Wow. Liverpool fans go to Italy and experience hassle. Depressingly some things never change. I thought fans of Liverpool and various Italian clubs had settled their differences however, clearly this news hasn’t reached the City of Naples?
I am no advocate of violence but there is a difference between a punch up and stabbing someone. Worse still among the victims were two men in their fifties and a kid. Wow, what a conquest! Those hard macho Italian yobs are “ultra cool”. They must be so proud of themselves? Big, big hard men and credit to your club and country! Thankfully, as always it was a small minority.
To the game and HRH, with many senior players out, rang the changes. Jonjo Shelvey, Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly were bought in. Babel and Jovanovic were beckoned off the bench but Joe Cole, despite making the trip, missed out at the start. For Napoli Andrea Dossena lined up, remember him? I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t!
The first twenty minutes was very much cat and mouse. HRH, given the side he chose to field, must have been pleased that we managed to get through it without too much drama while admittedly creating very little on the offensive side. As the half unravelled we grew in confidence and even began to control the game and, like the Liverpool of old, contain the opposition and go some way to frustrating the crowd causing sustained catcalls. This was nearly undone in the final knockings of the half but Konchesky managed to clear Hamsik’s effort off the line. A good start though, with HRH having the added luxury of bringing senior players off the bench if needs be.
Not surprisingly Napoli upped it in the second half with Cavani going close a couple of times. We replied with the best chance of the game. Jovanovic, after a good cross field run, setting up an until now lifeless, disengaged and seemingly disinterested Babel. His shot was weak, didn’t exploit the space to the keeper’s left allowing him to stretch out his left leg and clear. Ngog also saw a decent chance go amiss. Picking up Aurelio’s pass on the edge of the area he executed a brilliant, defence bamboozling, turn to create space only to see his shot deflected wide off Aronica’s backside. However, overall neither keeper was unduly troubled.
A draw with a second string reds team against a side fourth in Seria A is, by anyone’s standards, a good result. This was different from the stalemate in Utrecht where we were lucky to scrap a point but last night we might have even won had we taken our chances.
The pluses? Jonjo Shelvey, on his full debut, looked assured and confident, Kelly added to his growing reputation and Spearing added another impressive performance to an ever growing list that suggests he can be more than be trusted to hold his own in the first eleven on a more regular basis. The defence looked fairly solid and we were more creative in midfield. On the negative side Ryan Babel, Ryan Babel and Ryan Babel? Sigh! What’s wrong, what’s the problem? How many more opportunities or chances does he need? He is fast becoming the oldest, youngest prospect in football!
Clearly there is lots of work to do but hopefully this will some way to stopping the rot re confidence, form and criticisms of HRH? It leaves a bad taste in the mouth that we’ve gone into the game with HRH getting flack so early. We have had enough problems from the previous owners without fans playing into the media’s hands by creating more talking points themselves and embarrassingly forcing Hodgson to defend himself when he should concentrating on putting things right.
I hope those who have been fickle and quick to criticise him will now be equally as eager to give him a small amount of credit?
Napoli: De Sanctis, Aronica, Dossena, Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Pazienza, Maggio (Zuniga 75), Hamsik (Sosa 85), Gargano (Yebda 83), Cavani, Lavezzi Substitutes: Iezzo, Grava, Zuniga, Cribari, Yebda, Sosa, Dumitru
Liverpool: Reina, Konchesky (Aurelio 65), Carragher (Kyrgiakos 46), Kelly, Skrtel, Spearing, C Poulsen, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Babel (Cole 77), Ngog Substitutes: Jones, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Cole, Maxi, Eccleston