Barnes joy at Berger potential

by John Curtis of "Press Association"

Liverpool star John Barnes today saluted new hero Patrik Berger and claimed: "He has the potential to become one of the Anfield greats."

The Czech Republic international became the instant hero of the Reds army of fans with his two-goal blast after coming off the substitutes' bench against Leicester City on Sunday.

It has helped Liverpool into what was once their customary position at the top of the table and Barnes believes players of the quality of Berger can help them stay there.

Barnes said: "Let's say that we're happy that he is with us! He's got a lot going for him -- good feet, good vision, good awareness. You can play one-twos with him and he looks to get behind people."

"He also strikes a ball so cleanly. When he twice went through against Leicester, I had no fears that the keeper was going to get near his shot. As soon as he pulled back his left foot I knew the ball was going into the back of the net."

"Left-footed players tend to look a little bit special. He looks very special -- a world class player."

"To be honest I thought he was the best player for the Czech Republic in Euro 96 even though there were times when he was left out of the team."

"He's definitely the sort of player you need to win championships. He is a world class player and the more of those you have the better."

"It's too early for me to say whether he can become one of the Anfield stars of all time. I would have to play with him a little bit more before deciding on that one."

"But there is no doubt in my mind that he's got the potential to be one of the Anfield greats."

Berger has certainly made a strong claim to start his first game for the club when he flies back from the midweek World Cup tie against Malta.

Barnes said: "It's not a good situation for the manager to be in because he's got to try and keep everyone happy, but it's good for the club to have players on top of their form who can't get in the team."

"That's what's happened at Manchester United and it's happening at Liverpool. You've got world class players coming in, doing well -- and not knowing whether they are going to be in the line up for the next game."

"Manchester United have loads of world class players -- and the more we can have to combat them the better."

Rapidly emerging defender Dominic Matteo added: "I think Patrik has been a bit frustrated at not getting in the side earlier."

"But we haven't been beaten and it's been hard for the manager to change the team. With Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore up front, it's hard to drop anyone, isn't it?"

"But may be this is Patrik's chance to build on things. He plays a bit deeper to Stan -- and Robbie was a little bit more up front on his own."

"But I think Robbie sometimes likes a bit more responsibility, getting hold of the ball and bringing players into the game. Patrik and Robbie worked quite well together."

"Patrik is a young lad with the world at his feet. He could go on to be one of the Anfield greats and he has shown already the quality he has got. 

Copyright - Press Association 16 September 1996

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