Liverpool owe a debt
of gratitude to Carragher
Comment by Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
Any player who scores an own goal is going
to be disappointed, particularly when that player is someone
who cares as much about the club as Jamie Carragher does.
There were a few people in the media who couldn’t wait to
have a pop at Carragher after he put through his own net
Some were all too happy to point out this isn’t the first
time he has scored an own goal but I look at it from another
perspective – how many goals does Carragher save Liverpool
every season by making last ditch interventions and getting
himself into the kind of positions where other defenders
would be too scared to go?
Own goals are an occupational hazard for defenders like
Carragher. If you put your body on the line and make tackle
after tackle, the odds are that every now and again the ball
will deflect the wrong way or come off you in an unexpected
But I say this without fear of contradiction – Rafa Benitez
will know just how fortunate he is to be able to count on
the services of a player like Carragher who gives everything
for the cause and every other manager in the country would
love to have a player like him as well.
Think back to Istanbul when AC Milan were really pushing on
in extra-time and looked likely to snatch a winner.
Who was the defender who made a steady succession of blocks
when his team needed him most? Jamie Carragher.
He didn’t worry about the cramp which had left him barely
able to run, nor did he worry about the consequences of what
might happen if the ball took a ricochet off him after he
flew into the challenge. Carragher just kept on going in
there and had he not done so then it is fair to say that
Liverpool would not now have a fifth European Cup in their
Another example of his commitment to the team and his will
to win was when he tried to stay on the pitch after breaking
his leg at Blackburn.
You don’t do that unless you are a very special individual.
That’s why every Liverpool fan will forgive Carragher the
odd own goal and why they will keep encouraging him to go in
where it matters – because they know that makes him worth
his weight in gold.
his own songsheet
Comment by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
For several years Johnny Cash has been the
crooner of choice of the Anfield crowd.
But perhaps it’s now time they switched to Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Because, like it or loathe it, Rafa Benitez is going to do
it HIS way.
Frustrated fans, a complaining Press corps or a £20m striker
giving him hurt looks down the touchline, is not going to
change the self-confident Spaniard’s way of thinking.
Benitez was at his most bloody-minded on Saturday.
Few queried the 4-2-3-1 formation which saw Robbie Keane
left forlornly looking on; after all it was the same system
which had yielded a 3-1 away win seven days previously.
But as the Reds struggled against a refreshingly inventive
Hull side, his search for “solutions” defied popular
Benitez’s explanations afterwards – especially in
introducing midfielder Lucas ahead of striker Keane – were
eloquent and intriguing.
Regardless of the level of tactical planning which went into
the switches, however, they didn’t work.
But we’ve been here before with Benitez.
The Spaniard’s Liverpool successes – already considerable –
have all come in the face of adversity.
The Miracle of Istanbul, an FA Cup final which looked all
but lost until Steven Gerrard’s amazing intervention – a
Champions League campaign which started disastrously and
ended on the brink of a third final in four years.
All have featured Benitez’s maverick thinking.
This current campaign isn’t anything like as fraught as
those famous fightbacks.
But the frustration comes in that it could be so much
There is a real worry now that big wins over Manchester
United and Chelsea are being undermined by home draws
against Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and now Hull.
Title winning teams don’t draw three successive home games,
moaned the after-match phone-in ‘experts’.
Perhaps. But, title winning teams do possess the character
which allows them to recover from losing positions, as
Liverpool have now done a remarkable eight times in all
competitions this season, six of them victories.
Liverpool’s position could be better. But it could be so
In truth the Reds got lucky on Saturday. Yes, really.
While another frustrated full-house bemoaned the loss of two
more points, a more reflective analysis might have realised
it could have been much, much grimmer.
Bernard Mendy was enjoying the kind of afternoon which
threatened to give full-back Andrea Dossena twisted blood.
Then Paul McShane suffered concussion and the winger was
pressed into full-back duties, instantly reducing his
effectiveness and allowing the Italian to breath a huge sigh
Liverpool pulled back a 2-0 deficit with the help of a
couple of judicious shoves on Michael Turner in front of The
Kop. Each time referee Alan Wiley was admiring the quality
of the Liverpool moves rather than the fouls.
Then the awful official ignored a Javier Mascherano handball
inside the penalty area.
But Liverpool rode their luck, finally settled and for an
hour were usually the team most likely to make the
The biggest talking point afterwards was Benitez’s decision
to chase that winning goal without Keane.
The Irishman looked crushed and demoralised at being
But the biggest concern for the striker is that by far
Benitez’s preferred formation is 4-2-3-1.
If Fernando Torres is fit, he will always be the one; Albert
Riera, Ryan Babel, Dirk Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun will jostle
for the wide roles. . . but the identity of the man in the
middle of that attacking triangle is the first name on
Liverpool’s teamsheet every week.
If Robbie Keane is going to challenge for Steven Gerrard’s
place in the team, he will lose every time.
The only respite for Keane would be a switch to a more
As ever, Benitez will have solutions – possibly solutions we
haven’t even thought of yet.
And difficult thought it may be, Reds fans must keep faith
Despite Saturday’s disappointment, Liverpool are still very
much in the title race . . . with Fernando Torres and Marin
Skrtel still to return.
“If you want to win titles you have to keep calm,” said
All we can do is sit back, and let him do it his way.
Benayoun rues dropped
Premier League points
By Tony Barrett - Liverpool Echo
Yossi Benayoun admitted Liverpool need to
play more with their heads if they are to retain their
status as Premier League leaders.
The Reds dropped another two home points in Saturday’s 2-2
draw with Hull and had to thank Steven Gerrard for getting
them back on level terms with a double goal blast.
Benayoun was delighted with the character shown by Rafa
Benitez’s side after their latest comeback but believes they
should have gone on to win the game had they showed more
“Even after we went two goals down we never thought it was
game over, especially after our experiences this season,” he
“But we were all really disappointed to find ourselves two
goals down because I thought we started the game very well
and we were the better side for the first ten to 15 minutes.
“Then we conceded a goal and lost a bit of control but after
that we showed a lot of character to come back.
“After that, though, we should have come back to win the
game because we had quite a few chances. “But in the second
half we did not play with our heads enough. We were
desperate to score and didn’t use the wide areas enough.
“It’s a shame.”
Liverpool gave themselves another mountain to climb after
Paul McShane exploited some slack defending at the far post
and Jamie Carragher scored his second own goal of the
But Gerrard dragged his team back with a pair of close range
efforts which Benayoun believes show just why he is regarded
as one of the best players around.
“We know how important the captain is to the team in every
game, not just in this one,” he said.
“He showed a lot of character again and when he pushes
forward he takes the rest of the team with him. This is why
he is one of the best midfielders in the world and we were
all grateful for the goals he scored against Hull because
they got us back into the game.”
cost of home form
By Russell Barder - BBC Sport
With the groans of dissatisfaction ringing
around Anfield on Saturday you could be forgiven for
thinking that Liverpool are a club in crisis.
However, they remain top of the Premier League, despite a
third straight home draw that has raised serious doubts
about their title-winning credentials.
Consecutive goalless encounters with Fulham and West Ham
preceded this weekend's 2-2 draw with Hull City and Rafael
Benitez's side will know that this kind of form is no way to
end a 19-year wait for a league championship triumph. 606:
If we had beaten Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and Hull at home we
would be nine points clear at the moment.
Despite their uninspiring recent home form, Liverpool have
been aided by the fact teams around them are failing to
capitalise when they falter - and their fans' frustrations
are aimed largely at their team's inability to pull clear.
For the second weekend this season, no team from the
so-called big four recorded a victory and Benitez will
undoubtedly be delighted to see his side top despite them
yet to hit top gear.
The new generation of Liverpool supporters will struggle to
remember the last time the title arrived on the red half of
Merseyside and, with this season turning into one of the
closest Premier League races since its inception in 1992,
they have rarely had a better chance to end that wait.
There was a nervous hush inside Anfield at the weekend as
the home fans prepared themselves for another potentially
tricky clash - and once the visitors had taken a shock
two-goal lead their frustration was clearly audible.
After the game Benitez admitted, "everyone was getting very
nervy" and it was clear that the reaction of the fans after
Liverpool had gone two goals down affected the players.
Every misplaced pass, missed tackle and hurried clearance
was greeted by a chorus of discontented voices and the
players suffered as a result.
Hull did not let their hosts settle and if it were not for
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, the two dropped points
could have easily become three.
The midfielder came to the rescue once again as he dragged
his side out if trouble with two goals inside 10 minutes to
take his season's total to 11.
Hull were intent on playing good attacking football and with
wins away at Newcastle, Arsenal and Tottenham already under
their belt, it is a philosophy that has helped propel Phil
Brown's side to sixth in the Premier League in their debut
season in the top flight.
It made for an open and attacking game which should have
suited Benitez's team. However, despite largely dominating
possession and creating numerous chances, less than half of
their 21 attempts at goal failed to trouble Boaz Myhill in
the Tigers' goal. A fact that tells its own story.
It may be stating the obvious, but when Benitez said "you
have to score more goals to win these games" he highlighted
exactly where Liverpool have been going wrong.
Those words would have been ringing in Robbie Keane's ears
as he was once again left to watch his side struggle from
the substitute's bench for the second league match in a row,
no doubt desperate to prove himself worthy of Benitez's
The £20.3m summer signing has not enjoyed the best start to
his Liverpool career but, in the absence of the injured
Fernando Torres, the sight of Keane jogging up and down the
touchline while his side laboured was puzzling at best.
The fans were calling for the Irish striker to be brought on
as early as the 35th minute as Liverpool took their foot off
the gas having fought back from being two goals down.
The Merseysiders do not have the strength in depth to match
their rivals and the absence of a player of Torres' calibre
would hurt any team.
However, Benitez still had the means at his disposal to
change things around against Hull and, with Chelsea held to
a 1-1 draw by West Ham on Sunday, Liverpool remain at the
top of the table.
After yet another week where results have gone in their
favour, Liverpool know they are lucky to still be leading as
they head into the hectic Christmas period.
But the stats do not lie. The fact remains that they lead
the way after one of their best starts to a Premier League
campaign and they are still well placed to launch a serious
title challenge with a trip to Arsenal their next challenge.
Benny Hill now
Liverpool’s defensive coach?
Comment by Andrew Gilpin - Liverpool Daily Post
In today’s tough economic times £27m can
make or break well-known companies, never mind Premier
League managers. So the plights of two struggling players
recently bought for that massive outlay is of particular
A £7m full-back who’s clueless on the pitch. A £20m striker
who can’t even get on it.
It seems like Benitez is playing a game of chicken with
Robbie Keane which isn’t helping anyone.
When asked by a hungry pack of journalists about what the
American owners would think as he left a £20m striker on the
sidelines, the Spaniard was typically ambiguous, appearing
to say he’d like more £20m players on the bench next season.
Typical Benitez. Everything can be used to lay down a marker
about needing more funds.
With a new contract close to being agreed, Benitez needs a
good run in the league to sign, seal and deliver it. At
Anfield, the form’s not there and now is not the time for
It’s now three home draws against teams those with realistic
ambitions of the title should be beating.
On top of that, the match against Hull was one of those days
where one of the elements which had led Liverpool to top
spot in the Premier League went awry.
You’d have been forgiven for thinking Benny Hill had been
brought in as a special guest defensive coach after two
comedic errors continued the struggle to chase down a league
title no one wants to win.
If something was going to deny Benitez’s men the title, you
would have thought it would have been lack of goals, not
Liverpool’s backline is a Fantasy Football dream, as is
captain Steven Gerrard, who once again rode to the rescue as
the defence capitulated.
Plucky Hull weren’t going to park the bus in front of the
Anfield goal and with Liverpool urged on the attack, the
Tigers found space to unwind all of Benitez’s careful
Sami Hyypia, brought in to combat Hull’s perceived strength
in the air, got nowhere near a high-flighted ball for the
And the less said about the second the better, although at
least it’s pleasing to see that Jamie Carragher’s finishing
If Benny Hill had been at Melwood, a lot of time would have
been spent coaching beleaguered full-back Andrea Dossena in
the art of falling over.
At best he looks slightly off the pace, and at worst lost in
a left-back position he seems unable to keep pace with.
While he’s encouraging going forward, Dossena has poor
positional sense and was shown up by a Hull right-back in an
Amazingly, he’s still number one choice for the Italian
national team, but not for much longer on this evidence.
He was out-jumped for the first goal and out-paced for the
And you could sense the usually supportive Anfield crowd
were getting impatient with him.
He did improve in the second half, largely due to the fact
that Hull seemed content to sit on what they had, plus
tormentor-in-chief Bernard Mendy had been moved into
There is a ray of light. Dossena is as bad as Patrice Evra
was when he started his Manchester United career yet through
hard work and good coaching, he’s become one of the league’s
best attacking left-backs.
Whether Liverpool have enough time to let the Italian adapt
while staying near the top of the league is doubtful.
And Benitez does have a good track record in shipping out
players he feels haven’t worked out, unlike his predecessor
Gerard Houllier, who remained convinced everyone he bought
would eventually come good.
That must be ominous for Keane, omitted from the starting
line-up despite a bright display against PSV Eindhoven.
Benitez’s antidote to failing to net in the past two home
league games was to leave Dirk Kuyt up front on his own,
employing Gerrard just behind him.
But while Kuyt may be an able plodder, he is no matchwinner
– something Liverpool need if they are to snatch that
Fernando Torres and Gerrard aside, the last person who could
truly conjure a goal from nothing was Luis Garcia. His
replacement Yossi Benayoun doesn’t come close.
In the second half as Hull were pegged back, Liverpool cried
out for a match-winner, but still Benitez decided against
bringing on £20m Keane.
To bring on Lucas for Javier Mascherano with minutes left
was a baffling decision as Hyypia was forced into becoming a
makeshift striker at the end.
Stubborn Benitez got it wrong. He should have played Keane
and binned Dossena.
But wouldn’t it be typical Benitez bloody-mindedness to
ignore the pleas of the former and persist with the latter?
Hyypia can’t explain Liverpool's
lost points in Anfield matches
By Andrew Gilpin - Liverpool Daily Post
Defender Sami Hyypia is at a loss to
explain Liverpool’s recent poor home form.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Hull continued a run of three
stalemates at Anfield which have hit Rafael Benitez’s side’s
And after the draw, the big Finn said: “We tried to do
everything we could to win, but today it didn’t work.
“Of course it’s disappointing to draw at home again but we
need to look forward. If we knew what it was we’d address it
and we wouldn’t have had three draws.
“I didn’t feel personally that there was extra pressure on
us or anything. We’re top of the table and should enjoy it
and be confident of doing our jobs.”
Hyypia was impressed with Phil Brown’s newly-promoted Hull,
the surprise package of the Premier League so far this
season. And he was astounded with their attacking endeavour,
after both Stoke and Fulham defended for their lives to gain
0-0 draws at Anfield.
“Hull showed why they are so high in the table,” said
“They have a good spirit in their team, work very hard and
made life very difficult for us today. It’s disappointing we
didn’t finish the job.
“Hull played quite an open game, they came to attack, which
maybe Stoke and Fulham didn’t do.
“They showed great work ethic to keep it at 2-2.”
But the defender believes Liverpool can’t dwell on their
recent profligacy at home, with the next match away at
“We’re only in December but it’s very close,” said Hyypia.
“There’s a long way to go. Of course things could be better,
we could have more points than we do, but we just have to
live with it.
“We have to live with what we have now. We have to
concentrate on the next game and try to win that. We can’t
change the past, but maybe we can learn from what we did
“It will be a tough game against Arsenal but we’ll go to win
and hopefully come out with three points.”
BBC Sport Online
Hull boss Phil Brown accused referee Alan
Wiley of being a "ball-watcher" and missing several fouls as
Liverpool fought back for a 2-2 draw at Anfield.
The visitors went into a shock 2-0 lead after 22 minutes,
but league leaders Liverpool were level within 10 minutes.
"I think the worst kind of footballer is a ball-watcher and,
for me, every time the ball went into the box the referee
was ball-watching," said Brown.
"A lot of the times Dirk Kuyt was at the back post fouling
A Paul McShane header and a Jamie Carragher own goal gave
the Tigers a quick two-goal cushion, but Steven Gerrard
scored twice in eight minutes to get Liverpool back on level
"If you have a look at the first goal, Michael Turner was
fouled; if you have a look at the second goal, Michael
Turner was fouled," Brown told BBC Sport.
"Now, in front of the Kop, are you going to get those kinds
of decision? People say, 'Who gets penalties in front of the
"If you look at Sam Ricketts's incident towards the end of
the game, it's a penalty - the lad trips him up.
"People might be thinking I'm nit-picking - you have to be
at your best to come to Liverpool and get something but so
does the referee.
"Liverpool were at their best, there's no doubt about it,
but we went 2-0 up against them so I'm aggrieved about the
result, to tell you the truth.
"To be a Hull City manager and to be disappointed with
getting a point at Anfield is maybe a sign of where we've
Rafa: The game was too open
By Joe Curran at Anfield - LFC Official Website
Rafa Benitez believes that the frenetic
nature of today's 2-2 draw with Hull City could be to blame
for Liverpool's failure to take all three points.
Steven Gerrard scored a brace to help the Reds come back
from 2-0 down in the first half, but Benitez couldn't hide
his frustrations and admitted his team made too many
"We showed character to come back and scored some good
goals," he said. "But we couldn't play the final pass
properly and the game was too open.
"The game was a little bit too frenetic and you have to be
able to control things a lot more in these games.
"I was really pleased with the first few minutes. But we
conceded two goals and everybody was a little bit nervous
"It can make a massive difference when you score first, but
the reaction of the team was very good when we went two
"They were a threat playing on the counter-attack. We know
that teams like this will try to be organised and play in
"We made too many mistakes. These are the kind of games that
you have to win. We are disappointed, but we cannot change
again by fierce Tigers
Liverpool struggled to a third successive
Premier League draw at Anfield as new-boys Hull impressed on
the road again, the game ending 2-2.
The Tigers had already won at Arsenal and Tottenham and
scored three in defeat at Manchester United.
And if not for Steven Gerrard, they would have ended
Liverpool's season-long unbeaten home record.
Hull were two ahead on Saturday through Paul McShane and a
Jamie Carragher own goal before Gerrard scored twice in
eight minutes, taking his tally for the season to 11.
Gerrard was among the players returning after being rested
from the Champions League win over Eindhoven in midweek,
along with Jose Reina, Dirk Kuyt and Xabi Alonso.
Manager Rafael Benitez reverted to the same side which won
at Blackburn last weekend, which meant Robbie Keane was on
the bench and Sami Hyypia preferred to Daniel Agger.
Hull made just one change from the side which beat
Middlesbrough last Saturday, Bernard Mendy taking over from
Dean Marney, who was on the bench.
And although Hull were put under instant pressure, they soon
started to confront Liverpool all over the pitch, working
out that Andrea Dossena has limited pace and Reina does not
take kindly to being pressured.
Hull could have been ahead after five minutes when full-back
Sam Ricketts burst down the line, brushing Yossi Benayoun
aside, and fed Nicky Barmby on the Hull left.
There were loud appeals for a penalty when the former
Liverpool man's cross looked to have struck the arm of
Javier Mascherano as he slid in to clear for a corner.
The appeals were waved away but it was no surprise when Hull
took the lead after 12 minutes.
A Geovanni free-kick on the right sailed right across the
box and was knocked back into the danger area by Marlon
King, where McShane rose to head into the top corner.
Hull were full of pace, drive and desire and after 22
minutes they scored again.
After switching the play from left to right, via King's long
ball, Mendy went past Dossena once more and pulled the ball
back into the six-yard box, where Carragher turned it high
into his own net.
Just two minutes later however, Liverpool pulled one back.
Kuyt surged down the right and fired in a low cross which
fell for Gerrard to clip home from six yards.
McShane was booked for body-checking Gerrard and never
seemed to recover from the blow, being replaced two minutes
later by Marney.
And in what was now a tremendous match, Liverpool were level
after 32 minutes, again through Gerrard.
Carragher's cross was headed down by Kuyt for Benayoun to
hook on, giving Gerrard a 10-yarder for the equaliser.
Marney was booked for a foul on Hyypia two minutes after the
break, the game continuing at the same rip-roaring pace.
Liverpool almost took the lead after 59 minutes when
Hyypia's downward header from Gerrard's corner hit the foot
of a post.
Then Albert Riera saw a swerving effort punched away by Boaz
Hull were more content to defend and hit on the break, with
Geovanni seeing one run end with a low drive that went wide
of the far post.
Alonso curled a 20-yarder just over the bar, with Liverpool
sending on Moroccan winger Nabil El Zhar for Benayoun after
74 minutes. Three minutes later Dean Windass came on for
Barmby in only his fourth league appearance of the season.
Myhill then saved well from El Zhar, diving on the ball to
halt Gerrard in the six-yard box. After 82 minutes Liverpool
sent on Ryan Babel for Riera, before El Zhar was booked for
a foul on Kamil Zayatte.
Lucas came on for Mascherano with four minutes left, the
Argentinian having failed to stamp his usual authority on
the match but Liverpool were unable to find a winner.