Football: Ince in the shadow of Dutchman

Coventry City 2 Liverpool 1

JUST WHEN it seemed they had rediscovered consistency, Liverpool slipped into old habits, turning in a performance that simply was not adequate against a Coventry side who deserve better than to be worrying about relegation.

Whether it was the news, finally confirmed, that Steve McManaman really is to leave in the summer, or whether it was the after-shock from the FA Cup defeat at Old Trafford, something put Liverpool off their stroke. Gerard Houllier may wonder if the revival of the last month was an illusion.

"We had chances but we also made mistakes and in the Premiership if you make a mistake you have to pay," the Frenchman said. His grasp of English is such that the pat explanations fall from his tongue quite effortlessly.

But he did allude, more meaningfully, to Coventry's spirit; and in a way from which it was understood that he felt Liverpool's was lacking. "They [Coventry] are fighting for their lives," he said, "but we have a fight, too, to get back to the top. Coventry wanted very much to win today."

Naturally, he singled out no one for criticism, excusing David James for letting in the goals on the grounds that his saves have won matches on other occasions. But if he fingers anyone in private it may well be Paul Ince, whose failure to impose himself has lately become an all-too- regular occurrence.

The England player famous for the curling lip and crunching tackle was out-fought and out-growled by George Boateng, the former Dutch Under-21 captain who did precisely the same when these sides met at Highfield Road 13 months ago.

Boateng, 23 and full of energy and power, was a good yard keener than 31-year-old Ince in almost every robust challenge. Then again, he is more Bryan Robson than Ince, a player managers like to call a good box-to-box man. But if the goal he scored, a diving header, came from commitment and courage, the one he set up came with a subtle touch, a precisely lobbed pass that invited the willing Noel Whelan to put Coventry in control. What a pity, Glenn Hoddle may have mused as he watched from the directors' box, that he had not been born - sorry, reincarnated - an Englishman.

That Gordon Strachan, who clearly has an eye for a bargain, could sign him for just pounds 250,000 is extraordinary. One can only assume that his previous club, Feyenoord, where his contract was running out when Coventry stepped in, made an enormous blunder.

Boateng's drive and Gary McAllister's nous on a sticky pitch that did not suit Jamie Redknapp gave Coventry a decisive edge, even though it took them an hour to impose themselves. The threat from Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler did not emerge until Coventry lost right-back Roland Nilsson at half-time and even then it was not until Houllier went for broke, sending on McManaman and Karl-Heinz Riedle, that the home side came under sustained attack.

Rigobert Song, the pounds 2.5m Cameroon international, created a favourable impression in the 68 minutes he had in Liverpool's back three but Houllier needs to bring in further, high quality reinforcements, both alongside Song and further up the field before his side can mount a challenge of genuine substance.

Goals: Boateng (60) 1-0; Whelan (71) 2-0; McManaman (86) 2-1.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson (Breen, 45), Williams, Shaw, Burrows; Boateng, McAllister, Soltvedt, Froggatt; Whelan, Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Gioacchino, Clement, Aloisi, Ogrizovic (gk).

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Song (McManaman, 68), Staunton (Gerrard 86), Matteo; Heggem, Redknapp, Ince, Berger (Riedle 77), Bjornebye; Fowler, Owen. Substitutes not used: Harkness, Friedel (gk).

Referee: M Riley (Leeds).

Bookings: Liverpool: Heggem, Song.

Man of the match: Boateng.

Attendance: 23,056.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m