After The Match 


LIVERPOOL-SOUTHAMPTON 1-2 (0-1)     Sat Dec 13.        Premier League
Goals: Heskey (75) Ormerod (1), Svensson (64)
Team: Kirkland, Otsemobor, Hyypia, Biscan, Riise, Gerrard, Hamann, Murphy, Diouf, Heskey, Smicer
Subs: Le Tallec (Diouf 56), Pongolle (Hamann 56)
Not used: Luzi, Diao, Cheyrou
Yellow: None
Red: None
Referee: Paul Durkin
Attendance: 41.762

                                                             FIXTURES & RESULTS
On target: 10-4
Off target: 8-4
Fouls: 6-8
Corne:rs 9-5
Yellow: 0-0
Red: 0-0





"It is disappointing
but these things
happen in football."

                Gerard Houllier

1412: Houllier walks through the storm
1312: Houllier offers no excuses
1312: Saints pile misery on Reds


Houllier walks through the storm

By Paul Walker - PA Sport

Gerard Houllier would have done better staying at home in bed, nursing his flu, and leaving the shouting and bawling to Phil Thompson.

Instead he chose to witness a Liverpool horror show that has left their ragged season at a critical juncture.

The calls for Houllier’s head have increased, the phone-ins are red hot and he surely would have winced if he heard one enraged punter demanding that fans “break him” by making his life intolerable.

The club will not sack him, Liverpool do not do such things having not axed a manager for close to 50 years. Sources inside the club maintain he still has the support of chairman David Moores and the board.

A source close to the board said: “The mood towards Gerard has not changed, he has the full support of the chairman and Rick Parry, and the board understand how much injuries to important players have affected the situation. Six out all at once is a lot.”

But just how much longer Houllier wants to carry on under such pressure is open to question.

And if a fifth home defeat of the season against Southampton and an inept, panicky display was not bad enough, he must now be aware that the tension in the stands is affecting his players.

The Reds were awful, Steven Gerrard excepted, and looked devoid of confidence and ideas for long spells.

It was only the fourth time in history Southampton have managed to win at Anfield and their thoroughly deserved victory indicates how serious the problem of Liverpool’s inconsistency has now become.

The abuse since has been unrelenting. From radio phone-ins to outbursts from former legends like Ian St John and Tommy Smith.

Houllier, who has said in the past few weeks that he will never walk away, must be praying for a comeback from injury of at least some of the half-dozen first teamers who were watching from the sidelines. But even that will not be as soon as he would like.

Houllier said: “We were missing six first-team players and they will not be back quickly.

“Only Harry Kewell has a chance of playing next week. Michael Owen? No, not for a while.

“Our home form is not satisfactory but we are missing a few. When we have them back it will be a different season.”

So even at his lowest ebb he was still trying to be upbeat. Sadly his paper-thin squad could not match that spirit.

Southampton, bright, quick and inventive, were brimming with a confidence Liverpool did not have.

From the moment Brett Ormerod exposed Dietmar Hamann’s lack of fitness and pace in the second minute to score, Liverpool were toiling and searching for collective inspiration.

It never came. Michael Svensson headed the second and even after Emile Heskey’s stabbed reply late on, there was not enough in Liverpool’s depleted armoury to grab a point they did not deserve, even though they had two shots kicked off the line.

Houllier, whose side have now dropped back to ninth in the Premiership, added: “I understand the fans’ frustration, we are suffering together.

“We just have to keep our heads up and keep going, but I admit this is a difficult period for us.

“We were without six first-teamers and all our first-choice strikers. In the end we paid for a lack of finishing.

“Only Chelsea, with their vast squad, could cope with the loss of as many players as we are having to handle. If Manchester United lost Van Nistelrooy and Scholes and Arsenal were without Henry and Pires, they would struggle too.

“We know now that we have to dig deep, this is a tough period for us. I believe the fans who were here at least understand the problem even if they are frustrated. I doubt whether the phone-in fans will understand.”

As for Saints boss Gordon Strachan, there was humour in his delighted after-match speech.

He said: “I have discovered that when you go to Anfield or Old Trafford, it pays not to wear a coloured shirt because everyone can see the stains as the pressure mounts.

“I always wear a white shirt so nobody sees you sweat. But I felt we deserved it in the end, even if they did throw everything at us towards the end. It was a case of ‘fasten your seat belts and hang on’ and we managed that.”

But he added: “I have every sympathy for Gerard, and anyone who wants to be a Premiership manager. It can be tough.

“If I was a multi-millionaire I would buy a golf course and knock balls around all day, and certainly not be doing this.”

Houllier is strong-willed, proud and stubborn and nobody at Anfield has the stomach for a quick-fix, mid-season change.

The fans who call the phone-ins may not like it, but nobody close to the club expects Houllier not to still be in charge come the summer.

But what happens then, in the last year of Houllier’s contract left, is debatable.

Houllier offers no excuses

Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier made no excuses for his side's shock home defeat to Southampton.

Goals from Brett Ormerod and Michael Svensson were enough to give The Saints a memorable victory and condemn Liverpool to their fourth home defeat of the season.

"We missed a good opportunity to make a step up the league," admitted Houllier.

"We had a very bad start with the goal and that caused us problems as we had to chase the game from there on.

"I like the way we reacted in the second half in that we created chances and the effort was there.

"It is disappointing but these things happen in football.

"In the second I feel we showed enough to equalise and we deserved a draw."

Houllier admitted his side's home form was concerning him as they slipped down to ninth spot with another Anfield reverse.

"The home form is a problem as we have lost too many games," added Houllier.

"You only have to look at the table to see that and we need to improve it.

"We have lost to three of the best sides around in Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea and today I think we should have won, but there are no excuses.

"It is frustrating, but you have to go on."

Saints pile misery on Reds

Sky Sports

Southampton piled the pressure on Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier with a shock 2-1 win at Anfield to climb above The Reds in the table and inflict their fourth home defeat of the season.

Goals from Brett Ormerod and Michael Svensson were enough to give The Saints only their second win in 26 visits to Anfield although they were made to work for the spoils after Emile Heskey pulled a goal back late on.

Southampton stunned the home side by opening the scoring after just two minutes with a lightning raid from a Liverpool corner as Ormerod raced clear onto Claus Lundekvam's long clearance to coolly slot past Chris Kirkland as the home side's defenders were caught up in the opposition half.

Liverpool tried to respond and Vladimir Smicer saw a dangerous shot deflected just wide seven minutes later, while five minutes after El Hadji Diouf headed over after a fine run and cross down the right from Jon Otsemobor.

Southampton looked dangerous when they attacked and David Prutton should have done better on 14 minutes when he got on the end of Marian Pahars' cross, but he could not direct his near-post header on target.

Liverpool felt they should have had a penalty on the half hour when Smicer raced into the box and went down under a challenge from Lundekvam, but Paul Durkin waved away their appeals much to the annoyance of the home fans.

The home side enjoyed the territorial advantage in the first half but all too often their final pass was lacking as Southampton comfortably maintained their lead.

Southampton missed a glorious chance to extend their lead five minutes after the break when James Beattie beat Biscan down the left and squared for the unmarked Pahars eight yards out, but the Lativan miscued his shot terribly wide with the goal at his mercy.

The visitors really should have added to their lead three minutes later when Marsden picked out Beattie at the back post and the England star powered his header goalwards, but Kirkland produced a fantastic reflex save to keep out the header.

Liverpool finally came to life on the hour mark and Antti Niemi had to be at his best to turn around a shot from substitute Florent Sinama-Pongolle after the ball broke nicely to the French teenager inside the box.

From the resulting corner from Danny Murphy, Sami Hyypia saw his towering header cleared off the line by Jason Dodd.

Southampton doubled their lead on 64 minutes when Michael Svensson rose highest to power home Marsden's corner into the roof of the net.

Reds defender Otsemobor tried to find a way back into the match for Liverpool on 72 minutes dancing past three Southampton challenges and firing a powerful shot which Niemi was forced to punch away.

Liverpool gave themselves a lifeline 15 minutes from time when Heskey tapped home from close range after Niemi could only palm out Steven Gerrard's blistering shot into the striker's path.

The home side threw everything into attack and Sinama-Pongolle came close to drawing them level on 80 minutes when he raced onto Gerrard's knockdown, but he did not get enough purchase on his shot and Niemi was able to turn away his effort.

Heskey missed a great chance to net the equaliser two minutes later from Gerrard's inviting cross, but he failed to connect properly with his header and the ball landed comfortably in Niemi's arms.

Liverpool's day was summed up in the dying moments when Smicer blazed over from the penalty spot after the ball broke to the Czech ace from a long throw in.

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Thor Zakariassen ©