Anorak News | Red-Faced Reds

Red-Faced Reds

by | 19th, January 2005

‘THE perils of not putting out your first team were amply demonstrated last night as a second-string Liverpool XI were knocked out of the FA Cup by Burnley.

”Els Bells”

It used to be that the big clubs only played their reserves in the Carling Cup, but increasingly it is the case in the main knock-out tournament as well.

And, as Exeter proved at Old Trafford 10 days ago, it is a strategy fraught with danger.

While the papers report that it was an own goal blunder by Traore that cost Liverpool the match, the Times blames manager Rafael Benitez’s “bafflingly casual approach”.

“It was,” it says, “a calamity for Benitez, 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 insisted that the club didn’t have the squad to compete in four tournaments.

“If I’d used more senior players, perhaps we might have had problems in the next game or in the Champions’ League,” he told the Guardian.

“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.”

No such luxury for England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher, who must try to find 11 fit players to take to the field against South Africa on Friday.

The news in the Independent is that all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has suffered a recurrence of the bone spur problem that dogged him last summer.

However, he is expected to have a cortisone injection and play – although he might need an operation if he is to be fit to play in the Ashes series in the summer.

Steve Harmison is also expected to play at Centurion, although there is no guarantee that his calf injury won’t get worse as a result.

Although a scan has shown no muscle tear, ideally, the paper says, he would have two weeks for the swelling to clear up.

There is better news on the rest of the walking wounded with Simon Jones (groin and back), Ashley Giles (dislocated thumb), Geraint Jones (bruised thumb) and James Anderson (gashed wrist) all expected to be fit to play.

It is just as well, for as so eloquently proved by Liverpool’s defeat and Manchester United’s decision to take their first team to Exeter for tonight’s replay, there’s a fine line between victory and defeat.’

Posted: 19th, January 2005 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink