Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Team: Jerzy Dudek; Steve Finnan, Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise; Danny Murphy, Steven Gerrard, Didi Hamann, Harry Kewell; E*ile H*skey, Michael Owen:









DATE SAT 15 MAY 2004












Thank Christ that's over. Magnificent achievement or scant consolation for another dreadful, woeful season of underachievement?


Unless you're a delusional, paranoid, mentally unbalanced Frenchman with the initials GH, chances are you'll see this fourth place finish for what it is, and it most certainly isn't a 'magnificent achievement'.


During his highly amusing and more than a little deranged outburst in Friday's press conference, Houllier claimed that progress has been made because we've improved on last season's fifth place. That we managed to pick up less points than we did last year was conveniently overlooked, despite the fact that in previous seasons that has been the barometer which Houllier has used to determine our progress.


Had we finished eighth, but achieved more points than last year you just know he'd have been hailing that as progress too, but his ramblings of late have had even more of an insane feeling to them than usual. Hopefully he knows he's on the way out, as this simply cannot be allowed to go on.


Danny Murphy said recently that Liverpool are a team that wins when they have to. That translates more to me like they win when they want to, but this was not a game that Liverpool needed to win, and frankly it showed, in the first half anyway, as things improved significantly after the break.


Newcastle on the other hand needed to get something from this game to salvage what has been an equally wretched season for them. As bad as we've been, the Geordies have underachieved even more. Lucky for us they did, or fourth place would been out of our reach a long time ago.


But the visitors just about shaded a disappointing first half, and led through a well taken goal by Shola Ameobi. He has fortunate to get away with impeding Hyypia in the build up, but once he got into the box his finish was excellent. Steve Finnan's role in it shouldn't be overlooked either, and the full back had another distinctly average game.


Liverpool had not really offered anything in an attacking sense. A 20 yard volley from Hamann was the only effort on goal in the opening half, and that went straight down the throat of Shay Given.


Newcastle weren't exactly overworking Dudek either to be fair, and the departure of Ameobi through injury didn't help them. Bellamy of course is a more than capable replacement, but he didn't look fully fit and posed no threat to the excellent duo of Hyypia and Carragher.


JC was outstanding again, and did a terrific job keeping Shearer quiet. For a long time I've felt that centre back is Jamie's best position, and although he's also the best full back we have as well, it's quite possible he'll end up in the centre on a full time basis.


As seems to be the case every week these days, Carragher and Gerrard stood out more than anyone else. Others contributed too, but the two local lads were head and shoulders above everyone else.


Gerrard wasn't as influential as he was at St Andrews last week (there was no report on here from that game because none of us went), but as ever he was the reds main hope of creating a breakthrough, especially as Kewell had another game to forget.


The morning of this game Brian Reade wrote in the Mirror that the last time a player carried a team as Gerrard has carried us this season was Maradona in the 1986 world cup. I agree with him completely. Gerrard has been the difference between us getting fourth and finishing in the bottom half.


Stevie has been absolutely phenomenal, and it's impossible to overstate just how important he is to the club right now. In the second half he stepped up to another level, and he was simply too good for Newcastle.


Everything we did went through him. Some of the things he did were breathtaking. One fantastic piece of control took him clear down the right, and a perfect cut back found H*skey unmarked ten yards out. The resultant mis-kick was hilarious, and fitting. This was almost certainly the big fraud's last game for the club, and he simply didn't deserve to sign off with a goal.


But Michael Owen on the other hand, now that;'s a different story. Michael's future is still uncertain. All along I've been confident that he's staying, but in the last couple of weeks I've been hearing things which now make me think he's on his way.


I doubt he'll stay if Houllier does, and he won't be the only one feeling like that. Henchoz will be off if GH stays. Hamann maybe as well, and the chances of Baros staying are virtually nil unless Houllier gets the boot.


For the fourth game in succession Milan was left on the subs bench and didn't get on at all. The world and its dog knows that H*skey is on his way, yet he starts and Baros is out in the cold. Don't think that says much for Houllier's plans concerning the Czech striker, do you?


Mind you, it's our fault. As soon as he became popular with us his days were numbered. Just ask Camara, Fowler, Litmanen and Anelka. All found themselves victims of Houllier's one eyed selection policy regarding his club record signing, and all were eventually shown the door. Looks like Milan is next on the list, unless the mad professor goes first of course.


But back to Michael, if this is his last game for the club (and please God let it not be), then it was fitting for him to sign off with a goal at the Kop end. And what a goal it was too. I don't have the vocabulary to describe Gerrard's pass, but I haven't seen a better one all season anywhere. There isn't another player in the country who could have delivered that ball so accurately.


Owen's finish wasn't too shabby either, and it left Given with absolutely no chance. Prior to that Michael had cut a forlorn figure, and had struggled to get into the game. After his goal, the spring returned to his step though. It's been a strange season for Owen. He's still scored his fair share of goals, but there's been times when he's had no service whatsoever.


There's also been spells when chances have been aplenty, only to be squandered. The uncertainty over his future, the injury he picked up against Arsenal, his girlfriends accident and his obvious unhappiness at the tactical approach often adopted by the manager have all contributed to his up and down form.


But just as he has in every season since breaking into the first team, he finished as top scorer. If this was Michael's last game for the club, then he signed off in the same manner he signed in all those years ago at Selhurst Park. With a goal.


Overall a draw was a fair result, and neither side looked like grabbing a winner. In fact, they both seemed happy enough to just play out time.


Newcastle knew Villa were losing, and as Danny says, we only win when we have to. So a lot of sideways and backwards passing followed, with only Gerrard looking like he wanted anything more than a point.


I didn't stay for the lap of honour, I had fanzines to sell and even if I hadn't, I wouldn't have stayed anyway. Gerrard and Carragher deserved their lap of honour, and a few others too, but there's no way I could sit there and applaud the likes of Houllier, H*skey and Diouf.


Speaking of El Hadji, Torbjorn from the 'Kopite' magazine tells me that this is the first season in club history that we have not had a single goal from a number nine. Disgraceful.


Dioufy may not have scored on the pitch, but he's done pretty well off it, hardly surprising considering the amount of time he spends out on the town. His recent omission from the squad is actually a direct result of this, as he and a couple of others were caught out in town the night before a game. The others haven't played since then either incidentally.


So despite the sunshine, and the performance of Gerrard, it was yet another disappointing afternoon at Anfield. The good days you can count on one hand this season.


The highlight of the day, apart from the sublime goal obviously, had to be the Geordie fans' rendition of the Ameobi song, sung to the tune of the Hokey Cokey. Quality.


I remember a time when we used to have original songs like that. Mind you, I can also remember a time when our manager didn't have serious mental health problems, and when E*ile H*skey wasn't a malingering waste of space.


It wasn't actually that long ago, but it seems like a lifetime. The last two seasons have aged me by about ten years I think. The thought of another year like the last two doesn't bear thinking about, but unless this pathetic insult for a manager is sent packing, that's what we have to look forward to.


Some may still kid themselves into thinking that more big money signings will solve everything, but the most important signing the club needs to make is that of a new manager.


Until that happens, we have nothing to look forward to except more mediocrity. Whatsmore, we'll be informed that's it's actually a 'magnificent achievement.'

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites