After The Match 


Liverpool-Barnsley 1-2 (1-0)            16.2.08                FA Cup
Goals: Kuyt (32)              Foster (57), Howard (93)
Team: Itandje, Finnan, Riise, Hyypia, Carragher, Lucas, Alonso, Benayoun, Babel, Crouch, Kuyt
Subs: Kewell (Babel 70), Gerrard (Lucas 75)
Not used: Martin, Arbeloa, Pennant
Yellow: Alonso (60), Carragher (87)         Van Homoet (64)
Red: None
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
Attendance: 42,449
Shots on target: 12-6
Shots off target: 11-4
Blocked shots: 8-1
Fouls conceded: 10-15
Corners: 15-3
Offsides: 1-2
Possession: 58-42
Yellow: 2-1
Red: 0-0
HEADLINES "How could
he leave Reina,
Gerrard and Mascherano out?”
Tommie Smith

1902: Nothing was gained by resting Reina
1802: Liverpool had been on a collision course
1802: Magical solution to Anfield misery remains...
1702: Aldo: Reds imploded after Paco exit
1702: Smith launches stinging attack on Benitez
1702: Under-fire Benitez demands respect
1602: It wasn't Rafa's fault
1602: Benitez down at cup exit
1602: Davey hails Tykes heroes
1602: Barnsley dump Reds out of FA Cup

Nothing was gained by resting Reina

By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo

Leaving Pepe Reina out of the side against Barnsley was always going to be a risk because, for me, he is the best keeper in the Premiership.

I don’t think it’s right to blame individuals for the defeat because it was a collective failure – you win as a team and you lose as a team – so there is no point in having a go at Charles Itandje.

But, having said that, I don’t see what was gained by resting Reina.

He is now as important to the team as Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher and he has to be one of the first names on the Liverpool team sheet.

I can see what Rafa was thinking because with the Inter Milan game just three days away he will have felt he could rest a few of his senior players against opposition from a lower division.

But it didn’t work and when it doesn’t work you have to hold your hands up.

The important thing is Reina will be back in goal tonight and hopefully he will show why I and many others believe he is one of the best.

Liverpool had been
on a collision course

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

What an awful, unholy, unparalleled mess. Brave Barnsley were the FA Cup’s darlings this weekend, and deservedly so.

But, at risk of sounding churlish, the Tykes have been the beneficiaries of a car crash which has been waiting to happen.

For two months now, Liverpool have been hurtling down the fast lane with three-men grappling for the steering wheel.

They’ve had bumps, scrapes and narrowly missed major catastrophes along the way – but on Saturday they finally veered into oncoming traffic, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

The patience of the resolutely faithful Anfield crowd finally snapped.

This time there were boos – and they were clearly directed at the Liverpool players responsible for yet another wretched home result.

But in true Anfield tradition, the responsibility here has to be collective.

Because there are so many things wrong at the club right now it’s difficult to know where to start.

Ever since the American owners started plotting behind the manager’s back, the club has had a man with a persecution complex pulling the strings, a man making decisions he might not otherwise have made.

The owners themselves are divided on which way the club should go.

Rafa Benitez now has the support of Tom Hicks, just weeks after Hicks courted Jurgen Klinsmann for the job.

George Gillett is nowhere to be seen, while David Moores and Rick Parry have had to turn themselves from horrified bystanders into agents trying to curb the worst excesses of the owners.

Everywhere you look there are divisions, fractures and splits.

And if you want evidence that the shambles is transmitting itself to the players, it was there in abundance on Saturday – on and off the pitch.

On the pitch the reluctance to take responsibility in front of goal was marked.

And off it, no-one wanted to be tarred by association with such a car crash of a result – the admirable Steven Gerrard excepted.

Alvaro Arbeloa had to be physically shoved down the running track by Benitez to warm up, and even then started his jog with his hands in his pockets!

And then there is the team selection.

Squad rotation only works when you have a quality squad.

Liverpool’s is simply not good enough.

Take Gerrard and Fernando Torres out of the line-up and the goal side’s attacking threat is reduced to all the menace of Wayne Sleep coming at you with a feather duster.

But it is between the sticks where the lack of strength in depth is most marked.

Liverpool is a club of great goalkeepers – Scott, Clemence, Grobbelaar, Reina. Heavens, even the club’s telegraphic address used to be ‘Goalkeeer.’

Charles Itandje’s name will never feature in the same sentence as that illustrious quartet.

He is simply not good enough for a club of Liverpool’s stature.

That much was evident when neighbours Everton gave him a trial last summer – and moved him on in favour of the marginally more reliable Steffan Wessels.

Fingers were pointed at the German when Everton were dumped out of the FA Cup by Oldham.

On Saturday Itandje should have done better with both Barnsley goals, particularly Foster’s flying header which passed straight through him.

In cup ties, moments like these are pivotal.

So is it really necessary to ‘rest’ a goalkeeper – especially one as influential as Pepe Reina?

Answers on a postcard please to R Benitez, Melwood.

The only positive to come out of Saturday’s disaster is that attention instantly shifts to another cup challenge, one that Liverpool’s first choice team will endeavour to win.

A Liverpool with Reina, Gerrard, Mascherano and Torres in it is an infinitely better proposition than one featuring replacements not up to the task of replacing them.

It says it all that Reds fans are now craving saviours bearing the initials DIC.

Barnsley may be a watershed in Liverpool’s modern history; it may be another signpost on the road to hell.

Right now, no-one knows just where this is going to end.

Magical solution to Anfield
misery remains a mystery

By Chris Beesley - Liverpool Daily Post

Anyone who still clings on to the naïve or misguided belief that off-the-field uncertainties are not affecting Liverpool’s form on the pitch must have been burying their head in the sand during Saturday’s FA Cup tie
at Anfield.

If there are any such individuals still out there it can only be assumed that they found the sand in Dubai on their way to find the white knights of DIC with their begging bowl while trying to negotiate their way out of the desert and on to the grass which is always greener on the other side.

So many people with what they feel are the best interests of Liverpool Football Club at heart have got their own personal master plan at the moment but nobody has yet come forward with a magic solution to the instability.

February 16 2008 will go down in Anfield history as a dark day with Barnsley dumping Liverpool out of the FA Cup but away from the action on the turf, the fans group which calls itself ‘The Sons of Shankly’ held their latest meeting at The Olympia.

Although arguably not as radical as the hardcore ‘Nieces and Nephews of Nessie’ – word is you get a slice of cake at each of their meetings – this football political rally showed just how frustrated a section of the club’s supporters are with the ownership issue.

The event came just 24 hours after a presentation at Liverpool Hope University on how a ‘Barcelona-style’ fans ownership scheme could supposedly be implemented at Anfield but it seems that ‘Hope’ remains the operative word there.

Rogan Taylor and his followers have taken what they see as being the moral high ground but their idealistic vision of a football utopia will surely remain a pipedream.

The figure of £5,000-a-head to join is insulting to the ordinary supporter who will be immediately be priced out of this ownership by ‘the people’ and the membership count of 100,000 would presumably include a large portion of the global fanbase the fat cats at the Premier League offices seem so fond of pandering to with overseas matches seeing as the record home attendance in Liverpool’s entire history is less than 62,000.

Would a change of ownership solve all Liverpool’s problems full stop? Like the team against Barnsley, the club’s supporters might find that just one goal is not enough.

A word of warning to ‘The Sons of Shankly’, who presumably, to a certain degree, share the late manager’s socialist sentiments, the fact is that like it or not their club owes its origins to the ultimate football entrepreneur.

John Houlding, a hard-nosed businessman of the shrewdest kind created Liverpool FC from scratch in 1892 as a means to make money because Everton left Anfield claiming he was trying to make a profit at the club’s expense.

Unlike most of their rivals, English football’s most successful team did not evolve from a bunch of lads from the community who wanted to play the game they loved but instead started life as a ready-made club to satisfy Mr Houlding’s business interests.

Fast forward 116 years and things have turned full circle.

If only the ‘Sons of Shankly’ could have used Barnsley’s visit to Anfield to enlist the support of the Yorkshire town’s most high profile political figure, Arthur Scargill, to help them keep their red flag flying high.

Instead, those of us in the vicinity of the directors box were treated to Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird’s one-man show.

The septuagenarian former Test umpire didn’t take his seat at Anfield until 3.15pm, declaring that he’d stopped off in Lancashire for a bite to eat en route – perhaps a genetic thriftiness caused a delay in settling the bill?

With his fellow Barnsley fans chanting ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’, an excitable Dickie seemed to think he was back at the cricket, shouting, ‘Wide, wide,’ on numerous occasions during the first half but it turned out he was trying to issue instructions to the Championship team to get possession out to a winger as opposed to calling a ‘no ball’ from the bowler at Kemlyn Road pavilion end.

But for all Liverpool’s missed chances and the goalkeeping heroics of Barnsley debutant Luke Steele, who played the game of his life, there could be no begrudging the visitors their last gasp-winner, which came shortly after a seemingly good claim for a penalty had been turned down.

There have been rumblings of discontent at Liverpool since November but it remains to be seen whether Brian Howard’s goal sparks any football equivalent of the storming of the Winter Palace at Anfield.

The legendary Liverpool manager from whom ‘The Sons of Shankly’ take their name is credited with many a famous quote.

Just who was by his side jotting down all these pearls of wisdom every waking hour it’s not sure – even good old John Keith couldn’t have been there all the time repeating the word ‘Son’ in his best faux Scottish accent.

But unlike Harry Kewell or Ryan Babel, Bill was a proper left winger who declared: “The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life.”

Unfortunately that’s the exact opposite of what seems to be going on currently at Anfield.

Aldo: Reds imploded after Paco exit


Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge believes the loss of Rafael Benitez's assistant Paco Ayesteran is a major factor in the team's plight.

Benitez's side crashed out of the FA Cup courtesy of Barnsley's injury-time winner at Anfield on Saturday.

With their Premier League campaign now confined to a race for fourth place, that leaves them with just the Champions League to contest, with the first leg of their last-16 tie with Inter Milan taking place this week.

And highly-decorated former striker Aldridge admits ongoing confusion off the field is adding to problems on the pitch.

"It's not going too well on and off the field at the moment," he told Setanta Sports News. "The club's imploded over the past couple of months and it can only get better.

"A lot of people are getting the wrong idea of what's happening. You can look back to when Paco went a couple of months ago, Rafa's right-hand man, I think that's got a massive bearing on it.

"He's holding the fort on his own without a right-hand man. He's working very hard on his own and under very difficult circumstances and I think he needs a bit of help right now."

As for matters upstairs, Aldridge added: "There's so much speculation going on off the park regarding the American owners (George Gillett and Tom Hicks) that we don't know who's going to be the chairman next month.

"If anyone did want Rafa to go then who could sack him at the moment? He's between parties, the old chairman David Moores hasn't got a say in the matter. There's no board at the moment, no-one knows where the club's going at the present time."

Smith launches stinging
attack on Benitez

Liverpool Daily Post

Legendary Liverpool defender Tommy Smith has launched a stinging criticism of Reds boss Rafael Benitez after his side were knocked out of the FA Cup by Barnsley.

Brian Howard’s injury-time winner at Anfield dumped Liverpool out of yet another competition, leaving them with just the Champions League - in which they face Inter Milan this week - to contest.

And Smith, who captained Liverpool to the 1971 league and UEFA Cup double, has hit out at Benitez’s controversial rotation policy and decision to rest several key players for yesterday’s visit of the Coca-Cola Championship side.

Smith told BBC Radio Five Live: “In the programme for yesterday’s game Benitez said cup competitions are always dangerous if you think you can beat teams easily. So why on earth didn’t he put a strong team out against Barnsley?”

Smith admitted Reds fans may finally start to run out of patience with the Spanish boss.

“I should imagine so. At the end of the day Bill Shankly used to tell us you’re only as good as your last result. How on earth does Benitez think he’s going to win stuff if he puts a second-class team out?

“Because Liverpool’s squad is not as strong as I think he thought at the beginning of the season. I don’t think he’s even got a strong first XI.

“How could he leave (Jose) Reina, (Steven) Gerrard and (Javier) Mascherano out?”

Smith admitted the last-16 European tie with Inter is now do-or-die.

“I’m afraid so,” he said. “He keeps going on about winning four cups and all that but at the end of the day it’s not even entertaining at Anfield at the moment. The crowd keep it going but they booed everybody at the end of the game and quite rightly.

“The first person you put on the team-sheet is Gerrard. How on earth could he sit on the bench for 75 minutes and watch that...then he (Benitez) talks about chances. Well, they’ve gone. You can’t score after the game finishes.”

Under-fire Benitez demands respect


Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has hit back at his critics after the Reds were dumped out of the FA Cup by Barnsley at Anfield.

The Tykes, who sit mid-table in the Championship, recorded a huge upset as they came from behind to knock Liverpool out 2-1.

And the defeat adds increasing pressure on under-fire Benitez as Liverpool can now only realistically target silverware in this season's UEFA Champions League.

But Benitez, who took over at Anfield in 2004, has defended his record at Liverpool after guiding the Merseyside outfit to two Champions League finals in the past three years - including winning the competition in 2005.

Benitez has also steered Liverpool to success in the 2006 FA Cup and Community Shield, alongside the 2005 European Super Cup, and the Spaniard believes that record deserves respect.

"If you analyse the last few years since I came to the club we have won four trophies and been in seven finals, including two in the Champions League," Benitez said in The People.

"How many other managers have done the same in their first three or four years at the club? People can talk about being successful but nobody is winning trophies every year.

"To do that is really difficult so I think we are in a really good position with a very young squad, so I have a lot of confidence in the team for the future."

Benitez's relationship with Liverpool's American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks has also been questioned and his future at the club was cast into doubt after the duo met Jurgen Klinsmann, who is set to takeover at Bayern in the summer, earlier in the season.

"When you are trying to work hard and do your job it is hard to accept the criticism that is always following me," Benitez added. "And, yes, it is a big surprise to see another manager in the background."

Benitez, though, is confident Liverpool stand a good chance of progressing in the Champions League when they meet Italian champions Internazionale in the last 16 on Tuesday.

"It could be important to us to progress in Europe because that would give us more confidence, particualry if we beat a team like Inter," Benitez continued.

"It's not impossible. We have done it before and we could do it again - why not?"

It wasn't Rafa's fault

By Ben Blackmore - Setanta Sports

When results go bad there is only one place the axe will ever ultimately fall, which is why Rafa Benitez is probably already investing in a spade to dig himself an escape route after Liverpool’s 2-1 loss to Barnsley.

Yet the true test of a supporter is to back the team, the club and the manager when they’re losing, particularly in this case where I feel Benitez is not the problem.

Anybody who saw Saturday’s loss – which goes down as arguably the greatest cup shock since The Premier League began – will know Liverpool should have hit double figures.

Why they didn’t can be debated in great detail. Should Steven Gerrard have started? Missed chances? Lazy defending?

But the fact of the matter is Benitez fielded a side more than capable of beating Barnsley, in fact they were more than capable of battering Barnsley – as the shot count shows.

The problem? Some of the players are not good enough for Liverpool Football Club. Pure and simple.

Since the arrival of Liverpool’s ‘loaded’ owners, Benitez has instantly been hit with the expectations that come with the prospect of ‘endless amounts’ of money.

'He has money so he should now deliver the title' is the general theory.

A closer look shows that Benitez has been able to buy just one player for big money since the arrival of Messers Hicks and Gillett, and a phenomenal buy he has proved in Fernando Torres.

Other than that, Benitez has had to carry on with players like Dirk Kuyt (how did the guy ever score 20-plus goals
in Holland?), Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch.

All Rafa buys I hear you say? Yes but all Rafa buys when he was working to a budget.

By comparison, Manchester United and Chelsea have been buying players of £15-£20 million for several years. For Torres read Rooney, Hargreaves, Anderson, Ferdinand, Carrick, Wright-Phillips, Shevchenko, Drogba…need I go on.

Liverpool are a distance behind their rivals for technical class on the ball right now, yet a look at the youth players Benitez is bringing in – the likes of Dani Pacheco from Barcelona – shows the clear direction in which he wishes to take the club.

The Reds’ squad is the best its been under Benitez even if results have not been, Reina, Carragher, Finnan, Babel, Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard, Torres all top players.

Sometimes a club must take a step back to move two forwards, and for once Liverpool must take a leaf out of the book of neighbours Everton, who have come on leaps and bounds after backing David Moyes through two poor seasons.

Saturday’s result should not be overlooked - it was a shocker.

But it should act as a clear reminder not of Benitez's shortcomings, but more of the mediocrity the Spaniard is being asked to work with despite the arrival of the club's owners.

Benitez down at cup exit

Sky Sports

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was left to rue his side's lack of a killer instinct after they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Barnsley.

Championship side Barnsley caused a major shock as they came from behind to record a famous 2-1 win at Anfield.

Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele was Liverpool's nemesis with a superb performance on his debut to deny the home side on numerous occasions.

"It is very difficult [to describe his feelings] you must be frustrated today," Benitez told Sky Sports News.

"In terms of work ethic we cannot say anything to the players. They worked really hard, we had a lot of chances, but again it was the same situation as in other games.

"We are controlling games but we cannot take our chances and finish games.

"So today was the same. The keeper was a very good signing, he was man-of-the-match with some great saves.

"I am really, really disappointed.

"We had chances, their keeper made fantastic saves, they score in the last minute and sometimes that is football.

"All we can do now is prepare for the next game, we know it is an important game so we must put our heads up and be ready to work really hard for this game."

Davey hails Tykes heroes

Sky Sports

Barnsley boss Simon Davey hailed his players after their famous 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield.

Brian Howard's last-gasp goal earned the Championship club a shock victory to dump out Rafa Benitez's side.

Barnsley came from behind with Stephen Foster cancelling out Dirk Kuyt's first-half opener before Howard stole the headlines with his dramatic winner.

Davey was full of praise for his players as they overcame all the odds to book their place in the quarter-finals.

"Fantastic. We came here and said we would enjoy the game and we have enjoyed the day," Davey told Sky Sports News.

"We had a gameplan and to be fair there was no coming back from that when we scored at the last.

"Credit to the players, they have been fantastic from the first minute and now they have got their rewards - they are in the next round.

"I always thought we would be in the game. We kept it tight, at half-time we were 1-0 down and if you get one chance and stick it away, you have got a chance. We kept it going and scored two great goals. I am pleased for them."

Davey was delighted with new boy Luke Steele who enjoyed a debut to remember with the goalkeeper denying Liverpool on a number of occasions with several superb saves.

"It's come on his debut at Anfield in the fifth round. He pulled off some 'worldies'.

"Every player has stood up... it's a great day for the supporters and the board.

"Liverpool are a good side and put us under pressure. There were some fantastic last-ditch tackles in the box, and I thought it was a penalty at the end."

Davey also admitted it was "a fairytale" ending for boyhood Liverpool fan Howard to grab the winner.

"It's a fairytale, it's what dreams are made of - he's scored the winner in an FA Cup tie at the Kop end. It is fantastic and it will live with the players for a long, long time."

Barnsley dump Reds out of FA Cup

Evening Echo

An injury-time goal by Barnsley’s Brian Howard sent Liverpool crashing out of the FA Cup at Anfield and increased the pressure on manager Rafael Benitez.

The Reds led through Dirk Kuyt’s first goal since December – but on-loan goalkeeper Luke Steele produced a string of oustanding saves on his debut to keep the Coca-Cola Championship side in the contest.

And, after Stephen Foster headed Barnsley level just before the hour mark, Howard stunned the home side with his late winner.

Liverpool left captain Steven Gerrard on the bench and rested Javier Mascherano, Jose Reina and the almost fit Fernando Torres for this tie, with Tuesday's visit of Inter Milan clearly figuring in Benitez's thoughts.

French goalkeeper Charles Itandje got another run-out, while Jamie Carragher captained the side.

Steele – on loan – was in goal for the visitors, while former Everton midfielder Anderson De Silva was included.

Simon Davey’s team had tremendous support at Anfield, with 7,000 Tykes making themselves heard in the Anfield Road end.

In the second minute they were almost celebrating a goal when Istvan Ferenczi’s header was blocked by Carragher.

But John Arne Riise and Lucas saw long-range efforts fly wide at the other end, Peter Crouch headed past a post from Steve Finnan’s cross, before Kuyt failed to hit the target from Yossi Benayoun’s cross.

In the 18th minute Crouch went close with an angled effort that Steele needed to be at full-stretch to touch wide.

Ryan Babel got into the box on the right to fire in a shot that Steele held - but Barnsley had a great chance to opening the scoring in the 28th minute when Daniel Nardiello robbed Sami Hyypia before racing into the box and forcing goalkeeper Charles Itandje into a low save to his right.

Steele was in action again a minute later, clawing away an 18-yard effort from Xabi Alonso – and soon after the Kop let out a roar of relief when they took the lead with Kuyt’s first goal since the Champions League win in Marseille in mid-December.

Xabi Alonso swept the ball out to Babel, who made ground into the box before pulling the ball back for the Dutch striker to sweep home from six yards.

Steele did well to keep out a Crouch header on the stroke of half-time – and the home side started the second period strongly with Benayoun and Babel going close.

Barnsley took off Nardiello and sent on Kayode Odejayi, giving Davey’s team more of an aerial threat – and in the 56th minute it worked.

Martin Devaney launched an excellent cross on the run from the right, and defender Foster rose to power a header that Itandje got a hand to but could not stop crashing into the net.

Benayoun and Crouch had shots cleared off the line in quick succession, then Hyypia had two efforts blocked as Liverpool stormed forward.

Lucas saw a header turned onto the bar by Steele, who snaffled the rebound - then made another good save after Benayoun’s run and shot.

Harry Kewell replaced Babel, before Gerrard was sent on for Lucas after 75 minutes.

The England midfielder’s first surging run covered 60 yards and won his team a corner – but at the other end Itandje was looking anything but comfortable.

The Liverpool goalkeeper clattered into Odejayi outside the box, and then palmed away a Howard effort.

Kewell had two efforts blocked, then clipped the bar from 25 yards – but all the noise was coming from the Barnsley fans.

Steele then made a marvellous save to turn over a Kewell hook, and Crouch had the ball taken off his foot in the act of shooting.

The same thing happening to Kuyt seconds after – with Dennis Souza again the defender with the right timing.

Carragher was booked three minutes from time – a caution which will see him banned against Middlesbrough next weekend.

But worse was to follow in the second minute of injury-time when Howard found space on the edge of the box to drill home the winner.

The Yorkshire fans erupted, and they had just 30 seconds to wait for the final whistle and confirmation of a famous victory.

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Thor Zakariassen ©