Liverpool’s hell continues

Upsets have been commonly associated with Liverpool over the course of the last three seasons but few could have predicted the scoreline at The Hawthorns which saw Liverpool handed their worst start in their Premier League history. Indeed, were it not for the excellent Pepe Reina in goal the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing! Liverpool face one of the toughest starts this season with fixtures against both Manchester clubs and Arsenal within the first five games.The Reds were thus looking to get off to a winning start in order to ease the pressure of victory against tougher opposition.

West Bromwich Albion lined up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation with Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long as the starting forwards. Liverpool chose to stick to the 4-3-3 formation they had been playing in pre-season. Joe Allen and Fabio Borini were handed Premier League debuts while a knock to Jose Enrique meant that Glen Johnson took his place in the line-up at left full-back.

Playing on a pristine surface, The Baggies began brightly with Liverpool hardly seeing any of the ball during the first couple of minutes. It was evident from the start that Steve Clark had set out his side to play good football and Liverpool would have a tough job on their hands.

After the first few minutes Liverpool looked to settle into their passing rhythm. The game was a cagey affair with few clear cut chances. The midfield was keenly contested with both teams pressing hard without the ball. Mulumbu and Yacob had excellent games and didnai??i??t allow the Liverpool midfield to dominate. Joe Allen had a good debut and kept things ticking smartly. Lucas, however looked a little off colour coming back from injury and it will still be some time before he finds his full form and fitness. Steven Gerrard had one of his worst days in a Liverpool shirt and looked largely unsure of his position at attacking midfield. The Liverpool captain is famous for being an impact player but he was largely anonymous on the day. He offered very little in attack and didnai??i??t have a telling attacking contribution in the whole game.

Liverpool enjoyed the majority of possession but were unable to find an opening past the stubborn West Brom defence. Brendan Rodgers emphasized aAi??patient build-up play but The Reds often found themselves trying to force the issue. Downing and Borini offered little threat down the wings and thus Luis Suarez found himself burdened with both creating as well as finishing the goal-scoring opportunities. The Uruguayan was lively throughout the first half and looked threatening on a couple of occasions. Liverpoolai??i??s build up play lacked an end product. But three wasted chances including an excellent headed opportunity for Suarez meant that the game was still at an even keel.

Profligacy in front of goal had been Liverpoolai??i??s bane last season and it once again proved to be so at the start of this one. Having missed opportunities at the other end, The Reds found themselves a goal down two minutes before half time thanks to a stunning volley from 25 yards by Zoltan Gera.

Liverpool focussed on maintaining possession after the restart but found themselves vulnerable on the counter-attack. Shane Long had an excellent game and tormented Liverpoolai??i??s back line. At 58 minutes, the striker used his pace to latch on to a through ball before being brought down on the box by Daniel Agger. The referee decided to award a penalty and sent off the Liverpool center back. The decision proved to be a harsh one as replays showed minimal contact between the players.

Shane Long stepped up to double West Bromai??i??s lead but Pepe Reina guessed right and comfortably stopped Longai??i??s tame effort. Jamie Carragher was introduced for Stewart Downing to shore up Liverpoolai??i??s defense. Liverpool tried to keep possession despite being down to 10 men but conceded another penalty minutes later. Martin Skrtel was the guilty party on this occasion although replays once again suggested that Shane Long may have gone down too easily inside the box. Peter Odemwingie stepped up to take the penalty this time and made no mistake in burying it past a despairing Pepe Reina.

Liverpool were well and truly up against it and Brendan Rodgers decided to take Lucas off for Joe Cole. The former Chelsea player barely had a touch of the ball before limping out injured due to a recurrence of a hamstring injury. Andy Carroll took his place but failed to have any impact on the game. Liverpool meanwhile, continued to spurn goal scoring chances. Suarez had another excellent opportunity to score from a Borini cross but it was not the Liverpool No. 7ai??i??s night.

West Bromwich Albion on the other hand were resolute in defence and were happy to play on the counter attack. Steve Clark introduced Lukaku and Fortune and both players had a positive impact on the game. Fortune and Morrison exploited the space offered by a tiring Liverpool and both came close to scoring. Lukaku finally put the game to bed with an excellent header at 77 minutes. The remaining minutes saw a hapless Liverpool being run ragged by The Baggies who seemed to be enjoying the brand of football played under their new manager.

In many ways the match encapsulated everything that is wrong with Liverpool FC on the pitch. Last season under Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool flattered to deceive on severalAi??occasions. The Reds could not break down lesser opposition despite enjoying a majority of the possession and enjoying a host of goal scoring opportunities. TheAi??team often capitulated when the chips were down and barring a couple of players, nobody shouldered responsibility and showed the drive to turn things around and win. Contrast that to championship winning teams like Manchester City who scored two goals in stoppage time to win the League title. The dawn shows the day and there are signs that Liverpool are not quite there to be challenging for the top 4 spots yet.

In his post-match interview Rodgers commented ai???There is a big job to do & we will have more days like this (WBA) along the way. That is the reality of it.ai??? While there is truth to the statement and it is just the start of the season, Rodgers must have a serious look at the mentality of some players if he is to mount a serious challenge for the top spot in the future.

Recent title winning sides like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City have all displayed great fighting spirit in dire situations to come out on top. Too many players in the current Liverpool side allow their shoulders to drop quickly if things are not going according to plan. Rodgers must carefully analyse which players are ready to fight for the shirt and pick his squad accordingly. Days like the one at The Hawthorns would become rather commonplace otherwise.

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3 Responses to “Liverpool FC: New Season. New Manager. Same Story.”

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  1. Henry says:

    Non of the Liverpool players, bar possibly Agger or Suarez have any fight. This was the sole domain of Stevie G in the past, but he now realises he will never win an EPL title with Liverpool, and tbh probably wont even play CL football for them ever again.

    Players like Reina give up half way through a season that isn’t going to plan, as he has realised that he will never win the title with Liverpool and has watched other key players like Alonso, Macherano, Torres etc go on to clubs that are enjoying more success.

    At the end of the day Liverpool are doomed for the time being. The last too managers have been appalling decisions and have dragged the club further away from the pack they are chasing.

    The craziest thing though is that the current starting XI actually boasts some good players that are either in their prime or too old to learn new tricks – Reina, Skrtel, Agger, Lucas, Gerrard, Suarez etc. So what does the club decide to do? Bring in an inexperienced coach that is going to totally change the playing style!?! Brilliant idea!!

    Now, Liverpool’s solid and extremely experienced rear-guard of Reina, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson look like fish out of water!! The only redeeming feature of last season’s squad has been destroyed! Not only is the forward line ineffective and the midfield pretty meek, but now the defence is in tatters!! Great job FSG.

    Just when the club was crying out for the experience of Van Haal, they go for the cheap, inexperienced, completely shake up the experienced players option!!

    I don’t blame BR and am not calling for his head, he’s doing what he’s been hired to do and implement a style of football that FSG think will appeal to potential fans in far off places. The logic of this may bode fine for our ineffective midfield or frontline, but barring Agger, LFC do not have the defenders capable of playing this style, and BR seems to be just forcing on the rather than adapting to style to the players at his disposal.

    People are thinking that Liverpool can play like Swansea last season, but with better players, but are forgetting that at Swansea BR inherited a squad for Martinez that was much more suited to this style of play and he had much longer in charge before being put to the EPL test, than a few short weeks this summer. Any team that knows their tactics or just follows Steve Clarke just did to his former defence, will be able to open LFC like a can of beans this season.

    For example, even if LFC play ‘tiki taka’ for the next 5 years, any time Skrtel gets the ball and is expected to link up with a player near to him, but he pressured by an opponents striker, he’s gonna panic and flap and LFC will concede a goal. Same with Carragher, Coates etc etc.

    On the subject of transfers, some of the main targets for LFC this summer should have been a poacher, cover at left back and cover at holding midfield. Yet again these areas have been ignored and Rodgers will undoubtedly pay the price (on top of the 3-0 humiliation by WBA).

    Looking forward. In the immediate future Liverpool face a harsh run in with Daniel Agger keeping the defence together and with absolutely no adequate cover. As for this season, even when LFC finish 8th (or maybe 7th at a push), BR will probably keep his job and FSG will say its work in progress. Whether they will get the cheque book out next season remains to be seen, but expect the quality of the squad to be seriously diminished.

    Next season, the player who foolishly committed their futures to the club this summer will be pushing for moves away. Reina, Agger, Sktel and Suarez are too good for a team that finishes 8th, and a second season of this will be enough to see them move on to pastures greener. Gerrard will not be able to hold down a first team place and the squad from the dizzy heights of 2005 and 2009 will be all but a distant memory.

    At present Liverpool are one of the most supported teams going, but lets face it teams like Man City and Spurs are trying to expand their bands on a global scale and where better to poach a fan base from than a team like Liverpool, who have been crumbling for a a few seasons now and will be all but dead this time next year. Once the few big names leave and are replaced by mid table dross, can LFC really expect to be the 2nd most supported club in Asia? Not a chance.

    The future is bleak. The future is Red. Say goodbye to one of the greatest British sporting institutions…

  2. Back4more says:

    BR set a record. It was Liverpool’s worst opening match since 1937.

    Commentators, bloggers enjoy pinning the blame on players and managers. Have they ever considered that the management and the owners have a part to play in the problems that a club is facing on the pitch?

    Who was it in Liverpool who came up with the “manager’s noose”? Setting up a policy to buy expensive British, to buy “players for the future” but insisted on the team delivering within one season? A legend paid the price and was hung by this policy.

    After hanging KK for not delivering within one season, a shocking decision was made to hire BR – a rookie manager who has achieved nothing, who has stepped into Wembley less times than KK has lifted trophies there, and who was the only one who did not reject the job. Who in LFC made the decision that a man who epitomized the Liverpool Way, who held the city together during the tragedies years ago, who united the club after the previous owners dismantled it, and who has won so many trophies as player and manager… was unfit to manage for another season?

    A further shocking decision was made to give this zero-achievement rookie several seasons to prove himself, while the marketing machinery worked full time to dress him up as a “Spanish master tactician” who can make a team play tiki-taka and can produce players that out pass Iniesta. Why the hypocrisy?

    With virtually the entire management replaced (except the managing director Ian Ayre), can there actually be other reasons for Liverpool’s recent troubles and poor decisions?

    Was Ian playing politics to consolidate power in the club? Or were the owners trying to dump the old Liverpool Way to create a new legacy for themselves?

    Time will tell. And we may never know. But for now, fans will just have to keep our fingers crossed, that the players will not be too affected and will continue to deliver good results on the pitch.