The reactions to Sunday’s game seemed to be positive.
The second half performance especially seemed to attach a lot of favourable comment, said Glen Johnson
“We were strong and in the closing stages we really drove at them. He could have got all three points in the end but overall I think we’ve got to be happy with the draw.”
Fair enough however it doesn’t hide the fact that before we woke up, made a few tactical adjustments and decided to make a game out of it Chelsea, if they had taken their chances, could have been over the hill, out of sight and thinking about their next match? Had Mata and Torres converted just one of their chances the stories of optimism would have vaporised.
In short we were lucky and playing well for twenty minutes or so at the end can’t hide the fact that there is work to do. However how much of this is of our own making and not, as BR always seems to imply, the fault of the situation he inherited or the hand he has been dealt since?
I’m getting a tad puzzled not to mention irritated when he talks about Liverpool being a long way off where they should be and the players that we have need to learn. Have we really fallen back so badly since the summer for Rogers to speak in these terms?
“The reality is we’re a long way off in the league. We finished eighth last year. If we can improve on that, it’ll be fantastic for us. That’s the reality of where Liverpool are I’m afraid. But our young players will get better and better.”
How much of this is a genuine reflection of the situation we are supposedly in or Rogers inability to get results out of the team, and his attempts to give himself headroom, ie more time, to do this? I don’t expect us to suddenly surge up the league, win a few bits of sliver and qualify for the Champions league but I can’t help thinking that we could be in a better position had we not made life so difficult for ourselves.
The Andy Carroll loaned out fiasco is well documented add in to the sales of players like Dirk Kuyt and we are clearly short up front and paying for it. Luis Suarez has shouldered the burden tremendously however, we are playing a dangerous game. What if Suarez had been injured in the clash with John Terry on Sunday and what if he, as he will surely do, picked up another yellow card to take his tally to five for the season and therefore earn a suspension?
It is not rocket science to see that we made a grave error in this area of the pitch. We should have seem it coming in the summer window but didn’t do anything about it as reducing costs ie getting players wages off the books took precedent Because of this we are more reliant on midfielders chipping in with some goals or keeping a clean sheet. We’ve not able to achieve either on a regular basis for some time?
Then there is our style of play which seemingly takes time to introduce. Mistakes, particularly in defence, have been made as players try to pass the ball rather than play percentages, how many goals or chances for the opposition have emerged from misplaced passes or players losing the ball? Given the lack of strengthen in depth we have does it make sense to be so exacting about the way we play? Is it too much change too quickly?
I don’t think there anything fundamentally wrong with the way we played last season however, BR speaks about what he is trying do as if it was something that only footballers in far off lands did and that introducing it to the side is a major cultural shift dragging them out of some footballing primeval swamp! The fact is Liverpool were passing and moving before Rogers was even born and certainly before many teams used it as basis of their game.
Don’t get me wrong BR has my support I respect what he is trying to do and the teams efforts to get to grips with it. Perhaps what is more significant is what he doesn’t say? By that I mean that I suspect he has to a degree been forced to operate with one hand behind his back since the beginning of the season. Otherwise there would be good cause to criticise however as Rogers himself says
“The supporters are being very lenient with myself and the team, and I’m sure they’ll be frustrated sometimes, but their support has been incredible…. But we need materials. If we can get one or two in January, we’ll turn draws into wins. Those players don’t come cheap, and they’re not too many available in January either. But the owners have given me great support since I’ve been here. I knew it would be a difficult year given the expectancy in Liverpool”
Nonetheless I don’t think Rogers needs to be so defensive and to keep harking on about the club being some kind of basket case that needs major rehabilitation just doesn’t fully wash. He frequently refers to Liverpool fans as being intelligent but sometimes his talk doesn’t’ back that up. Surely most fans are not that deluded? They know the situation the owners have forced him work under and they still accept it and support him and the team. However, they also know when avoidable mistakes are being made on the pitch (it is part of football) and can separate them from attempts to mitigate these from statements about the long term health of the club. There is goodwill, many are willing to be patient and or give the benefit of the doubt, justification, however unconvincing, isn’t always required, just get on with it Brendan?
When will cracks start appear in the support? To me it seems, in the short term at least, the January window is key. This is the biggest test for the club, specifically the owners. They need to deliver with at least one recognised striker, off loading more deadwood would also help. It will be hard, the January window, for all our Carroll/Torres activity two years ago, is not a fruitful hunting ground, choices are limited and because our situation is well known, prices will be hiked up?. It will be a test to the owners previously stated philosophy about not paying silly wages and achieving value for money? They will have their work cut out but they need to deliver, failure to do so will lose many fans’ goodwill and that is something they, and Rogers, can do without.
Finally congratulations to Steven Gerrard who wins his 100th cap for England tonight against Sweden tonight. It brings something to an otherwise pointless friendly