Liverpool And Rodgers Keep Making The Same Mistakes
Again we conspire to undo ourselves. It was nearly ordinary. Nearly grim and gritty. Nearly a start.
Nearly the ‘our season starts here’ statement that Brendan gave to Sky before the game. Our season starts here? It’s nearly bloody December. Couldn’t we have started it in August like every other bugger?
Still, I would have taken our season starting here, would have taken a gritty, fortuitous 2-1 victory in a bitterly cold Bulgaria, if it had actually happened. Instead we decided to swerve the ordinary, the mundane, the routine and spectacularly shoot ourselves in the foot.
I love those moments when Sky’s commentators tell you that you’re watching a compelling, engrossing game when you know for a fact that what you can see is turgid rubbish. The only thing more absurd than this is your manager telling you that your team were outstanding when you know for AN ABSOLUTE FACT that they weren’t. Don’t try to kid us Brendan, we’re not soft. That owl-faced idiot tried to kid us about performances, we thought you were above that.
Liverpool were ordinary tonight. And that’s okay, ordinary works sometimes. Ordinary works when you’re winning 2-1 and you don’t fall back into your shell and try and protect a lead that you know your players are not capable of protecting.
Liverpool were second best for long spells. Again, okay if you’re winning the game. Having less possession and less shots than a team that probably cost less than our makeshift left-back is okay, is acceptable, can be lived with IF YOU WIN THE GAME. Otherwise? No, not really.
Liverpool didn’t threaten. Liverpool conceded. Two minutes into a must win-game and Liverpool have conceded. Liverpool are one nil down to a team we’ve never heard of and it’s all our own fault. Again.
Changes. We wanted changes. And we got them. We wanted Lucas in as a defensive midfielder. We got him. Not for Gerrard as we wanted, who was simply pushed forward to a position where he was slightly less anonymous than he’s recently been. It’s a start but he doesn’t need a start, he needs a rest.
We wanted Kolo in for Dejan. We got it. Unfortunately we got the Kolo that reminded us why he was dropped last season rather than the one that played against Madrid. Tonight’s Kolo was the Kolo that gave the ball away for the first goal with a hurried clearance. Obviously the fact that Simon MIgnolet is currently unable to catch a ball doesn’t help, but Kolo doesn’t need to hit that ball.
Obviously he wasn’t the worst defender on the pitch. In a back four that contains Glen Johnson there can only be one winner of that competition. Glen was Glen again. Glen was very Glen. Glen was behind Ludogorets second goal. But so was Brendan.
Brendan needs to stand up and take the blame for the dropped points. Needs to accept that it’s his fault, needs to accept that he allowed his team to sit back and defend a 2-1 lead, needs to accept that he’s the only man in the world that thought that we could do that particular job.
He needs to accept that when the game was crying out for fresh legs, he ignored the fact. When it was absolutely 100% crystal clear that the 34-year old Gerrard was tiring behind the tiring 32-year old Lambert and that what was needed was a set of younger, fresher legs, he pulled the threatening Sterling and put in his place the left-back that should have started the game to cover the right-back that he’d chosen to play the position. And the reason for pulling Raheem? He ‘had a sore tummy’. Cheers Brendan, as if the Bluenoses needed more ammunition.
Winning 2-1, clearly needing a third, we retreat. Bad idea. From the second that we conceded the corner, everybody watching knew that there was only one outcome. As expected, Glen Johnson failed to jump at a corner. Mignolet is nowhere, the defence is static, a simple flick on undoes us again. And Glen Johnson fails to jump. Again. It’s as though the term ‘defensive coach’ has been rubbed out of every coaching manual that Brendan owns.
Positives? Yeah, some. A lucky first goal. I’ll take a lucky, comedy, first goal. I like seeing the opposition defend more ineptly than we do, particularly when the opposition defence probably cost less than my car.
There were chances for a third. Lambert was unlucky to see his diving header hit a defender’s heel and Sterling should have scored a third. Sterling though? Seems to be playing himself back into a bit of form. After being extremely flat compared to his form in the second half of last season he started to look like he was coming back to life last night; bit of urgency, bit of trickery.
The fact that our second goal was of the type we scored so effortlessly in that magnificent January to April madness - winning the ball with intensity, breaking with speed, sweeping the ball in for Henderson to convert quite immaculately - gives hope that the talent to do that is still within us, sleeping, waiting for a chance to awaken.
And the result changes nothing. If we’d won last night we’d still have to beat Basel to qualify for the knockout stages. We didn’t win and we still have to beat Basel to qualify for the knockout changes.
We need one win. The only problem is that we can’t guarantee this team being up for getting that win any longer. One win though. One win puts us in the last 16. Two wins and a draw in our group puts us in the last 16 of the Champions League.
And if anybody thinks that we honestly deserve to be in the last 16 - in the best 16 teams in Europe - then they’re kidding themselves.