Football: Barnes' resurrection fills a hole for Dalglish

Newcastle United 2 Southampton 1
Click to follow
The Independent Online
If there was anything that a Liverpool supporter will have found harder to swallow on Saturday than their team's home defeat to Barnsley, it was the news that John Barnes had scored a match-winning brace at Newcastle. That made it four goals in five League games for their former England midfielder, which was about as much as he could muster in each of his last seven seasons at Anfield.

It did not help a suffering Kopite to be reminded either during this time of disaffection with their own manager that the transformation of Barnes from midfield bit-part player, as he latterly became in his career at Liverpool, to goalscoring hero was the inspired work of their much beloved former manager Kenny Dalglish.

The fact that, in the prolonged absence of Alan Shearer and Faustino Asprilla, Dalglish had tried just about every other possible solution to their goalscoring crisis before hitting upon the resurrection of Barnes as a striker will be of no matter to Liverpool fans, who will see this as yet another master stroke by the man they would love to see back in charge at Anfield.

"He [Barnes] did not have to score them for Liverpool," explained Dalglish, "because he had a couple of guys in front of him scoring more regularly. He's playing in a position that many people would find strange for him but it's also a position in which he played some of his best games for Watford. Maybe the change from Liverpool has freshened him up."

Whatever the reason, his goals have been most welcome in the circumstances. But in these days of patch-and-paste for Dalglish one senses it is merely covering the cracks. Judging by what Louis van Gaal had to say last time on the subject of golden oldies, the Barcelona coach will have been relieved to hear in advance of Wednesday's crucial Champions' League fixture that it was Barnes who was doing the goalscoring rather than a returning Asprilla.

Newcastle fans had arrived at St James' Park buoyed by the news, or at least the suggestion, that their European talisman, who single-handedly destroyed Barca in September, might be back on the bench after seven weeks out. But he was nowhere to be seen and possibly nor will he be for a while longer yet, depending on what one chose to read into Dalglish's comments. "We've got to be sensible about the decision when he comes back to play," he said, "the season lasts longer than Wednesday."

Newcastle were at their barnstorming best on Saturday, so much so that their ability to recover from an audacious fifth-minute goal by the irrepressible Kevin Davies was never in doubt. It will not, however, be how they are required to play in Barcelona, where they will be without the suspended Keith Gillespie. The Irishman's service from the wing was crucial here, just as it was when Newcastle beat the Spaniards at St James'.

Like Liverpool, Chesterfield fans might feel entitled to ask why Davies has been so prolific for Southampton - 10 in 15 games - when he only got seven for them last season. No doubt that's down to the manager - David Jones - too, although it's worth pointing out that, contrary to popular belief, he was signed by Graeme Souness, not Jones.

Apparently Souness had been watching young Davies since he was at Anfield. Another reason for Liverpool fans to get all maudlin.

Goals: Davies (5) 0-1; Barnes (54) 1-1; Barnes (72) 2-1.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Hislop; Watson, Peacock, Albert, Pistone; Gillespie, Batty, Lee, Ketsbaia; Tomasson, Barnes. Substitutes not used: Pearce, Hamilton, Hughes, Elliott, Srnicek (gk).

Southampton (4-3-1-2): Jones; Dodd, Monkou, Lundekvam, Benali; Palmer, Le Tissier (Neilson, 56), Richardson, Oakley (Todd, 61); Davies, Hirst (Basham, 77). Substitutes not use: Johansen, Flahavan (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury, Oxon).

Bookings: Newcastle: Albert. Southampton: Lundekvam, Hirst.

Man of the match: Gillespie.

Attendance: 36,759.

Comments