Football: Rush adds value

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Liverpool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Rush 2

Coventry City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Attendance: 38,547

HAD Manchester City's new money been in place six weeks ago, Ian Rush might now be wearing a light-blue shirt. It would have meant another wave of resignations from the Graeme Souness fan club but pounds 1.5m for a 32-year-old with more than 450 league games on the clock is not an offer easily declined, particularly when the player involved is not quite your favourite person.

But with Souness gone, Rush is adamant that he will stay, whatever the colour of the money on the table. If he really is a pounds 1.5m striker still, Liverpool will see the benefit. For the moment he is priceless. In the first match at Anfield since the FA Cup defeat against Bristol City which ended the Souness reign, Rush's goal in the third minute was enough - just enough - to give Roy Evans his first win in four attempts.

It was a nice goal, skimming the turf with just enough swerve to bypass Steve Ogrizovic and rebounding off the far post after Jamie Redknapp and Steve McManaman had combined to release Rush in the inside-right channel. But it did not disguise a Liverpool performance that began brightly but worsened as the match unfolded.

Against a team with more ideas than the ineffectual mid- table non-entities that Coventry have become, the worries raised by the defeats at Southampton and Leeds might easily have been compounded. As it was, Coventry still forced Rob Jones into a goal-line clearance from Julian Darby 10 minutes from the end and were within an inch or so of wrecking Evans's day when Steve Morgan's hard- driven free-kick came back off the post in injury time.

'My heart was in my mouth then,' Evans said. 'We had enough chances to have put the game out of reach, in the first half especially. In the second half, we did not play, although I am quite pleased overall.'

Less so the Liverpool supporters, who became noticeably restive when Ronnie Whelan hit a 50-yard back pass on the hour and when the goalkeeper David James poleaxed Jones after rushing from his penalty area Grobbelaar-style. The incisiveness of the opening period had evaporated and good chances were spurned by Jones and McManaman while Coventry's resistance was at its lowest.

Phil Neal, returning as a manager to the scene of his playing successes, was moved by the occasion, but a shade disappointed. 'It was a great pleasure to witness the Kop, possibly for the last time. But with a little more self-belief I felt we could have improved Coventry's record here.'