Football: Rush's instincts compound City's injury crisis

Click to follow
Liverpool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Manchester City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

TONY COTON prevented a more emphatic Liverpool victory but then he is a goalkeeper and City were able to play him there. If the Manchester City manager, Brian Horton, could play each member of his squad in their established position, he might not be third from bottom of the Premiership table.

Horton was upset after the match. He was angry that a two- footed tackle on Kare Ingebrigtsen had been overlooked, frustrated that a late challenge on Nigel Clough had been checked and despairing of a City performance that he felt merited a relegation place.

That the winning goal came in a generous spell of injury time was irrelevant. Horton knew City did not deserve a draw.

He was right. Neil Ruddock mistimed an attempted clearance and allowed Carl Griffiths to lob Bruce Grobbelaar in the fourth minute, but from that point Liverpool dominated.

Anyone hoping that Manchester City could deliver the kind of game at Anfield that Manchester United had there earlier this month might have been considering comparisons as City grabbed the early lead, but this time it took only one goal for Liverpool to find their form. However, Horton had every right to look traumatised, even though he had enough excuses.

The Maine Road injury crisis has given him an unbalanced team with too many players out of position.

Michel Vonk seemed uncomfortable up front, but then he is a central defender. Steven Lomas at right-back was exposed by Mark Walters a few times, but then he is a midfield player. Elsewhere, Richard Edghill in the centre of defence is normally a right-back and David Brightwell, who is a centre-back, played at left-back and Terry Phelan left the defence altogether to operate in midfield.

Horton could also point to the unsettling effect of the battle for control of the club. In the meantime, with question marks over the club's debts, Horton can have little access to cash to strengthen his team and neither can he be certain of his own future.

Liverpool also have problems, not least their inability to maintain the sort of high standards shown occasionally in this match. Nigel Clough was not the battler he proved in that other Manchester game, but he showed some vision, particularly with the pass which set Jamie Redknapp free and led to the equaliser, Ian Rush tapping in Coton's parry after 22 minutes.

What John Barnes has lost in speed he has gained in weight which he is using well to fend off tackles. Almost every pass, flick and header from Barnes kept the Liverpool attack flowing, with the wing play left to Mark Walters and Steve McManaman whose run fed Rob Jones who set up Rush for his late winning header.

Goals: Griffiths 4 (0-1); Rush 22 (1-1); Rush 90 (2-1).

Liverpool (4-4-2): Grobbelaar; Jones, Nicol, Ruddock, Dicks; McManaman, Redknapp, Clough, Walters; Rush, Barnes. Substitutes not used: Hutchison, Bjornebye, James (gk).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton; Lomas, Edghill, Kernaghan, Brightwell; Ingebrigtsen, Rocastle, Flitcroft, Phelan; Griffiths, Vonk. Substitutes not used: Sheron, Shutt, Dibble (gk).

Referee: R Milford (Bristol).