Stoke City 1
Walters (21) pen
For many this game was seen as a test of how far we’ve come. The defeat would suggest there is still a lot to do however, although it is disappointing, in this case one shouldn’t necessarily judge a team by the score?
This was a win that Stoke did not merit and had referee Mark Clattenberg been able to get right the three penalty claims that were dotted throughout this game instead of none of them then we would going home with three points. However before you accuse me of irrational sour grapes, these were some of many incidents in the game and although they count against you there is, usually, still time to make up for them. We had enough chances to do that but didn’t take them and that is why I always raise my eyebrow when managers say “the referee cost us the game” or words to that effect.
That said one can fully understand Kenny’s frustration after the game
“The first four games have had contentious decisions in them and every one has gone against us. We would like to be respectful to referees but more important is having respect for my football club. If I feel the club is suffering in any shape or form I will need to go the same route other people go and see if we can gain some benefit from that….If we continually get battered by things outside of our control we are not going to get much chance.”
I suspect Kenny, having vented his spleen, will just get on with it probably secure in the knowledge that at some stage in the season a poor decision will go in our favour. However, it is ironic that we get a game like this when the Rugby World Cup has just started where video evidence, via third referee, is commonly used to resolve potentially contentious decisions. Yet football, a much popular and wealthy sport, still sees fit to use archaic methods that constantly undermine its credibility and frustrate the very people, fans, players and managers, that those in authority depend upon for the continued prosperity of their product.
Anyway rant over, for all the talk of Kenny tinkering with the team to deal with Stoke he only made one change, Skrtel for Kelly. We began well with Suarez to the fore and then penalty “decision” one came. Delap clearly handled, a quick referral to a video referee would proved this without question however, we are relying on Mr Clattenberg to be up with play, have eyes in the back of his head or his assistants to pick this up.
Salt was rubbed into the “wounds” when Walters barged Carragher to get to the ball in the area. Carragher, perhaps seeing that there was no one between him and Reina, hooked his arm around him. It was six of one and half a dozen of the other however, Walters who showed great strength to barge Carragher off the ball suddenly found it deserting him and went to ground as if floored but a heard of rampaging elephants rather than the soft “caress” of Jamie’s arm! Technically speaking, I guess Carragher should have been sent off as he was last man however, the referee was in the mood for not doing things correctly and chose not to show red just as he chose not to give anything for Walters’ initial foul.
Perhaps we should have realised it wasn’t going to be our day when Henderson was realised by Enrique? With just Begovic to beat he planted his shot right at the keeper he then did the same with the rebound before Upson’s block made it three failed attempts in a row. There was more, the ball rebounded to Adam who had just two bites at the cherry with Shawcross and then Begovic again getting in the way. Those five efforts were probably more chances in one move than we had in the whole corresponding fixture last season yet these were part of a steam of openings we created against a Stoke side that offered practically nothing in return.
Kenny rang the changes bringing on Carroll and Bellamy however, our luck was out Downing headed straight at Begovic from Enrique’s cross and then Upson handled in the area after good work by Suarez and Downing. I don’t why we bothered to appeal as by now Clattenberg was clearly standing there with his fingers in his ears shouting “la, la, la, la, la”. Suarez concluded the bad day by knocking wide with the goal at his mercy after Begovic had spilled a cross.
Let’s try to be positive. It was marked improvement on last year’s effort. We were positive, took the game to Stoke created plenty of chances and dominated for long periods, all the new players played instrumental rolls. On another day the chances we created would have yielded reward. At some stage this season Stoke will play better and not win and we will play worse and win? The disappointment and concern that I felt last season’s performance is just disappointment now. In short (and have you got your cliché stick ready) it was just one of those days!
Stoke: Begovic, Huth (Wilkinson 64), Shawcross, Upson, Wilson, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, (Palacios 71), Etherington (Jones 68), Walters, Crouch, Substitutes: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shotton, Whelan, Palacios, Jones, Jerome
Liverpool: Reina, Jose Enrique, Agger, Carragher, Skrtel (Johnson 81), Henderson (Bellamy 67), Downing, Lucas, Adam, Suarez, Kuyt (Carroll 67), Substitutes: Doni, Johnson, Coates, Maxi, Spearing, Carroll, Bellamy