After overcoming major heart surgery and returning to
lead Liverpool to success, Gerard Houllier has proved
himself a fighter.
Following Liverpool's poor start to the season, he has
needed his fighting qualities once again to counter
claims that his job was on the line.
The Reds failed to win and score from open play in their
first three games of the new Barclaycard Premiership
season and the arguments that Houllier's side were
boring and over-defensive came back stronger than ever
Houllier's plea for patience after their dismal goalless
draw with Tottenham last Wednesday was falling on deaf
ears as, after a miserable second half of last season,
the time for that had all but run out.
Facing mounting criticism from pundits and fans, the
last thing Houllier needed was a trip to Everton on
In such a situation, the consequences of defeat could
have been terminal for Houllier as Liverpool boss, but
as it happened little could have turned things around
more quickly than a win over the local rivals.
One swallow does not make a summer, but winning at
Goodison Park, and winning well, was just the tonic
Houllier needed. For Liverpool fans, the world looks a
brighter place after a 3-0 victory over Everton.
No-one will be getting carried away, but for now the
crisis is over. Houllier's decision to play a more
attacking style paid off, and although there were a few
moments of alarm, they were full value for their win.
With confidence restored, Liverpool will now look
forward to their return from the international break
with renewed vigour. Any talk of a title challenge may
still be premature but Houllier, as Liverpool's famous
anthem implores, has once again walked through the storm
with his head held high.
His side displayed intent and commitment at Goodison and
there were signs that his new midfield diamond, with
Steven Gerrard playing deeper but with licence to get
forward, could be the way forward. El Hadji Diouf was
lively and linked well with new team-mate Harry Kewell
and Michael Owen took his chances.
The Reds' performance has shifted the tag of `crisis
club' to Premiership rivals Newcastle.
Attack, attack, attack
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post
Derby hero Michael Owen last night urged Gerard
Houllier to stay true to the newfound attacking
philosophy which has kick-started Liverpool's season.
The striker netted twice as the Reds gained their first
Premiership win of the season with a comprehensive 3-0
victory at Everton on Saturday.
Owen also created a goal for Harry Kewell - the
midfielder's first following his £5million move from
Leeds Untited - as Liverpool recorded their biggest
victory at Goodison Park since 1982.
The goals were the first from open play for Houllier's
side this season after having just Owen's twice-taken
penalty against Chelsea to show from their opening three
The victory vindicated the Frenchman's decision to keep
faith with the attacking line-up which drew a blank at
home to Tottenham Hotspur last week.
And Owen has urged Liverpool to persist with their new
offensive style, insisting he feels more confident than
ever of producing the goods in front of goal.
"I was surprised with the team selection," admitted the
"It is certainly an attacking formation. There are lots
of options he could have used, but give the manager
credit. We've come to Goodison where not many teams get
a positive result and he has picked an attacking side,
and it really paid off.
"It is encouraging that we created the chances. We have
got the ability and the players such as Harry Kewell,
Vladimir Smicer, Steven Gerrard, Danny Murphy and others
who can pass the ball and create a chance.
"I have faith in the players that are playing alongside
me and are capable of creating those chances. I hope we
can keep creating them from now on. I'm as confident as
I've ever been of scoring them.
"Our back four are good enough to handle what most teams
can throw at them. Attack can be the best form of
defence, but you've also got to be disciplined.
"Let's be honest, a big part of our game is based on our
cracking defence and we don't want to start scoring more
but conceding twice as much, so we have to be careful.
"The manager has taken a more offensive approach in the
last few games and it paid off on Saturday."
Saturday's double means Owen has now scored four goals
in his last three Goodison derbies.
And he added: "Strikers rely on service, and I can only
show what I can do if the players behind me produce
chances and the bits of magic they are capable of, and
on Saturday they did.
"It's essential for us to create chances, otherwise we
won't score as many goals as we should.
"We have had a few this season but unfortunately for me
in the first three games none have fallen to my feet,
apart from the penalty against Chelsea. But I managed to
get a few chances against Everton and thankfully I
"I go into every game dreaming of being put through on
goal. That's what I play the game for, and when that
dries up, it is tough being a striker."
Owen also insists he is now reaping the rewards of his
hard work in the gym last season which, by his own
admission, was a "write off" as he strived to improve
his physical fitness and decrease his vulnerability to
He added: "I physically feel really good, and I am
finishing games as strong as when I have started them.
But as with any striker, I have to rely on my
team-mates, and if they continue to create the chances
then it's a pleasure to play alongside them.
"I prefer to have five chances in a game and not score
rather than go through a whole game and not have any
chances at all, because you know your team-mates will
keep creating the chances and eventually you will score
Saturday's victory proved welcome relief for boss
Houllier, who has been criticised in many quarters
following Liverpool's slow start to the Premiership
And Owen admitted: "We needed the win. Coming away from
home to a place like Everton, there isn't as much
expectation as when we play a Tottenham at home when the
away team get players behind the ball.
"Playing at Goodison, we knew Everton couldn't afford to
"They had to get forward and impress their fans and we
knew we'd get chances if that happened.
"We know we have a better chance of winning at Goodison
than at Anfield because, like Tottenham, Everton get
players behind the ball and it is hard to break them
He added: "You only have to pick up the newspapers or
turn on the radio to get a general feeling of what the
fans are thinking. What the players can do is continue
to try and win games.
"It's not as if we have played awful this season. We
came up against a Spurs side who were happy to get a
point, we got a point away from home at Aston Villa and
Chelsea are a very good side.
"I'm not trying to fool anyone by saying we've been
brilliant this year, but it has not been as bad as some
people have been making out.
"Seven points behind at this stage of the season is
better then being seven points behind at the end of the
season. But we needed the win and we need to get a few
"The top teams have had good starts, and the onus is on
us to win games rather than rely on the others slipping
Owen and Everton counterpart Wayne Rooney were called up
by Sven-Goran Eriksson last night and are likely to form
England's striking partnership for their Euro 2004
qualifying double-header against Macedonia and
Liechtenstein next week.
But while the Liverpool man celebrated two goals and a
victory, Rooney suffered a frustrating afternoon,
missing a number of clear-cut chances before being
yellow-carded by referee Mike Riley.
However, Owen had words of wisdom for his international
"Things like that happen," he insisted. "Probably in a
few years, I might miss a few chances in the derby and
Wayne will score one. He's got plenty of years ahead of
him, and I'm sure he'll get his first derby goal sooner
rather than later.
"He will be a thorn in our side for years to come, but
our defenders have coped well with him in the last two
"I can relate to the expectation he is under. Sometimes
he will create a spark in game but in others he will be
"He's still only 17 so people just have to be careful
not to build him up too soon as everyone knows he will
be a great player in the future."
Reds are not dead
LFC Official Website
Gerard Houllier reflected on Liverpool's 3-0 derby
triumph and quipped: "The Reds are not dead!"
Houllier was well aware that he and his players were
under intense scrutiny going into the game following a
disappointing start to the new campaign, but a Michael
Owen brace and a goal for Harry Kewell helped bring
smiles back to the faces of manager, players and fans
Houllier said: "It was a good day at the office for us
and it's good to see the Reds are not dead!
"I told the players before the game that this was a
chance for them to be special. It was a chance to show
the supporters what they could do. It's a special game
and they needed to be special today. And they were. From
the captain right through the team, they all played
"Against Spurs in midweek we had the performance but not
the result. Today we had both and I am very pleased. We
had a plan and it worked well. I'm pleased for the fans
and for the players because that was our first win.
"We prepared for the game in difficult psychological
circumstances but the lads kept their heads up and we
got our reward today."
delighted with derby win
By Gary Purvis - LFC Online
Harry Kewell loved his first Merseyside derby and was
delighted with the result.
"We'd played three games and not scored in open play,
but it was a good team performance today," he said. "It
was a great goal by Michael to set us on our way really.
"I've played in a derby at Leeds against Bradford but it
was nothing like this. The atmosphere was sensational."
When asked what his role in the team is, Kewell simply
said: "I just play and set Michael up. That's what I do
and I love doing that. If I can get on the scoresheet
all good and well."
off after double
Michael Owen believed he picked the perfect time to
hit form - for club and country.
The England striker was a happy man after his double
strike helped Liverpool to their first win of the
season, with a 3-0 victory at Everton.
The Reds had struggled in their first three games of the
season, failing to score in open play.
But Owen - who netted their only goal of the season from
the penalty spot prior to today in the opening-day
defeat at the hands of Chelsea - turned things round
before Harry Kewell rounded off the win 10 minutes from
And Owen said afterwards: "I didn't have a good record
in the derby until the last couple of years so it's nice
to score, especially here.
"The only thing we've been lacking is the final ball, a
cross or through-ball - and Harry's great through-ball
started it off and it continued from there.
"Now we go on international duty so it's nice to go away
with that pressure off your shoulders.
"There's has been a lot of pressure on us and it's nice
to go away on a high."
Liverpool romp to victory
BBC Sport Online
Liverpool put Merseyside neighbours Everton in their
place with style to record a comfortable first victory
of the season at Goodison Park.
Owen struck twice either side of half-time to put Gerard
Houllier's side in the driving seat - and Harry Kewell
added to the red celebrations with his first goal for
the club late on.
Owen's double and Kewell's late strike gave Liverpool
their first goals from open play this season - and
relieved the pressure on Houllier after a barren start
to the Premiership campaign.
Owen celebrates his second goal at Goodison.
But it was a day of misery for Everton,
who saw a week of frustration in the transfer market
worsened by a fourth straight Goodison defeat against
Everton suffered a blow prior to kick-off when
goalkeeper Richard Wright was ruled out with a knee
injury, being replaced by Steve Simonsen.
Liverpool were without Stephane Henchoz, with Igor
Biscan continuing in central defence alongside Sami
Everton's ploy was to release the pace of Wayne Rooney
and Tomasz Radzinski - with the latter an early threat.
Radzinski raced on to Rooney's pass but fired across the
face of goal.
And it took a brilliant saving tackle from Biscan to
halt Radzinski as he looked to take advantage of another
Rooney through ball.
Liverpool took time to settle, but their passing game
exerted a measure of control and they went ahead seven
minutes before the interval.
Kewell stabbed a pass through to Owen, who took
advantage of hesitation from Alesssandro Pistone to beat
Everton had an instant chance to restore equality when
Rooney took a return pass from Steve Watson, but he
failed to control and Jerzy Dudek made a smothering
Liverpool responded with a trademark counter attack and
it took a fingertip save from Simonsen to deny Kewell
his first Liverpool goal.
Everton made a change at the interval, sending on Thomas
Gravesen for the struggling David Unsworth.
And Moyes side were almost level within seconds of the
re-start when Dudek fumbled Mark Pembridge's free-kick
and Liverpool survived a scramble.
But Liverpool delivered a hammer blow after 51 minutes
when Milan Baros shrugged off weak defending from Joseph
Yobo to set up Owen to score from ten yards.
Dudek was having an eventful game and he produced a
stunning reflex save to stop Rooney's header from
Everton made a substitution with 20 minutes left,
sending on Duncan Ferguson for Tobias Linderoth.
And the big Scot almost threw Everton a lifeline with 12
minutes left, sending a free-kick against the underside
of the bar from 20 yards.
Liverpool wrapped up victory with eight minutes left,
with Kewell opening his goal account.
Everton goalkeeper Simonsen has to take the blame,
racing from goal to allow Owen to cross for Kewell to