Your verdict: Champions League

February 25, 2004
By Dominic Raynor
(Archive)

Tuesday's Champions League action saw Arsenal take another notable step forward in their bid for European glory as they beat Celta Vigo 3-1 to notch their first win in Spain.

Elsewhere, Oliver Kahn made a huge blunder as Real Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich, Slavia Prague held reigning champions Milan 0-0 and Lokomotiv Moscow beat Monaco 2-1.

But despite all that, Gerard Houllier's plight is still prompting a deluge of emails to Email newsdesk@soccernet.com. First the Champions League reaction.....


The Gunners are firing on all cylinders in the Premiership and after their demolition of Inter in the group stage they seem to have full confidence in their ability in the Champions League.

The defence looked a little suspect in Vigo - with Luis Edu causing numerous problems until he was bizarrely, but thankfully, taken off - but the rear-guard is still far better than Real Madrid's and with Arsenal's attack they have great chance to win the competition.

They have proved that can beat the English, Italians and now the Spanish and it will probably be team from that trio that reaches the final......with Arsenal.
Luke Vaduska

Arsenal's first win in Spain shows how they are improving in the Champions League. The Gunners are finally gaining the vital experience of the competition that has served Manchester United so well.

It was a tough game at Celta Vigo and Arsenal could not shake off the Spaniards, but didn't panic (as they have done in previous matches) and calmly continued with their game plan to great effect.
Dave Roberts

Arsenal performance in the defensive department was clearly not working in perfect harmony during this clash against Celta. You are right to say that they will be punish severely if they go up against much better offensive teams in the Champions League.

Maybe its the pressure and uncertainty that has been clouding them over their magnificent form of late and the history of having bad performances during previous Champions League outings. But nevertheless, after this victory, Arsenal will be high in confidence and their success and class will be heighten to another level.
Gunners4ever

I'm p*ssed off that Arsenal beat Celta Vigo because their fans will now continue to make unsubstantiated claims that they are the best team in Europe and the best team in the world - they are not even champions in England.

Have Wenger's boys ever won the Champions League? No. Ever won either of the two World Club Cup's? No. I can think of a few teams that have.

I can't wait until they face Milan or Real and get their arrogant asses whipped.
Vincent Bennett

I read somewhere that Oliver Kahn is the most disliked sports star in Germany (I don't know if it is true) I bet he has even less fans after last night's clanger.

Bayern tore Real's defence, what little their was of it, apart and looked set for a great victory to set up a fantastic game in Madrid. However, his casual attempt to save Roberto Carlos' shot was laughable and now Real must be favourites to go through.

They have a lucky away goal and home advantage for the next game...see ya Bayern.
Lee Cabolt

After watching Bayern dictate the pace and match their more illustrious opponents with their aggressive midfield which neutralised Zidane and Beckham, I couldn't help but expect Kahn to allow that harmless shot past him. Of late I have seen Kahn allowing some silly balls to fool him.

After the Germans at Korea/Japan 2002 played out their hearts he was fooled by Rivaldo's long shot allowing the Brazilian ace (Ronaldo)to pounce. Kahn needs to work on reflexes or else he will fade and leave a dark mark on his once illustrious career.

Kahn really disappointed a legion of Bayern fans. A closer look at the current Bundesliga shows that he is an ailing giant. I think he should surrender the jersey to Lehmann. Ballack's statement is a professional one but we need to expose his shortcomings so that he works on them.
Ashton Mavenga (University of Zimbabwe)

I have to say well done to the hugely underrated Sparta Prague for holding AC Milan to a 0-0 draw - in fact Sparta were unlucky not to win.

Milan have failed to score two goals in the Champions League this season and if Sparta can sneak one at the San Siro they will have to do just that to go through.

Come on Sparta knock out the champions and then Real Madrid to strike a blow for Czech football.
Anon


  • Also, more on Monsieur Houllier....

    GH said in his weekly meeting with media that he has the support of the fans. I can assure you Mr. Houllier that you have lost the faith and support of the majority of the Liverpool fans, including the ones inside the ground week in and week out.

    It is not the players fault, they are good enough to compete at the highlest level, it is you. You are to blame for playing just one striker against bloody Portsmith for 45 minutes. You are the reason why we persist with the worst left sided, right sided, center forward in the league in Emilie Heskey. You are the reason that players like Heskey can get a game no matter how bad they play, but Dudek gets dropped for what appears to be no reason.

    You are the reason that Kewell has gone from a great player to player that should be dropped. You are the reason that Michael Owen will be leaving Liverpool in the summer of 2004. You have taken us as far as we can go. For the sake of the players and the supporters it is time to step down.
    Kevin Brodie, Soccernet Liverpool Correspondent

    I have been following the Reds since the early 60s, and I have to say this is the poorest collection of players to have worn the shirt of our beloved club in that time. We are going backwards in terms of development, and are so far behind Arsenal, Man Utd, and Chelsea, it is simply frightening.

    Houllier has been given the time and the money to do as he wished, but he has failed big time. I am proud of the club and all its past achievements and I just wonder what Bob or Bill would say if they were still around? I know that they would be horrified - not necessarily by our league position - but by the way the team is playing, the attitude of some players and the real lack of quality in the team.

    Then of course there are the excuses that Houllier provides following each and every under-performance

    Gerald, you have lost the plot and should go now so that any further damage can be avoided. Let Thommo and Sammy (Lee) take over until season's end and take it from there
    Nick Hopwood

    Hmmm... I think GH overall has done a reasonable job over 5 seasons - is it 7 or 8 trophies? I also think that sure it might be time to move on, but really I think it is time for LFC Supporters, which I am, to get their heads out of the clouds with regard to dominating in England and Europe again.

    Quite simply the Club, regardless of the spoils from the Champions League is not RICH enough, and today it is all about money... Anfield, the "Shrine" that it is, is too small so to really step up and compete with the Real Madrid's of this world, besides getting rid of GH and most the team and buying a new lot which is how a lot of people feel, they would also have to build a new stadium.

    So forget about how long it will be before LFC are Champions again - think about how much is it going cost!
    Rory Stoddart, Thailand Red

    I believe that Gerard Houllier is a good technical director and should stay at the club, but he needs someone to be brought in to help manage the way the team is playing the game.

    Houllier is supposed to be the all seeing manager who must be observant enough to notice that there is a club wide problem in the style and confidence. It seems these issues aren't addressed and I base this statement solely on they way the team plays.

    I believe that the squad is world class and Liverpool have exceptional players. I also believe Houllier should have a role as a technical director to nurture the youngsters and attract the BEST players to the team.

    I and most other Liverpool supporters can't judge Houllier as we aren't involved in the day to day running of the club. The media makes him appear arrogant in the way that he is ignoring criticism from people outside the club.

    I Believe that he has made mistakes and continues to do so, but everyone is human.(and better him in charge than a mad, boot throwing Scotsman). It is when he doesn't address the issues, then he should go, or at least get some help.
    Kyri Kontozis

    Time to get some perspective. Gerard Houllier - Liverpool' s most successful manager since Dalglish.

    More successful than Alex Ferguson, at the same time in his career as Man Utd manager. You may also remember that there were calls to rid of Ferguson, with his team languishing in the bottom half of the table. There is no need to go into what happened after they kept him on.

    Continuity provides a key - Ferguson, Wenger, Curbishely, Allardyce are amongst that longest serving managers in the Premiership and all have produced teams that have delivered. In the case of the latter two, they have performed well beyond their means.

    Injuries have played a part in our performance this season, however that's been compounded by lacklustre effort by the team and individuals. Houllier should be allowed to continue.
    Pritpal Bains

    There are a few candidates I believe can fill Gerard Houllier's position. As a long time suffering Liverpool supporter, I request the Liverpool FC board of directors take serious consideration of the following:

    1. Mr Blobby
    2. Mr Ed the talking horse
    3. Glenn Hoddle
    4. Pingu
    5. Bob The Builder
    6. Peter Reid
    7. Malcolm Allison
    8. Andrew Ridgely
    9. Ruud Gullit
    10. Bruce Grobbelar

    Each individual is a legend in his own times. None is emotionally attached to the pride and tradition of the club. The sole objective would be to do away with sentiments and move on to win something, anything.

    Some candidates can even double up as half-time entertainers. Andrew Ridgely can sing, Glenn Hoddle can hold a seance, Mr Blobby can do the Macarena, the list goes on...Look at each individual's record; all are winners!

    Pingu has a successful syndicated TV show, Bob the Builder is very good with foundations, Ruud Gullit commissions sexy make-overs for his teams and Bruce Grobbelar is famous for his play-acting.

    So, how about it then?
    Julian K

    My humble opinion of the whole, unpleasant situation at Anfield...the presence of Mr Michael Owen aka Mr Superstar....because of him, Gerard Houllier changed the tactic of the whole team. He needs through passes where he uses his so-called speed to outrun the single defender marking him to score that rare goal..he is hardly present in the whole game, he refuses to pass the ball or fight for loose balls for that matter, he can't play for nuts alongside Steven Gerard and others, can somebody please tell me why is he still in the Liverpool squad?

    Why is he still held in such high esteem in the eyes of Gerard Houllier and Sven Goran Eriksson? And oh yes..his only contribution is to miss crucial penalties and behave like a superstar..please leave Mr Michael Owen.
    Melvin

    Good Evening, I have watched with despair the way Liverpool have played this past season, or should I say seasons. This is a team without any real leadership on or off the field.

    I have supported Liverpool for over fifty years many of them standing on the Kop in the fifties, sixties and early seventies before leaving to live in Canada. The team has never really recovered from the late stages of Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness's eras, Souness especially who let go some of the best players.

    The last few weeks or months manager Gerald Houllier has made one excuse after another as to why the team are in this situation, like Michael Owen is being missed, Well this guy only plays half a season anyway, yes he is good but not for the way this Liverpool plays, way to defensive, score a goal and lets play in our own half.

    I don`t like Man U or Arsenal but the way those two teams play the ball around it`s like the Liverpool of old, we need to go back to the Roger Hunt - Ian St John or the John Toshack - Kevin Keegan age, Owen needs a big target up there with him to feed off, someone capable of passing a ball. It seems that only Steven Gerrard has that capability.

    Personally I think that Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson should go and they should also sell Owen now as they can make money off him, he is to injury prone. Anyway I`ve had my beef I will never stop being a Liverpool supporter but it doesn't stop me from being upset at the managing of this the greatest club in the world.
    Pete Booth

    Yes the Pressure is on - but I am very confident Mr Houllier can turn this around. Maybe not this season but next season we can forget this years performances and win the Prem Lge - If you can seriously tell me that Chelsea or Man Utd are 15-18 points better than the likes of Owen, Gerrard, Carragher, Kewell, Hamman, Dudek, Kirkland, Baros etc these are CLASS players who would walk into Chelsea or Man Utd team so I don't believe the media hype - yes its a very poor season but I can remember back in Fergie's first few seasons the same thing happening - and we all know what happened next. Next season watch us go - YNWA
    Kev

    Houllier's so called 5-year plan has failed terribly. I'd never thought I'd miss Roy Evans. But what is even more alarming is Houllier's expressed attitude: "We did a fine performance, only the goal was lacking", "we were unlucky", "the boys really did their best", "it's just a matter of some fine adjusting before we're there", etc etc. Layer upon layer of defensive responses.

    That's been the melody for all these last years and there is no reason to believe that the tune will change. There's no fire from within. Among all the reasons behind the current state of this proud club, this has to be one of the most important ones. Exit Houllier!
    Terje, Norway

    Sure, I would love to join in the Liverpool-bashing times, too, but I won't. As a life-long red, I am about as angry and disappointed with the team today as I was during the Souness era. There is little joy on the Kop these days, and the humour has gone, too. Things are bad. But I'm a Liverpool supporter and through my dismay there is still my belief that we are only minor (not major) adjustments away from getting back to becoming a great team. I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon of slagging everything off just because we've had a bad 12 months.

    When we look bad against the likes of Yeovil, when we can't score a single goal against injury-hit Portsmouth in 180 minutes with players who are supposedly so good that they are regularly present in the national side, yes, things must be really bad. Our style of play is lacklustre, and when you lose as many games as you win you're on the road to becoming a mediocre mid-table team. Man. Utd., Arsenal, Charlton, Newcastle and even Bolton play some wonderful free-flowing football, a style which made Liverpool world famous for three decades.

    But we shouldn't lose track of the fact that, despite our obvious deficiencies at present, we are still the third most successful club since the Premiership was founded so we have actually done a lot of things quite well over the last few years. And if you think we've got it bad, imagine what it must be like to be a Leeds fan, or an Everton fan. At least we've got hope. We got a strong line up the middle with Dudek/Kirkland, Hyypia, Hamann, Gerrard and Owen. We've just got to build on that and look forward. The problem is that everything around this central line is at best second rate, and I'm afraid, Mr. Houllier, you are responsible for all that.
    Mike Alger

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