West Bromwich Albion 3
Gera (43), Odemwingie (64) (pen), Lukaku (77)
Whatever the outcome of this game Brendon Rogers and his team were always going to be given time. Time to familiarise themselves with each other, their respective demands and styles and the way they interpret and execute the system of play we are told Rogers’ wants to introduce.
Even after this disappointing performance that still holds although at Saturday teatime it provided scant consolation. However, in trying to introduce something new (whatever that may be) surely one should also try to address the bad habits of last season improve on them or get rid. Then of course there is always the risk, as you introduce something new, of throwing the baby out with the bath water? All of these arguments applied to Saturday’s performance at The Hawthorns and none of them put Liverpool, albeit their first game of the season, in a favourable light.
It’s always wrong to pick on individuals however, Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez must have most cause to be peeved after Saturday. Suarez has signed a new deal to keep him with us for the next five years. He is the spearhead of the new crop of players to take us forward. However, an inkling which I felt last season and I suspect many other did also had was bought into sharp focus on Saturday which is the Uruguayan’s consistency in front of goal. Perhaps all this was masked or lost in the hubbub created by other off the field events or his superb approach play and ability to carve chances on his own, seemingly at will? However, the score line at the top of this page says “Liverpool 0” and I’d say that in this game Suarez had at least half a dozen presentable opportunities to change that. Headers, long range shots, short efforts and free kicks it was clear the shooting boots were in the dressing room and not for the first time. You can’t solely blame Suarez and sadly Borini, on his league debut, couldn’t bail him out turning in a performance that was largely anonymous. One wonders what Andy Carroll would have achieved had he started?
As for Skrtel perhaps at this early stage it’s unfair to single him out as one of victims of “Rogers’ revolution” however, for his plus points, our man is no Franz Beckenbauer! On Match of the Day Alan Hansen, who always tried to play the ball out from the back and in doing so gave The Kop more than one heart attack moment, highlighted Skrtel’s thwarted attempts to do just that when his natural inclination would to put in a first time clearance. Perhaps sometimes you can take things too literally whatever, the overall philosophy of a team is? Sometimes you need the intelligence to, as Hansen suggested, play percentages and do the right thing at the right time?
Skrtel’s boot prints, not all them his fault, were on most of West Brom’s goals. The first a headed clearance, from Morrison corner, that fell to Gera on the edge of the area. The desperate cavalry charge to pick him up, and prevent him from lashing the ball into the top corner past a helpless Reina, was too late. Soon after Skrtel slipped allowing Long to race clear. Agger tried to make up for his colleague but only succeeded in bringing him down. It was a debatable red card and even though Long’s spot kick was, sorry there’s no other word for it, cr*p things were always going to difficult after the Dane departed.
Skrtel then gave West Brom a second chance from the spot with a very debatable penalty . As he was trying to pass the ball out rather than clear quickly Long ran up from behind touched his leg as he was shaping up to kick and went over as if Skrtel had taken a chain saw to it! I suspect the first time Skrtel saw him was when the striker was on the deck however, Odemwingle showed Long how it should be done giving Reina no chance.
After that we were sunk. Rogers’ tried to shake things up a bit be bringing on Joe Cole who after around ten minutes went off again injured to be replaced by Andy Carroll. How must Carroll feel? Two goals down and still kept on the bench in favour of an injury prone, just back from loan midfielder? Surely, given the chances we were missing, he should have been given an earlier go would he have featured at all had Cole not done his usual audition for Emergency Ward 10? West Brom could have made it seriously embarrassing for us as they peppered our goal, seeming at will, but stopped at three after Lukaku had nodded home Ridgewell’s cross.
After the game Rogers’ struggled manfully to put a positive, if unconvincing spin on things.
“It was just a bad day at the office. It’s going to take time. We’ll lick our wounds and move on. I thought the players coped very well with the ideas we have given them.”
Perhaps he could have referred to Swansea’s 5-0 win at QPR and the legacy he left there? Sadly that was then and this is now and although it’s early, the only reason we and Rogers’ have to be thankful to his old club is that 5-0 keeps us off the bottom of the table!
West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Reid, Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley, Yacob, Morrison (Brunt – 82′), Mulumbu, Long (Lukaku – 68′ ), Gera (Fortune – 68′ Booked ), Odemwingie Substitutes Myhill, Jara, Dawson, El Ghanassy, Brunt, Lukaku, Fortune
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson Booked, Agger Dismissed, Kelly, Skrtel, Gerrard, Downing (Carragher – 60′ ), Lucas Booked (Cole – 68′ ), Allen, Suarez Booked, Borini Substitutes: Jones, Carragher, Cole (Carroll – 79′ Booked ), Henderson, Adam, Shelvey, Carroll