Liverpool‘s fall in form since the loss to Manchester United has been quite unbelieveable. Tuesday night was another such instance when the Reds fell to Hull City and lost the tie 1-0 courtesy a Michael Dawson header.
Here are three thing we learnt from the game
Filled with individual moments, the lack of team cohesion in the team is alarming
Last season was not just about Luis Suarez. Of course, the talismanic Uruguayan played a mighty, mighty part in what the Reds did (some fans have gone to the extent of bizarrely suggesting it was all because of him) but why Liverpool became such an exciting team to watch was because they played like a team (which any football “team” should considering it is a “team” sport). There were things happening all over the pitch – especially in the second and final thirds of the ground. In this game, the Reds struggled to find any rhythm in their play and the fast tempo, which got them so famous last season, was evidently missing. It could be tipped to players operating outside their comfort zones, but what excuse is there for the poor pressing – something that Liverpool have got most of their recent success from – and for looking supremely lethargic throughout the night? The players are going out in every match recently with no desire and nothing to play for, and with this recent result, they actually don’t.
The likes of Jordon Ibe and Raheem Sterling are extremely talented and pacey footballers. There were moments when both of them did something special with the ball, reached till the opposition box, but had absolutely no support from elsewhere. Right before the half-time whistle, after the Reds were already a goal down, Glen Johnson made a gorgeous run forward, beat two Hull City players, reached the by-line and laid the ball off into the box and no Red shirt could come close to tap it in. This has been the story of the season. The lack of creativity and penetration in the box is something which is costing Liverpool dearly.
Coutinho and Mignolet, the only bright bright lights of the game
Philippe Coutinho has become Liverpool’s go-to man and while it is great to have a player of Coutinho’s quality in the side, the side’s reliance on him is worrying. Fans maybe saying Luis Suarez was the only reason the club came close to a title last season, but rewind eighteen months back and you will see Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson all step up when the Uruguayan was ineffective (granted that didn’t happen too often). Coutinho seems to be Liverpool’s only brain in the attack and if the opposition can shut him off, the Reds won’t score many. The Brazilian worked tirelessly throughout the game and tried to create chances and almost assisted Jordan Henderson in the second half besides almost scoring himself in the first half.
Despite not getting another clean-sheet, which he could have if Mario Balotelli hadn’t played Dawson onside and the defenders would have done their job by marking the Hull players, Simon Mignolet had another decent outing between the sticks. Hull were crossing the ball a lot and Mignolet dealt with most of these excellently, coming out of the box a lot and punching the ball with composure.
Joe Allen was another better performer of the night.
Brendan Rodgers is finally on extremely thin ice
Rodgers has received a lot of criticism of late and some of his actions are indefensible. Why is Javier Manquillo rotting on the bench and Emre Can being operated as a right back? Granted, Can is much better going forward and the fact that he can defend and has played as a full-back in Germany makes him a decent option, but it has been evident on more than one occasion this season that the German is slow while tracking back and pacey forwards will have a field day against him. Lazar Markovic was substituted on as a right back. Mario Balotelli spoke as early as last October, that his best will come alongside a partner. The Italian looked very disinterested on occasions and if Balotelli can’t do well as a lone forward, why isn’t Rickie Lambert being given a go in that position? Or Brendan Rodgers’s first signing as Liverpool boss, Fabio Borini? Why not use the marginalized players before they’re sent off in the summer?
The players look dejected and frustrated. The manager has to do a better job in instilling some belief and confidence in them and lifting them so that they can give the supporters something to cheer about, besides finishing with as many points as they can get.
The 42 year-old is hurting his own case at the moment, and the owners, who have earned the “ruthless” tag could want to do away with the Northern Irishman, especially if performances don’t improve in the final four games or maybe irrespective of that. In that case, at least for pride, Rodgers needs to get his team going in the final days of the campaign.