Liverpool-United last faced off as top two in 97 – where are they now?

East Bengal’s new boss, Sky’s top pundit and a man rumoured to be The Masked Singer’s ‘Grandfather Clock’… it was Spice Boys vs Class of 92 when Liverpool and Manchester United last faced off as Premier League’s top two in 1997 – but where are they now?

  • Manchester United and Liverpool could go into Sunday’s match as 1st and 2nd
  • The last time that happened was 1997, but where are those players now?
  • A large number of them are TV pundits, including Gary Neville and Roy Keane
  • A Liverpool hero is rumoured to be the Grandfather Clock on The Masked Singer

It has been an incredible 24 years since Manchester United and Liverpool went head-to-head as the Premier League’s first and second-placed teams.

A clash between Roy Evans’ Spice Boys and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Class of 92 in April 1997, two of English football’s heavyweights battling it out on the biggest of stages.

Fast forward to 2021 and the landscape is very different, but this weekend could see them go up against each other once again as the division’s top two.    

Gary Pallister scored twice for United when they last faced Liverpool in a table-topping clash

The tables have flipped since the mid-90s, of course… back then it was United on course for their fourth Premier League title in five years, whereas now Liverpool are the champions with United trying to chase them down.

In 1997, Evans’ side were on their way to a fourth-placed finish and the April clash against United ended in a 3-1 defeat. Despite John Barnes netting for the Reds, it was a Gary Pallister double that made headlines, before Andy Cole secured three points for the visitors at Anfield.

But where are those players now? 24 years on, what has happened to the 22 players who last represented United and Liverpool in a top-of-the-table clash? Sportsmail takes a look…

Manchester United and Liverpool could again be 1st and 2nd when they play this weekend

David James 

James took off his gloves for the final time in 2014 following a spell in India with Kerala Blasters, where he has since managed the team. A regular TV pundit back in the UK, he has also turned his hand to reality TV in recent years, going out fourth in the 2019 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Although impossible to confirm at this stage, there are also plenty of rumours currently swirling that he is the man behind the Grandfather Clock in the ongoing series of ITV’s The Masked Singer. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

David James is rumoured to be behind the Grandfather Clock on ITV’s The Masked Singer

James has also taken part in Strictly Come Dancing since hanging up his goalkeeping gloves

Stig Inge Bjornebye

The left back enjoyed a long seven-year spell at Liverpool, eventually leaving for Blackburn in 2003, where he retired three years later. 

In his post-playing career, he has turned his hand to management back in his native Norway, spending four years as the Sporting Director at Rosenborg, where he was responsible for the signing of Nicklas Bendtner. 

He stepped down from the role in November 2019, and a month later was contemplating a life outside of football, telling The Athletic: ‘I’m in a lucky position at the stage of my life where I’ve worked hard and can choose to pursue different, interesting areas. I have more time to do other things.’

Steve Harkness

Harkness left Liverpool two years after the game, spending a year at Benfica before returning to play out his career at Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday and Chester. He has since been involved in a series of Legends games for the Reds.

He has endured some difficulties off the pitch, and was handed a third driving ban in September 2019. He was also given a nine-week jail term suspended for two years, and 100 hours of community service.

Steve Harkness has stayed in good shape and regularly plays in Liverpool Legends matches

Bjorn Tore Kvarme

The Norwegian defender enjoyed a globe-trotting playing career, heading to the likes of Saint-Etienne and Real Sociedad after exiting Anfield.

He hung up his boots in 2008 but netted his first Liverpool goal in 2018 – while featuring for a legends side at Anfield in a 5-5 draw with Bayern Munich. 

‘It was a great feeling,’ he said. ‘I never thought I would score my first goal at Anfield at the age of 45.’

Bjorn Tore Kvarme is another ex-Liverpool man who regularly plays in Legends matches

Mark Wright

After making over 200 appearances at Liverpool, he was forced into an early retirement a year after the game. He then went into management with spells at Southport, Oxford United, Chester, Peterborough and Floriana in Malta.

He is still heavily involved with the club, regularly appearing as a pundit on LFC TV, while he also founded Red Sports alongside Michael Owen, a company which run soccer schools and coaching programmes in China.   

Mark Wright battles Andy Cole in the April 1997 clash between the Premier League’s top two

Jason McAteer

Upon retiring, McAteer made a very brief foray into management alongside John Barnes at Tranmere but the pair were sacked after four months and the ex-midfielder has not tested the waters of that particular career again.

He is a regular pundit for the likes of beIN Sports, LFC TV and ESPN, and is often part of Liverpool Legends teams across the globe… pre-pandemic, of course. He also released an autobiography – Blood, Sweat and McAteer – in 2016.  

Steve McManaman

One of the more regularly-seen Liverpool stars of the 1990s, McManaman is among BT Sport’s – and Amazon Prime’s – star pundits and co-commentators nowadays, covering the Premier League and the Champions League.

He has also invested in racehorses, plays in legends matches, is a FIFA ambassador, undergoes charity work and represents LaLiga, among many, many other things. A busy life then, it seems…

Steve McManaman speaks during a recent Premier League punditry gig for Amazon Prime

Michael Thomas

Thomas joined Liverpool having previously ruined their title dreams in dramatic fashion with Arsenal two years earlier, and he went on to spend seven years at Anfield, winning the FA Cup in 1992. He left to join Benfica and finished his career with Wimbledon in the early 2000s.

Since retiring, he is reported to have set up his own security and chauffeur firm in Liverpool, named ‘Stop Taking The Michael’.  

Jamie Redknapp 

The midfielder played over 300 times in 11 years at Liverpool, before leaving in 2002 with Steven Gerrard’s rise to prominence and a series of injuries leaving his surplus to requirements. 

He called time on his career at the age of 31 but has since become arguably the most famous name of this Liverpool side, and has been one of Sky Sports’ top pundits for many years. He is also a team captain on Sky comedy panel show A League of Their Own. 

Jamie Redknapp has long since been one of Sky Sports’ biggest names in the world of punditry

John Barnes 

Another big name from the Liverpool team of the 90s, Barnes has stayed in the public consciousness with punditry gigs, as well as appearances on Celebrity Big Brother and even Question Time.

He too has been on Strictly Come Dancing, and is still a big fan of Liverpool, regularly giving his opinions on his former club in the media. This month, for example, he has spoken regularly about their need to sign a centre back. 

Robbie Fowler 

In two separate spells at Liverpool, Fowler netted 183 goals in all competitions before heading off to Australia and Thailand to see out his career. That globetrotting nature has continued into management, with the Englishman enjoying spells in the A-League and now India.

In October 2020, he took over as coach of Indian Super League side East Bengal, where he manages the likes of Ireland winger Anthony Pilkington and former Burnley and Nottingham Forest defender Danny Fox.

Robbie Fowler enjoyed a very successful playing career, before turning to management

He is now in charge of East Bengal in the Indian Super League, after a spell in Australia

Manchester United

Peter Schmeichel

Schmeichel enjoyed a hugely successful career at United, winning five Premier League titles as well as three FA Cups and the Champions League. Since retiring, he’s never been too far away from England given his son Kasper’s career at Leicester.

He is a regular pundit, both on British TV and Norwegian, and he also appeared on the 2006 edition of Strictly Come Dancing. There’s a bit of a theme going on, isn’t there?

Gary Neville

Such is Neville’s prominence as a Sky Sports pundit these days, it would be easy to think of his football career as secondary. Since retiring, he has become Britain’s leading football broadcaster alongside Jamie Carragher, most famously on Monday Night Football.

He is also a part-owner at Salford City, owns Hotel Football in Manchester, as well as plenty of other property. He has written regular columns for newspapers, and is never too far away from your television screen. Last weekend, he even stepped in to commentate on the netball. A man of many talents. 

Gary Neville was an impressive footballer, but is perhaps even more so in his post-football life

As a pundit, Neville has become Sky’s main man, alongside Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher

Ronny Johnsen

Another talented Norwegian in the Premier League, Johnsen went on to spells at Aston Villa and Newcastle before finishing his career with Valerenga back home. 

He often appears on United’s in-house channel MUTV these days, and has dabbled in punditry in the years since his retirement in 2008.

Gary Pallister

Pallister was well into his United career by 1997, and in fact had just one year left at the club before moving back to Middlesbrough, where he called time on his playing days in 2001.

He moved behind the scenes in the world of football in 2010, briefly serving as Operations Director at Darlington, and he now works as a regular pundit for MUTV. 

Pallister is a Manchester United legend and he still regularly works for the club’s in-house TV

Phil Neville

Much like his brother Gary, Phil has stayed in the public consciousness with his roles both in football management and ownership. Since retiring, he too has become part of the Class of 92 ownership group at Salford City, and has many other business interests.

He made his first foray into football management in 2018 when he took over as coach of England Women, a role that he will leave in the summer. When that comes to an end, he is returning to the men’s game, where he is expected to soon be announced as the coach of David Beckham’s Inter Miami. 

David Beckham

And so, onto Beckham himself. Not only the most famous man in this Manchester United team, but arguably one of the most well-known celebrities on the planet, Beckham has done just about everything since leaving Old Trafford.

Whiskey, aftershaves and clothing ranges have all carried his name, and he has been the face of too many brands to list here. Football ownership is a fairly new addition to the portfolio… he has created MLS franchise Inter Miami from scratch, and they made their debut in the league last year. He is also a Salford City part-owner.

David Beckham is one of the most famous men on the planet and is now also a football owner

Nicky Butt

Another from the Salford City ownership group, Butt went on to play for Newcastle, Birmingham and South China after leaving Old Trafford.

He now works back at Old Trafford, and is head of first-team development under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He first returned in 2012 as reserve team coach, moving to take over the academy in 2016, before 2019 saw him move to his current role to help the transition of young players between the youth and first-team.

Roy Keane

Keane too is a regular on British television screens 15 years after hanging up his boots. Upon leaving United, he finished his career at Celtic and has since dipped his toes in the world of management with Sunderland and Ipswich, before having spells as assistant with the Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest.

He’s best-known now for his straight-faced, damning quips as one of Sky Sports’ top pundits, not afraid to say it *exactly* how it is. He also works for ITV in their coverage of international football. 

Roy Keane is well-known for his stinging punditry for both Sky Sports and ITV among others

Paul Scholes

Scholes is yet another Manchester United legend that has since turned his hand to punditry, regularly appearing on BT Sport to discuss Premier League football. He has also stayed close to football with his part-ownership of Salford City, alongside some of his old United team-mates, as mentioned above.

In fact, he even stepped into the dugout as caretaker manager at one stage, and has also been boss at Oldham. He definitely has ambitions to become a manager but has so far only dipped his toes into the water. 

Paul Scholes is a part-owner of Salford and has dipped his toes into management and punditry

Eric Cantona

One of the most eccentric characters ever to play in the English game, Cantona has taken a slightly different career path to most of his old team-mates. Yes, he went into management… but of the French Beach Soccer team, and he was also Director of Soccer at New York Cosmos for a year.

He has also become a famous actor in the years since his retirement, appearing in upwards of 30 films at the most recent count. He is also is numerous television adverts, both in the UK, France and beyond, and in 2012 even considered running in the French presidential elections.

Eric Cantona, always an eccentric character, is now a famous actor in his post-football life

Andy Cole

After leaving United in 2001, Cole went on to play for a further eight English clubs, before calling it a day at Nottingham Forest in 2008. In his life post-retirement, he has been heavily involved in charity work.

He first set up the Andy Cole Children’s Foundation before his retirement, and has since suffered with serious health issues himself, needing a kidney transplant in 2017. That led to him starting the Andy Cole Fund to raise money for Kidney Research UK.

In the world of football, he underwent his coaching badges and has been involved at United in various capacities. In 2019 he became a strikers’ coach at Southend United under Sol Campbell before leaving in June 2020 by mutual consent. 

And there were some big names on the bench too… 

The Liverpool substitutes’ bench on the day was filled with a number of big names, including Dominic Matteo, Patrick Berger and Stan Collymore.

The latter has had a high-profile media career, both with talkSPORT, the BBC and elsewhere. He has also spoken very openly about his struggles with mental health.

Sub keeper Tony Warner is now the goalkeeping coach at Accrington Stanley and defender Rob Jones has a coaching role in Liverpool’s academy. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t get off the bench in 97, and he’ll be back on it as manager this time

Over among the United substitutes was a little-known striker called Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has since gone on to pretty ridiculous heights in the world of management. He is, of course, the current Manchester United manager and will be in the dugout for Sunday’s game.

Elsewhere, Brian McClair was assistant manager at Blackburn for a while after finishing his career, and then spent nine years as the Director of United’s Youth Academy. 

Denis Irwin is still very closely linked with the club, having been a long-time MUTV presenter as well as lending a hand with a lot of charity work. Raimond van der Gouw is Vitesse Arnhem’s goalkeeper coach. 

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