Away at Leeds in August 1999 saw Camara score an elegant curling shot from outside the box. Patrik Berger created the winner after deft work wide left and an accurate cross which Radebe inadvertently turned in. The energetic, all-round wing play from Patrik Berger, assisted by Dominic Matteo's rampages from left back was a significant feature of Liverpool's attack in 1999-2000. Berger displayed intuitive passing, crossing and movement and sensational long shots while Matteo's attacking thrust from left back led to a number of assists. Patrik Berger was the best performing player in 99-00 as he claimed the most assists and claimed a multitude of both long-range and short range goals.
If 99-00 had been a trophy attaining season then surely Berger's free kick against Man Utd away in March would have been more highly remembered. In a 1-1 draw that paved the way for the following's season dominance of their rivals across the M62, Berger scored with an effort of devastating accuracy and power. Other results that season also confirmed that Liverpool could compete amongst the best again. Arsenal were beaten twice. In August at home, Fowler reminded the Liverpool fans of his unerring ability with a venomous shot from outside the box while the impressive Berger scored another precise long-range piledriver. Away in February, Arsenal were conquered again in a 1-0 win. Gerrard's burgeoning talent materialised with a decisive through ball that assisted Camara's convincing lob over David Seaman and an instinctive last ditch challenge in his own penalty area to prevent a virtually certain goal. Gerrard also scored the first of his plethora of Liverpool goals over the past twelve years with a tremendous dribble and finish against Sheffield Wednesday. It all boded well. Liverpool's credentials as a top side were also successfully displayed in a 1-0 home win over Chelsea in which young Davey Thompson scored a neat close-range finish.
Other highlights of the season came through the individual and collective brilliance and motivation (thanks GH) of the squad. Some have said that Westerveld is not an inspiring keeper and its true that his dominance of the box and occasional lapses were not convincing but he could make exceptional saves which secured Liverpool points. At various points in the season he showed that he could make saves at crucial times that kept Liverpool in contention for a win or draw - that made him the 3rd best Liverpool goalkeeper of the 00s behind the legendary Jerzy Dudek and Pepe Rena.
In this season, Liverpool greats of recent seasons also contributed with 12 fabulous goals from top-scorer Michael Owen. Despite perhaps being a confidence player he continued his legendary status - in fact his dribble for his first goal at Coventry predated the play of Suarez and Torres by a number of years. Davey Thompson along with Matteo showed himself to be the most underrated player of the squad - his tenacious dribbling and precise delivery led to numerous chances, some of which finished with aplomb by himself. Carragher continued to display a masterclass in the art of defending.
Emile Heskey and Vladimir Smicer showed sufficient talent to convince the Reds following that there was more to come in the next season. The former combined strength and energy to be a powerful forward while the latter although perhaps lacking robustness displayed some silky skills to contribute some assists and adroit finishes. Other players, although not key, contributed to Liverpool's cause in 99-00. Redknapp showed some magical passing, movement and long-range strikes despite missing most of the campaign with injury. Danny Murphy showed some creative wizadry while Heggem, Stuanton and Song contributed assists from full back.
What, however, impedes 99-00 and this VHS from being an entirely successful viewing for LFC fans was particularly in the mediocre start and end to the season Liverpool sometimes lacked the ability to break smaller teams down and be clinical. While Liverpool's defending - apart from dominance of the goalkeeper in the box - was immense, too many times Liverpool failed to put goals past the opposition. A rare defensive mix-up at home to Watford in August should have been put behind the team if they had been more lethal when taking chances at the other end. In both league games versus Everton, Liverpool failed to score. The occasional inabililty to pick the lock of lesser teams was also shown against Bradford (away) and Leicester (home), though lapses in defending were also to blame. Perhaps the cup competitions of the following season were enough to increase concentration of the side for the top games.
The 1999-2000 season is worth buying because it shows the foundations for the following year's memorable treble winning campaign. A fourth place finish was creditable given the previous year's mid-table place. It qualified the Reds for the 2000-01 UEFA Cup which was won in scintillating fashion. The season, as a whole, gave the team the mettle to compete with the best also next season while Liverpool emerged victorious against enough of the smaller teams to also confirm their rediscovered nous. Perhaps the lack of a Champions League place due to some failings against the lesser sides and a lack of trophy prevent it from being the greatest Liverpool show of all time such as the UEFA Cup Winners 2001 VHS and Champions League Final DVD. However, it is essential if you are a fan of Houllier's/early 00s Liverpool and as a backdrop for the treble season.