After The Match 


LIVERPOOL-MANCH. C 2-1 (1-0)     Wednesday Feb. 11.   Premier League
Goals: Owen (3), Gerrard (51) Wright-Phillips (49)
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Hamann, Gerrard, Le Tallec, Cheyrou, Kewell, Owen
Subs: Heskey (Kewell 59), Murphy (Le Tallec 68),
Biscan (Cheyrou 84)
Not used: Kirkland, Sinama Pongolle
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: Mike Riley
Attendance: 43.257

Shots on target: 7-3
Shots off target: 5-3
Fouls conceded: 7-8
Corners: 6-3
Yellow: 0-0





“I am disappointed
for my players..."

               Gerard Houllier

1202: To boo or not to boo?
1102: Houllier unhappy with Kop taunts
1102: Owen and Gerrard put Reds fourth

To boo or not to boo?

By Dan Kay - icLiverpool

Last night Liverpool secured three points to move into the important fourth spot for the first time in months while arch rivals Everton and Manchester United both suffered embarrassing defeats. So why did many supporters leave Anfield feeling a mixture of anger, frustration and downright disgust at what they had just witnessed?

While Reds fans' reputation as the most knowledgeable in the game does not always hold water (as shown by last night's contrasting receptions to ex-players Steve McManaman and David James), the Kop faithful are no fools and knew that victory was imperative in regard to securing the Holy Grail of footballing achievement these days, qualification for the Champions League.

Manchester City were duly beaten and a short but worrying spell without a league win duly ended, and yet the abiding memory of this game will undoubtedly be the way Liverpool crudely settled on protecting their slender lead with at least a quarter of the game still to play and the after-match comments of manager Gerard Houllier, defending (no pun intended) his position.

Houllier was unhappy with sections of the crowd who had been unimpressed by his substitutions in the second half.

Fit-again Emile Heskey was introduced ahead of Florent Sinama-Pongolle - who having played at Bolton was surely further on in his recovery from injury - and Igor Biscan was brought into midfield despite having been groomed all season by the manager into a soon-to-be-awesome centre half. The latter change, in particular, was met by very audible dissent from all around the ground.

Of even more concern was the way the team played in the last 25 minutes or so of the game, limiting any attacking intent to a minimum and inviting City onto them in the belief that resolute defending would definitely secure that vital win.

Such tactics could certainly be advocated if the opponents were of real quality but City, although possessing a couple of players capable of causing damage, are threatened by relegation and have not won a league game since early October - 13 and counting.

Their outstanding FA Cup comeback at Spurs last week aside, they were absolutely there for the taking at 2-1, particularly having surrendered their foothold in the game within a minute of equalising which could, and should, have demoralised them.

Instead they were afforded an invitation to wrest back the initiative and take the game to Liverpool, which they did and were betrayed only by their own lack of quality in the final third.

A chance to boost goal difference, which could well make all the difference in May, and lift the spirit of both crowd and players was rejected in favour of the narrowest possible win. However, it is the manager's post-match reaction that causes the greatest concern.

The Liverpool manager could not understand what the supporters of his own club were moaning about and queried the dissenters' understanding of his tactics and selections.

In reality, people knew only too well what the manager was doing and were infuriated because these over-cautious and unattractive traits have proved to be tried-and-trusted failures in the past and, furthermore, so we were assured earlier this season, had been consigned to the dustbin.

If this Liverpool team was full of honest but limited battlers, then what we are seeing would be acceptable. It is when you examine the talent and ability within the squad that is going to waste because of the restrictive way the club is managed, that the true extent of supporters' gripes are revealed.

The manager attemped to explain away the post-match malaise by shifting the attention onto the players who apparently were 'edgy' due to their failure to win any of the previous four games and complained that the dissent from the crowd was unfair to the players whose efforts deserved better.

The fact is the vast majority of the unrest in the crowd was directed at the manager whose team selection, substitutions and, it is fair to assume, directions from the bench influenced the team to play in such a manner.

No Liverpool supporter ever likes to hear anyone connected with the club being booed by their own, it's not what the club's about and we've always (rightly) poured scorn on those that do engage in such activities.

But when you're seriously unimpressed with what you've seen and you know the end result has justified, in the manager's eyes, the cowardly means, thus making it a legitimate and worthwhile tactic for future use, what alternative do you have?

I didn't boo last night but refuse to condemn those who did. We won but, in some ways, it felt like we'd lost.

Supporters don't pay the ludicrous amounts of money it costs to get into grounds these days to see their team lose but if we've been beaten by a team playing better football on the day most can accept that.

What happened in the last 20 minutes last night was not football.

Anfield used to be the most uplifting place in the world to be, whereas now many are already thinking about that first post-match pint within 20 minutes of the kick-off.

However, until the manager's desire for victory outweighs his fear of defeat, we will, it appears we will have to endure more of the same.

Houllier unhappy with Kop taunts

By Paul Walker - PA Sport

An angry Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier defended his side’s safety-first tactics which secured a 2-1 win over Manchester City and took them into the top four for the first time this season.

Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard scored the goals but Liverpool’s stars had to listen to an Anfield crowd who showed their disappointment with the defensive strategy in the final half-hour.

Houllier said: “The whole team deserves credit, I am very proud of my men. We created chances and played football, so what are they moaning about? Football is a game of two teams, and City can be very dangerous as they showed at Spurs last week.”

And on the booing from the Kop in those final minutes, Houllier said: “I am disappointed for my players because I think their effort deserved more than that.”

He added: “You have to understand that when you play a good team it cannot all be one-sided. You have to give them respect. There were spells when they were better, I watched them even at Arsenal and they were unfortunate.

“First of all it is a good win, a good three points against a good team who can play good football.”

For City boss Kevin Keegan it was another disappointing night as his side have now gone 14 league games without a victory.

But a defiant City chief, who clearly had the support from the vocal travelling fans, said: “We played some good stuff second half and were unfortunate to again end up with nothing.

“The second was a bad goal to concede. It was scrappy, a mistake here and a bit of slackness there, but if you do that in the Premiership you get punished.

“But I believe in these players, they have been a very, very unlucky team. But you cannot hide from the results.

“But if you try to tell me there are 15 places between us and Liverpool after this performance, I just do not see it.

“We will just keep soldiering on and try to turn it around at Old Trafford on Saturday in the FA Cup.”

Owen and Gerrard put Reds fourth

Sky Sports

Michael Owen grabbed his first goal in over three months to help Liverpool to a narrow 2-1 victory over struggling Manchester City at Anfield.

Owen struck after just three minutes and although Shaun Wright-Phillips levelled on 50 minutes, Reds skipper Steven Gerrard grabbed the winner just a minute later to put Liverpool back in the hunt for a UEFA Champions League place.

Michael Owen lit up the gloom of the Merseyside fog after just three minutes when he picked up the ball just outside the box and cruised past Richard Dunne before chipping the ball coolly over the advancing David James.

The relief on Owen's face was there for all to see as he celebrated his first goal for over three months to put The Reds ahead.

The goal was the one bright spark of an otherwise dull opening half that saw neither goalkeeper tested, with just Steven Gerrard's free kick going close, although that effort was blasted over the bar.

It was the visitors who awoke quicker at the start of the second half and City were level five minutes after the restart when Steve McManaman's mazy foray into Liverpool's half ended with a lay-off to Shaun Wright-Phillips who dispatched the ball expertly into the bottom corner with a crisp low drive.

With Kevin Keegan's side still celebrating, the hosts took the lead again just a minute later through Steven Gerrard, although David James had a hand in the goal.

The England goalkeeper slid out to gather the ball from Owen only to spill the ball into the past of Gerrard and the Liverpool skipper made no mistake slotting into the empty net from close range.

Anthony Le Tallec then had his header cleared off by McManaman - who also cleared from Owen as he tried to bundle in the rebound.

Owen had a further chance but chipped over James' crossbar after the former Anfield keeper had again failed to gather the ball after sliding out at Le Tallec.

Liverpool's failure to take their chances gave City hope and they were the aggressors for the final period of the match, and substitute Antoine Sibierski almost had an immediate affect but his flicked header just evaded Daniel van Buyten at the far post.

Sami Hyypia then had to clear off the line from Wright-Phillips after he had chipped the ball over Dudek after storming into the right hand side of the area.

Sibierski then put a header over the bar from a great position as Liverpool increasingly sat back to protect their slender lead, which they managed to do better in the closing minutes to record a moral-boosting victory and inflict yet another defeat on struggling City.

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Thor Zakariassen ©