Last year, as Liverpool secured the title both early and late, the consensus seemed to be that the current team is the best in the club’s history. While their current struggles don’t invalidate the squad’s quality and achievement, it does suggest that that may have been an overly hasty assessment. They’re up there, for sure, but Liverpool have had a few great teams, and for me, Clive, the 1987-88 season saw the best of all.
Following the stagnation of the previous season, Dalglish had to replace the club’s legendary front two – of which he was one of course – and he did more than that, signing four attacking players in 1987 who combined to produce the most exciting football Anfield had ever seen. Aldridge had been signed in earlier in the year for as in preparation for Rush’s departure, and he would be joined in the autumn by his Oxford and Ireland teammate Ray Houghton, but it was the two summer signings of Barnes and Beardsley that were truly transformative.
Liverpool steam-rolled the rest of the league, not losing until March, and regularly putting four past their opponents, whether at home or away. Fans of other clubs – particularly Coventry and Wimbledon – won’t want to hear Liverpool supporters complain of losing out due to the Heysel ban, but it is a shame that this team didn’t get a chance to play in Europe – they surely would have stood a chance against the best in the continent.
In numbering terms, the team is finally settled, with only a few tweaks and odd assignments. The classic Liverpool system holds for much of the season, but with one temporary exception – Aldridge, not wanting to take Rush’s number 9, instead wears 8 with the traditional centre-forward’s number usually worn on the right wing, by Johnston and Houghton.
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Liverpool 1987-88 - match by match
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