About Me

I have been a Red since I was about 6 or 7. My boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish and I have an autograph from him while he was still at Celtic. Thanks Gran! As such I gravitated towards the team he played for. So I have been Scottish-South African- Scoucer for about 30 years now! I am extremely passionate about our club, and have felt the need to start this blog in the face of the abject nature of our performaces under Benitez and the Hicks/Gillett ownership.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Leaky Liverpool

What a 6 days from a supporter perspective we have had. 2-0 up against Stoke and cruising  only to be pegged back to 2-2 before halftime. Then for me the turning point of the game we press the ball Sterling handballs it and runs into the box where the slightest contact from Stoke defender and we get a pen. That sort of took the wind out of Stoke's sails. We then extend it to 4-2. Only for us to commit defensive hari-kari again. On the plus side great to see Daniel Sturridge back getting an assist and scoring himself. we had Mignolet to thank for a couple of late saves and a post for another uncontested header. 

Roll forward 6 days and we have a home game against Villa, who had shown some fight to give Arsenal an uncomfortable 2nd half at Villa Park the week before. So what did we do well nothing, same back 5 changed to 4-4-2 when we knew they would play 3 in the middle. The result was utterly disastrous. Villa dominated from the 1st second and we were all at sea at the back. Toure and Cissokho in particular. Naturally we couldn't work out how to fix it and were doing everything in hurried manner at the back while being ponderous when we happened to have the ball for more than 5 touches.

Fair play to Paul Lambert for tactical acumen and his players for the way they executed it. What did the do, simple, The same team every team that has beaten Liverpool has done this season. Press us high up the pitch, when you win the ball exploit the space where the fullbacks have absconded, cross the ball and get bodies in the box. Result they were 2-0 up and cruising.....  and it could have been more. Ciaran Clark had a free header hit the post from yet more Glen Johnson non-marking at set pieces. Why he is marking centre-half from the opposition? He was marking Lukaku as well in the Merseyside Derby. Clearly we don't have enough players of sufficient height in the squad.

Thankfully our 1st bit of quality play got us a goal in 1st half injury time nice interchange with our SAS partnership and a delightful back heel from Henderson and a delicate dink from Sturridge got us back in it. Rodgers thankfully had the foresight to change personnel and formation at halftime.

Lucas on and back to 4-3-3 with Gerrard more advanced. It worked a treat and we got an equaliser through yet another debatable penalty. Guzan couldn't have done much more to get out the way and Suarez couldn't have done much less to avoid the minimal contact. You see these penalties given a lot when a bigger team played a smaller team. Are they pens, I don't think  so..

We were probably just the better team in the 2nd half and a draw was all we deserved. This brings me to my point. We are far to open at the back. Our tactics are one  track and no matter what the formation or personnel we slavishly stick to it. Sometimes you have to realise the other team has your number and adapt during the game.

It was as clear on the nose on your face after 20 minutes that we weren't getting the space in midfield so logically the fullbacks should have been more circumspect in their forward forays. Clearly they don't have the ability to make these decisions for themselves and have to wait for the manager to change things.

The problem is simple when the other team are pressing us high up the pitch we cant keep playing ticcy taccy and have the fullbacks as far forward as they are. Invariably on of our midfield players loses the ball either in or just outside our half facing his own goal, allowing the other team to exploit the wide areas and draw centre backs out the middle. The results are always the same we concede time and time again.

Even when we were organised at the back we never seem to really try and stop the crosses. I am not sure that is because we aren't the tallest and don't want to defend loads of corners. This is the Premier League not pressuring crosses will result in at least one or 2 quality ones finding their mark. I saw Martin Jol employ the same tactic at Fulham, result they conceded shed loads of goals late in games to crosses.

You only have to look at Chelski and City to see the effective use of fullback out wide to augment your attacking options. Zabaleta,Kolorov,Ivanovic,Cole, Azpelaqueta et al. They only really come forward once they have possession in the other teams half and their own player in possession is actually facing forward. Result they don't get caught short at the back.

I also don't understand our slavish adherence to ticcy tacky. Bayern Munich have proved it is beatable 7-0 on aggregate over Barcelona is more than enough evidence you need more than 1 option. I am equally flabbergasted that the manager cant see that with the pace of Sterling,Suarez and Sturridge that we can move the ball forward quicker when pressed. The occasional longball into a channel will ensure the opposing back 4 cant maintain a consistent high line.

It all starts with the keeper. Mignolet is not the best with the ball at his feet and on several occasions he took poorly thought out and ill advised short goal kicks. Result giving away possession deep in our own half, it caused the 1st goal and well the 2nd was laughable as he did a very bad superman impression coming for the ball. 

His panic and nervousness spreads to the back 4 who change almost every week. Is it any wonder he is struggling with his other skills that are normally sound. Skrtel is carrying the other 3 every week. Toure was terrible yesterday and looked like what he is, getting too old for this. Cissikho makes Riise look quick.

We are playing some awesome football and it does hark back to the Eighties when we used score 4 goals regularly 10 or more time times season after season. The difference was that we didn't concede many when doing that. At the moment and we have our destiny in our own hands especially with almost all of the teams above and around us coming to Anfield in the 2nd half of the season. But Rodgers does not have a good record beating teams of their ilk. Draws we have plenty, wins few.

We need to be less cavalier at home when on possession deep in our own half. Our next 3 league matches are not easy. Everton,West Brom and Arsenal. If we get 7 points out of these 3 then we are starting to look good for a Top4 place. Anything less will see us slide away toward ManUre and Newcastle

A top 4 place is not beyond us but we need to be beating those around us and not letting every team we play score twice which is where we are at the moment.1 clean sheet in 5 is not what we need. Long balls aren't the Antichrist then can relieve pressure and turn the other team around which surely is another weapon for us.

FA Cup away at Bournemouth. I am sure Eddie Howe's team will be well prepared. hopefully we can see Suarez and Sterling get a rest and go with Coutinho,Moses,Aspas and Sturridge as our attacking 4.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

''Tis the Season to be Jolly???

So I haven't blogged since the season started. That has been two-fold.Some of my friends who are Reds think I have been too negative and also we don't really have that difficult a start so wanted to see where were once we had played some of the better teams.

We started really well with 3 1-0 wins although lived dangerously against Stoke having to rely on a late pen save from Mignolet. Villa was similar in that we dominated the 1st half and had to suffer a barrage from Benteke late on, again Mignolet to the rescue. The 1-0 win over ManUre was comfortable.

Then we had Swansea and Jon-Jo did come back to haunt us. Scoring one and assisting in 3 goals, thankfully 2 of them were poorly played passes. He deservedly got Man of the Match. I still think he will outscore and outperform Henderson and Allen put together.I understand that the player wanted 1st team football. what I still don't understand is why we didn't loan him for the season to Swansea. I still think that was a poor decision. He was the natural replacement for Geriatric Gerrard. Now we have to buy a new one with all the talk with about young Will Hughes being on our shopping list. again I question our transfer policy which seems to be more miss than hit.

On that front we saw a change in formation for the next few games with us going to a Back 5 with 3 centrebacks to accommodate the £18million Sakho and on loan Cissoko! Bizarrely we used 4 Centrebacks against Southampton due to injury and obviously the height issue. Unfortunately it didn't work. As usual a large powerful team with a high pressing game seems to be enough to beat us. See Chelski and Hull defeats this season for the same thing. Seems to be we have no answer or indeed the players to adapt to this sort of opponent.

Suarez returned at the end of September and Manager again changed things to accommodate the new S&S. Thankfully this worked for the most part until Sturridge got injured and since then Suarez has been irresistible. Even donning the Captains armband for a couple of games while Gerrard was injured and Agger out of favour.while our scoring form is impressive and indeed is only being matched and bettered by Man City.

So we reach the halfway point in the league and we are 4th and only 5 points off the top. This has been down to a few factors:
1) we are generally dispatching the rubbish. IE not dropping points to the lesser teams.
2) Lack of consistency from the other teams near the top (Arsenal aside).

that 2nd point is qualified as Chelski and City are starting to build up a head of steam as shown in their wins over us. I don't think we can complain too much as losing away to the 2 richest clubs in the land by the odd goal is not a disgrace. Chelski thoroughly outplayed us in all aspects of the game and their bench vs ours showed us the difference between us. The City game we were unlucky and considering they have put bucket loads past some of the other big clubs this season not the end of the world.

Would we have taken this situation at the start of the season, absolutely. Pre-verbial hand being bitten off vigourously!

We have many positives;
1) Consistency - We have lost only 8 League games this calendar year and 4 of those are away to the 'traditional Top4 'over the last 4 seasons.We have amassed 72 points in the calender year, clearly sufficient for a Top 4 place.
2) Suarez - He seems to be over his petulant spoilt child behaviour. Yet another contract signed, I am still not convinced he will stay beyond the summer even if we do secure a top 4 finish.
3) Coutinho,Sterling & Henderson - Coutinho has continued where he left off and I still prefer out wide coming in. when he plays centrally he gets picked up by one of the holding players from the other team.Sterling seems to have matured and is starting to play like we know he can.As for Henderson, well I have been one of his heaviest critics but in the last month or so he has really stepped up.
4) Anfield - It is starting to become a fortress again and considering we have played almost everyone in the top half away from home this is going to be key to where we finish.
5) Skrtel - Out of favour and heading out the door, he is now 1st on the team sheet at the back.

As always there are some negative points:
1) Defensive Frailty - we constantly tinkered with the Back 4 or  all season. Some of this enforced through injury. Some I dont really understand. Clearly spending £1millon a Centreback means he has to play.I am not overly convinced so far by Sakho. he does look like a clumsier version of Djimi Traore.... if thats possible! I still think Skrtel and Agger are our best centreback pairing although Toure has been outstanding when he has played. If anything he has helped Skrtel.
2) Leftback - Our 'problem' position again. Still not really fixed since Riise left. Enrique looks like the answer, but is injury prone and if you listen to Jamie Carragher doesn't really listen on the pitch. Flanagan has been an able substitute but has now got injured. Cissokho is even more awkward than Sakho so hopefully we will terminate his loan and send him back to Spain.
3) Depth - Our bench against Chelski summed it up. While they had Torres and Matta we has a couple of unblooded teenagers.
4) Stevie G - He is clearly getting past his sell-by date. The  Arsenal game proved that.The game passed him by. He lost about 6 or 7 tackles with Tomas Rosicky of all people. Other than his wide free-kicks and the odd corner not sure he is contributing like he used to or should be able to. It makes the Shelvey departure more galling as he could easily takeover. We will now have to buy someone to take that role. How much is that going to cost???
6) Transfer policy - I include our loan policy. I really don't understand why we loaned out Assaidi and brought Moses in from Chelski. Sure Moses maybe has more pace and experience. Assaidi has never been given a chance. At Stoke he seems to be coming on but surely he could be doing that with us? Rather than us developing a Chelski talent. I do find some of Rodgers signing and decisions odd. Assaidi is contributing more to Stoke than Moses is to us.....FACT. Cissokho is not a Premier League player and isnt better than Enrique,Flanno or Agger at Left back....

I don't expect us to being doing much business in this window. maybe Wisdom going on loan with a '1st dibs' on Will Hughes. We only have the Cup and 18 league games left. We could always recall some of our loanee's if needed.

Lets hope we can continue to perform in the 2nd half of the season and with Sturridge coming back soon hopefully the S&S can resume their destruction of the Premier League defences.