Eagles brings shambolic Liverpool down to earth
Bolton Wanderers 3 Liverpool 1: Winger plays influential role as Dalglish hits out at Liverpool flops
The Reebok Stadium
Sunday 22 January 2012
Loyalty is Kenny Dalglish's overriding emotion and yet after the worst performance since he returned to manage Liverpool, he turned on his team, accusing them of a lack of respect for both their opponents and the history of their own club.
Dalglish said his players appeared far more focused on their two upcoming matches that pitch them against Manchester City for a place in the Carling Cup final and United in the FA Cup rather than a run-of-the-mill fixture against a team they had beaten consistently.
"The most disappointing thing was I don't think we were ready to play the game," he said. "The approach was not correct, the way we went about our work was not correct. The foundations of this football club have always been based on respect for our opponents.
"The philosophy has always been that the next game is the most important one, not one that's two or three down the line. If they thought they were just going to have to turn up, they needed a lesson to be taught to them and today was it. They thought they didn't need to match the opposition for effort and commitment. It is not the right way to represent this football club.
"If they thought this game was not as important as the next ones they will not be here next season."
For season after season Bolton have been Liverpool's patsies. They went into this game having lost the last 10 of these fixtures and responded like a schoolboy turning on the playground bully.
Bolton emerged into the sunlight after four months in the Premier League's relegation zone, having delivered the kind of result and performance that turns seasons.
The collapse began after four minutes and like much of Bolton's play, it was supremely well worked, beginning with Chris Eagles on the right flank who found David Ngog, who with one flick sent Mark Davies running between Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger to finish the move perfectly. Eagles is showing the kind of form he suggested he was capable of when on Manchester United's books.
On the edge of the Liverpool area, he appeared to have far more time than he knew what to do with. He chose a little dink into the area that Nigel Reo-Coker anticipated before any of his potential markers.
Defensively, Liverpool had been a shambles and had Pepe Reina not diverted Martin Petrov's free-kick at full stretch with virtually the final kick before the interval, they would have conceded a third, although this was only delayed for a matter of minutes.
There was some sporadic resistance, which included a penalty appeal for handball against Zat Knight and a shot from Daniel Agger that skimmed the bar. However, it was Craig Bellamy who displayed the kind of grit Liverpool had entirely lacked, although it spilled over when he confronted Reo-Coker in the first half, to reignite a spat that long predates this fixture. The Bolton captain afterwards said he had "no respect" for the Liverpool striker, who at West Ham had compared him unfavourably to Kieron Dyer.
Nevertheless, he scored. Andy Carroll, who had been taunted by chants of: "You're just a shit Kevin Davies" headed on into the Welshman's path. Bellamy has a reputation for not being particularly strong when one on one with the keeper and Adam Bodgan half saved his shot before looking up to see it roll overthe line.
It was, however, only a temporary reprieve. Five minutes after the restart, David Wheater rose to meet a deep corner from Petrov and Gretar Steinsson, sweeping in, drove home an astonishing third. Had Roy Hodgson been managing Liverpool he would have been howled down; instead for the man on the touchline there was only stunned silence.
Bolton Wanderers: (4-5-1) Bogdan; Steinsson, Wheater, Ricketts; Eagles (Tuncay, 90), Muamba, Davies, Reo-Coker, Petrov; Ngog (K Davies, 88).
Liverpool: (4-2-3-1) Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Adam (Downing, 64), Henderson; Bellamy, Gerrard, Rodriguez (Kuyt, 64); Carroll.
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the match: Eagles (Bolton)
Match rating: 8/10
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