On this Day in The Irish News: Dec 10 1998

Current Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was one of the few chinks of light for Liverpool in December 1998
Padraig O Meiscill

GERARD Houllier knows he has to clear the decks and start from scratch to halt Liverpool’s decline.

The question was put to the new Liverpool manager after his side had been outclassed in the Uefa Cup by Celta Vigo. His answer was a Gallic shrug, almost as if the answer goes without saying.

“Does this give you the opportunity to start from scratch?” was the enquiry. “Yes, of course” came the smiling reply.

No foot stamping and bawling. No laying into the players. That’s not his style, and frankly there’s no point screaming at footballers who are doing their best but aren’t good enough.

No, Houllier knows the buck stops with him and he has to rip apart an underachieving squad and batter Liverpool into the 21st century.

The only bright spot from a night of chastening reality was that coming through the ranks there are impressive local lads like 18-year-old Steven Gerrard, making his full home debut. Another youngster, Stephen Wright from the same youth team, was on the bench, while David Thompson showed he could run himself ragged for the cause.

Seven locally-born players were on the field as the Kop and the rest of a 30,000-plus crowd realised that Scouse pride, boyish effort and enthusiasm for the cause was not enough. Houllier said: “The one good thing to come out of the night was that there is good young players coming through. Youngsters like Steven Gerrard are learning their trade and that’s good for the future of the club.”

Champions’ League Group D: Manchester United 1 Bayern Munich 1

ALEX Ferguson was a relieved man after Manchester United booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions’ League albeit via the back door.

Results elsewhere ensured that United and last night’s opponents Bayern Munich both progressed after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

Ferguson said: “I felt a draw would be good enough. I was quite confident about that, but nevertheless there were some nervy moments. “They scored from a set-piece and they are very good at setpieces. They are a tremendous, efficient team with great crossers of the ball and they put you under pressure. “All in all we are satisfied with the result. It was a good performance by us in most parts. We managed to compose ourselves a good bit.

“It is a good result and it gets us where we want to be. They all did well and we are very pleased.”

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