Liverpool FC supporters were ready to see their captain play at Anfield for the last time in his Liverpool career. A 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace may suggest that the players weren’t.
Liverpool were ‘plane’ embarrassing
It may have been Steven Gerrard’s last game at Anfield in front of his supporters, but by setting up his Liverpool side with Gerrard as his deepest midfielder against a team as quick on the counter as Crystal Palace, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was asking for trouble. Things did not get much better even when Lucas was subbed in, as Adam Lallana for once performed at the level that he has been expected to since making the big money from the south coast last summer.
Many Liverpool supporters have been putting in extra effort to make excuses for Dejan Lovren’s performances since joining the club, but spending A?20m for him looks almost as daft as Paris Saint Germain throwing A?50m at Chelsea for David Luiz. In the case of PSG, Luiz at least helped them defeat Chelsea in the Champions League. The Croation had no answer to the direct running of Yannick Bolasie, who created as many chances for himself and his Palace teammates as the number of body shapes Lovren took on the field in trying to stop him. Jordan Ibe worked hard on the right wind without much reward, while Raheem Sterling’s shots on goal barely reached Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy. We are 37 games in the season, and Liverpool still do not have a first choice lineup or formation that they can turn to to get the job done.
Brendan Rodgers’ tenure at the club has done even more to divide the fanbase than Roy Hodgson’s ill-fated 6 months. Liverpool supporters were happy to laugh at Manchester United for flying a plane above Old Trafford during David Moyes’ last days as manager, but flying a plane twice over Anfield in two weeks is embarrassing behaviour. The fact that Moyes was eventually dismissed has set a dangerous precedent,and the boycott of an away game at Hull City looks especially odd given that some people have enough money to fly planes with banners over their home ground.
Crystal Palace did not read the script
Everything about this game from the buildup to the coverage of the game (we are looking at you, Sky Sports) was about Steven Gerrard. But football is not like professional wrestling with it’s payoffs and happy endings, as proved by a Crystal Palace side who had no intention to roll over and let Liverpool have 3 points.
It is worth noting that Crystal Palace’s record in the league ever since Alan Pardew took over from Neil Warnock looks more like Top 4 form rather than that of a squad tipped for relegation. Yannick Bolasie gave Brendan Rodgers enough nightmares to keep him from even bringing Glen Johnson off the substitutes bench, but those who actually were on the field had no answer. Jason Puncheon ran the show behind him, sending Bolasie through on goal on more than one occasion. Marouane Chamakh marked Steven Gerrard, while former Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha scored quickly enough after his substitution to make Alan Pardew look like a genius.
Former Liverpool defender surprisingly played as a centre half, in favour of vice captain Damien Delaney. Besides the error to let Lallana through on goal in the first half, he stood up fairly well to the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, in stark contrast to his opposite number Dejan Lovren. Wayne Hennessey did not have much work to all afternoon, except for picking up Raheem Sterling’s shots as they rolled towards him in the penalty area.
So much for the famous atmosphere
Anfield was a stadium famous for European nights, but Liverpool supporters turned up in large numbers and sang their hearts out on most occasions, not just in the past but even as recently as Rafa Benitez’s tenure at the club. Except for last season when it required entertaining football of a standard very few teams have provided in recent years, Liverpool’s players can now be forgiven for not knowing what the term “home advantage” is really supposed to mean.
Steven Gerrard may have been dreading the thought of calling time on his Liverpool career, but when his own supporters barely bother to sing louder than the Crystal Palace supporters, who, mind you, were singing the Steven Gerrard song that non-Liverpool supporters have loved to sing over the last 12 months, he would know that there is a problem. Considering the sums of money that were thrown around by rich people from around the world just to see Steven Gerrard, it seemed like fans were more interested in capturing the on-field action rather than cheering for their team.