As Liverpool's wait for a league title ends, Denis Hurley goes through the good and the bad of the Reds' kits across those 30 years.
The Barnes (1989-91)
Ever since Bill Shankly threw a pair of red shorts on Ron Yeats in 1964 and told him that he looked seven feet tall, the all-red Liverpool kit has been iconic in English and world football. Through most of their winning run of the 1970s and 1980s, the Reds were clad in Umbro but adidas took over in 1985. Their 1989-90 offering, in which Liverpool won their 18th title, showcased manufacturing techniques with white flecks. While it went against traditional sensibilities, the passage of time and success-tinted nostalgia have earned it retrospective fondness.
The Saunders (1991-92)
While Liverpool ceded their title to Arsenal in 1991, nobody expected a drastic slide. Graeme Souness, who replaced Kenny Dalglish in 1990-91, splashed the cash in his first summer, spending £2.9m on Dean Saunders and £2.5m on Mark Wright, both from relegated Derby County. The new kit was indicative of the aggressive direction adidas were going in terms of their branding and, while the FA Cup was won in 1992, Liverpool finished outside the top two for the first time since 1981.
The Clough (1993-95)
More in-your-face adidas striping and more of Liverpool throwing money around without it yielding the kind of return that would have been expected. Nigel Clough, Paul Stewart and Mark Walters were England internationals but none lived up to large fees and in fact it was home-grown players like Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler who were the most impressive performers. Souness was sacked after an FA Cup defeat to Bristol City and replaced by boot-room boy Roy Evans, who guided the club to the Coca-Cola Cup in 1995.
The Collymore (1995-96)
The last season of Liverpool’s first stint with adidas. While the ‘Spice Boys’ tag was coined in the following season, Liverpool’s first with Reebok, it was in this campaign that Liverpool reached the FA Cup final and the players opted for cream-coloured Armani suits. For their final flourish, adidas had attempted to channel the style of the 1980s but ended up producing something with a neck more suited to a cricket pitch.
The Staunton (1998-2000)
Evans was initially joined by Gérard Houllier as Liverpool went for a joint-manager model but the Frenchman soon ended in sole charge. While they remained a big name, attracting players like Paul Ince and Karlheinz Riedle, and could produce good one-off performances, consistency was sadly lacking. Reebok had looked to the '60s for their second home kit but success on the field was elusive and they finished seventh in 1998-99.
The Heskey (2000-02)
A shiny red band across the midriff was a questionable inclusion on Reebok’s third home shirt, as was the decision to go with a tiny crest, but there was at least silverware won during the kit’s lifespan. In 2000-01, Liverpool won the Worthington Cup, FA Cup (in their gold change kit in the final against Arsenal) and the Uefa Cup, sparking hopes that they could sustain a title challenge again. They would finish second in 2001-02, albeit seven points behind double-winning Arsenal.
The Hamann (2004-06)
A curate’s egg of a kit – good in parts, but with far too many bad parts – it is nevertheless remembered with fondness thanks to a famous night in Istanbul. Now under the management of Rafael Benitez, Liverpool remained among the top teams in the Premier League without ever really threatening the be the top one.
The Torres (2008-10)
Adidas returned in 2006 for another spell as Liverpool’s kit manufacturer and another Champions League final was reached in 2007, but while they had won three league titles during the German firm’s previous time at Anfield, here it remained elusive – agonisingly so, after a huge push fell just short of Manchester United in 2008-09. Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres were the key trifecta through the centre of the team but Alonso was allowed to depart and Liverpool finished seventh, sixth, eighth and seventh over the next four seasons, by which time Torres had gone, too.
The Suárez (2013-14)
Torres had been replaced on deadline day 2011 by Andy Carroll and Luis Suárez but, while greater things were expected from the Geordie striker, he flopped on Merseyside and the Uruguayan flourished. Brendan Rodgers’ team played exciting football in 2013-14, with English youngsters Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling also shining. As with 2009, though, it was a case of so near but yet so far, as they were runners-up to Manchester City. American firm Warrior now produced the kit.
The Salah (2017-18)
A fourth-placed finish but a real sense that Jurgen Klopp was building a team in his image, with new signing Mohamed Salah forming a menacing front three with Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino. Liverpool reached another Champions League final during this campaign but Salah was injured early in the defeat to Real Madrid and goalkeeper Loris Karius was at fault for two goals in a 3-1 loss. New Balance, owners of Warrior, had taken over the manufacture in 2015 and for 2017-18 they opted for a noticeably darker shade of red.
The Van Dijk (2018-19)
The unreliability of Karius, and Simon Mignolet before him, meant that improvements were needed in goal, with Alisson Becker providing that. In front of him, Virgil van Dijk had made a £75m fee look cheap since his arrival in January 2018 and Liverpool went closest to derailing Manchester City’s attempt to retain the Premier League. Their tally of 97 points was the third-highest in the history of the top flight – unfortunately, it was one fewer than City.
The Robertson (2019-20)
New Balance opted for an 80s-themed kit, with white pinstripes and Bob Paisley’s signature inside the neck and the team channelled that inspiration as 30 years of hurt came to an end. One odd note was the fact that the socks had large white lower-leg panels – seemingly to account for the masses of tape applied by players, but more often than not a solid red set had to be used to avoid clashing with opposition.