summit inspired us
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Jamie Carragher today revealed how a fiery pre-match
summit between the players and Gerard Houllier inspired
Liverpool's win at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Anfield boss delivered some home truths to his team
and they responded with the 1-0 victory which protected
the crucial fourth Champions' League spot.
"The manager called a meeting on Friday and basically
told a lot of us we weren't doing enough for the team,"
revealed Carragher, (right).
"The message was really we had to work a lot harder,
especially when we haven't got the ball, and get back to
the attitude and commitment we showed when we won the
three cups in 2001. I think the lads responded to what
"In many ways, I think the performance proved what I
said a few weeks ago. We seem to be able to compete
against the big sides but struggle against others.
"You wouldn't believe we could go two home games against
Charlton and Fulham without a win and then get a win at
Old Trafford, but it seems to have been like that here
for as long as I can remember.
"When I first broke into the side under Roy Evans I
remember losing at home to Barnsley and then winning at
Arsenal a week later. Until we put that right we're not
going to challenge for the title.
"I think the game against Middlesbrough next week is
going to be totally different. I know a lot of people
will be looking at what happened and asking why we can't
get results like that at home.
"The onus is on us to break sides down far more than it
was on Saturday and that's when we've struggled
"We've got to build on what happened on Saturday.
Although tactically it will be different next weekend,
there's still a lot we should take from the win.
"The character, togetherness and spirit in the side was
a lot better. It's frustrating we're not in a better
position when we've shown we can win at tough venues
such as Goodison, Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford. Now
we've got to play a lot better in our last two home
taste for battle
Gerard Houllier is tipping the race for fourth to go
down to their May 15 meeting with Newcastle at Anfield.
The Liverpool manager had an afternoon to remember
yesterday as Danny Murphy became the first opposition
player to score a Premiership penalty at Old Trafford in
a decade to seal victory in a closely-fought battle of
the north-west giants.
Yet even as Houllier was striding into a rare shaft of
sunshine in a season of almost unrelenting gloom at
England's most successful club, he wondered out loud
whether the Reds would have cause to regret their
earlier failings against some of the top-flight's lesser
No team that can beat Chelsea and Manchester United on
their travels should find themselves scrapping for
crumbs, some 30 points adrift of the champions.
But the euphoria at Liverpool's defeat of their fierce
north-west rivals was quickly stifled by Newcastle's
comeback win over Chelsea at St James' Park that
reinstalled the Magpies as favourites to land the
coveted final Champions League berth.
Still a game in hand of the Reds, Sir Bobby Robson's men
may only require a draw when they head to Anfield for
the final-day showdown.
Houllier knows his own future is at severe risk unless
he can with the fight for fourth spot and he just hopes
his side will not be left cursing their luck when the
season finally draws to a close.
"There will be a few twists and turns before the whole
thing is decided - but I don't think it will be
completely finished until the final day," said the
"The one thing in our favour is that we will play
Newcastle at home.
"We also have everyone fit again now, which is a big
plus because the injuries have made this a very tough
season for us.
"I just hope we don't regret dropping so many points
against the lesser teams because we didn't kill them
"In terms of attempts at goal we are probably the best
team in the Premiership but clearly we have not been
The charge of profligacy is hardly one that could be
levelled against Liverpool. Presented with a single
chance when Gary Neville sent Steven Gerrard sprawling
in the area, Murphy took it, extending an amazing
sequence that has now seen him score an Old Trafford
winner in three of the last four seasons.
While it was ironic that a team who have had so many
problems from the spot this season should be the ones to
break United's 10-year duck, once they had a goal to
defend, Liverpool retreated further into their shell and
only in a frenzied late attacking spell did a disjointed
and listless United look like levelling.
Ryan Giggs hit both posts with a stinging left-foot
volley, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have done far better
than completely miss the ball when he attempted to meet
Cristiano Ronaldo's cut-back and then Louis Saha failed
to hit the target with a header and a shot when well
placed in central positions.
"If you have that many chances and don't hit the target,
you don't deserve anything from the game," moaned
"We knew they would defend, although they didn't play
like a team who has been struggling as badly as some
people would have you believe."
It was United's fourth 1-0 reverse of the campaign,
defeats Ferguson believes have been pivotal in his team
losing their title.
He vowed to correct the situation before the end of the
season, although Ferguson's post-match mood would not
have been helped when Roy Keane informed him of his
intention to travel to Poland with the Republic of
Ireland as planned.
Keane's return to the Irish fold is aimed at getting
back onto the World Cup stage he so dramatically spurned
in the Far East two years ago.
Some of his old dynamism may have gone, but the
32-year-old remains an intense competitor and was by far
the safest United player in possession.
In contrast, Gerrard was everywhere, prompting Liverpool
in attack and sheltering them in defence, a modern-day
"Steven leads by example," said Houllier.
"He is a good captain on and off the field. He has a
strong will and character and a good link between myself
and the players.
"He is a Liverpool man and so very important to us."
Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier was delighted with
his side's gritty performance in the 1-0 win at
Danny Murphy's penalty proved to be the difference
between the two sides as he grabbed the winner for the
third time in just four seasons.
"I think it was a tremendous performance," said a
delighted Houllier. "I think it was a controlled
"When you play at old Trafford you need discipline and
energy and teamwork. You also need a bit of luck and we
had that at the end.
"We had a bit of luck when they hit the post. But I
think we worked hard and we deserved it.
"I told them at half time that I had seen better Man Utd
sides before, and it can happen sometimes."
Missed penalties have cost The Reds dear this term, but
Murphy showed no nerves and dispatched the spot kick
with commendable coolness under the circumstances.
"It was a clear penalty, and credit to Danny he took it
well," added Houllier.
"He knows the importance of that penalty, normally when
he plays he takes the penalties.
"He was always in my plans for the game as he is very
tactically astute, and I thought he was excellent.
"I said to the boys that this is the right place to win
and to show your link with the club."
Penalty hero Danny Murphy was also in buoyant mood after
grabbing his now customary winner at Old Trafford - a
lucky ground for him.
"I've always taken penalties when I'm playing," said
Murphy. "It started when Michael Owen wasn't playing and
touch wood I've never missed.
"I don't know why it's a good ground for me.
"I made my England debut here and played one of my first
games for Liverpool here so it's a happy hunting ground
"I know what it's like as I've come here as a fan and
its great for the fans as they've not had a lot to shout
about this year as we all know.
"I think generally we deserved it because it was a hard
fought performance with some good football in there as
"We're well aware of the upset and disappointment
because it hurts us to. The fans are entitled to that
and we've got to put it right.
"We're getting a lot of money to do a job and we need to
do it better."
Sir Alex Ferguson was disappointed with his side's
performance during their 1-0 defeat at home to
Liverpool, saying they missed vital chances.
Danny Murphy's penalty settled the match in Liverpool's
favour, and Ferguson was not happy with his side's
Although he had no complaints over Mike Riley awarding
the penalty, he thought the official was too fussy and
gave too many free kicks.
"It was a disappointing result and at times
disappointing performance," said Ferguson.
"I thought it was strange game which never really got
started, because the referee blew for every challenge.
"It could never get started which suited Liverpool. I
think ref was over fussy and every challenge and free
"But at times in the second half they played some good
football which belied their position that we all read
"They showed good composure and were the better side
during that period.
"It's a good result for Gerrard and out of all the
Liverpool managers that have come here he's got the best
record so he's not doing a lot wrong.
"We've had enough chances to win the game. We had five
good positions and not worked the goalkeeper enough."
Ferguson was quizzed over Roy Keane's participation in
Republic of Ireland's international friendly - saying
that he would only go if fully fit.
"I don't know," said Ferguson of Keane. "I'll have to
speak to him about that.
"We would prefer that, I can understand why Brain Kerr's
"Once Roy had announced he was out of international
retirement he had no option but to pick him.
"But he can only play if he's fit."
Murphy pen sinks United
Danny Murphy came back to haunt Manchester United yet
again as he scored for Liverpool in a 1-0 win for the
third time in four years.
The last thing under-fire Reds boss Gerard Houllier
wanted in his side's recent slump was a trip to Old
Trafford, but a battling performance from his side did
enough to frustrate Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
In a game of few chances, United were unable to trouble
Jerzy Dudek enough for their liking, and Murphy's 63rd
minute penalty was enough to give Liverpool and
United, looking to pressure Chelsea in second place,
started off the game brighter and were on top in the
opening ten minutes as Liverpool, with just Michael Owen
up front, were happy to sit back.
Owen was left free from a long throw-in on the quarter
hour and he was allowed to race into the box on his own,
but he was left isolated on a narrow angle and could
only roll the ball across the face of goal with nobody
Cristiano Ronaldo was the main danger for United, as he
was again full of tricks down the wing, and he set-up
Louis Saha inside the box but the Frenchman's bundled
shot was easily saved by Dudek.
Darren Fletcher then dragged a shot wide after good
build-up play from the hosts as they gained the upper
hand in terms of pressure and possession.
However, the visitors had spells of good possession
themselves and John Arne Riise's powerful free kick was
deflected while Dietmar Hamann flashed a shot over the
The second half started strangely quiet for a game
between these two old rivals, with Liverpool sticking to
their game plan of trying to keep the ball without
really threatening to go forward.
United were looking to push on, but the game sprung into
life at the other end just after the hour mark when Mike
Riley, who gave the Red Devils two penalties in the
corresponding fixture last season, awarded the visitors
Steven Gerrard flew past Roy Keane before storming into
the box where his progress was halted by Gary Neville's
late sliding challenge and Riley had no option but to
point to the spot.
After missing a host of spot kicks, Murphy took charge
from Owen and Gerrard, and he made no mistake by coolly
slotting the ball past Tim Howard to send the visiting
United took a while to respond to the goal, and they so
nearly equalised when Ryan Giggs came in at the far post
to connect with Saha's cross only for his shot to strike
both posts and stay out.
Substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was only inches away
from connecting with Ronaldo's right wing cross as
Ferguson's side started to pile on the pressure.
Liverpool held on though to register a much-needed
victory and get their hunt for fourth place back on