Roy had signed professional forms for Liverpool as a 17-year-old but made only 11 appearances for the first team before being asked to take over the club’s reserve side, a task he carried out with great success for a number of years. When Roy was appointed reserve team trainer in August 1974, chairman John Smith predicted: "We have not made an appointment for today but for the future. One day, Roy Evans will be our manager." Evans was finally chosen as the 14th full-time Liverpool manager after he had been at the club for 28 years. Because of the club’s unwritten policy of promoting from within, it was not a surprising appointment. Many had seen him as a Liverpool manager of the future for a long time. What was probably difficult was having to distance himself from players he knew very well, in much the same way Kenny Dalglish had to do. Some said Roy was too nice to be a manager but he proved himself capable of making difficult decisions and there is no doubt he had enormous pride in being offered the top job at a club he had played for briefly and served so long and so well in other capacities.
Roy inherited a decent squad of players. Fowler and McManaman were exciting young players who were establishing themselves in the first team and there seemed to be a good blend of youth and experience to carry the club forward. His first full season in charge promised that brighter times were ahead. At the turn of the year his team was in 3rd place with 45 points from 23 games, only one point behind 2nd placed Manchester United. Liverpool’s first trophy in 3 years came in the form of the Coca Cola (League) cup. With Stan Collymore signed before the start of the 1995-96 season to join Fowler in a scintillating partnership up front, it heralded two years of at times quite breathtaking football, including the two memorable 4-3 victories over Newcastle at Anfield in successive seasons. Evans was being celebrated at the heart of Liverpool’s revival. His man-management had replaced Souness's autocratic style and Liverpool were playing entertaining football. Supporters were concerned that at times the Liverpool side played great football but in between was well below average. This inconsistency proved to be Roy Evans’ downfall. His side looked promising for the first few months of a season but then it always seemed to fall apart and end in disappointment.
In the end the only tangible success came in that 1995 League cup final at Wembley, where Bolton were beaten 2-1 to record the club’s 5th success in the competition. It could have been so different. Roy wasn’t as far from bringing the championship back to Anfield as some think. Their best chance came in the 1996-97 season. They were in a very strong position after winning at Southampton in the final match of the calendar year but were gradually overhauled by Manchester United, Even then, Liverpool had a chance to regain top spot the day after United surprisingly lost to Derby County at Old Trafford early in April. After taking the lead against Coventry, they lost it and then the game in the final few minutes in front of a stunned home crowd. The next home match was also lost, more crucially against United. Football is full of “ifs” and “buts” yet it’s a fact that if Liverpool had won those two home games they and not United would have been crowned champions that season.
Roy’s time in charge coincided with the rise of “The Spice Boys”, a term given to a group of the club’s players indicating that Evans was maybe too nice to be manager of such a high-profile club and didn’t have full control of some of his players. The cliché suggested that some of his players were not behaving as professionally off the pitch as they were on it. In some cases behaviour on the pitch wasn’t what was expected either. Some of it didn’t emerge until after Roy had left but Neil Ruddock’s infamous “passing the pound coin around the back four” tale gives some idea of the lack of respect some of the players showed towards their manager and indeed the club that was paying their wages.
United were the thorn in Liverpool’s side during Roy’s time as manager, just as they were for practically every club in the 1990’s. Apart from the near-miss in the championship in 1996-97, the players reserved one of their worst performances under his management for one of the most important matches, the 1996 F.A. cup final, remembered as much for the “men in white suits” who didn’t perform once they had changed out of them as it was for Cantona’s late goal.
There is a very thin line between success and failure sometimes. Because of everything that had gone on before in the previous three decades, Liverpool were expected to win trophies. When they dried up in the 1990s, there was more pressure on the manager than there would have been at other clubs, clubs who would have been overjoyed to finish in the top 4 or 5 at the end of a season and win the occasional cup competition. Roy was probably unlucky that he didn’t win more than just that 1995 League cup. It certainly wasn’t for the lack of trying on his part. He was never afraid to face the Press when things weren’t going to plan and his pride in the job and his enthusiasm and love for the football club he had played for and been associated with for so long were never in doubt. But however hard he had tried, real success by the club’s high standards hadn’t been achieved.
During the summer of 1998, it was announced that Roy’s responsibility would be shared by Frenchman Gérard Houllier. It would not be a happy partnership nor one that would last long.
|Competition||Total||Won||Draw||Lost||Goals for||Goals against|
Roy Evans has stepped out of the Liverpool shadows in an attempt to banish the dark days at Anfield. An article from 10th February 1994 from British Soccer Week.
Roy Evans today parted company with Liverpool, the club he has served for 35 years. Joint manager Gerard Houllier will take sole control of the club.
Match report from 19.03.1994 on Liverpool - Chelsea from British soccer week.
An article by Rob Smyth in the Guardian on 15th of February 15, 2007.
Roy Evans bought Liverpool a pair of central defenders in 1994.
Liverpool and Roy Evans took an enormous chance by paying a record fee for Stan Collymore in 1995.
Report by Garry Doolan, Daily Post in 1999.
Match report from 05.02.1994 on Norwich City - Liverpool from British Soccer Week.
Roy Evans; youth player, first-team player, kit washer, physio, coach, reserve and first-team manager of Liverpool Football Club. An exclusive interview by LFChistory.net.
LFC Stories: What happened when Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier were joint managers? 2 DEC 2019
"Attitude, simple as that. The ability in the team was phenomenal. The discipline was lacking and I'll hold my hands up at the time. It's certainly very difficult when you lose the discipline in a club."
Scales on his time at LFC
"The Spice Boys thing was a load of nonsense really. The label came about because at that time a lot of the lads were becoming known for non-footballing things and were doing modelling and shampoo adverts and the like but to be fair it was happening throughout the game at other clubs too. It's wrong to say it affected their approach because they were quite a dedicated bunch of lads who worked hard. They were no angels but they were good pros."
Roy Evans on royevans.net
"Players have moods, a bit like wives, You don't quite know what they are going to do. It's very frustrating. We know the talent he's got. It's a matter of producing that all the time."
Roy Evans on Stan The Man March 1997
"It is important to start out with great aspirations, but you cannot go on not fulfilling them and expect to remain in the job."
Roy Evans' last words of the 1996-97 season were prophetic
"This is the highest we have finished for quite a long period and to get into Europe and come third is no mean achievement. The only difference is the history of Liverpool Football Club."
Roy Evans on LFC's 3rd place in 1997/1998
"I've been on this planet for 45 years, and have supported Liverpool for 42 of them. Today´s game against Coventry City is my first at Anfield as manager and the pride I feel is almost indescribable. I'm a Liverpool lad. I stood on The Kop as a youngster and understand the football expectations of all our supporters. It was almost 30 years ago when I was presented to manager Bill Shankly as a 15-year-old prospect and the respect I had for that man was ultimate. 'You are joining the greatest club in the world' he told me in his office. I believed him then, and I believe it now. I came from a similar background to a lot of our supporters and we have a common bond – success for the Club."
Roy Evans in his programme notes on 26th of February 1994 which was his 1st game at Anfield as boss.
When we trained on Friday afternoon, on my birthday, I was running past Roy at one point and he said to me: ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but..’ and that was it, I was out of the final. What a birthday present that was. I was so upset I told him to fuck off and stormed off. I was in tears and I just couldn’t believe I was being denied the chance to fulfil another childhood dream. I had never felt so gutted or let down. I might be a big bloke and have the reputation of being a hard man, but I cried like a baby when he dropped that bombshell. From that day on I lost a little respect for him and I’m sure the way I reacted caused him to lose a little respect for me too. But that’s the way I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I tell people exactly the way it is. From then on my Liverpool career went even further downhill because the following season, I had problems to contend with off the field as well as on. I almost wrecked everything I’d worked for in crazy six month spell during which I made Gazza look like a saint.
Ruddock on his FA cup final heartache delivered by Roy Evans
|Mark Gayle||Crewe||On Loan *||25 February 1994|
|Michael Stensgaard||Hvidovre||£400,000||1 June 1994|
|Phil Babb||Coventry City||£3,600,000||1 September 1994|
|John Scales||Wimbledon||£3,500,000||2 September 1994|
|Mark Kennedy||Millwall||£1,500,000||21 March 1995|
|Stan Collymore||Nottingham Forest||£8,500,000||1 July 1995|
|Stephen Pears||Middlesbrough||Free||14 August 1995|
|Jason McAteer||Bolton Wanderers||£4,500,000||7 September 1995|
|Patrik Berger||Borussia Dortmund||£3,250,000||1 August 1996|
|Nicky Rizzo||Sidney Olympic||Free||1 September 1996|
|Bjørn Tore Kvarme||Free Transfer||Free *||10 January 1997|
|Øyvind Leonhardsen||Wimbledon||£3,500,000||2 June 1997|
|Danny Murphy||Crewe||£1,500,000||15 July 1997|
|Paul Ince||Inter Milan||£4,200,000||22 July 1997|
|Karl-Heinz Riedle||Borussia Dortmund||£1,800,000||30 July 1997|
|Jørgen Nielsen||Hvidovre||£400,000||1 August 1997|
|Haukur I. Gudnason||Keflavik||£150,000||1 December 1997|
|Brad Friedel||Columbus Crew||£1,000,000||19 December 1997|
|Sean Dundee||Karlsruher SC||£1,800,000||5 June 1998|
|Steve Staunton||Free Transfer||Free *||3 July 1998|
|Vegard Heggem||Rosenborg||£3,500,000||21 July 1998|
|Julian Dicks||West Ham United||£300,000||20 May 1994|
|Torben Piechnik||AGF||Free||1 June 1994|
|Ronnie Whelan||Free Transfer||Free *||1 June 1994|
|Bruce Grobbelaar||Southampton||Free||11 August 1994|
|Don Hutchison||West Ham United||£1,500,000||30 August 1994|
|Steve Nicol||Notts County||Free||20 January 1995|
|Mark Walters||Southampton||Free||17 January 1996|
|Nigel Clough||Manchester City||£1,500,000||24 January 1996|
|Jan Mølby||Swansea City||Free||21 February 1996|
|Paul Stewart||Sunderland||Free||5 March 1996|
|Ian Rush||Leeds United||Free||20 May 1996|
|Stephen Pears||Hartlepool United||Free||1 June 1996|
|Phil Charnock||Crewe||Free||6 December 1996|
|John Scales||Tottenham||£2,600,000||11 December 1996|
|Stan Collymore||Aston Villa||£7,000,000||13 May 1997|
|Lee Jones||Tranmere Rovers||£100,000||30 May 1997|
|Michael Stensgaard||FC Copenhagen||Free *||1 June 1997|
|John Barnes||Free Transfer||Free *||11 August 1997|
|Mark Kennedy||Wimbledon||£1,750,000||26 March 1998|
|Nicky Rizzo||Crystal Palace||£300,000||25 July 1998|
|Neil Ruddock||West Ham United||£400,000||30 July 1998|
|Michael Thomas||Benfica||Free||1 August 1998|