Taylor-Fletcher 12, Campbell 69
I don’t think Kenny Dalglish has any illusions about the size of task he has taken on. He watches Liverpool for most games however, anyone else who thought it was just a case of him waltzing in and turning things around immediately had that assumption firmly put in its place tonight. It was a disappointing performance, again more good bits but still plenty of the usual stubborn stains, and disheartening because hope and expectation, borne of the recent changes, once more got the better of reality.
Kenny made three changes from Sunday. Glen Johnson retuned for Aurelio but interestingly at left back meaning that Martin Kelly kept his place on the other side. The suspended Gerrard was replaced by Poulsen. Maxi made way for Jovanovic. Not exactly the best side we could muster, particularly in the middle, but injuries and suspension dictate.
Once more football proved itself to be a strange beast. On Sunday, at The Theatre of Delusion, we went behind after two minutes so perhaps it was no surprise that last night we should be ahead in around the length of time? Since he took over much has been made of the effect Kenny can have on Fernando Torres. How he can invigorate him and coax him back to his best. How he can draw his own periods of bad form, and subsequent recovery, and use it to assure the Spaniard that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This appears to be having some effect or is too early? Whatever the case Torres can lay claim to be the first player to give his new boss a proper “welcome back to the league” present!
With some fans still settling into their seats Kelly picked up the ball on the right and passed early to Torres who made a run down the right channel. He was allowed to run on in the box but perhaps the Blackpool players didn’t tackle him as they thought he was going for the by line however the shot, from a acute angle, was hard and high into the net giving the keeper no chance. It was goal that summed Torres up, pacy with a deadly accurate finish giving defenders not time to decide what to do let alone even get near him. It was also a warning to others that although he may be out of sorts, you disregard him at your peril.
Torres has proved himself to be human this season. Injuries, an inability to recreate the form of previous campaigns and recently some mistakes. After the goal Torres was guilty of giving the ball away just as he was twice at Blackburn last week. Meireles did little to retrieve the situation only serving to prod the ball into Taylor-Fletchers path who ran on, dummied Agger, and slid it past Reina. No doubt Steve Clarke, watching for the first time from the bench, will be making notes about our inability to stop the run and keep the ball?
Naturally the goal galvanised Blackpool. DJ Campbell, with a header, and Taylor Fletcher, with a long range chip, went close. We displayed a lot more creativity however the old problem of potency in the final third was still at large. Torres’s goal was our only decent chance of the half. Thank God he took it.
The second half saw Blackpool increasing in confidence with Reina producing two excellent saves one from Adam, who we have been liked with in this window, and then Vaughan, tipping over his long range shot. The writing was on the wall and we looked unable to deal with it were we short of confidence, application and ideas or all three? Blackpool continued to press. The impressive Phillips having a shot deflected over however, DJ Campbell eventually made amends heading in from the left this time after some route one stuff. Once again a goal from an opposition player who was in our area and totally unmarked and once again Glen Johnson, on the left this time, out of position and seemingly asleep.
Meireles headed over from Torres’ clever ball however, frustration grew as befits a team that has lost five of its last seven games. I guess it’s apt that we are now thirteenth in the league? Last week the fans got what that wanted off the pitch however last night suggested that it’s going to take a lot more hard work and confidence boosting to ensure that even the most basic of wishes are granted on it.
Blackpool: Kingson, Crainey, Eardley, Evatt, Cathcart, Vaughan, Grandin (Phillips 64), Adam, Taylor-Fletcher (Baptiste 84), Varney (Southern 83), Campbell, Substitutes: Rachubka, Baptiste, Southern, Sylvestre, Phillips, Ormerod, Euell
Liverpool: Reina, G Johnson, Agger, Kelly, Skrtel, Raul Meireles, Lucas, Poulsen (Ngog 85), Torres, Jovanovic, Kuyt (Shelvey 76), Substitutes: Gulacsi, Konchesky, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Maxi, Shelvey, Ngog