can't perform miracles all the time
By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
If ever a game showed why there is still too much
responsibility on Steven Gerrard at Liverpool, Saturday
I was disappointed to hear some critical comments
regarding Gerrard's performance against Manchester
He wasn't on top form, but is Steven expected to perform
miracles on his own every week?
When he's not at his best, who else takes responsibility
to inspire the side? Other than the brilliant Jamie
Carragher, I still feel there are too many players at
Anfield who look to the skipper to carry the team.
If Gerrard doesn't do so, others go hiding and let the
focus fall unfairly on their captain.
Steven's standards have been so high, anything less than
a world class performance creates murmurs of
I know, like most of my Chester squad, Steven was
suffering from a virus over Christmas and perhaps that
affected his performance.
I'm not making excuses for him. I don't need to. For the
last three years he's been the most consistent
midfielder in Europe, not just Liverpool.
But like every great player he has to be allowed a poor
game now and again. And it's then his team-mates need to
respond and raise their game. That didn't happen against
Roy Keane was top man in midfield at the weekend, but
just because he won the battle in one game, it doesn't
mean Gerrard's got anything more to learn from him.
I wouldn't swop one for the other. Keane has been a
tremendous player, but the one thing he's never offered
which Gerrard does is a regular supply of goals.
There have been enough United versus Liverpool games in
the last four years where Gerrard outplayed Keane. I
won't forget those games just because of the
disappointing performance on Saturday.
Anfield haunted by the ghost of Everton past . . .
By Len Capeling - Daily Post
It was just like old times with the rapturous cries
of Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, echoing across the fringes of
Sadly for Liverpool, the ecstatic chants came not from
the arena across the lake, but from the throats of the
4,000 or so Manchester United fans crammed into a packed
They'd just seen their new hero slay the arch-enemy -
emptying the stadium's seats quicker than an encore from
Cilla Black - and they wanted everyone to know how happy
that made them.
For enraged Liverpool supporters that was the final
insult on an afternoon of deepest despair.
Losing to such bitter rivals is always a sickener, but
seeing the fatal blow struck by a strutting exneighbour
piled the punishment higher than Sir Alex Ferguson's
self belief. And that's high indeed.
Could things be any worse we wondered? Well, yes, they
could. Much worse.
Because although it was Rooney's boot that connected
with the ball a fair way out, Jerzy Dudek saw the ball
every inch of the way and it should have been a simple
save for a keeper of his experience.
But no. Instead of a sprawl and a catch, Dudek stunned
home supporters with what looked like a collapse, the
kind of thing you see on any street when illness or
alcohol get the better of your balance.
Down went Dudek in an ungainly sprawl while Rooney's
effort rolled past him into the net.
You could have heard a mobile phone drop.
And not the one that sailed past Rooney's ear as one
Kopite with more money that sense hurled his only link
with the world at a player who may become an ever
greater irritant as the years unwind.
Rooney's juvenile tendency didn't help to bandage
instantly gaping wounds. Cavorting in front of the
cavernous Kop, he spread his hands behind his ears as if
waiting for them to cheer his first return to the city
of his birth.
All this on a day when smacking a child became a
Quite a few red-faced, red-draped indivduals clearly
ached for the chance to smack this particular youngster
as he joyously immersed himself in their anguish.
He's a bit dim, isn't he, ventured one scribbler
pre-match, possibly sensing the arrival of a young bull
pursuing his tormentors.
Yet, in truth, the majority of Liverpool followers gave
Rooney no more than a passing glance.
And even after the over-elaborate goal celebrations,
they didn't feel inclined to take it out on the
Naturally, Sir Alex defended the England prodigy,
insisting, with a grain of truth: "He was right in front
of the Kop - so where else was he going to celebrate
scoring at goal?"
No-one from Anfield bought that, certainly not the local
constabularly who took statements as soon as the game
was over. I hate seeing the police get involved in this
kind of thing. A fine by United for their delinquent
striker ought to suffice, while the FA should warn
Liverpool over the phone incident.
Tabloid rabble-rousing may still turn this small local
difficulty into a hanging offence. It isn't, but Rooney
needs to grow up otherwise his fooballing talents may
become secondary to an unfortunate ability to do the
wrong thing. If he doesn't learn, you can't see him
being risked at Goodison Park in April without the need
for riot squads - although on this one, I hope I'm wide
of the mark.
One lesson that did get learned on Saturday was that
when Steven Gerrard fails to put in his usual claim for
man of the match, Liverpool appear depressingly
Granted they could have done without their Jerzy being
ripped again, confirming my view that the only decent
goalkeeper in the city is Nigel Martyn.
But laying all the blame on their splintered Pole is to
ignore Liverpool's over-reliance on one man. On this
occasion he was either hurt or exhausted, depending on
You can't always be a superman, was John Aldridge's
sympathetic verdict. Yet, without his inspirational
input, team-mates struggle to impose themselves.
United have a similar problem when their main motivator,
the veteran Roy Keane, rests his battered bones.
Keane, written off more times than Tony Blair, ran the
Whether deep in defence or helping play Rooney into
space for his match-winner, the Irishman showed why he
strikes fear into less committed opponents.
As an encore, he took a pass from the spiky Paul Scholes
and laced a dipping half-volley over the leaden Dudek
and onto the Kop crossbar.
It would have been one of the goals of the month, easing
United into comfy armchairs.
But they didn't need it. They were always comfortable,
even when Wes Brown's second yellow reduced them to 10
Mikael Silvestre simply got better, so did the
outstanding Gabriel Heinze, making the absence of Rio
Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Alan Smith and Ruud van
Nistelrooy an unimportant detail.
No wonder their manager looked so delighted when the
battle was won.
Jamie Carragher - switched to right-back to accommodate
the incoming Mauricio Pellegrino - threatened to have
the last word with a drive that the otherwise unemployed
Roy Carroll somehow blocked away, and the full-back also
unfurled the pass of the match to free Gerrard for a
fierce shot, a foot wide.
But anything but a victory - despite the brightness of
Milan Baros - would have been hard on United,, who saw
off the willing but wearying Fernando Morientes along
The Spanish striker had previously scored in all of his
debut games. But not here, although two headers and a
nice touch around Wes Brown that ended in an
over-anxious mis-hit, suggest that the centre-forward
has a great deal to offer.
Something exceptional certainly needs to happen to
lighten Liverpool's load, otherwise Rooney won't be the
only oppositon striker celebrating an easy ride at
not to blame for defeat, insists Dudek
By David Prior - Daily Post Staff
Jerzy Dudek came out fighting after another crucial
error against Manchester United on Saturday - insisting
he had been "unlucky".
The Polish goalkeeper let Wayne Rooney's 21st-minute
shot slip underneath his body and into the net to gift
Sir Alex Ferguson's side victory at Anfield.
It was Liverpool's third straight home defeat to United
- with all three games hinging on a Dudek mistake, Diego
Forlan and Ryan Giggs having been the beneficiaries for
the past two seasons.
But Dudek refused to accept that on this occasion he had
been entirely at fault, insisting the ball had gone
under, rather than through, his hands, and that it had
The 31-year-old did, however, admit he "perhaps" should
have saved Rooney's shot, and that he did have a good
view of the former Everton teenager's speculative
Dudek said: "The ball was swerving a bit, and it was
unlucky for me because it was his first shot on goal. I
knew he was lining up the shot - I saw it all the way..
I had a good view of it, I don't know what happened, but
I believed it moved at the end.
"It didn't go through my hands, it went under them. It
was impossible to catch the ball, so I was concentrating
on trying to parry it to the side. We know what Rooney's
like when he's out on the pitch, we know he likes to
have a shot at goal.
"When he gets in space and gets it on his right foot you
know he's going to have a go. He has a powerful shot, he
only had one shot today but that's all he needs.
"The ball was swerving a bit, and it was unlucky for me
because it was his first shot on goal.
"The manager was watching me after that to see how I
performed, and I think I did okay. I think I was very
unlucky, and when you concede a goal like that you can
say you had much more to do than you did.
"I think with a bit of luck, perhaps I should have kept
it out. But the ball moved, and I couldn't do anything
Dudek found support in the shape of manager Rafael
Benitez, who refused to blame his stopper.
"Always with goalkeepers their mistakes are important,
in this kind of game with big clubs it is more
important," he said..
"But I do not like to look only at one situation, I
prefer to look at everything and see how the team
"I told Jerzy he played a good game with only one
mistake. It is a pity but it is true."
Dudek insisted Liverpool could still have claimed
something from the game after his slip-up.
Dudek added: "We played very well at the beginning but
we couldn't get the same tempo after that. I knew that
there was still plenty of time to bounce back. I had to
stay on my toes and maintain my level of concentration.
There was plenty of time to change the scoreline in our
"The players' heads went down for a few seconds but we
had a couple of chances after that and you have to
forget about it because we are capable of playing good
stuff as we showed in the second half.
"But the ball didn't bounce for us. We tried to press
with a bit more urgency after the break and catch them
"We have to keep it up - there are still 15 games to go,
still a long way to go. It looks like we're playing
better football, we have to keep going."
Mori handed Benitez backing
Rafael Benitez praised Fernando Morientes after his
Liverpool debut and has tipped the Spanish ace for great
things at Anfield.
The £6.3m hotshot had a baptism of fire in the crunch
clash with Manchester United but showed some neat
touches and was unlucky not to continue his remarkable
record of scoring on his debut before being substituted
15 minutes from time.
Benitez told the club's website: "It was difficult in
his first game but he never stopped trying.
"It was his first game and he needs to get fit. He said
he was very tired when he came off but he knows now how
he must play in the Premiership and will get better with
Benitez must decide now whether to give Morientes
another full game at Burnley in the FA Cup on Tuesday in
a bid to boost his match fitness.
"He can give us a different aspect to our game, in the
air and with good passing. He needs to get to know his
team-mates and they need to get to know him," he said.
Fergie hails United win
By Peter ORourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson hailed his
side's performance in the 1-0 win over Liverpool.
Wayne Rooney's first half goal, courtesy of a blunder by
Jerzy Dudek, proved to be the difference between the two
sides at Anfield.
Ferguson was delighted with his side's resilience.
"It was a great performance. It was a fantastic game,
tense and competitive," Ferguson told Sky Sports.
"The important thing was to keep our composure, pass the
ball well and take the steam out of Liverpool.
"When we were down to 10 men it was a bit of an
onslaught and we had to survive that - and we did."
Ferguson defended Rooney's celebrations after the goal
with one fan being arrested for throwing a mobile phone
at the England international.
"That's the end where he's scored the goal so that's
where he is going to celebrate," added Ferguson.
"I don't think he has overdone it."
Ferguson believes they sent out a warning to their title
rivals with the manner of the victory at Anfield.
"Arsenal have been here; Chelsea have been here - but I
would have thought our performance would have been the
best of the three."
refusing to blame Jerzy
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez is refusing to hold Jerzy Dudek
responsible after his mistake gifted Manchester United
the only goal of the game at Anfield.
The Liverpool manager says he hasn't had a chance to see
the goal conceded by Dudek again but insisted he wasn't
blaming the Pole for the defeat.
Benitez said: "It is a bad result and I am disappointed.
I haven't seen the goal again on the television but when
a goalkeeper makes a mistake it is highlighted. Mistakes
happen though and more important is the performance of
"We started better but once we lost a goal we lost our
concentration and they controlled the midfield. We
played better once they went down to 10 men and tried to
play wide with Luis Garcia but they have experience and
"We had lots of corners and free-kicks but did nothing
from them. The reason I took Morientes off is because he
asked to because he was tired.
"I also thought there should have been more than four
minutes of stoppage time played but I don't want to use
that as an excuse for this defeat.
"We are still in the running for the Champions League
places. Of course we are. We just need to start winning
some more games."
Dudek hands United victory
By Peter ORourke - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Manchester United kept their title hopes alive with a
deserved 1-0 win over lacklustre Liverpool at Anfield on
Jerzy Dudek endured another nightmare against United for
the third season in a row as he inexplicably let Wayne
Rooney's shot past him for the only goal of the game.
United were forced to play the last 25 minutes with ten
men after Wes Brown was sent off, but their lead was
rarely threatened as they held on for three vital
Luis Garcia had the first noteworthy chance on three
minutes as he got ahead of Gabriel Heinze to Fernando
Morientes' flick on but he could not get his effort on
Four minutes later Sami Hyypia got a vital touch on Phil
Neville's cross to deny Louis Saha a sight of goal after
a neat move by United.
Garcia wasted a great opportunity a minute later when he
broke from the halfway line, but instead of feeding the
unmarked Morientes he dallied over the ball allowing
Mikael Silvestre to get in a block.
Baros almost got through on 20 minutes when he burst
past Silvestre to get into the box only for Heinze to
clear the danger for a corner.
From the resulting corner Morientes climbed above Roy
Keane to power a header down into the ground and
straight at Roy Carroll.
United broke the deadlock against the run of play on 21
minutes when Rooney scored his first goal against
Liverpool after a terrible blunder by Dudek.
Rooney was allowed to pick up the ball fully 30 yards
from goal and fired in a shot which somehow squirmed
through the hands of Dudek.
The goal left Liverpool shellshocked and Heinze missed a
great opportunity two minutes later when he rose to head
Darren Fletcher's corner onto the roof of the net.
United came within inches of doubling their lead on the
half hour mark when Paul Scholes picked out Keane on the
edge of the box and the Irishman took one touch before
flashing a brilliant shot against the crossbar.
Liverpool tried to rally themselves before half time,
with Neville deflecting Steven Gerrard's shot wide on 41
Morientes had two chances before the break to open his
account for his new employers when he firstly
brilliantly took down Garcia's pass on the edge of the
box before firing well wide and secondly he flashed a
header wide from Garcia's cross under pressure from
Liverpool tried to raise the tempo at the start of the
second half and Garcia signalled their intentions right
after the restart with a drilled shot over the crossbar.
Riise almost got Morientes through on goal on 48 minutes
with a clever pass, but Heinze got back to get in a
vital last-ditch tackle.
United were dominating possession in midfield and they
were happy to keep the ball away from Liverpool even
though they failed to create any real chances despite
United were reduced to ten men on 65 minutes when Wes
Brown was sent off for his second bookable offence after
a scything tackle on Riise.
Rooney picked up a booking on 72 minutes when he
appeared to kick out at Garcia after being tackled by
Substitute Igor Biscan had an effort on goal with his
first touch on 80 minutes when he rose highest to meet
fellow substitute Antonio Nunez's cross, but his header
was comfortably collected by Carroll.
Liverpool huffed and puffed in a bid to get back into
the game, and Garcia fired wide with an ambitious volley
in the final minute.
Carragher almost drew Liverpool level in stoppage time
when Gerrard rolled a free kick into his path on the
edge of the box, but Carroll kept out his shot with his