Ranking the Reds’ Premier League Seasons, Worst to Best: #7 – 2006/07

Ranking the Reds’ Premier League Seasons, Worst to Best: #7 – 2006/07
August 5, 2019 Andrew Beasley

 

#7 – 2006/07

Season summary

Andrew Beasley: Cup football is strange, isn’t it? Liverpool went out of both domestic cups by an aggregate score of 4-10 to Arsenal at Anfield in the space of four days in January 2007, yet beat them 4-1 in the league later in the season. Weirder still was being the better team in the Champions League final than they’d been two years earlier against the same opponent, but losing. Jermaine Pennant was man of the match in Europe’s showpiece match too, if you’d like to crank up the oddball factor even higher.

It was business as usual in the league for Rafa’s Reds though, with a top four finish secured comfortably enough. After a slow start – Liverpool were 11th in the table after nine games – the ‘Pool were in the top four by the penultimate day of 2006, and they then embedded themselves sufficiently to ensure they stayed there for the rest of the campaign.

So it was a decent enough season, particularly on the back of the two trophy winning campaigns with which Benitez began his Liverpool tenure. But dark clouds began to gather off field, as the club was sold to a pair of American businessmen…

Alex Tate: Heroes of yesteryear had left, Hamann, Traore, Pongolle, Diao and, er, Cheyrou. To be replaced with the argumentative Bellamy, the ever energetic Kuyt with ‘Kept Messi in his pocket’ Arbeloa and the Mighty Mascherano coming in the winter transfer window.

Winning the Community Serving Platter meant we started the year with a trophy, although Crouchie make it look rather small. Riise casually lolled through the Chelsea midfield, the defence parted so he cocked his shooting boots and with a blistering shot tore the netting in Cardiff.

Arsenal dumped us out of both domestic cups, we were especially useless in the League Cup. But European progress was better. Steady in the group stages, but clearly the best in the group.

The Battle of Barcelona was next. Riise v Bellamy, and a stray golf club. But all was left to one side as Liverpool shocked Barca on their own green as Bellamy scored and then teed up Riise for a straight drive past Valdes. Not par for the course. But on to Athens we went, where we did look good but with Kuyt alone up front we lack the end product.

In the league we huffed and puffed in a tight contest littered with the usual WTF dropping of points to scoring 24, conceding two whilst winning 10 from 11. Yet, 21 points behind champions Man Utd (which I’ve written far too often reviewing these seasons) showed there was still a domestic gulf to span. But we were getting better. Finishing third, level with Arsenal in fourth, and eight ahead of fifth place Spurs and a +27 goal difference on them showed this in hard fact.

Jonathan Naylor: From when we always won penalty shootouts…
Our run to the second Champions League final in three years was the main highlight of the season. We took a step backwards in the league, finishing a distant third (with 14 points fewer than 2005/06), and exited both domestic cups to Arsenal relatively early.

While Rafa was gradually overhauling the squad, we were not really shopping at the top end of the market. Nevertheless, by the end of this season (Rafa’s third) we had won a Champions League, FA Cup and reached a further Champions League and League Cup final under his management. The team was stronger in subsequent years without reaching any further finals (though of course went close to winning the league in 2008/09).

Taskin Ismet: The season was a very solid if not spectacular one. We pipped Arsenal to 3rd place in the league (on goal difference), although we remained a big distance from 2nd and 1st.  A tilt at the league would have to wait another two seasons.

In the meantime it was time to prove that 2005 was not entirely a miracle (at least not the getting there) as Rafa Benitez steered the club to yet another European Cup Final. This time it was a more methodical, consistent and solid team that made it. All except for the golf-club incident prior to playing Barça at the Camp Nou. That was unorthodox preparation to say the least. And it was almost inevitable that the two players involved, Bellamy and Riise, would score the goals that won us the game (2-1). Prior to the game I met a budding writer by the name of Tomkins. I wonder what he’s up to nowadays…

Again we faced down Chelsea in the Semis – this time beating them on penalties whilst Rafa sat cross-legged channelling his inner Buddha – and again we met Milan in the final, although this time on the opposite shores of the Aegean, in Athens.

In the final Liverpool proved to now be the better side. Jermaine Pennant having a great game. And so, naturally, this meant that it was Milan who walked away with the cup. Revenge for Istanbul? Yes. And its hard to begrudge them that because it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to be them rather than us in Istanbul. But then even with the score settled at 1-1 no-one will be talking about Athens in years to come. They will always talk about Istanbul.

Liverpool were progressing on the pitch and things were stirring off it too. There was an incredible feeling of positivity around the place as the club was finally been sold on by David Moores. In an incredible turn of events the long time suitors, Dubai Investment Capital, were punished for their dithering and questionable commitment and in swept a couple of ‘lovable’ cowboys (complete with Liver Bird embroidered cowboy boots) ready and willing to fund a new era of Liverpool superiority. They were going to put us back on our perch. The sky was the limit.They talked and talked. And we lapped it all up:

“We want to be regularly competing for the Premiership and the Champions League…”

“If Rafa said he wanted to buy Snoogy Doogy, we’d back him”

And they didn’t just seek dominance on the pitch either. They wanted it all;

“We are going to build the finest team for the finest stadium in the Premier League – and that is Liverpool”

And tomorrow wasn’t good enough for these fellas.  It was all gonna happen right now…

“The shovel needs to be in the ground in the next 60 days”

Such was their bluster and their scattergun bullshit approach that when looking back and reading some of their quotes I almost expect to stumble across one where they promise us all a lovely new wall. A beautiful wall. The best wall etc etc…

To sum up, it was a season in which Liverpool narrowly and perhaps undeservedly lost a European Cup Final. But that was the least of their worries. They’d also set in motion a chain of events that would very nearly kill the club as we know it.

TTT Season Rating Score*: 2.18 (League 1.40, Cups 0.45, Finance 0.33).

Manager: Rafael Benitez

Premier League: 68 points, finished 3rd.

£XI rank: 3rd.

Europe: Champions League runners up.

FA Cup: 3rd round.

League Cup: 5th round.

Top scorer: Peter Crouch, 18.

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Final League Table:

# Team M. W D L goals Dif. Pt.
1 Manchester United, England Manchester United 38 28 5 5 83:27 56 89
2 Chelsea FC, England Chelsea FC 38 24 11 3 64:24 40 83
3 Liverpool FC, England Liverpool FC 38 20 8 10 57:27 30 68
4 Arsenal FC, England Arsenal FC 38 19 11 8 63:35 28 68
5 Tottenham Hotspur, England Tottenham Hotspur 38 17 9 12 57:54 3 60
6 Everton FC, England Everton FC 38 15 13 10 52:36 16 58
7 Bolton Wanderers, England Bolton Wanderers 38 16 8 14 47:52 -5 56
8 Reading FC, England Reading FC 38 16 7 15 52:47 5 55
9 Portsmouth FC, England Portsmouth FC 38 14 12 12 45:42 3 54
10 Blackburn Rovers, England Blackburn Rovers 38 15 7 16 52:54 -2 52
11 Aston Villa, England Aston Villa 38 11 17 10 43:41 2 50
12 Middlesbrough FC, England Middlesbrough FC 38 12 10 16 44:49 -5 46
13 Newcastle United, England Newcastle United 38 11 10 17 38:47 -9 43
14 Manchester City, England Manchester City 38 11 9 18 29:44 -15 42
15 West Ham United, England West Ham United 38 12 5 21 35:59 -24 41
16 Fulham FC, England Fulham FC 38 8 15 15 38:60 -22 39
17 Wigan Athletic, England Wigan Athletic 38 10 8 20 37:59 -22 38
18 Sheffield United, England Sheffield United 38 10 8 20 32:55 -23 38
19 Charlton Athletic, England Charlton Athletic 38 8 10 20 34:60 -26 34
20 Watford FC, England Watford FC 38 5 13 20 29:59 -30 28

Transfers In:

Player Current Money Purchase Price Age @ transfer
Kuyt D £45,472,503 26
Pennant J £43,523,681 23
Bellamy C £38,976,431 27
Arbeloa A £16,889,787 24
Paletta G £12,992,144 20
El Zhar N £1,299,214 20
Mascherano J £0 22
Aurelio F £0 26

Transfers Out:

Player Sales CTPP
Morientes F £19,488,216
Sinama Pongolle F £17,539,394
Kromkamp J £17,539,394
Traore D £12,992,144
Kirkland C £12,992,144
Mellor N £12,992,144
Warnock S £9,744,108
Hamann D £2,598,429
Potter D £1,624,018
Cheyrou B £0
Diao S £0
Raven D £0

Player stats for the season:

# Player Starts Sub Apps Goals
25 Pepe Reina 51 0
23 Jamie Carragher 49 2 1
8 Steven Gerrard 47 4 11
3 Steve Finnan 46 1
6 John Arne Riise 44 4 5
14 Xabi Alonso 43 8 4
5 Daniel Agger 39 4 4
18 Dirk Kuyt 38 10 14
16 Jermaine Pennant 33 19 1
17 Craig Bellamy 33 9 9
15 Peter Crouch 30 19 18
4 Sami Hyypia 29 0 3
22 Mohamed Sissoko 25 3
11 Mark Gonzalez 20 16 3
32 Bolo Zenden 19 11
10 Luis Garcia 17 10 6
12 Fabio Aurelio 14 11
2 Álvaro Arbeloa 12 2 1
20 Javier Mascherano 11 0
9 Robbie Fowler 10 13 7
29 Gabriel Paletta 6 2 1
28 Stephen Warnock 6 1
1 Jerzy Dudek 6 0
95 Lee Peltier 4 0
35 Danny Guthrie 2 5
48 Emiliano Insua 2 0
2 Jan Kromkamp 1 0
30 Daniele Padelli 1 0
7 Harry Kewell 0 3 1
42 Nabil El Zhar 0 3
34 Miki Roque 0 1
24 Florent Sinama-Pongolle 0 1
45 Jamie Smith 0 1

Best moment

Andrew Beasley: Plenty to pick from, but I think beating Chelsea on penalties in the Champions League semi-final was the highlight of the season. It was enhanced by Rafa Benitez sitting cross-legged in the technical area, like a school boy in assembly, so the fans behind him had a better view of the action.

Alex Tate: Kuyt taking us to Athens. With only Lampard scoring in the shoot out for Chelsea, Zenden, Alonso and Gerrard gave Kuyt the moment to seal another CL final appearance. With the will of The Kop behind him, dependable Dirk went solid, low to the left and Reds everywhere went bonkers.

This game showed 2005 was no fluke, we built upon that victory; 2006 gave a decent showing in the league, an FA Cup, the Super Cup and a final in the Club World Cup. And, now in the CL final again, two years later.

Mourinho had to suck it up but he didn’t. “I respected Liverpool always in my words. I don’t need to say more,” but he did, “and today I think the best team was Chelsea.” He was rattled again. To me it was more than a goal. It was another marker.

Jonathan Naylor: Rafa sitting cross legged as Kuyt scored the winning penalty in the Champions League semi-final.

Taskin Ismet: I’ve mentioned it above. The Champions League semi final 2nd leg at Anfield. Penalties. Chelsea want revenge. Liverpool want another crack at yet another European Cup. The tension is incredible. The camera pans across to the managers and there’s Rafa Benitez, sat cross-legged on the floor. Is he supremely relaxed and confident? Or is he waiting for school assembly?  It turns out to be the former. Benitez had purchased Reina. And if Benitez knew one thing about Reina, it’s that he was a great ‘keeper to have when you’re facing penalties.

Worst moment

Andrew Beasley: I’ve got two-and-a-half words for you: John O’Shea. His injury time winner for United at the Kop end was unbelievably sickening (not least as I was watching the match with a gobby United fan – though is there any other kind?).

Alex Tate: Getting bummed 3-0 by Everton in the third league game. I dislike Tim Cahill, which will upset Bitters and Australians, but his goal was fine. It was Johnson’s first that irked most. A workmanlike typical Evertonian reminiscent of a lower tier player getting lucky, always irritates. It was too early in the season for this, but usual service resumed as they finished in the UEFA (as then) places and ten points behind us. As you were, Bitters.

Yet in hindsight, the worst moment was the change of ownership.

Jonathan Naylor: Losing 3-0 to Everton was one of a few early season results which meant we never got going in the title race. Reina’s fumble in stoppage time made it 3-0, and copies of the DVD appeared in thousands of Evertonian stockings that Christmas.

Taskin Ismet: The final whistle in Athens. When Kuyt scored to make it 2-1 I thought we might do it again.  In the end it was too little too late.

Best player

Andrew Beasley: Peter Crouch. A Community Shield winning goal, a hat trick against the Gunners, and a stunning scissor kick against Galatasaray. He lashed in a fine goal at West Ham for good measure too.

Jonathan Naylor: Not sure there was a standout performer. Gerrard was Gerrard. Kuyt made an impact in his first season, Crouch scored vital goals. Shout out to Reina for his penalty heroics.

Alex Tate: I felt we were very consistent, God and Kuyt got a few goals, Hyypia and Agger kept it tight at the back in front of the ever improving Reina. And our midfield was Gerrard and Alonso, nuff said.

But I’m going for Peter Crouch. He was a favourite of mine and when he joined I knew he could do well if not be a superstar, but also he brought with him a shed load of fun too. He top scored with 18 goals across all competitions, heading a Community Shield winner, Champions League goals, a perfect hat-trick against the Gooners and sustaining a broken nose. A shame he was only a sub in the CL final. I really enjoyed having him in our team.

Taskin Ismet: Steven Gerrard.

Crouch had come on in leaps and bounds. Kuyt was beginning to cement his importance and Carragher was a commanding presence at the back with Hyppia. But the Captain was head and shoulders above everyone else.

Worst player

Andrew Beasley: Nobody immediately comes to mind. I never really saw what Bolo Zenden offered, but I don’t think he was dreadful or anything.

Alex Tate: Jermaine Pennant gets this. He should have been better, trained harder and realised this was not a playground set up. I think along with a lack of motivation, he wasn’t the brightest player. Taking a man on and doing nothing else is not productive. The reason he got so many games was the lack of options; injures kept Kewell out for most of the season, and Garcia the latter part. He’s the kind of player I expect Steven Gerrard to loathe in the team.

Jonathan Naylor: No outright stinkers but a few who were a bit nondescript: Gonzalez, Zenden, Kromkamp etc.

Taskin Ismet: Jan Kromkamp.  That’s probably very harsh given he made only one appearance. But then that’s probably because he wasn’t very good. I remember hoping he’d be good though. And I remember being disappointed.

Best game

Andrew Beasley: It has to be Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Camp Nou. Winning would obviously have been fantastic enough, but to do so having gone behind made it all the more special.

Jonathan Naylor: Winning 2-1 at the Camp Nou against the reigning European champions, after going a goal behind.

Alex Tate: I always enjoyed Liverpool playing Arsenal, this was the time I felt they were one of the better footballing teams in England and the games would be enjoyable, even if we lost. But in 2007 Liverpool were on the rise, top four places hotting up with eight games to go. This was one to hurt an opponent. And we did. Either Arsenal looked lethargic or we came out the blocks, taking a tidy 1-0 lead after four minutes set up the game. Crouch’s perfect hat-trick is only one facet of the game. Moving to third to displace Arsenal meant more than three points, as we were neck and neck with them by the end of the season. Two goals in it as both teams sat on 68 come May.

A shout out for  the 4-0 win over Sheff Utd. Nothing spectacular bar a personal interest. I was hoping to get to the game as I was back in the UK, but plans fell through. My mates and I went to Cambridge on one of our all dayers and I saw the result come in whilst sat in The Atlantic boozer. God got a brace, his last goals for the club, and Hyypia on the score sheet as well, two of my favourite players. Gerrard rounded out the goals, then Colin Wanker got the hump over the penalties. Even better. They got relegated by a goal difference of one. Brilliant.

Taskin Ismet: That 2-1 win v Barça at the Camp Nou. We all told ourselves that our unorthodox preparation might work in our favour.  I didn’t really believe it.

It should not be underestimated how annoying I was in work for weeks after that game. It was a level of annoyance which has only recently been surpassed. By me, after the recent 4-0 win against Barça.

Goal of the season

Andrew Beasley: I’ve already mentioned a couple of crackers by Crouchy, so here’s another great goal by an Englishman. No, not Steven Gerrard, but Jermaine Pennant. There won’t be many players who’ve scored a better first goal for the Reds.

Jonathan Naylor: Alonso from inside his own half (vs Newcastle) was the most memorable but Agger’s long ranger against West Ham was even better.

Alex Tate: Not sure there’s one better. Xabi Alonso vs. Newcastle, in his own half, 70 yards over the struggling Harper to bounce once on the goal line and in. 2-0. Audacious? Yes, but quite typical of Xabi. And here’s why, his previous goal for Liverpool was from his own half vs. Luton in the previous season’s FA Cup. I’ve yet to find it confirmed but he is the only outfield players to score consecutive goals from his own half.

Taskin Ismet: Pick either of Alonso’s goals from his own half. Or alternatively either one of Crouch’s scissor kicks.

Notable features

Andrew Beasley: Probably the worst off-field decision in the history of the club occurred, as David Moores sold the club to Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Moores later penned a letter apologising for the sale, in which he noted “I don’t know what Google is (I have never used a computer in my life)”. Cheers, Dave, that makes us all feel much better.

Chris Rowland: Probably the best time I ever had at a Champions League final, considering it was one that we lost. The backstreets of Monastiraki, partying through the night, the endless ‘Best Midfield in the World’ conga, the Milan fan saying ‘your wake is better than our party’, writing the full lyrics of YNWA for a local radio presenter to use on his show, talking to an Olympiakos fan and learning a song of theirs, meeting fans of FC Zurich who were there supporting Liverpool, LFC Malta Supporters Club, a band playing Greek music in an open square being encouraged to play ‘Ring of Fire’ on their bouzoukis … and all the while, the seeds of the club’s doom had been planted with the change of ownership.

Seasons covered so far

Rank Season TTT Season Rating Score League Points League Position £XI Rank Champions League UEFA Cup/ Europa League/ Cup Winners Cup FA Cup League Cup Link to article
27 1993–94 0.82 60 8 2 R3 R4 Link
26 1992–93 0.94 59 6 2 R2 R3 R4 Link
25 2012–13 1.06 61 7 4 R32 R4 R4 Link
24 2010–11 1.12 58 6 4 R16 R3 R3 Link
23 2011–12 1.19 52 8 4 RU W Link
22 2009–10 1.27 63 7 4 Group Stage SF R3 R4 Link
21 1998–99 1.31 54 7 10 R3 R4 R4 Link
20 2015–16 1.36 60 8 5 RU R4 RU Link
19 2014–15 1.40 62 6 5 Group Stage R32 SF SF Link
18 2003–04 1.59 60 4 5 R4 R5 R4 Link
17 1996–97 1.65 68 4 2 SF R4 R5 Link
16 1999-00 1.70 67 4 5 R4 R3 Link
15 2002–03 1.70 64 5 5 Group Stage QF R4 W Link
14 1994–95 1.73 74 4 3 R6 W Link
13 1995–96 1.80 71 3 1 R2 RU R4 Link
12 2016–17 1.81 76 4 4 R4 SF Link
11 2004–05 1.88 58 5 4 W R3 RU Link
10 1997–98 1.91 65 3 10 R2 R3 SF Link
9 2007–08 2.03 76 4 3 SF R5 R5 Link
8 2013–14 2.15 84 2 3 R5 R3 Link
7 2006–07 2.18 68 3 3 RU R3 R5

*TTT Season Rating Score explanation:

League – Liverpool average 67.8 points per 38 games in the Premier League. Season points tallies are calculated as a percentage of that average to generate a rating score. Seasons are also awarded a proportion of up to half a point, depending on where between 2nd and 8th the Reds finished.

Cups – Points are awarded for progress in the latter stages in Europe and the domestic cups, with descending importance through Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup. The maximum possible points score is 55 (by winning the Champions League and both domestic cups) so the total for a season is calculated as a percentage of that.

Finance – Liverpool’s final league position is compared to their £XI Rank for that season. The seasons are then ranked from biggest over-achievement to worst under-achievement, and awarded a proportion of half a point depending on where they sit.

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