So we reach the game where Rafa sees the pre season preparations beginning in earnest.
Having shown no undue worry over the indifferent results against St Gallon and Rapid Vienna the players were urged to up the anti.
“We know there is going to be a fantastic crowd here and that they will be giving us great support, so of course we want to win for them. When you come to a country like Thailand and see all the supporters then it again makes you proud to be the manager of the club. I hope we can put on a show for the fans tonight, but it won’t be easy.”
There was every incentive last night with a sell out crowd of 60,000 and nearly every one of them bedecked in red, a testament to popularity of the team in this country and I guess the commercial opportunities.
Thailand’s manager is Peter Reid! Since when? I thought he was still in TV pundit land. Reid is the second scouse and called Peter to manage Thailand’s national team as before it was Peter Withe. Pete Wylie book your ticket!
Before the game Jamie Carragher was presented with an elephant soft toy. A comment on his style of play? I doubt it but it would be nice if it started a trend. I look forward to Cristiano Ronaldo receiving a peacock, Berbatov a sloth, Drobga a cheetah and anyone who has just signed for Man City a squid.. a few squid in fact. OK please yourselves!
The team sheet side subtitled by Thai TV, via Liverpool FC TV, as the “The Kop Comes to Asia” was slightly stronger than the ones that started in Switzerland and Austria with Agger, the aforementioned Carragher, Kuyt and Babel amongst the starters The Spaniards were still being rested
We nearly conceded an embarrassingly first goal after Cavalieri botched his clearance only for Thonglao, the Thai Captain, to miss the return. However, it only took us a couple of minutes to break our preseason duck when Babel picked up Carragher’s long but measured punt, easily split the two centre backs and guided the ball past the keeper.
Babel nearly scored again latching onto Lucas’ decent cross field ball and just failing to get it on target. After that the game slowed down considerably no doubt due to the humid conditions leaving The LFC TV Commentator and Gary Gillespie to make jokes about not being able to pronounce the Thai player’s names (its not that hard and you’ve had months to prepare) and the merits of grass pitches in Thailand which inhibit play as they choose not to mow them as short as we do – fascinating stuff! Some things don’t change though, Pete Reid still sits on the bench chewing gum as if his jaw movements are creating the energy to power the floodlights and looking as if he’s missed the last bus home!
As expected Rafa rang the changes for the second half (only Babel stayed on) and he had to make more as Skrtel and El Zhar went off injured. The inertia was broken for a while via Mascherano’s long range effort that was beaten out by the keeper. Perhaps the heat and the lead lulled us into a false sense of security however it was soon broken when Suttee exchanged a one two in midfield which took out all of our back four enabling him to sweep it home past Martin. In was a poor goal the centre back were drawn too far forward and, once they were beaten the full backs just stood and watched rather than attempting to cover.
As the heavens opened Torres was introduced and gave the game a wake up call almost scoring straight away as Thai defence parted obligingly, having what looked to be a reasonable penalty claim turned down and then just heading wide. Every touch was heralded by screams from the stands. Voronin then missed a simple chance firing wide and Johnson nearly won it at the end cutting in and shooting just over.
All in all another good work out for the team the looked better going forward and if fitness hasn’t improved playing those conditions it never will! However, for all Rafa’s talk before the game I guess the result was secondary to slowly getting back into the swing of things?
Singapore next Sunday.
Liverpool: Cavalieri, Insua, Carragher (captain), Agger, Degen, Babel, Plessis, Leiva, Kuyt, Nemeth, Ngog. Subs – Spearing, Dossena, Johnson, Riera, El Zhar, Pacheco, Torres, Arbeloa, Voronin, Mascherano, Skrtel
Thailand: Hathairattanakool, Saiwaeo, Phanrit, Samana, Sukha, Vachiraban, Nuchnum, Sukha, Viwatchaichok, Thonglao (captain), Dangda. Subs – Rawangpa, Rangsiyo, Boonmatoon, Lang, Kawin, Sutee, Winothai, Lahso, Choeichiu, Sunthornpit