Pass master Barnes ushers in new dawn at Anfield

HOWEVER much Liverpool juggle with statistics the Championship will not be coming to Anfield - not this season anyway.

If they win their games in hand Liverpool would be six points behind Manchester United who, like Blackburn, have still to visit Anfield. However, reality suggests there will be no late challenge from Merseyside to disrupt the two-horse title race.

Liverpool, it must be hoped, grace Wembley in at least one Cup final. They could even emulate Arsenal and win both the League Cup and FA Cup in the same season, no doubt doing so with considerably more style than the Gunners.

They are still a player or two short of being champions next season but after their stunning 2-0 win over Newcastle Peter Beardsley, who helped Liverpool win two titles, said: "It's back to how it was here."

The dark days of Graeme Souness are gone and Roy Evans has given Liverpool back their pride, passion and flair. It was all too much for Newcastle whose manager Kevin Keegan, another former Kop favourite, was less than happy with certain aspects of his team's display.
Pavel Srnicek put on one of the finest goalkeeping performances of the season
It was terrific entertainment and Newcastle contributed to a memorable afternoon. Pavel Srnicek put on one of the finest goalkeeping performances of the season to keep the scoreline respectable but some of Liverpool's football was a throwback to the good old days.

At the heart of Liverpool's victory was John Barnes. He may not have caught the eye as Steve McManaman did with his bursts down the wing or Robbie Fowler with his predatorial instincts but Barnes invariably started his team's attacks with a shrewd 10 or 15-yard pass.

Evans acknowledges Barnes is his side's best passer and, against Newcastle, the player who has still to convince at international level showed that doing the simple thing well can still be the most effective part of a game.

"Having Barnes and Rushie on the pitch is like having two coaches out there," said Evans. "Barnes's mental attitude is first-class and he sets a great example to others."

"We were sloppy and second-rate" said Keegan

Perhaps surprisingly, with Ian Rush and Fowler up front and a team geared towards attacking football, Liverpool have not found goalscoring easy this year. For all his promise, Jamie Redknapp will not be happy with a return of one goal in 27 games while McManaman's seven have come in four games, so the winger has failed to hit the target in 22 matches. Both would have scored at Anfield had Srnicek not been a goalkeeper possessed.

"They played so well it could have been a scoreline like Manchester United's," said Keegan. "I don't like coming back here and putting on a performance like that. We were sloppy and second-rate."

Srnicek was finally beaten in the 57th minute when Fowler scored after the goalkeeper had made a superb save from Mark Walters and Redknapp had hit the post as the ball pinged around the visitors' goalmouth.

Six minutes later Darren Peacock gave the ball away to Fowler who centered for Rush to apply the finishing touch. "I was pleased with our effort and attitude," said Evans. "But Srnicek did not deserve to be on the losing side."

Copyright - The Daily Telegraph

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