Liverpool legend Steve McManaman made his debut for the Reds in December 1990, the season that followed Liverpool’s 18th and final league title. It also happened to be Kenny Dalglish’s final season in charge at Anfield before his sudden resignation. McManaman went on to become a firm Anfield favourite with his mazy dribbling and endless stamina.
And while the league title eluded him during his time at Liverpool, he did bag FA Cup and League Cup winners’ medals, before jetting off to Real Madrid. His time at the Bernabeu was particularly fruitful as he won both the Champions League and La Liga twice during a glittering period of galacticos-enriched football.
McManaman, who finished his career at Manchester City, enjoyed his finest moment for England during Euro 96 when he was named in the team of the tournament after starring for Terry Venables’ semi-finalists.
We caught up with McManaman, now a football analyst for ESPN, for an exclusive chat about whether Liverpool are ready to end their wait for that elusive 19th league title and to get his thoughts on the amount of money that Man City have spent in recent seasons.
Steve, you played under Dalglish at Liverpool. What makes him so revered by his players and the fans?
It’s simply because he was arguably the best British player we have seen. He was a very successful player, and a hugely successful manager.
Dalglish was the last Liverpool manager to win the league title. Are people being overly romantic to believe that he can do it again more than 20 years later?
I think it will be difficult as there was a large gap between Liverpool and champions Manchester United last year and both teams have invested heavily. The main thing is Liverpool are improving and they are in a much better position this year than they were last year.
Dalglish has mainly bought young British players. What are the advantages of thispolicy?
With current rules you need British players in your squad. Everyone Kenny has bought this summer has experience in the Premier League and of course, because they all speak English, they can integrate quickly.
Do you think Liverpool have paid over the odds for players such as Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing?
Possibly, but the transfer prices this summer have been crazy and everyone is paying big money, including the teams across Europe.
Another of your former clubs, Man City, have spent big in recent seasons. What are your thoughts on the amount of money they’ve spent?
There has always been one team who has more money than anyone else. Man City have an excellent and arguably the strongest squad in the league so they are one of the favourites to win the league.
The only problem for me is that there seems to be a lot of unhappy players there. They have an enormous amount of players who will not be included in their list for the season but who they are paying a lot of money to. Unless they leave and Roberto [Mancini] can keep everyone happy – including his six centre forwards, who all think they should be playing – I think they may have problems.
He has nearly three weeks to do a lot of business, and as I have said on numerous occasions, things may look different at the close of the window to now.