Bolton Wanderers 2 Steven Gerrard 2

Posted by Mark_P on February 10, 2004, 06:48:17 PM

It’s amazing what happens after a few good performances. The disappointments of Tottenham and Wolves were forgotten and thoughts of the good displays against Newcastle and Everton replaced them, meaning the trip to Bolton was one to look forward to, especially with first choice back four back and Mssrs Cheyrou, Gerrard and Hamann in fine form. 

The journey to Bolton is one of the shortest around, but having to stay in Wigan for 5 minutes makes it feel like a London journey. Once into Bolton one could be forgiven for expecting to see Brian Potter in the pub we went to, with only the disabled owner missing from one of the most backwards pubs around.

The match day train from the town centre to the Reebok brought from three or four Bolton fans possibly the weirdest sing-song ever. “I would rather be a Scoose than a Manc” was possibly the only one I could make out, other than something about Campo and Munich.  Laugh of the day was reserved for Bolton’s programme seller, who had a huge sign on his stall proudly displaying:  “CARDIFF WIGS, EXCLUSIVE – ONLY £1.50 !”  See, these weren’t normal wigs, but Cardiff wigs. Personally, I got five.

At the top of the away end the only thing that hurt the Reds up there more than the bitterly cold weather was the team’s performance. It was no surprise that Nicky Hunt beat Dudek at his near post in the 11th minute – same old Liverpool.

Basically we stunk the place out in the first half. No movement, no heart, no passion.  Every pass went to a white shirt, every shot ended up off target. It was like Portsmouth, Southampton and Tottenham all rolled into one and that’s without exaggerating unfortunately.

Jamie Carragher’s shot went just wide as Jaaskelainen was scrambling to his left, and apart from Carragher, there seemed little else that could spare Liverpool’s, and Houllier’s, blushes. Gerrard was willing but passes went astray from him, Kewell was having a disastrous day, which was to get worse, whilst the back four seemed like they’d just met each other.

The half time break was one where the lads chatting over a pie and a bovril just weren’t surprised by way the side played. We'd seen it all before. Despite this it was a better Liverpool that came out after the break. Hyypia headed Stevie Gerrard’s excellent free kick home. 1-1. With Bolton on the ropes it was our chance to get the points as they wilted. Well, any other team but Liverpool would have anyway - no surprise there. The only shock for us hardy Reds was Anthony Le Tallec’s insistence on modelling his hairstyle on the scalls of Moss Side. He’ll be wearing Kappa trackies and £10 earrings next, mark my words …

Just five minutes later and Djorkaeff scored from some terrible defending by all concerned. The Reebok erupted, seats were kicked, players shouted at and manager’s heads called for in the away end. Here we were, a team of supposed international players, £110m invested in 5 years and God knows how much in wages, and we were struggling to find an equalizer against the might of Bolton. Add this to just how cold it was (think Man City and Yeovil) and there were a few Reds wishing they’d stayed at home watching United against Everton on the Norwegian channel. Yes it was that bad.

Then the match transformed into what we’ve become used to this watching season. We’ve had Steven Gerrard against Newcastle, Steven Gerrard against Tottenham, Steven Gerrard against Middlesborough and now, the latest installment, Steven Gerrard against Bolton. Although Carragher and Hamann did play a small part in his production, the other eight players were merely extras until Sinama Pongolle was brought on for Bruno Cheyrou. 

Pongolle worked his way through the Bolton back line, and it was Le Tallec who touched the ball to Gerrard, and the captain lashed the ball home. The celebration told its own story. If anyone is going to do it on their own, thank God we’ve got Steven to do it.

With Pongolle and Owen up front and Gerrard, Hamann, Le Tallec and Kewell behind them, things were obviously too attacking for Mr Houllier who brought off Le Tallec for Murphy and put Sinama Pongolle right wing in a midfield five in an attempt to make sure we hung on for the point. It nearly backfired too. First N'Gotty headed wide when unmarked at the back post and then a Kevin Davies shot was pushed over by the acrobatic (again) Jerzy Dudek before the match ended with the draw “Le Boss” wanted.

It may seem like I’m being negative for negatives sake, but I’m not. I’ve tried to get some positives from Saturday and all I can come up with is the form of Carragher and Gerrard.  Kewell was poor, Owen still misfiring, Finnan looked out of his depth for some reason and the list could carry on and on.

After the game Houllier claimed we had enough chances to win and the usual stuff. We did. And so did they. And on the balance of the game, Steven Gerrard aside, who could’ve argued if Davies' shot had gone into the Reds' net at the end? 

Had Bolton won on Saturday they would have gone above us in the table. I think that tells it’s own story of exactly how far we’ve come. Until the players decide to fight for the club and start giving back some of the time and effort the fans have given them lately then we will continue to struggle.

On the positive side, Gerrard and Carragher were excellent, whilst Cheyrou was quietly effective although he gave little to no support to Owen. Owen got a bit of criticism from the away end, but it was mainly through frustration, and he got a chant from the fans when he missed a chance that would’ve gone in had his boots had slightly bigger studs. He’ll come good again, and no one can doubt his commitment to Liverpool after a game where it looked like he would’ve done anything to score.

On leaving the Reebok stadium we were soon met with a harsh storm that meant it was almost impossible to walk. It mirrored our side at the moment – the golden sky at the end of the storm seems to be a lifetime away.

How the Redmen rated:

Dudek 6; Finnan 5, Hyypia 6, Henchoz 6, Carragher 8; Hamann 6, Kewell 4, Cheyrou 6 (Pongolle 7), Le Tallec 6 (Murphy), Gerrard 9*; Owen 6

Man Of The Match:  Steven Gerrard (Again).


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