Liverpool 0 - Aston Villa 1
I’m not going to panic. I’m not going to join the Twitter based furore. I’m not going to predict the end of everything, I’m not going to claim that Liverpool’s title challenge is already over, that last season was a one-off.
I’m bored of knee jerk reactions.
I don’t subscribe to the ‘we’ve sold Suarez and look what we’ve bought, we got rid of the Ferrari and bought all these Vauxhall Astras’ school of thought. I believe that we’ve bought well, I believe that we’ve added options all over the field, I believe we have depth. I’ve said all this.
I also believe that handing both Lallana - missing so far through injury - and Markovic - who has only shown glimpses and short bursts - their home debuts at the same time was a mistake. I believe that changing formation was a mistake. Possibly an enforced mistake created by Roy Hodgson’s stupidity and arrogance breaking Daniel Sturridge again. Possibly an enforced mistake caused by Joe Allen having to play on astro turf in mid week, possibly an enforced mistake caused by the German U-21s keeping an obviously injured Emre Can on for the last fifteen minutes of a match because they’d used up all their subs. When they were seven-nil up.
Possibly all those but a mistake nevertheless. Brendan made a mistake. He made a fairly big mistake. If we’re being honest here, he dropped a major bollock. And he’ll do that occasionally. Most of the time he’ll be brilliant in his use of tactics, in his changing, flexible approach to the game. Most of the time he’ll have read the game perfectly and will have outwitted his opponents. He’s shown us often enough that he can. This weekend he showed us that sometimes he’ll get it wrong.
If you believe in last season, if you believe that he got the best out of Suarez, that he had the tactics that drew the best from him, that made him the player that he became then you’ll carry on believing. If you don’t carry on then you didn’t believe in the first place. Not really.
Yes, he chose the wrong formation - a 4-2-3-1 designed to give Balotelli (who had struggled with a virus all week and probably would have sat the game out if Roy hadn’t broken Sturridge) support. He basically had a front 4 that had never played together sitting in front of both Gerrard and Henderson holding. Which we know doesn’t work.
And it didn’t work. Again. Can we have the diamond back please Brendan? We like the diamond. The diamond equals fun. 4-2-3-1 doesn’t.
And yes, we still can’t defend dead balls. Doesn’t matter who is in the defence, doesn’t matter who’s managing the club, Liverpool don’t like dead balls. The goal? At nine minutes. From a dead ball. But that gave us 81 minutes (and change) to sort it all out. Which we didn’t because the wrong players in the wrong formation didn’t have the energy we’ve all grown used to.
So it was horrible. We had horrible games last season and we still nearly won the league. Our manager’s learning about rotation for the European challenge, for the three games in a week approach, for the ‘not burning out your best players like Roy Bloody Hodgson does’ style that we need to embrace. While he’s doing this learning, he’ll make mistakes. If he gets them out of the way now then they won’t be an issue.
Four games, six points. Not smart but we only had four points from those four games last season. We’re still ahead, stop whinging. I don’t care how scary Diego Costa looks (okay I do) we’re still going to win the league. End of.