Kuyt 5, Gerrard 4
Bent 25 (pen) 48
Even if Sunderland had won this game it would have taken second place to the issue that was admirably bought to the fore by the fans on Saturday, namely the continued presence of Statler and Waldorf at the helm of his great club.
Some said this affected the support that was given to the team. Perhaps it was the first tangible example of internal strife actually touching the “external” support? It created debate and argument but ultimately it’s personal thing whatever the case, and it might take time, but there can only be one winner? Counting the days Tom! They are into single figures now! By the way, do you NOW get the message?
HRH made a full house of changes from Wednesday which I guess puts that result into some kind of perspective? The most notable inclusion was Dirk Kuyt back from a shoulder injury and earlier than expected.
There was lot going on but thoughts did turn to the game and how we did. As it unravelled and swung from being in our favour to Sunderland’s and then back to us I began to think of a period we had under Rafa in the last season but one when, against sides such as Wigan Manchester City and Middlesbrough, we through force of will, pulled victory out of the fire. At two all I was expecting a last gasp winner sadly it didn’t come which was disappointing given the good start. However for all this the post match coverage seemed to concentrate on just one thing, that opening goal by Kuyt.
There is no doubt that referee Stuart Attwell had a difficult afternoon and in a way I feel sorry for hm. He has had a chequered period as a top flight referee but the thing he has against him is that he is only 28 years of age. Managers quickly seize on this and use it as a stick to beat him with. When does a referee come of age, perhaps we better ask the same managers as they appear to have suddenly become recruitment experts? There are plenty of people the same age as Attwell that hold down far more responsible jobs yet to be a referee it seems you need to have the first signs of grey on your barnet?
It is not Attwell’s age that is the issue it is simply because he is a referee and is only human and as a result brings his own individual interpretation to overseeing a game. Managers complain about the lack of consistency amongst referees. This is nonsense. You will only get consistency when someone with a big brain concocts a computer programme that can “referee” a game and dispassionately apply the letter of the law rather than interpret it. That won’t happen and with the reluctance to bring in technology, to help referees arrive at correct decision for certain incidents, we will have more of the usual whinging and moaning.
On another day Attwell might have made a decision that went against us, but this time it was in our favour. Before Kuyt’s goal Torres, via getting on the end of Gerrards free kick, had one wiped out for offside, then came the incident. Sunderland, having won a free kick for a foul on Bramble, arsed about in midfield and Turner, with the referee running away and not looking at the ball, knocked it back as if to suggest that the keeper should take it. However, the move was deemed to be the free kick and Torres swooped on it took it forward and squared to Kuyt who netted.
Should the goal have stood? Yes, it was correct application of the rules but not one that many would see as a sensible interpretation. I should be magnanimous and say that Sunderland were unfortunate however I remember Steve Bruce’s smirks around a year ago over the beach ball and his lack of sympathy for us. I also note his mean spirited, personal criticism of Rafa in the papers on the morning of this game (managerial trophies on the table Mr Bruce) so forgive me if I say I don’t give a toss and say to Mr Bruce “what goes around comes around fat head!”
That said after that there wasn’t a great deal to cheer about. Sunderland made a good fist of the game and eventually found themselves in front through two Darren Bent goals. The first was from the spot as Al-Muhammadi’s punt hit Poulsen’s arm. No complaints, it was a penalty. The second was a diving header from Onuoha’s cross which saw Glen Johnson (again) asleep allowing Bent to run in from behind him and attack the cross.
HRH responded and bought on Ngog which stopped Sunderland from getting too cocky and eventually tipped the balance in our favour. Parity was restored after Torres crossed to Gerrard who headed home. Gerrard was perhaps lucky not to see red after a forearm smash on Welbeck which, rightly or wrongly, gave Sunderland more reason to feel hard done by and invoke from Mr Bruce the tiresomely predictable “no red card because it’s Steven Gerrard” gripe. However amongst all the incidents it shouldn’t be forgotten that we finished as the stronger team and if anyone was going to make it 3-2 it would been us. On another day Agger’s or Ngog’s close chances would have gone in?
So where are we? A point salvaged or two points wasted? There is no doubt that Sunderland deserved to be in front but perhaps this was due to HRH’s reluctance (naturally or as result of recent games) to fully go for it? When we bought on Ngog, and paired him with Torres, there was only one team in it. My message to HRH is something like this .. look this isn’t Fulham you have more at your disposal and this season you have nothing to lose so go for it earlier, if you f*ck it up we’ll understand! I guess we also forget that he is also getting used to new surrounding and players and will, inevitably make tactical decisions that don’t always cut it straight away?
Afterwards Steve Bruce, having conveniently forgotten the last third of the game, moaned in such a way about the referee that it puts him “up” there with Sam Allardyce. For us we should interpret such nonsense as being from the “best form of defence for my job/position is to attack the referee/opposition” stable.
I know I should have sympathy, but given our situation, I don’t because Bruce wouldn’t if we were in his place and I’m not in the mood. It is a question of priorities! Perhaps on Saturday, for once, it was more important to look away from the field of play?
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Konchesky (Agger 28), Carragher, Skrtel, Meireles, Gerrard, Cole, C Poulsen (Ngog 61), Torres, Kuyt Substitutes: Jones, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Maxi, Lucas, Jovanovic, Ngog
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Onuoha, Bramble, Cattermole, Malbranque (Riveros 88), Henderson, Al-Muhammadi, Bent (Zenden 90+7), Welbeck (Gyan 81) Substitutes: Gordon, Da Silva, Zenden, Riveros, Reid, Colback, Gyan