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Copy from Football Unlimited of 27/10/2003.
Liverpool have apparently been engulfed in despair, enough criticism spat at Gérard Houllier to leave him drenched and despairing in the dug-out, but those who count have clearly not lost the faith. "That was a big win for the team but most of all pour le boss ," said Florent Sinama-Pongolle. "We owed him that."
The French teenager was expressing the sentiment of the dressing room, home players chirpy if relieved with the strut restored to their stride after this dismissal of Leeds. After three successive defeats had dragged his side into the mysterious unfamiliarity of the lower reaches, Houllier can rest a little easier this morning.
It was fitting that those most instrumental in gleaning this success have benefited most from the Frenchman's influence. For all that Michael Owen may have been a slightly reluctant starter after the shin injury which scuppered his chances of playing for England in Istanbul, it was a volley belted with the left foot, work on which his manager has placed so much emphasis, which paved the way to victory.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 26/10/2003.
Liverpool's first points in four Premiership matches eased some of the pressure on Gérard Houllier, who also had the satisfaction of seeing a couple of his gambles pay off.
The Liverpool manager has been pilloried in recent weeks for making excuses about missing players, yet no sooner were Michael Owen and Danny Murphy restored to the team than they provided the goals that secured victory, the latter also supplying the game's moment of controversy.
For most of the first half Owen looked like a risk not worth taking. He lacked pace and sharpness, and his inability to get into the game suggested Liverpool had rushed him back too quickly. Then in the 35th minute Owen provided the service for which he is famous. John Arne Riise did well to turn back Igor Biscan's cross into the England striker's path, but the chance was still a difficult one. Owen allowed the ball to bounce then swivelled to hook a left-foot shot over Paul Robinson.