Smith – We sensed the nerves in the Liverpool team

Alan Smith celebrates his goal at Anfield 89

'It's up for grabs now'

On May 26, 1989, Michael Thomas scored with seconds to spare as we beat Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield to secure arguably the most famous league title of them all.


Speaking exclusively to our 'In Lockdown' podcast, Alan Smith - who scored the opener that night - explained the team’s mindset before the match. 

"George Graham did ever so well," he said. "If you feel you've got to win by two goals, you're thinking, 'Where are these goals going to come from?' 


"George's main point of his team talks in the hotel and then the dressing room was the clean sheet. He said, 'Lads, don't worry about scoring, we will get the goals, but if we concede a goal then we've got to get three and you can forget it. As long as we keep a clean sheet, we're always in the game. We're always in the hunt.' 


"That kind of eased our minds a little bit, it took the pressure off to think, 'Okay, we know how to keep clean sheets’ with the back four, or the back five as it was that night. We had some terrific defenders. That sent us out with clear minds, we weren't constantly thinking about trying to get a goal. 


"I'll never forget, I was going for the Golden Boot before the game. This was maybe a sign of nerves in the Liverpool dressing room... John Aldridge was competing with me for the Golden Boot and the Adidas representative poked his head around our dressing room and asked if I'd do a presentation on the pitch with John beforehand. 


"I said, 'Yeah, yeah, I'll do it. No problem.' He came back and said, 'John doesn't want to do it, he's changed his mind.' So I said, 'OK, fair enough.' Then he came back five minutes later and said, 'No, no, actually John will do it.' Then he came back again and said, 'No, John definitely doesn't want to do it now'. I thought, 'Oh wow, maybe that's just a reflection of the Liverpool dressing room.'


“As you can imagine, you can win the league by losing 1-0. It's a strange old situation whereas our task was a lot clearer."

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