The Often Forgotten Liverpool Treble-Winning Season

Published by Chris Jenkins
11th Sep 2023

2001 was an interesting time to be a lover of the beautiful game, as it served as one of the last eras that football had before it transitioned into the global juggernaut that we know it to be today. Manchester United were still the dominant football team across various competitions that spanned a true level of dominance. With other teams in the Premier League interested in making their marks in the football world. Teams such as Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and, of course, Liverpool.

However, what the football world has often forgotten is the impressive 2001 Liverpool treble-winning season, which was, in essence, a transition in itself. With a wealth of experience, talent, hard work, and camaraderie among the team with the likes of Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Danny Murphy, Gary McAllister, and of course, the two emerging scousers in the team - Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

With this in mind, we will be looking at the often-forgotten Liverpool treble-winning season and what made the 2001 Liverpool treble season under Gerard Houllier so special. Let’s explore…


The 2001 Football League Cup Final:

After successfully besting a hungry Chelsea side at Anfield, which was finally settled with Extra Time and then going on to beat Stoke City, Fulham, and Crystal Palace 6-2 on aggregate across a two-legged Semi-Final - the Mighty Red supporters were unsure who they would be facing in the final between Birmingham City and Ipswich Town.

Ipswich was successful in the first leg, but ultimately faltered in the second leg, as Birmingham ultimately beat them 4-2 on aggregate. Meaning that the stage was set at the amazing Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the two teams to compete for the League Cup. The Carabao Cup as we know it today was known as the Worthington Cup, and with a stadium of 73,500 fans eager to see the outcome, excitement was palpable.

Interestingly, both Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher didn’t play in their traditional positions under Gerard Houllier, with Carragher playing as the left-back and Gerrard adopting a role on the right side of midfield. Robbie Fowler led the mighty Reds as captain that game and was often referred to as ‘God’ by the Anfield faithful due to his awe-inspiring ability to score from anywhere on the pitch.

This opinion quickly became objective as he sent Liverpool ahead 1-0 on the 30-minute mark thanks to an unbelievable half-volley from outside the box, essentially chipping Birmingham goalkeeper Ian Bennet. Liverpool was on the brink of a 1-0 victory. That was until a penalty was given in the 90th minute, which Darren Purse converted, thus sending the final into a penalty shootout. Alas, Liverpool eventually won the penalty shootout 5-4 thanks to goals by Gary McAllister, Nick Barmby, Christian Ziege, Robbie Fowler, and Jamie Carragher.

Winning this trophy was a monumental occasion for Liverpool, as before this trophy, it had been three years under Houllier’s management without winning a single trophy. Granted, their hunger for trophies would only get more insatiable as the season progressed.


The 2001 FA Cup Final:

The second trophy that this energetic Liverpool team picked up was in the 2001 FA Cup final, in which the Reds successfully bested Arsene Wenger’s iconic Arsenal side. Arsenal had an arsenal of world-class firepower at their disposal, with the likes of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, and Dennis Bergkamp on the bench.

The game was a tough back-and-forth affair, with both sides struggling to break the deficit. Henry had a handball controversy overturned in Liverpool’s favour and a long throw by Markus Babbel was almost converted thanks to a thunderous effort by Gerrard, who hit it wide.

For the most part, Arsenal was in the ascendancy for most of the game, although they were not able to convert their chances. However, Freddie Ljungberg opened the scoring in the 72nd minute thanks to a low-to-reach effort in the bottom left-hand corner. This made Liverpool fans rather nervous, although their mantra of ‘Never Give Up’ quickly came into effect.

What was defined as Michael Owen’s greatest season of football truly showed its head as, 11 minutes later, Owen equalised for Liverpool. This goal came from a freekick just outside of Arsenal’s box on the left-hand side of the pitch, in which the fresh substitute, McAllister delivered a scintillating cross that ultimately landed at Owen’s feet - allowing him to equalise.

Pandemonium erupted with a sea of Liverpool supporters once more at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as Liverpool had all of the momentum. The Reds were able to capitalise on this momentum as five minutes later Patrick Berger provided a cutting-through ball which broke through Arsenal’s line and allowed Michael Owen to cut to his left and beat David Seaman to his right. This proved Clive Tyldesley’s words correct that day “A little man, but a man for the big occasion.”

Granted, Liverpool’s season didn’t end there, as they had a chance to turn it into a rare treble-winning season. This time, however, it would be in Europe.


The 2001 UEFA Cup Final:

Before we had the Europa League, this European competition used to be known as the UEFA Cup. This final took place in the Westfalenstadion, the stadium for Borrusia Dortmund in Dortmund itself.

In this final, Liverpool faced the Spanish side Alaves to determine who would lift this illustrious trophy. Jubilation surrounded Liverpool fans across the first half as they capitalised on an early chance thanks to Markus Babbel. Steven Gerrard also found himself on the scoresheet, with Alaves’s Ivan Alonso making the score 2-0. Alas, going into halftime, Liverpool found themselves 3-1 up thanks to a converted penalty in the 40th minute.

Towards the middle of the second half, Alaves had brought the score to 3-3 in short succession thanks to Javi Moreno. Despite this, the one known to Liverpool fans as God scored the fourth for the Reds in the 72nd minute. This lead did not last long, as Jordi Cruyff equalised for Alaves in the 88th minute. This sent the final to a golden goal extra time period. This meant that the team that scored first would be declared the winner.

Thankfully for Liverpool fans, an own goal by Delfi Geli in the 116th minute meant that Liverpool had completed their treble under Gerard Houllier.

In short, this is often an undervalued season for Liverpool, when in actuality it served as one blueprint for the years that followed. Especially when it came to Champions League football, particularly in 2005.

Liverpool are looking to dominate world football once again. Secure your LFC tickets today to witness them live at Anfield and away in domestic and European cup competitions.