Jesus Christ. Seriously? Where are you supposed to start with that?
How about ‘Rodgers Out’? Sorry, that should be #Rodgers Out as it seems to be the Twitter brigade’s answer to our current issues. Obviously Brendan Rodgers had nothing to do with us nearly winning the title last season. That was all Luis Suarez’ doing. The Luis Suarez that Brendan Rodgers made train on his own when he was agitating for a move to Arsenal, the Luis Suarez that Brendan brought back onside and found a way to build a team round that emphasised his talents. That made Suarez the best player on the planet for a short while at the start of 2014. The Brendan Rodgers that found a style of play that meant that even though Luis chipped in with 30 league goals, the other lads managed another 70 between them. The Brendan Rodgers that took an underfiring Steven Gerrard and lengthened his career by moving him to the base of a diamond where we all agreed he was revitalised.
But that experiment has finished again hasn't it? Gerrard’s career is over again, isn’t it? We need to refuse him that new contract that we were all furious hadn’t been offered, don’t we?
I say all. I mean the lads who’ve given up. The lads on Twitter. The lads who want short term solutions. The lads who say we haven’t ‘done a Spurs’ but want us to ‘do a Spurs’ by sacking the manager that we hailed last season (‘Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool, we’re on our way to glory, build a team like Shankly did and the kids will have a story’. Remember that song? We sang it a lot last year, the lads who went yesterday were still singing it.) and starting all over again. Or by bringing Rafa back. Because whatever issues Brendan may or may not have had with FSG signing off the players that he actually wants to buy (Costa, Sanchez, Willian, Saleh, Konyaplenko) would never happen under Rafa would they?
But we have to change now don’t we? The season’s already over. We’re in November and the season’s over. Or it will be if we allow Brendan to keep stumbling along and changing nothing. Except we’re only 5 points off fourth place. Ask Alan Pardew how quickly villains become heroes in football at the moment. It’s November and we’re only 5 points off fourth place. And we’re still in the Carling Cup. And we only need to win two games to progress into the knock out stages of the Champions League. And. yes, we look fairly unlikely to do that at the moment but you never know. Things change. Things change quickly.
The thing is, the annoying thing is, this was supposed to be the week that things changed. First game back after a two week break. First game back after yet another pointless international break. Against a team marooned in the relegation zone. Against a team that have managed 9 points in 9 games. Against a team managed by Neil bloody Warnock.
It’s not just me is it? Neil Warnock is genuinely the most odious man in football? A man whose ego, whose self opinion, whose sheer adoration of himself and his own perceived abilities is so unbelievably out of step with the reality of his obvious limitations as to defy belief. A man whose every utterance provokes a combination of disbelief and hatred. I’m not the only one that feels that way am I?
Here’s what you don’t do:
You don’t let a team managed by a man as limited as Neil Warnock out think you. You don’t let them out fight you. With all the reports that the players don’t want to play for him, you don’t let them show the passion that your own side lack.
Other things you don’t do. You don’t surrender an easy 1-0 lead to a team that you should be sweeping aside. You don’t allow them to score 3 goals without reply when you’re already ahead. And if you’re 1-0 up after 90 seconds you don’t allow that obvious platform that you’ve given yourselves to build on to fall away with a whimper.
There are problems all over Liverpool’s half of the pitch at the moment. We’ve established this fact a few times now. Coutinho and Sterling are shadows of the players that they can be. Our defence falls apart at the slightest provocation. Martin Skrtel fancies a career in the WWE. Dejan Lovren doesn’t appear to be the player that we thought he was. We have no strikers. Brendan is chopping and changing all over the place except when the names Steven and Gerrard are in the equation, he’s seemingly willing to play our 34 year old captain into the ground. Gerrard already looks exhausted, playing him for every second of every league game is making him worse. A game like Palace away should be tailor made for giving Steven a day off, sitting him on the bench, letting Emre Can show what he can do.
But it wasn’t that day. It didn’t start off as that day and it didn’t become that day. From the second that Palace pulled off their equaliser we closed down mentally. We could claim that we were chasing the game but we never actually chased. We withdrew. We lacked the belief that we could get back into the game. We defeated ourselves as much as a strong Palace display defeated us.
There was a moment that summed the whole day up, shortly before half time. We had a free kick. Palace cleared and broke. Broke with pace and power, provoked by the endlessly worrying Bolassie. They broke and they ran at us. Three on two. Threatening. Bursting. Powering at us. Panicking us. Run at us and we fall apart. Whoever you are, just run at us, we’re terrified.
Basically, they did what we did so many times last season. They hassled, they harried, they burst and they were clinical.
And we didn’t help ourselves. Loren slips for the second. Skittle gives away yet another needless free kick by grappling with a striker’s shirt. That said striker was pulling his shirt doesn’t matter. Skrtel did it yet again, Skrtel brought on himself the punishment that’s been due for ages. Skrtel doesn’t learn.
The free kick was world class. Game over. Again.
We asked for the diamond back. We got the diamond back. It didn’t work. Brendan’s either not changing things or he’s changing too much. He’s either not doing what we think is obvious or he’s giving us what we want. None of it works.
Things need to change. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe things need to stay the same and we need to play our way into belief, play our way back into being Liverpool. Play our way to at least being close to that Liverpool that we were last season. Refute this idea of a knee jerk sacking to solve everything. Knee jerk sackings never solve everything. They very rarely solve anything. No Suarez, still no Sturridge. Fine, the lads who scored the other 50 goals are still out there.
Time to stand up and be counted. Them and us.