Torres 49, Cole 90
Bolton Wanderers 1
K Davies 43
So a win that, if the papers are to be believed, has saved HRH’s bacon… for now?
It’s all relative. If the New Year doesn’t see HRH go then, bearing a miraculous turnaround of fortune, the summer break will? I guess there is balance to be struck between reacting to the disappointment that is currently surrounding us, acting too hastily, giving the manager enough time on the understanding that our current predicament is not entirely his fault and seeing what the available alternatives to him are?
If reports are to be believed more time, in the short term, is something HRH will have, until the end of the season at least. Who knows, may be at the end of May everyone might be congratulating themselves for having great foresight and the patience to resist following lesser clubs by axing their manager at first sign of trouble?
After Wednesday’s howler many eyes were on the pitch to see how the team would perform however, I suspect there probably just as many off it looking at fans and trying to gauge their reaction the light of HRH’s post match criticism? What can we read into this? There was the usual mix of reactions, from fervent support after Bolton got their goal, to booing at half time and one banner wishing for a new manager as a New Year present? However, perhaps the most obvious sign was in the attendance, a mere 35,400 – a logistical problem for many fans linked to New Year’s Day or a protest with feet about the way things are? No doubt the owners will have noticed this in the match day receipts figure and will be monitoring closely, nothing talks louder than money?
HRH rang a few changes from Wednesday. In midfield Gerrard, suffering an after effect from Wednesday (you and me both Stevie), was benched, Maxi deputised. At the back Konchesky was replaced by Aurelio which no doubt prompted another obscene anti Liverpool diatribe from his mother, let’s hope she keeps it private this time. However, even The Devine Mrs K would surely concede that his omission had been coming? With Skrtel and Kyrgiakos both being liable for Wednesday’s goal and Daniel Agger fit one wondered if one of them would make way. If I had my way the Greek would have stayed, Skrtel has been more culpable for our goals than he. However HRH saw it differently, perhaps they drew straws and Skrtel lost!
In fairness this was a much improved performance from Wednesday although even we would have hard pressed to make it any worse. We began brightly with Maxi. Firstly his cross shot was cleared off the line by Taylor and then later, from a Kuyt cross, his header bounced off the crossbar with Jaaskelainen stranded. However, and not for the first time, the key to the game was Steven Gerrard. Called into action after only twenty minutes, to replace an injured Meireles, he proved for umpteenth time in his reds’ career, that when the chips are down, he can dig us out.
And dig us out he needed to as Bolton went into the break one up. The goal, from Kevin Davies, once again exposed the lack of nous and footballing intelligence that has been lacking in our defence for some time. With Jamie Carragher injured perhaps Agger’s return, in time, might help readdress this however, once more the usual suspects were up there and old errors were paraded.
Before I describe the goal let we say this. Over this weekend one of the reasons put forward as to why we are so bad is HRH’s tactics however, whatever the method surely, in football there are some basic golden rules that remain constant regardless of the approach. Surely one of these is to ensure that you mark and stay with your man at a set piece and to get goal side of him…. just an observation!
OK moving on…. the goal came from a set piece again, Aurelio had clattered Moreno. There seemed to be an opinion around the stadium that the free kick should not have awarded however the TV highlights suggested no one could disagree? Taylor’s free kick was converted by Kevin Davies who simply ran way from Martin Srktel and jumped behind Glen Johnson (who offered nothing by way of an attempt to stop him probably because he was already planning his next foray up field) to nod home. It was simple stuff for Bolton and again a lack of basics from us. How long can this sort of nonsense go on before HRH feels compelled to do something?
Lucas added salt to our wounds by missing a sitter to equalise from about two yards out with the goal gaping, only he can know what went wrong there. After the break Glen Johnson then proved what an infuriating player he can be. Yet another error leading to a goal but then once up field he started a sublime move that lead to our equaliser. His chip was chested down by Ngog to Gerrard whose first time ball was perfectly placed into Torres’ path just outside the six yards area. His finish, on the half volley into the roof of the net, was a tonic, for player, manager and crowd.
After that, powered by the skill and spirit of Gerrard, Bolton were on the back foot for most of the half. Worse sides would have caved in but Bolton remained resolute with Torres and Gerrard peppering the goal with shots. They even came back at us with Klasnic firing at Reina after another error from Johnson, this time the cardinal sin of a square pass across the face of goal and an under hit one at that.
On 89mintues HRH, bought on Kyrgiakos for Agger. It was a move that smacked of running down the clock and wanting time to preserve the draw rather than “going for it” and it said loads about our lack of confidence and self belief? Deep down only he will know what he was really thinking however for once luck was on his side?
Gerrard’s ball from the right found Maxi who knocked it across the face of the to find Joe Cole with the easy task of knocking it from about six inches, an important goal not only for HRH but the player himself who has undergone a torrid time since he joined us. Debate about whether his was offside seemed to be settled by the fact that Elmander had touched the ball before it broke to Cole? No, I don’t really understand it either but who cares!
After the game HRH suggested that Wednesday had been put behind us and that had we won that we would, because of this win, be taking about Champions League football. I can only speak for myself but sorry Roy “NO” on both accounts. We won this game via a last minute goal and even then Bolton were able cut through us and Reina had to save well from Klasnic to prevent an embarrassing last gasp equaliser.
It’s a win and a welcome one but let us not kid ourselves it still smacks of a stop gap result and it doesn’t cure anything. We need to win a few more to convince. The cracks are still there and the Mancs (in the cup) and Everton will give us a challenging opportunity to prove that we have turned a corner or bring the house of cards tumbling down again. I suspect that HRH, like me and many others, will be cursing the fixture list. Despite what he says he could do without such emotive fixtures he still appears fragile and so does the side.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Agger (Kyrgiakos 89), Aurelio, Skrtel, Raul Meireles (Gerrard 21), Maxi, Lucas, Torres, Kuyt, Ngog (Cole 82), Substitutes: Jones, Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Gerrard, Cole, Poulsen, Babel
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Cahill, Knight, Ricketts, Alonso, Muamba, Taylor (Petrov 82), Davies, Elmander, Davies, Moreno (Klasnic 69), Substitutes: Bogdan, Petrov, Klasnic, Blake