cross the boss
Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson
Some footballers just don't seem to get it. And it
never ceases to amaze. They think they can cross the
boss, pull a face, throw a sulk, lay down the law - and
they'll get away with it. Why?
If they are genuinely ambitious and want to play in a
winning team challenging for honours, or at least a club
punching above its weight, surely they must know they'll
need a boss as strong as steel?
And if he is, he's only going to react one way to anyone
who publicly takes him on or cocks a snook.
The history of football is littered with the battered
bodies of players who simply got too big for their boots
and foolishly took on their manager. But recently there
have been a spate of episodes where players -usually
those with something or everything still to prove -have
thrown their rattle out.
Of course the biggest culprit most recently was Roy
Nothing to prove okay. But for all his prowess and
status, how did he expect Alex Ferguson to react when he
went on a club TV channel to berate and humiliate the
players his manager has bought?
Now Keane's out the door, bringing entirely the wrong
end to a career which most footballers can only dream
At the weekend we heard on-loan Anthony Le Tallec
telling Rafael Benitez he wouldn't put up with much more
messing around, then Djibril Cisse pulling a face for
both the crowd and the cameras to see when he was
substituted at Manchester City on Saturday. Substituted,
by the way, in a game Liverpool then went on to win.
You can understand him perhaps being puzzled, even
perturbed at being removed so early in the second half.
But shaking his head at the manager as he walked off was
never going to go ignored. He should have saved it for
Can Cisse and Le Tallec not see the Spaniard, while
affable and friendly to everyone he meets, is as tough
as old boots and rightly won't tolerate people who seem
to put themselves first and the team second?
Cisse has had nothing but support from his manager or
the Liverpool fans, despite clearly having aspects of
his game which he must accept he needs to improve if he
is to remain on the books at Anfield and thrive.
Last night he was sat at home obviously being given time
to reflect as the side strolled to victory without him,
and this could be the last chance he gets to learn from
He's a decent enough chap, someone liked by the Kop and
who does have a passion to play. But he has to show
right now he can accept the rule of a man who might
speak supportively with a smile to the press, but who
rightly wont tolerate such dissent.
I hope Cisse learns his lesson. Because players who
think they can take on their manager and win are rarely
winners in the way which matters. And those who do get
their own way via a tantrum invariably play for a weak
coach who will never be successful.
Strong teams need strong managers. And strong players
know they can't make the boss look like a fool, because
they' ll be the loser in the end.
Gerrard: We are improving
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes the signs
are good after they moved up to fourth in the table.
Gerrard scored in Liverpool's 2-0 success over
Sunderland on Wednesday as The Reds racked up their
fifth straight Premiership win.
The England international is delighted with the side's
current form and believes they can only get better with
the possible arrival of new faces in January.
"We're improving and we are definitely getting better,"
"The manager has made some good signings and we've been
working real hard with the defence in training and now
we are looking quite solid at the back.
"January's only round the corner for a few more exciting
players to join us.
"He (Rafa Benitez) has been quoted as saying we need
somebody in down the right and I think we need cover for
the central defenders, I'm sure the manager will be busy
Gerrard also singled out Xabi Alonso for special praise
after the Spaniard marked his return from injury with a
Alonso helped create both goals against Sunderland and
Gerrard hailed the former Real Sociedad man as one of
best players he has played with.
"It's nice to have him back, he's one of the best
passers of the ball I've ever played with," added
"You know if you make the runs he's going to get you the
ball, every time he gets the ball I make a run, he
doesn't find me all the time but 90 percent of the balls
he plays get there."
Benitez hails solid display
Rafael Benitez was delighted with another solid
display, despite the dismissal of Mohamed Sissoko, as
Liverpool defeated Sunderland 2-0.
The Reds climbed into fourth place on goal difference
above Wigan with their sixth win in seven league games
and their seventh successive clean sheet.
"We know the most important thing now is to keep going
the same, continue doing the same things, trying to play
well and score goals and win games," Benitez said.
"You can talk and talk, but at the end of the day, you
need to continue winning.
"You can see the team is playing well, controlling games
and we have the consistency we needed. We are scoring
goals and it is another clean sheet.
"Finishing with 10 men was the worst thing, but we
worked hard and we controlled the game. It was more
difficult at the end, but we did a good job in defence."
The return of Spaniard Xabi Alonso from an ankle injury
proved a key factor as he carved out the openings for
both goals, and Benitez was delighted with his
"He played well," he said. "He is a player who can pass
and can keep possession, and he has the intelligence in
a game that you need sometimes.
"He can pass the ball and if you have good movement in
attack, he is one of the best passers in the world,
was an unfair fight
By Rob Lancaster - Sky Sports
Mick McCarthy felt his Sunderland team could have
done no more against Liverpool after The Reds sealed a
2-0 win at The Stadium Of Light.
After launching a scathing attack on his players at the
weekend after the defeat to Birmingham, the Black Cats
boss was pleased with his side's efforts against the
reigning European champions, despite the final result.
Goals from Luis Garcia and Steven Gerrard were enough
for the visitors to triumph and leave Sunderland still
searching for a first home win of the campaign.
"I'm proud of that performance for effort and endeavor,"
he said. "They've worked extremely hard, until the first
goal went in I was very pleased.
"I'm full of admiration for the players, for the way
they scrapped and had a go trying to play through them
and then trying to get in amongst them in the last 15
He added: "We're not playing with the same deck of
cards, it was a bit of an unfair fight out there."
McCarthy now must turn his attentions to Saturday's trip
to Tottenham, with the Sunderland boss hoping his
players may prosper on the road without the pressure of
playing in front of their own fans.
"We might cope better away from home, the pressure may
be slightly off us," he said.
"We might get the ball down and pass it like we have
shown we can do."
Liverpool pile on misery for McCarthy
Xabi Alonso inspired 10-man Liverpool to a sixth win
in seven Barclays Premiership games as the Reds climbed
into fourth place with victory at Sunderland.
Even Mohamed Sissoko's 65th-minute dismissal and the
extension of Peter Crouch's goal drought to 11 minutes
short of 24 hours could not halt the Reds' charge as
Sunderland slumped to an eighth successive defeat, seven
of them in the league.
The game was won within 14 first-half minutes through
the invention of Spanish midfielder Alonso, who first
played in compatriot Luis Garcia to open the scoring on
31 minutes and then fed skipper Steven Gerrard to make
it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time.
Once again the Black Cats, for all their hard work and
positive intentions, were simply outclassed in the areas
that mattered most, and even a spirited finish could not
bring them any relief as the bulk of a crowd of 32,697
went home disappointed for the third time in 11 days.
Gerrard, Alonso and Luis Garcia simply had too much for
the home side in the middle of the park, and but for a
penalty decision that was not given and a John Arne
Riise piledriver which hit the bar, the margin of
victory could have been bigger.
Those Sunderland fans who did turn up at the Stadium of
Light did so in trepidation, many of them having already
conceded that relegation is inevitable and fearing the
worst against the European champions.
With Crouch still to find the back of the net in 22
hours and 30 minutes of football for club and country
since May 7, there were plenty of takers at the stadium
betting shops following the home side's abject surrender
against Aston Villa and Birmingham in their last two
Liverpool arrived at the Stadium of Light as the last
team to lose a Premiership game on Wearside, some 19
top-flight fixtures ago on December 15, 2002, and
despite a spirited opening from the Black Cats, the
chances of a repeat were slim.
Manager Mick McCarthy had publicly criticised his
players following their capitulation at the weekend and
he got the desired response as they gave as good as they
got for half an hour, admittedly without causing any
genuine problems for Reds keeper Jose Reina and his
However, the concern for Sunderland is that they simply
do not boast the class of many of their opponents, and
that fact was illustrated graphically twice inside the
final 14 minutes of the half.
Only Alonso will know what was in his mind when, deep
inside his own half on 31 minutes, he hooked the ball
over his shoulder into enemy territory.
However, Luis Garcia anticipated perfectly to outstrip
the home defence and slot calmly past advancing keeper
Ben Alnwick to open the scoring.
The Black Cats rallied briefly, but they were left with
a mountain to climb on the stroke of half-time when
Alonso picked out Gerrard's run down the right.
His pass gave the England midfielder the space he needed
to surge into the box, but it was his deft touch over
Alnwick which left him with the simplest of finishes to
pile on the misery for McCarthy's men.
Crouch's barren spell should have come to an end after
1,397 minutes when he found himself unmarked in front of
goal when Gerrard's shot came his way.
His initial effort was blocked by Alnwick, but he seemed
certain to score from the rebound until he appeared to
be hauled down by Steve Caldwell.
Referee Phil Dowd, however, astonishingly waved play on,
and the striker's drought continued.
Sunderland's plight reached near comical levels on 52
minutes when Jon Stead, yet to score for his new club,
shot for goal in his frustration at being flagged
offside, but still could not beat Reina.
Tommy Miller made way for winger Andy Welsh five minutes
later, but Liverpool would have been further ahead
within seconds had Justin Hoyte not blocked Riise's
volley from Crouch's knock-down.
Luis Garcia curled in a 59th-minute left-footed effort,
which Alnwick saved, but the arrival of Harry Kewell in
place of Fernando Morientes shortly afterwards did
little to ease the home side's fears.
However, Liverpool were reduced to 10 men on seven
minutes later when midfielder Sissoko, who had earlier
been booked for a foul on Liam Lawrence, upended Dean
Whitehead and was dismissed.
But it was they who continued to look the more likely
scorers, Riise seeing a 74th-minute drive cannon off the
crossbar after he had carved his way through the home
Crouch's departure five minutes later left him without a
goal in 1,429 minutes, but he was at least able to
celebrate another victory for Benitez's in-from side.
Stead might have ended his own drought six minutes from
time when Reina fumbled his low shot at the near post,
and he then sent a dipping effort over, but even a
consolation strike eluded his side.