Reds showed a
lack of respect
By Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
The FA Cup is a competition you have to respect.
Liverpool did not give it that respect last night.
There is still an aura about the FA Cup: that magic of a
good run for the fans, thrilling games, the
possibilities of making it to the latest stages, even
Ask Exeter City; ask Sheffield United; and yes, ask
The FA Cup offers an opportunity, too, of clinching a
European spot for next season.
Rafa Benitez was right to give some of his younger squad
players the chance to gain experience in the Carling
Cup. They have risen to the occasion and got excellent
results at Millwall and Tottenham. But the FA Cup is a
The manager should have fielded his strongest side. He
should have made sure his team had the upper hand over
Burnley, then introduced some of his new players.
Benitez is not acclimatised to all aspects of the
English game, and certainly not in respect of what the
FA Cup is all about. It was a costly lesson.
He can't be blamed totally, though. He has been left
with a weakened squad and has done extremely well to
make the progress in both the Carling Cup and the
But the Burnley defeat should have left him in no doubt
that players like Traore, Biscan and Nunez are just not
good enough. When they are in the side, I shudder.
They were among the "senior" players selected and they
should have given the lead to the less experienced
players. But they were awful.
Nunez, as a winger, is a left back's dream. He can't get
past anyone, his crossing is poor and he gives the ball
away too easily.
I don't know what Traore was doing for the goal and I
felt the Reds were playing with eight men.
I would definitely give young Warnock a run in Traore's
I make no excuse for repeating myself: in the Sixties,
Seventies, Eighties and to a lesser extent the Nineties,
the Reds thrived on consistency. That was the watchword.
Now, they're anything but consistent, and you cannot
even guarantee they will play well in both halves of the
I felt ashamed and furious at the way we played last
night. The fans were certainly let down.
The FA Cup symbolises all that is best about the English
game. But you have to be up for it. The Reds weren't.
I would sooner the Reds had beaten Burnley than even
seen them going on to win the Carling Cup. That's what
the competition means to me and every fan.
Now, another avenue has been closed to possible success
Rafa needs quick cash injection for new blood
ON the evidence of recent results, Rafa Benitez needs
cash - and quickly.
He has bought Fernando Morientes, but still needs a
keeper urgently, plus a defender, midfielder and another
striker. I would like to see at least a couple more
signings before the transfer window closes.
Fourth place is the best we can achieve in the
Premiership this season - and that is by no means a
foregone conclusion while there is inconsistency in
The manager will struggle between now and the end of the
season if he is not allowed to strengthen further. He
definitely needs more quality.
Benitez stands by decision
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez stood by his
decision to field a weakened squad against Championship
side Burnley after the Clarets sent them crashing out of
the FA Cup.
After the third-round tie was initially postponed due to
bad weather, Burnley were keen to take the game to their
more illustrious opponents and deserved their 1-0 win,
which came thanks to an embarrassing Djimi Traore own
Benitez fielded a number of youngsters with only a
handful of first-team regulars included in the starting
line-up. But the Spaniard believes the number of games
his side are forced to play justifies his team
"We have done good in the second half. They started at a
high tempo and played well, after that we controlled the
game but at the end there was a big mistake," he told
"Sometimes they had counter attacks but I think at least
a draw would have been the best result."
Asked whether his selection of youngsters was the
problem, Benitez said: "They tried. The problem is when
you play four competitions you need to use your squad.
If you can't play four competitions you need to focus on
the next one.
"I don't think it was a mistake. I am happy with the
players, they tried. We worked hard, the squad in the
Carling Cup was the same idea and we win but not today.
We now have three competitions. All of us are
disappointed with the result but that is football."
Traore's own goal will prove to be one of the most
memorable of modern times, as the defender pirouetted
and back-heeled the ball into his own net.
Benitez was unhappy but not scathing about the mistake.
"It was a mistake in the six-yard box, you need to clear
the ball and we need to learn about those things in
By Paul Higham - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Burnley manager Steve Cotterill was delighted with
their giant killing act on Liverpool on Tuesday night.
The Clarets were full of spirit against a much-weakened
Liverpool side, although they never looked like scoring
until Djimi Traore bundled the ball into his own net six
minutes after half time.
Rafa Benitez's decision to play a number of youngsters
seemed to have backfired, although in truth his second
string played poorly on the night.
Cotterill's troops always seemed to want the ball more
though, and they were rewarded with a fourth round tie
at home to Bournemouth.
"It's a fantastic win for us," beamed Cotterill. "We are
delighted with the boys.
"The first half we were the better side, but I thought
they were the better side in the second half.
"But in the end we got perhaps what we deserved.
"The team ethic was great, we had good individuals but
they all work in a team.
"We started to panic when they brought the big guns on
and I was delighted when it was over.
"For me, it's probably the best FA Cup moment of my
Youngster Richard Chaplow was the star of the show for
Burnley, crossing the ball for Traore's horrendous
"We dug in hard, got on top of them and won our
headers," said Chaplow.
"We tried to keep the ball when we had it.
"Liverpool came here and tried to play football but it
was a bad pitch, and they were unlucky to lose in the
"For the goal I just stuck the ball across the box and
Traore did the rest."
Reds dumped out by Clarets
By Paul Higham - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Burnley dumped a young Liverpool side out of the FA
Cup on Tuesday with Djimi Traore's bizarre own goal
putting The Clarets through.
Rafa Benitez opted to make wholesale changes for the
trip to Turf Moor, but his decision to give the
youngsters a chance backfired as they failed to perform
on the night, and were outbattled by the Championship
Burnley flew into their Premiership opponents from the
opening whistle, with Jerzy Dudek tested by two early
The hosts where hoping that the Polish shot-stopper was
still nervy after his blunder against Manchester United
on Saturday, and he did look a little shaky as he
parried Richard Chaplow's low effort.
Micah Hyde fired a shot straight at Dudek following a
corner, and the Liverpool keeper was relieved to just
turn the ball behind for the corner.
Steve Cotterill's side forced a flurry of early corners
that threatened the visiting defence, but Sami Hyypia
was standing strong in the heart of the backline.
Igor Biscan wasted Liverpool's first chance when he
planted a free header from a corner tamely at a
Burnley were well on top but Florent Sinama-Pongolle
could have given The Reds the lead when he raced into
the clear after a Lee Roche mistake, but the young
Frenchman could not get a shot off in time and Brian
Jensen was able to smother the ball.
Burnley were gifted the lead six minutes after the
interval when Traore totally lost his head inside his
own six yard box to bundle the ball into his own net.
Chaplow burst into the box but his cutback from the left
was easy to deal with for Traore, but he amazingly opted
to try and turn on the ball instead of clearing the
danger, but got it all wrong and somehow diverted the
ball past Dudek.
Benitez was forced into a change after the goal, and
brought on Milan Baros for the goalscorer Traore, in a
bid to spark more attacking intent from his lacklustre
Chaplow had a glorious chance to seal the tie on 71
minutes when he arrived on to Roche's back post
knockdown, but Dudek managed to tip his effort wide.
Substitute Neil Mellor lifted an effort over from the
edge of the box when Baros was well placed, as Liverpool
tried to exert some pressure.
Stephen Warnock's run ended with a lay-off to Biscan on
the edge of the box, but the Croatian dragged his shot
woefully wide of the target.
Things got worse for Liverpool four minutes from time
when Tony Grant theatrically fell to the ground after
Antonio Nunez had stupidly waved an elbow at him, and
the Spaniard was rightly dismissed.
Cotterill's troops hung on for a famous FA Cup shock to
delight the home fans, while Reds fans will be ruing
Benitez's decision to field a weakened team.