Monday 16 December 2019

John Aldridge: My Liverpool team of 1988 would have matched Pep Guardiola's Man City

John Aldridge in action for Liverpool.
John Aldridge in action for Liverpool.

John Aldridge

Everyone is rushing to crown Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team as the best we have seen in English football history, but people have short memories when they jump to that conclusion.

Take nothing away from City, they are a top side with an excellent manager and after a decade of obscene money flowing in from their Arab investors, there would be something wrong if they were not a very good team at this stage.

A part of me will never be comfortable with the reality that City are only sitting where they are now on the football landscape due to the manipulation of our game by billionaires who have an agenda that doesn’t really make any sense to me.

Some have raised suspicions over why a guy like Roman Abramovich has thrown so much money at Chelsea or the Abu Dhabi-based group that owns City are so keen to spend billions on football, but there is nothing we can do about that.

They are using monopoly money and don’t care how much they spend, yet Liverpool and the rest have to try and compete with them or they will take the game away from the rest.

That’s why Liverpool had to pay a crazy £75m fee to sign Virgil van Dijk, with the owners of Paris Saint-Germain, Man City and Chelsea changing the game with their big spending madness.

These people are using football to spread their assets and clubs like Chelsea and City and enjoyed plasticised success as a result in the last few years, but let’s not get carried away with Guardiola and his class of 2017/18 just yet.

If they get to the end of the season with more than 100 points on the board, 100 goals scored and have three or four trophies in their cabinet, then we can start to assess whether they are the best team of all-time.

The brilliant Liverpool team I was proud to be a part of in the late-1980s would have relished the chance to take on this City side and even if I am biased, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have given plenty of problems.

We defended from the front and had a wonderful work ethic, with a side featuring the combined talents of Jan Molby, John Barnes, Ray Houghton and Peter Beardsley turning in some performances in the 1987/88 season that were a match for what we are seeing from City now.

I was no fan of the United teams that dominated the Premier League for 20 years during Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford, as those of us with Liverpool blood coursing through our veins hated the success they enjoyed.

Yet you look back at a team with Peter Schmeichel in goal, Jaap Stam in defence, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham in midfield and Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole up front and they would be a match for City.

Also, the Arsenal team that went through the 2003/04 season unbeaten - led by Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry - would have pushed this City side back onto their heels and I still feel we haven’t seen them tested properly by their current Premier League rivals.

We have seen their defence making some big mistakes on the few occasions teams have got at them this season, but too many of City’s rivals are going into games feeling beaten before they go into games against them.

Liverpool were testing City before Sadio Mane was sent off at the Etihad Stadium back in September and since that decision, Guardiola’s side have gone on this incredible run of wins that has all-but wrapped up the title for them.

Let’s see what happens when City come to Anfield on January 14th as Jurgen Klopp’s side will not be afraid of them and as they showed again at Bournemouth, they are tearing teams apart with their attacking power consistently now.

Against teams that come out and play against them - which City certainly will next month - Liverpool have proved they can test any defence and while that game at Anfield may finish 5-5, I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

For now, we need to acknowledge the quality of the football we are seeing from City, but they need to win the title two or three times, pick up a few domestic cups and win the Champions League a couple of times before they can be hailed as the best English team of all-time.

Online Editors

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport