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Bolton Wanderers 3 Liverpool 1 - Prem (Jan 21 2012)

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Bolton 3 LIVERPOOL 1

Report by Dave Usher

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Scorer(s) – Craig Bellamy

Half Time - 2-1

Venue - The Reebok Stadium

Date - Sat 21 Jan 2012

Star Man – Craig Bellamy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I thought last week was bad. This went way beyond the disappointment of the Stoke game, it was completely inexcusable. Unlike last week, this couldn't be explained away by a bizarre team selection and questionable tactics, or opponents who were quite content to park the bus. No, this is completely down to players who failed to perform and who were both outfought and outplayed by the worst team in the Premier League. Look at Bolton's home record prior to this, the worst in all four divisions. They're absolutely shite, but we m,ade them look good and they deservedly beat us.

 

No wonder Dalglish threw his players under the bus afterwards. He never does that, he always defends them as long as they've tried their best and for him to react like that should give that dressing room an almighty wake up call. He had every right to be pissed off. The problem is that when he says some of them won't play for the club again if they repeat that performance, presumably he's including some players he bought himself and paid a lot of money for. That wouldn't sit well with the owners and I imagine the players know that. It's an idle threat and isn't fooling anyone. I doubt if some of them are worried about being shipped out anyway, they get paid no matter what. In Andy Carroll's case he'd probably be relieved if we fucked him off as he doesn't appear to have any stomach for the fight he's in to prove himself.

 

Kenny is far from blameless for some of the failings we've shown this season (for example last week was more on him than the players) but for me this one sits squarely on the shoulders of a team who seemed to think all they had to do to win this game was show up. The complacency and casual approach was apparent right from the opening seconds of the game, we were just incredibly lax and sloppy in everything we did. It was like watching a pre-season friendly.

 

The full backs typified it. Glen Johnson's first involvement was to attempt a ten yard pass to Henderson that missed by miles and went straight out of play for a throw in. That set the tone and he didn't get any better after that, he was absolutely shocking. This was the old Glen Johnson, the one that looked like he needed a rocket up his arse as he was so laid back. In the 2nd half he got megged by Petrov and couldn't even be arsed sprinting back, he was running at three quarter speed. I'd have subbed him on the spot for that.

 

On the other flank, Enrique looked half asleep early on and made one really shocking error that he was lucky to get away with. All afternoon Chris Eagles gave him a chasing. That's Chris Eagles, not Cristiano Ronaldo. Chris Eagles, the 'David Beckham of the Championship' who has always looked like the Premier League was too big a step up for him. Enrique should be fucking ashamed of this performance, as should almost all of his team-mates.

 

There was one notable exception. Craig Bellamy stood head and shoulders above everyone else in red, which is kind of fitting given that he actually is a head on shoulders. The no-necked Welshman is the only one who needn't feel embarrassed by his showing. He was lively, he was fiery and he can look in the mirror and know that he did everything he could. Nobody else can say that. I guess you can MAYBE add Agger to that too as he wasn't terrible and at least looked like he was trying. The rest should be sending back their weekly pay as they've stolen a wage this week. And the club should be using it to refund the expenses of the 5,000 reds who witnessed this embarrassment. There's getting beat, and there's getting beat like this.

 

For the most part this season I've been pleased with how we've played, if not always with the results. Bad finishing is the main reason we aren't closer to the top sides and generally I'd say we're moving in the right direction despite the huge question marks over some of the spending. This was one almighty big bump in the road though. The jury is out on whether some of these players are good enough, but even taking that into account there was still no excuse for this. That team is more than good enough to beat Bolton. The reason they didn't is that Bolton wanted it more than they did.

 

You can point to the midfield being unbalanced with no natural holding player, but does that really excuse those who were in there from not tracking runners? Maybe Kenny could have moved Bellamy wide and Henderson inside to counter their extra man, but chances are that would have just given us three players ball watching instead of two and we'd have had nothing up front. Neither Adam nor Gerrard wanted to do any of the dirty work, they just wanted to get on the ball and go forward. Mind you, whenever Adam tried to help out he'd usually give away a free-kick.

 

It almost goes without saying we are badly missing Lucas and Spearing, but we should still be able to beat Bolton without them. It's no excuse. Gerrard is capable of playing a holding role and has enough experience to be able to take command of that situation. I expect much more from him than this. As for Adam, he's been shite for a few weeks now after having a really good spell prior to that. His dip in form co-incided with Lucas' absence. There's a fair chance the two things are linked.

 

We fell behind on four minutes via a terrible goal from our point of view. Mark Davies was allowed to run right through the middle unchallenged and poked the ball into the bottom corner. Skrtel was mostly to blame, but others could have done better too. They made it 2-0 with an equally bad goal. Maxi let Reo-Coker run off him and Eagles was allowed to dribble into the penalty area before finding Reo-Coker who just about put it past Reina.

 

We were just shite all over the park. Bellamy was the only thing we had going for us, he was a big threat but he couldn't do it all on his own. He gave us some brief hope when he latched onto a Carroll flick and burst past the ponderous Zat Knight to finish smartly. That should have set us up for a second half onslaught but we gave away another bad goal just after the break and we were never coming back from that. We struggle to score goals and now we needed to find the net twice more just to salvage a point. Never gonna happen was it?

 

We had plenty of the ball but Bolton looked just as likely to increase their lead as we did to reduce it. Kenny sent on Kuyt and Downing to try and rescue something but the game had gone at that stage. They haven't managed a league goal between them all season so it was hardly a surprise that they made fuck all difference. Agger hit the bar with a good long range effort and we wasted several promising situations either with a bad final ball or a poor shot.

 

Andy Carroll at times resembled a fan who had won a competition to play with his heroes. Or like when some actor/singer/celebrity gets to play with the pro's in someone's testimonial. Sometimes he doesn't even look a footballer at all. By sometimes, I mean pretty much any time he has the ball at his feet. How can a professional footballer who trains every day and has done since he was a little kid let the ball hit him on the shin and bounce ten yards off him or just fall over the ball as often as Carroll does???? I've cut him more slack than most, but he really needs to start showing something soon as it's reached the point where there can be no defence of him at all anymore.

 

He's as weak as a fucking kitten these days too, he regularly gets outmuscled and spends so much time on his arse he's bringing back memories of Heskey on his bad days (at least Heskey had some good days). Carroll was a monster at Newcastle, a physically imposing, dominant number nine. He comes here and the sports science people are sneering about how they can't believe Newcastle never had him lifting any weights and "just you wait until you see how strong he'll be after we get him on a programme to boost his upper body strength". Worked a treat that hasn't it? He's somehow lost strength and now he can't run either. Good job team, well done.

 

I probably shouldn't single him out as he wasn't even our worst player. Not even close. At least with the others it can be put down to complacency or just not being at the races. This was standard fare from Carroll, it's what we've come to expect. In fact, you could even say this was one of his better recent performances as at least he managed to do a couple of decent things in amongst the shite. His latest fresh air shot from Downing's cross summed him up. You can almost read Downing's mind when it happens; "Is it any wonder I can't get a fucking assist?"

 

These players always talk about how they enjoy playing for Kenny and how much they respect him. Well they need to start fucking showing it again as this was a slap to his face. His signings aren't looking great (I realise that's being extremely kind), he's had a few questionable team selections and his league record since he got the manager's job on a permanent basis doesn't make for good reading. The knives are out for him already, twitter is an abomination after any bad LFC result and this is why initially I didn't want him to get the job - the fear of what would happen if it went wrong. Not much did go wrong initially, the back end of last season was great and everyone was buzzing.

 

He brought the kids into the team, we began playing with a freedom and expression that had been missing in many a year, and everyone was smiling. The players were loving it, the fans were loving it, and so was Kenny, that big old grin was a feature of last season but it's been mostly absent in recent weeks. Maybe that was because there was no real pressure back then. League position wasn't important as the season had already been written off. It was easy to bring in Flanagan and Robinson and have Coady on the bench and Sterling in the squad because there was no real expectation.

 

This year it's different, there is an expectation to at least make a serious challenge for fourth and to hopefully win a cup. The kids are no nowhere the first team - Flanagan was overlooked in favour of forgotten man Fabio Aurelio for the Oldham game - and the players now seemed weighed down by the pressure to get results. Literally in the case of Kuyt, who looks like he's carrying a big old sack of spuds on his back now as he lumbers around. The goals flowed last season, they've dried up this year. However, it's still early days (the manager's first full season) and for the most part we are trying to play in the right way. We're in a bad spell right now and we're desperately missing Suarez, but it's far from a full blown crisis.

 

Had the likes of Carroll, Kuyt and others converted even a fraction of the clear chances we've created this season then this result wouldn't have been such a big deal. It would have been seen as a bad day at the office, just one of those days. All teams have them, even our great sides of the past could throw in the odd stinker that took everyone by surprise (I remember Coventry putting five past us in the 80's, I think Terry Gibson may have even scored four of them). The reason this is so unacceptable is because we've drawn seven out of ten home games and therefore can't afford to take a day off like this one.

 

A top four finish is up in the air despite the major flaws of our rivals for fourth spot. As bad as this result was, we didn't lose any ground on Arsenal and only lost one point to Chelsea. Those two are arguably as flawed as we are, albeit in different ways. Whoever gets fourth will be the side who puts together a run to end the season.

 

Losing Suarez has hurt us badly and it was compounded by also losing Lucas and Spearing too (the red card and then the injury have meant he's hardly been available since Lucas went down). Had the likes of Carroll, Downing, Adam and Kuyt performed to the level expected we'd have been able to cope but they haven't. There's still plenty of football left to play though.

 

Suarez can't return quickly enough, but we've got two huge games coming now without him. A lot of those who lined up at the Reebok don't deserve to keep their place for the semi final against City, but unfortunately we don't have too many alternatives. I'd like to see Shelvey brought into the side instead of either Henderson or Adam as at least he offers a goal threat and some creativity.

 

Henderson runs around a lot and he's got a decent touch, but I have to say had Shelvey been given the same playing time Henderson has had I'm pretty sure he'd have contributed a whole lot more, in an attacking sense at least. I'm by no means sold on Shelvey but he's not afraid to try things and seems to have a confidence in himself that others would really benefit from. For me he needs to be on the pitch now as he offers something different. Aside from him, the only other options available seem to be in defensive areas unfortunately.

 

Even the kids aren't pushing for places this year. Coady, Wisdom, Morgan, Sterling, Suso, Silva…. all the lads who looked so promising last season for the u18s seem to have taken a step backwards this year. The reserve league is crap but they should be performing better than they have. None of them are knocking on the door right now. That means Kenny has persisted with the misfiring and out of form attacking players who've been letting us down so badly for weeks. Kuyt, Downing, Carroll…. it's time they did something to justify the massive salaries they're collecting, as this season they've basically been stealing a wage.

 

Of course, Kenny is responsible for buying two of them so isn't immune from blame either, but I'd suggest that even those who didn't want us to sign Carroll or Downing expected them to play better than they have. They may not be good enough, but they're a damn sight better than they have shown so far and it's time they delivered.

 

We've got two massive games coming up now and hopefully that will bring out the best in the team. It usually does, as over the years we seem to have morphed into a side that will beat the top teams and lose to the shite ones. Having dropped points to the likes of Wigan, Blackburn, Stoke and Bolton in recent weeks, we really need performances against both manc teams this week as our entire season is on the line now. Fail to win either of these games, and there's very little left to play for.

 

Failure against Man City this week simply isn't an option. The crowd will be up for it, the players better had be too. They aren't as bad as the last two performances suggest, but they need to go out and prove it.

 

 

Team: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique; Henderson, Gerrard, Adam (Kuyt), Maxi (Downing); Bellamy, Carroll:

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Good report totally agree, although the calls for Kennys head and fear he is not the right man is ridiculous and I know those comments aren't coming from you.

 

He has made a few bad buys, but let's not forget the good ones either - Bellamy, Enrique and Suarez. Also is he totally accountable for signings? FSG have always said they make a joint decision on players with Dalglish, Comolli and themselves... they all have to take blame on Carroll and Downing - the two howlers, in my opinion. Although I think Downing could get assists if we had a finisher in this squad. If Villa really do want Darren Bent for Carroll we should do it, as Bent would score goals and it is something we are really lacking and should be enough to get us top four.

 

As you say we didn't lose too much ground with Chelsea drawing and Arsenal losing. Also Suarez is coming back very soon in the league and will make a significant difference, as I think Spearing will. When Spearing or Lucas don't play, I'd use Coady, as he will at least put his foot in, give his all and track runners. It is another reason why I'm not sure centre midfield is the right position for Gerrard - as I don't think he has the hunger to defend anymore as he does to attack... I also think he is more valuable higher up the field as he can win us a game.

 

Adam was awful, both defensively and in possession. But I don't mind his signing as I think we'd get our money back if we sold him... as he didn't cost much. I agree on Shelvey though, I'd play him over both Henderson and Adam at the moment. I like Henderson, he has a lot going for him and I think he has a bright future. But he also need to improve on a few areas and isn't ready to be a regular, which he has been this season.

 

It was a bad day at the office and unfortunately as you say the poor draws at home this season make it feel worse. But we know our back four are very good, maybe the best in the league. We also know we have some very good players, some which are missing. We have also played some very good football at times and top four is still very much achievable. But we have to get a finisher in January and I think Kenny has to be ruthless with the players who are underperforming - notibly Downing, Henderson, Adam and Carroll - all of which he bought.

 

I slightly disagree about the youngsters. I think someone like Sterling, Coady and Suso would improve our first team and I also think they need to play at Pacheco did. I wouldn't play them vs City, but I would certainly have them in the squad and play them in the next league game... and it would give Downing, Carroll, Kuyt, Adam etc a massive statement and kick up the arse... which would be great to watch how they all reacted. Some of them might improve, others might not, but at least they know what they are doing is not good enough and our youngster will be getting experience, when they can't be any worse than those players I have mentioned.

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Adam was awful, both defensively and in possession. But I don't mind his signing as I think we'd get our money back if we sold him... as he didn't cost much.

 

If we get our money back on Adam I'll give you the money myself.

 

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Haha very good Russ.

 

He only cost £7 million didn't he? Surely a team would pay that for him. He can be a match winner as he showed for Blackpool last season. He isn't good enough for us, but he can be good enough for a lot of teams in this league.

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Haha very good Russ.

 

He only cost £7 million didn't he? Surely a team would pay that for him. He can be a match winner as he showed for Blackpool last season. He isn't good enough for us, but he can be good enough for a lot of teams in this league.

 

Maybe if games lasted 45 minutes, you won a lot of set pieces and didn't care that you had a donkey-paced foul-machine cluttering up your midfield.

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I dont think he'll be afraid to bomb out even the ones he bought Dave, I dont believe that comes in to it at all nor do I believe FSG think it too

 

Transfers are not an exact science are they?

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Spot on as usual Dave. Kenny isn't immune but as you say the set up was not the real problem this week though it was against Stoke. I don't get playing Henderson on the right as he just isn't a wide player but otherwise the team looked set up to have a go. It was very much down to the players and they just didn't look up for it.

 

I give some credit to Coyle as they pressured the full backs who are our main outlet and they took advantage of the chasm between midfield and defence. Lucas and Spearing have never looked so good as when they are not playing, we miss them badly. Typical of Jay's luck that he injured when it looked like his hour had arrived.

 

I was shocked at the attitude and lack of fight, really angry. We left early, something I have never done before. Enough said.

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Agree with most of that, Dave, especially about Shelvey, who has been criminally underused compared to Henderson - why the fuck bring him home from a really successful loan spell where he's brimming with confidence and not play him. He should have gone straight into the team, taking that good feeling and confidence with him into a side clearly lacking those "qualities".

 

I disagree with you on the team selection though (but I'm certainly not excusing the players effort!). I think Kenny got a few things wrong (again):

 

1.Gerrard has shown so many times now that he's not up to the defensive duties of CM on a regular basis. Sure, he'll do the job there from time to time (dare I say when he's up for it), but he's nearly as much of a liability as Adam, both with but first of all without the ball.

 

2. Henderson - should not be a regular for me, even when Lucas and Spearing is missing, but especially not in away matches, as his inabiliity to do something with the ball becomes even more glaring than when he's creating space with his movement at home. What's most shocking is Kenny keeps playing him out wide. He's completely wasted on the wing, and had it been last year (or even a couple ago), we know the stick the manager would have gotten (Meirelles anyone?) for playing a (supposedly) talented central midfielder out of position.

 

3. Having seen the trainwreck of a first half, Kenny should have made at least two changes at half time. I don't buy this "give them 15 more minutes to prove themself" shit. Never liked it when I was a player myself, and given that these are professionals earning huge amounts of money, they really should be able to act accordingly shouldn't they? A subbing makes a hell of a lot more of a statement than an earful, I'll tell you that much. Chances are in those 15 minutes they will do more harm than good, as a lot of players actually become stressed by the situation and try to do something (too) clever to avoid "the axe".

 

I love Dalglish, and it's been really emotional having him back, but there are a few very worrying signs he might be facing a task bigger than he and we would have liked. Let's hope we can all look back at this as the turning point towards a successful ride in a few weeks time...

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Good report. This game reminded me of the West Ham game in the second half of last season where again we were away at a team in the bottom 3 in shocking form and just seemed to think we needed to turn up to win and West Ham won pretty much every 50-50 challenge that day. It was probably even worst because Bolton have just looked unbelievably bad whenever I've seen them this season and I'm amazed they've got as many points as they have. I kept thinking there would surely be at least a ten minute spell where we laid siege to the Bolton goal but any time it looked like we were finding some momentum it just got completely killed by some sloppy overhit pass. Hopefully Kenny has made the players realise this was completely unacceptable and it will be a long, long time before we see anything as bad as this again.

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Great report as always. i was at the stoke game (and brought a mate who had never been before) and thought we couldnt be worse than that again. How wrong i was.

Playing 1 (and that 1 being Kuyt) up front against them when they brought NOTHING was an awful idea. We should have had 2 up front after 20 mins, but it took until the 2nd half.

I hated the idea of Carroll from day 1 and ive seen nothing to change my mind, as for Downing he MAYBE worse.At least Andy has time on his side but i would be surprised to see him go actually.

As for Glen J another WASTE of space. I hope we sell him and put Kelly or Flanno in. Kelly is twice the defender Glen is. I cant believe that Dave gave Glen the star man v Stoke(Martin S I thought). Get fuckin rid.Jose Morinino will leave real in june, ship glen to where ever hes going to go (even if it means making him play for portugal!)

This week is our season (4th i think is gone) and i fear the worst.

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Thanks Dave

 

I think it was really important that KK came out strongly at the end of the game. To me this is the first real test of his leadership. Last season when he came back was largely excellent and this season again we have mostly been very good despite the poor finishing costing us goals and therefore points.

 

Like Dave appears to, I have given Up on Carroll and it is no coincidence that our worst run of he season has come when Suarez has been suspended. In that time we have won 3 but only 1 in the league (Newcastle) and 1 in each of the cups. We have drew 1 against Stoke and lost 2 league games (Citeh and Bolton). As well those results we have seen a drop of in the last few weeks with performances that can best be described as patchy and at worst, disgraceful. It seems to me that what has dropped off has been the tempo we play at and we have become predictable again. With Suarez in the side you are forced to play at a higher tempo simply to keep up with his work rate and obviously defenders get less time to think and organise due to his energy and guile.

 

On Saturday whilst we were bad we saw the value of a holding midfielder to the team in protecting the back four but in recent weeks the back five (inc Pepe) have fallen from their high standards as we have made it easy for teams to score against us (Citeh and Bolton). None if their goals were screamers or fine team moves. To be fair to Pepe on Saturday you couldn't blame him and his distribution was first class, it is not his fault we butchered two or three opportunities that came our way. Similarly Gerrard, although not at his best, showed glimpses of what he can do with several top drawer passes. If you noticed with about 20 minutes to go Gerrard picked the ball up in midfield and tried a one two with Carroll who predictably messed up the three yard return pass. Gerrard stopped and slowly walked back which to me was a sign that the players know the game is up with Carroll and don't rate him. Usually once that happens there is no way back for a player. As Dave said Bellamy as usual was class.

 

So for me, a test of leadership, a drop in form but not terminal considering where we were 12 months ago. Rebuilding was always going to be a gradual job, you can't just turn over 10 or so players and expect it to click. Look at the plays who have left; Babbel, Torres, Konchesky, Mavinga, Ince, Jovanovic, Ayala, El Zhar, Kyrigakos, Insua, Poulsen, Meireles, Ngog and Degen. Players who have come in; Suarez, Carroll, Henderson, Adam, Doni, downing, Enrique, Coates and Bellamy. If you include the players who have come through the ranks and have been given more of a chance then there is no doubt we are a stronger team. Stronger but not complete and I am sure that KK knows that also.

 

We are right to be disappointed and expect more from a team that plays in Red but the key is in the word supporter. Have faith.

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