Houllier: Too early to give up on title
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Gerard Houllier has refused to concede the
championship - despite seeing Liverpool slip to a third
successive Premiership defeat of the season at the
The Reds went down 1-0 at Portsmouth as Patrik Berger
returned to haunt his old boss with a fourth-minute
winner at Fratton Park.
The latest setback followed losses at Charlton and at
home to Arsenal to leave Houllier's side languishing in
mid-table and a massive 12 points behind Arsene Wenger's
leaders after only nine games of the season.
Houllier admitted his side were missing the injured
Michael Owen, who remained sidelined after the leg
injury sustained in the 2-1 defeat against the Gunners
at Anfield a fortnight ago. But the Reds boss remains
convinced his side can still win the championship and
should have yielded a greater points reward from their
performances this campaign.
"It's still early so I've not thrown the towel in
yet," insisted Houllier. "We know our targets.
"The quality of our football has been good and we have
deserved more than 11 points. We aren't putting away our
chances, and we are lacking in personnel.
"We were without practically half a team.
"Michael Owen, Didi Hamann, Danny Murphy, Jamie
Carragher, Milan Baros, Bruno Cheyrou and Salif Diao
were all unavailable and many of them would have played
"Some of our top players aren't in the side but there's
no point in complaining. The team lacked a bit of
"Maybe we lacked a bit of spark. The players are only
human you know.
"But we miss Michael Owen. He is worth 20 goals a season
"I know we have lost three league games in a row but the
fans know we could have won each of them. We just have
to keep going."
Florent Sinama-Pongolle made his Premiership debut as a
second-half substitute and Houllier added: "We had four
good chances in the first half and five in the second,
three of them for Florent. When you don't play well you
have to take your chances."
Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp, meanwhile, has cast
doubt on Houllier's assertion Liverpool can win the
championship this season.
"At the beginning of the season there were five teams in
contention for the championship and Liverpool were among
them," said Redknapp.
"They are a massive club and they need the Champions
League and to be winning the championship.
"They have top class players and you'd expect them to be
there. But they have got it all to do.
"I couldn't see them giving 12 points to Manchester
United and Arsenal at this stage of the season.
"And in all honesty you couldn't fancy them to do it
because Arsenal and Manchester United won't lose many
games in a season."
players were tired
LFC Official Website
Gerard Houllier bemoaned the tired legs of his
players and blamed missed chances as a key factor which
he believes would have earned his side at least a point
in the 1-0 defeat by Portsmouth.
A fourth minute goal from Reds old boy Patrik Berger
earned the home side all three points and Houllier said
Harry Redknapp's side were more fresher.
Houllier said: "The main difference between the two
sides was the freshness. We have had players away in
Turkey and other internationals plus the European game
midweek. I don't think we had enough liveliness about us
and they defended well.
"I can't fault their attitude, they just didn't have the
legs. I wasn't happy with our performance and we weren't
our usual selves from an attacking point of view, but
when you have chances and we had enough of them, you
have to take them.
"We had four good chances in the first half and five in
the second, three of them for Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
When you don't play well you have to take your chances."
BBC Sport Online
Former Liverpool player Patrik Berger condemned his
old team to a third successive league defeat and
provided Portsmouth with a much needed victory.
Released by Liverpool last summer the Czech Republic
international scored in the fourth minute moments after
Emile Heskey had hit the post.
Like Liverpool, Portsmouth had lost their previous two
league games, but Berger's goal means Harry Redknapp's
side have stabilised their league position.
The defeat means Liverpool have already lost four league
games this season and trail Premiership leaders
Manchester United by 11 points.
It was the first time Gerard Houllier had seen his side
lose three consecutive league games.
Heskey looked certain to score when he ran onto El Hadji
Diouf's through-ball and easily held off Dejan
Stefanovic before toeing his shot past Shaka Hislop.
The Liverpool striker's shot bounced back into play off
the foot of an upright and Portsmouth swept upfield with
Teddy Sheringham opening up Liverpool with a splendid
cross-field pass to Sebastian Schemmel.
The Frenchman delivered a low cross from the right and
Berger reacted quicker than anyone, going to the
near-post to neatly deflect the ball across Jerzy Dudek
and into the far corner.
Schemmel proved a constant irritant and after a slick
exchange with Steve Stone the Frenchman provided another
telling cross for the unmarked Sheringham at the far
post until Nigel Quashie's leap deflected it away.
Ayegbini also stretched Liverpool with his power and
determination and he hooked a shot just wide from the
edge of the area as well as going close late on when his
shot hit the draw.
In the thick of the action Berger clearly relished the
chance to wreak revenge on his old team.
On 21 minutes the Czech Republic international eyed a
second goal but Sami Hyypia blocked his half-volley.
Berger was then booked for protesting after Boris
Zivkovic was ruled to have handled on the edge of the
Steven Gerrard then curled a low free-kick which
squirmed under Shaka Hislop's body and had to be cleared
off the line by Dejan Stefanovic.
Houllier threw on Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama
Pongolle, but the two young Frenchman were unable to
salvage a point for Liverpool.
Portsmouth might have even grabbed a second when Igor
Biscan was lucky not to net an own goal when his header
crashed against the bar as he defended a free-kick.