How the press box saw it
Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2005
Burnley's win against Liverpool was watched by fans all around the world and today people are reading about the great win that saw us put the Premiership side out of the FA Cup.
It’s still sinking in that we will be playing Bournemouth a week on Saturday after the Clarets beat Premiership opponents in the cups for the fourth time in just over two years.
We are – and this is what some of the national press have had to say about it along with the report from Liverpool’s own web site that admits the Clarets were deserving winners.
Traoré's blunder a gift for Burnley
Tim Rich (Independent)
At Anfield this has been the week of the smoking gun and the bleeding foot. After their self-inflicted defeat by Manchester United comes dismissal from the FA Cup courtesy of an own goal and a deliberately weakened team.
Rafael Benitez could not have predicted that Djimi Traoré would put through his own net, but it was the Liverpool manager's decision to field essentially a reserve team to face a very competent, if threadbare Burnley side, that had already knocked Aston Villa out of the Carling Cup.
Liverpool have frequently been in trouble in matches this season but last night there was no Steven Gerrard to rescue them. Milan Baros's introduction provided an attacking spark Liverpool had hitherto lacked but it proved too late and Antonio Nuñez's sending-off for a crude use of the elbow merely compounded the humiliation.
For the past few years many at Anfield have wondered how good the youngsters nurtured at Liverpool's academy are and argued that they should be given their head. Last night they were and given their display of ineptitude, they are unlikely to be asked again in a hurry. The lasting memory of the evening was of Sami Hyypia being given the run-around by Jean Louis Valois.
This was the third time Steve Cotterill had faced Liverpool in his managerial career and twice with Sunderland and once with Burnley he has yet to lose. But for a fingertip save from Jerzy Dudek, Burnley might have won more comfortably and his reward is a fourth round tie with Bournemouth. It may not mean much in Burnley but Bournemouth is where Cotterill lives and where he used to play. They might provide rather more resistance.
That last night's tie went ahead at all was something of a relief. However, the pitch had suffered from the kind of weather that had briefly transformed the Pennines into a snowfield, topped off with hail and further heavy rain which made the middle resemble a strip of soggy corrugated cardboard.
Under these circumstances, maybe it was not surprising that keeping any sort of possession was difficult, although Liverpool sometimes went to great lengths to give the ball away. The only time in the first hour they showed any propensity to finish came with the own goal as Traoré superbly back-heeled a low cross from Richard Chaplow firmly into his own net. It was another embarrassing goal, but this time at least Dudek could be absolved from blame.
Only three members of the side beaten by Manchester United at Anfield started at Turf Moor but one of them was Dudek, whose wounds from another goalkeeping error against Liverpool's greatest rivals had still not begun to scab over. Unsurprisingly, Burnley chose to test him often and early.
If the Pole wanted saves to restore his confidence, he was given his wish. As the home team heaved forward against a Liverpool side who could only have been familiar with each other from reserve fixtures at Chester, Chaplow, the night's most interesting figure, found himself clear on goal. This time, however, Dudek kept his nerve and then saved well from a drive from Micah Hide that spat through flurry of legs and which he must have seen very late.
Corners - five in the first half - found Dudek still looking dangerously absent-minded while the young Liverpool defence, stiffened by Traoré and Hyypia, showed frequent signs of panic even before the former's own goal. However, as the play slowed, you wondered if Burnley, whose resources were so thin that Cotterill was forced to name his first-team coach as a substitute, had the ability to punish them. The answer was not long in coming.
Benítez stands by his team selection
Dominic Fifield (Guardian)
Rafael Benítez insisted he had no regrets at having selected an under-strength Liverpool side last night, despite seeing the Premiership club humiliated by Burnley to depart this competition at the first hurdle for the first time since 1998.
The Spanish manager included only three players who started Saturday's Premiership defeat by Manchester United. "We don't have the squad to compete in four competitions at the top level," insisted Benítez. "You can't play all those games with the same players. It's impossible.
"If I'd used more senior players, perhaps we might have had problems in the next game [at Southampton on Saturday] or in the Champions League. We played against Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup with young players and won, so we tried to do the same here. I don't think it was a mistake. The fans will understand that we tried."
Liverpool have suffered serious injuries to 10 first-team players this season, though the apparent lack of respect for this competition will still have grated with their supporters.
Not that the locals cared. The victorious manager Steve Cotterill had expected to face an under-strength line-up, though he admitted the absence of seniors, such as Steven Gerrard, did increase his expectations. "It does raise the expectancy levels when you see the team-sheet but we knew what to expect," said the Burnley manager "In saying that, they still had Jerzy Dudek, Sami Hyypia, Igor Biscan and Djimi Traoré out there, and we'd take any of the younger players on loan. So they're not bad.
"I suppose this is a glory night for us. It's not very often that you beat a club the size of Liverpool, whoever you are, and it doesn't get any better than this."
Gamble backfires on Benítez
Oliver Kay (Times)
A distinguished Anfield old boy once remarked that “you don’t win anything with kids” and, while he may have been proven wrong by Manchester United on that occasion, it barely even registered as a shock that Rafael Benítez’s bafflingly casual approach to the FA Cup earned Liverpool the humiliation that they deserved at Turf Moor last night.
A comical own goal from Djimi Traoré six minutes into the second half was enough to secure victory for Burnley in a rearranged third-round tie, but the bare facts barely begin to tell the story.
As much as it was an evening to remember for Burnley, a Coca-Cola Championship club that has had little to smile about in recent years, it was a calamity for Benítez, who, by selecting a team of fringe players and unproven youngsters, could be said to have inflicted on himself the first minor crisis of his reign as Liverpool manager.
The Spaniard has been on the wrong end of cup upsets before. In his first season in charge of Valencia, his team were eliminated from the Copa del Rey on a technicality after he picked more than the three permitted non-EU players against the part-timers of Novelda. Bearing in mind the diminished status of cup competitions in Spanish football — and that he was to end that season by leading Valencia to the title — it could be said that his selection last night was even more mistaken.
Benítez seemed disappointed by the result, but he insisted that he had no regrets. "You can’t play in four competitions with the same players,” he said. "It’s not possible, not with the squad we have.
"What happens if one or more senior players had played tonight and picked up a problem for the games ahead in the Champions League and Premiership? I don’t think it was a mistake. We picked the same kind of teams in the Carling Cup against Millwall, Middlesbrough and Tottenham and we won. This time we lost. When you win, it’s the right thing to do. When you lose, people say you were wrong."
The difference is, though, that even a place in the semi- finals of the Carling Cup, in which they lead Watford 1-0 after the first leg, could be said to mean less to Liverpool than a run in the FA Cup, a competition that retains a mystique among fans. Within half an hour of the final whistle at Turf Moor, Liverpool fans were bombarding a television phone-in to say that they could not understand Benítez’s selection.
This is the first time since 1998 that Liverpool have fallen at the first hurdle in the FA Cup and, for all Benítez’s talk of the bigger picture, defeat by Burnley was particularly unwelcome, coming only three days after Manchester United won at Anfield. For all the good work that Benítez has done since his arrival at Anfield, notably by introducing a greater fluency to Liverpool’s attacking play, these are suddenly testing times . They are fifth in the Premiership, seven points behind Everton, who are in the final Champions League place Injuries to key players, including Chris Kirkland, Steve Finnan, Xabi Alonso, Harry Kewell and Djibril Cissé, have undermined his cause in recent weeks, but even so Steven Gerrard and others were rested last night in deference to the youngsters. Four of the starting line-up — David Raven, Zak Whitbread, John Welsh and Darren Potter — boast a combined total of seven minutes’ Premiership experience.
Burnley will not care about that as they look ahead to a winnable fourth-round tie at home to Bournemouth, but it was difficult to say what an evening such as this signifies for the FA Cup. On the one hand it has been devalued, or even dismissed, by a leading club with bigger fish to fry, but on the other, that team has had its comeuppance. Perhaps others, perhaps Benítez, will think twice about treating the Cup so lightly in future.
Liverpool punished by Traore howler
Henry Winter (Daily Telegraph)
On a raw Lancashire night that demanded the presence of men, not boys, Liverpool were deservedly punished for taking the FA Cup lightly and fielding a weakened team. How fitting that this desperately embarrassing defeat should be sealed by an own-goal, an extra-ordinary one from Djimi Traore.
To complete Liverpool's night of ignominy, Antonio Nunez was sent off for elbowing Tony Grant, a former Everton player. Struggling financially, Burnley will celebrate this famous evening long and hard, the score reflecting their 1914 FA Cup final success over Liverpool.
Steve Cotterill's men played with pride in their shirt and with an appreciation of the Cup's traditions, and constantly threatened through the outstanding Richard Chaplow, Jean- Louis Valois and Mo Camara as they progressed to a fourth-round tie against Bournemouth.
Following the original weather-induced postponement and an additional 15-minute traffic-related delay, it was no wonder that Cotterill's neat Championship side had been so eager to test the mettle of their Premiership guests. Running hungrily and intelligently across a pitch made playable by intense activity by the Turf Moor ground staff, Burnley took the game to Liverpool, their industry rewarded seven minutes after the break by Traore's astonishing own-goal.
How the home fans delighted in the clever movement of Chaplow and the dribbling of Valois. An interval lead would certainly not have flattered Chaplow, Valois and company. Traore's gift was gratefully accepted. No wonder the visitors' supporters were chanting for Milan Baros.
Exploiting the inevitable lack of understanding in an experimental, inexperienced Liverpool side, Burnley began creating chance after chance in front of the David Fishwick Stand, which had become the Kop for the night.
Scarcely two minutes had elapsed when nerves began swirling around the Liverpool fans. Valois released the lively Chaplow, who tested Jerzy Dudek with a low shot. Liverpool's young centre-half, Zak Whitbread, took no chances with the loose ball, which he belted out for a corner. Yet Cotterill had clearly been drilling his players heavily on attacking set-pieces, perhaps mindful of Liverpool's vulnerability at corners.
As Rafael Benitez's defenders stuck to their specific zonal roles, Burnley almost reaped rich reward. Micah Hyde, so busy in midfield, pushed up to unleash a shot that Dudek palmed away for another corner. Gary Cahill headed over; Frank Sinclair nodded wide.
Then came the all-action Chaplow, breaking untended from midfield and being dispossessed by Traore as he threatened Dudek. Liverpool were being pegged back, alarmingly so for their sizeable gathering of fans. Hyde, suitably emboldened, let fly with a 25-yard volley that flew just wide of Dudek's left-hand upright. Despite the biting cold, Burnley fans were showing similar enthusiasm for upsetting Liverpool and their goalkeeper, who was greeted with chants of "Rooney, Rooney", a reminder of his nemesis on Saturday.
Gradually, though, Liverpool began to piece some passing moves together. Only Sami Hyypia would make their first team, and the five home-grown youngsters were taking time to settle in a 4-2-3-1 formation spearheaded by Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
Moments of promise did arise, such as when Stephen Warnock flighted in a corner that Igor Biscan headed wastefully downwards and into a wall of claret. The half did finish encouragingly for Liverpool, not least when Sinama-Pongolle robbed Lee Roche, raced 50 yards but was then pressurised into a weak shot by Roche, who had recovered well. Brian Jensen clutched the loose ball gratefully.
Stirred by Cotterill at the break, Burnley went for Liverpool again, breaking through after 52 minutes. The danger seemed to have expired when Chaplow crossed low and hard from the left. The claret presence in the six-yard box was minimal but Traore panicked, executing a bizarre turn that clipped the ball into Dudek's net. Embarrassment was writ large.
Faced with such ignominy, Benitez had to react and he sent on Baros to give Liverpool focus and a cutting edge. As the Czech Republic international started dribbling menacingly at Burnley, they began retreating deeper and deeper but still found time to counter, notably when the tireless Chaplow fired goalwards with 17 minutes left. Dudek dropped down, flicking out a glove to divert the ball.
Engulfed by humiliation, Benitez sent Neil Mellor into the fray but he was promptly booked for a rash challenge, and then Nunez was dismissed, as Liverpool's frustration spilled over. "Premiership?" chanted Turf Moor. "You're having a laugh."
Tragedy for Traore as Reds crash out
Lee Brown (Liverpool FC Official Site)
It was much as the Reds could have expected after a disappointing performance left question marks over the decision to play a weakened side for this 3rd Round tie.
Traore's moment of madness came on 52 minutes, but they could count themselves lucky to have not been behind sooner. Not even the second half introduction of Milan Baros could rescue the Reds and they are now left to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.
Rafa's side finished the game with 10 men after Antonio Nunez capped a bad night by being sent off for throwing an elbow in frustration.
Reds fans heading along the M65 towards Turf Moor this evening may have had a sense of deja-vu as their wipers worked overtime to repel the heavy downpour that was threatening to sweep this game away for a second time.
A look at the Liverpool team sheet revealed that Rafa Benitez had kept his word and put his faith in youth as the Reds began their quest to reach the wind free calm of a sunny afternoon in Cardiff.
And given his Kop Kids' heroics in reaching the last four of the Carling Cup, Rafa's faith could not be questioned. However it was fair to assume they would face a rough ride, not just from the weather, but from a Burnley side that hadn't conceded a goal in their last five home games.
Only three regulars remained from the side beaten by Manchester United on Saturday as Zak Whitbread, David Raven, John Welsh, Darren Potter and Stephen Warnock were joined by Igor Biscan, Antonio Nunez and Florent Sinama Pongolle in the starting eleven. And Milan Baros was on the bench for what must have been insurance purposes. It was hoped he wouldn't be needed.
Any thoughts of a night off for the Czech hitman were almost dissolved as soon as the game got underway. Burnley started at a furious pace and immediately offered a chance for Jerzy Dudek to rebuild his confidence after Saturday's indiscretion.
He was called into action as early as the 4th minute when Chaplow got clear and forced him into a smart stop. And he was on hand again just a minute later to save Hyde's strike from 18 yards.
That early spell of Burnley pressure set the tone for the rest of the first half as the Reds failed to get to grips with their opponents robust style and an uneven playing surface. And they were again fortunate when Frank Sinclair failed to control a free header from point blank range.
We had to wait until the 27th minute for Liverpool's first sight of goal when Biscan maybe should have done better with a free header of his own when well placed. And Pongolle wasted an excellent chance to give them a deserved lead as half time approached. We hoped for better in the second half.
We got it at first, when Nunez crossed and Pongolle headed narrowly over. But the Reds went behind soon after when Djimi Traore made an entry into the 'what happened next' catalogue.
There had seemed little danger as Chaplow's loss cross rolled tamely towards the leggy defender, but he got his longs legs in a twist an inexplicably back flicked the ball into his own net. Traore held his head. We awaited the arrival of Baros.
We didn't wait long; and Rafa Benitez will surely have wished he had more of his top guns to call upon. Traore was the man to make way and he looked suitably dejected as he sat in the dug out. He was a man of the match contender before his moment of madness.
Lverpool started playing when they went behind. They had too. But the tie was almost put beyond them after 73 minutes when Dudek was again forced into an excellent save from Chaplow's low drive.
The Reds responded immediately, but Potter chose the wrong option and shot when he should have played Baros in. But as the game swung from end to end, you got the impression that they were in more danger of going further behind than drawing level.
As it was, Igor Biscan wasted their only remaining chance and their night to forget was complete when Nunez got a straight Red with barely minutes remaining.
It's goodbye to the FA Cup for another year. Regrets? There's sure to be a few.