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Liverpool 1 Wigan Athletic 2 - Prem (Mar 24 2012)

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LIVERPOOL 1 Wigan Athletic 2

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) – Luis Suarez

Half Time - 0-1

Venue - Anfield

Date - Sat 24 Mar 2012

Star Man – Jon Flanagan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know, I wasn't even angry after this. I was just massively deflated not to mention more than a little fearful about the immediate future. Is this as bad as it's going to get, or can we fall even further? Two defeats in a week against sides in the bottom three is absolutely shambolic, and I suppose we should be glad we don't have to play Wolves any time soon.

 

Kenny blamed this one on 'tiredness'. That's one way of looking at it I suppose. Another is that they've got the deckchairs out and are only arsed about the cups. I'm not sure either one is completely accurate, but there are elements of both in what we're seeing at the moment I'd say. Were they tired after playing three games in six days? Probably. Did they have the desire to fight through that tiredness and get the job done? No, they never.

 

I can't completely dismiss Kenny's explanation for the loss, even as I watched this horror show unfold I could see tiredness was a factor. We started both halves playing at a high tempo and pressing the ball, hunting in packs to win back possession and put them under the cosh. It lasted all of about ten minutes, then we completely stopped doing it. Fatigue may have been the main reason for that, but as I said, the desire to fight through that tiredness and summon up that extra bit of effort to get the job done just wasn't there.

 

And if they are tired then is that not a damning indictment on the fitness of the squad? Put it this way, imagine how much worse off we'd be if we'd been having to deal with the demands of European football this season. We'd probably be in the relegation zone, but no doubt still in Europe as, y'know, we find the energy from somewhere when it's a cup game.

 

Look how many games Stoke have played this season, yet they were able to hold Man City to a draw despite playing their third game in six days. If we can't perform against Wigan because the players are 'tired', then someone isn't doing their job properly. Yes Sports Science team, I'm looking at you. Again.

 

This performance was so bad that it can't JUST be put down to heavy legs. Application, or lack of, is surely an issue as well. I wouldn't go as far as to say the team didn't try, as I don't think the group of players we have here are capable of going out and deliberately going through the motions. I do think that sub-consciously they're not as motivated as they should be. I mean, would we have lost this game had it been in the FA Cup? Not a chance in my opinion.

 

The bottom line is that Wigan wanted this game more than we did. They needed it more than we did. Just as QPR did the other night. The players don't want to lose games, they don't want to play badly, but the evidence of 2012 points to them only being able to get themselves completely up for the games in the cup (as well as the 'glamour' league games like the derby and Arsenal).

 

There's an obvious issue with quality too, we have often failed to win when we've played well but any time we've not performed we've almost always dropped points. This team can't win ugly, they can't grind out a result on the days when the performance level drops. You're not going to play well every week, and there will be times when you're tired, but good teams find a way to win anyway. Have we done that even once this season?

 

Admittedly we've got some players missing at the moment, but I can't honestly offer that up as explanation for this debacle. Wigan were missing Hugo Rodallega who's arguably their best player. They also lost Victor Moses in the first half, who is probably their next best player. So no, injuries aren't an excuse as the side we put on the field should have been good enough to do the job.

 

There's just something about Wigan though, we always find it hard against them. No-one else does, as let's face it they're fucking crap. Can't defend, can't attack. Play nice football, but shite at both ends of the pitch (a bit like us some would say), that's why they are in relegation battles every year.

 

If Wigan were a top four side we'd no doubt beat them every year. We're abysmal against the relegation sides though, it's the same every season. Last season we lost to Blackpool twice and also to West Ham. We dropped points to Birmingham as well. This year we've lost to Bolton, QPR and Wigan already and been held to a draw at home by Blackburn, who will probably beat us at Ewood Park in a few weeks.

 

I wasn't looking forward to this game at all after what happened at QPR. I was even less enthused when I saw the starting line up. Henderson and Kuyt both starting and no Andy Carroll again. Fucking great.

 

I'm not a big believer in stats as generally I find they can be misleading as they don't take numerous factors into account. I saw one on twitter about Carroll that did catch my eye though. In his last seven starts we've won five and drawn two (we beat Cardiff on pens but including that as a win would be what's known as 'padding the stats'). In the last seven he's been left out we've drawn two and lost five. Interesting I thought. Of course it doesn't take into account the quality of opposition in those games but it does fly in the face of popular opinion that we play better football without him. It was undeniably true for a good while, but is it still the case now? Not for me.

 

Not that all our problems will be solved just by starting Andy Carroll, I'm not suggesting that at all as there are so many things going wrong right now that it's difficult to even know where to start. I don't see the point in not picking him though, not unless the decision has already been made to sell him in the summer. And even if it has, I'd still be playing him anyway as he's unquestionably in better form than he's been in at any time since he came here.

 

His transfer value isn't going to drop by picking him, hell, it may even increase. I keep saying it, but if Kenny thought Carroll was worth paying £35m for he should back his judgement and just fucking let the lad have a run of games to try and get into top form. It's not as though anyone else is playing well enough to keep him out.

 

As for Henderson, he keeps getting games regardless of how poor he is. He was hooked at half time against Wigan and was lucky to last that long. I'll be honest, I'd have subbed him immediately after he shit out of taking a shot from the edge of the box when it opened up for him. Everyone around me went mad when he did that, and rightly so. It's becoming a regular occurrence, I mentioned a similar incident in the League Cup final.

 

There seems to be two schools of thought on Henderson. One is that he's desperately average and will never be a Liverpool player as long as he's got a hole in his arse. The other is that he's a young lad with loads of potential who'll prove all the doubters wrong and become class in a couple of years, just as Lucas did. I sit somewhere in between the two, leaning more towards the first point of view to be honest.

 

Just because Lucas came good after a dodgy start in which many wrote him off doesn't mean Henderson will. Lucas is actually the exception rather than the rule. I wouldn't write Henderson off because I do think technically he's pretty sound and by all accounts the lad has a tremendous work ethic and trains as hard as anybody to improve his game. What worries me is the lack of balls. He just seems scared to try and express himself. I compare him with Jonjo Shelvey, and I'd take Shelvey all day at the moment as he isn't scared.

 

I'm not even a big Shelvey fan, but that lad has swagger, he has confidence in his own ability to the extent that he probably thinks he's much better than he is. That's not always a bad thing. Shelvey came on against Wigan and was demanding the ball off everybody. He wanted to get on the ball, to make things happen and to drive the team forward. He believes in himself. When Henderson gets the ball he just looks like he wants rid of it as soon as possible in case he loses it.

 

It's probably unfair to single him out, he was just the worst of a bad bunch. Gerrard was arguably even more disappointing because unlike Henderson, there are actually expectations on Gerrard to perform. He was nowhere near his usual standard, and the tiredness excuse looked to apply to him as much as anyone. Way below par from the captain, although he did set up Suarez for our only goal.

 

I thought Suarez was shite too, maybe he's another who was a bit 'leggy'? He fell over quite a lot, he gave the ball away quite a lot, and he complained a lot. He also scored so deserves credit for that, even if he later blotted his copybook by using his arm to put the ball over the line when it appeared to be going in anyway. He was booked for it, harshly I think as it didn't look intentional to me but if he had stayed away from it Skrtel's header looked to be on it's way in anyway. Mason was right to disallow it, much as I hate to admit it as he's battling it out with Kevin Friend for the 'biggest cunt with a whistle who's name isn't Howard Webb' award.

 

Had that goal stood we'd have probably gone on to win the game as we'd started the second half very well and had Wigan on the ropes. From that moment on though we just seemed to lose all belief and all life was sapped from our performance. The flurry of effort we'd seen immediately after half time fizzled out and Wigan were very comfortable after that. They did nothing in attack, they only had two shots in the entire game but both of them ended up in the net.

 

The first of those was a first half penalty which at the time I had absolutely no idea what it had been awarded for. I saw Carragher head the ball up in the air and then Moses send a weak header straight at Reina. Next thing I knew a penalty had been awarded and Moses was flat out on the floor and the physio was sprinting on. Whatever had happened I assumed it was the correct decision as neither the players nor crowd seemed overly upset with the refs call.

 

Having seen the replay of it, Mason was right to give the penalty as it was a clear foul by Skrtel. Why he'd go in with his foot raised so high in the penalty area I don't know, he's always been prone to reckless, rash challenges but this season he has cut right down on them to his great credit. A rare rush of blood to the head, but he's been our best player this season and even in this game I thought he played very well, that one lapse aside.

 

Pepe guessed correctly but the pen was right in the corner and he just couldn't get there. Un-saveable. Wigan's first attack and they scored, fucking typical eh? We'd had a few half chances and had started the game well but quickly faded. The same thing happened in the second half too, which does lend more weight to the whole 'tiredness' thing, or more specifically the whole 'not fit enough' thing.

 

The lack of quality in our attacking play was difficult to watch, and it was clear from around midway through the second half that we weren't going to score again. The arrival of Raheem Sterling was greeted with a huge roar. That's how desperate we've become, we were looking to a 17 year old making his first team bow to come on and save us.

 

Not an ideal situation for him to come into, but needs must. He was only in the squad due to all the injuries, but we may as well keep him in there now for the rest of the season, or at least until Bellamy returns. He's a useful option to have on the bench as unlike most our other attacking players, he can actually run.

 

He did alright when he came on, he was lively and didn't look overawed, he even managed to get a shot on target which is more than most of the others managed. Wigan were never troubled though and the boos at full time were not pleasant but entirely expected. You can't follow up a loss away at a bottom three side with a loss at home to another bottom three side. It's unacceptable and if people want to boo to show their disapproval I'm not going to tell them they're wrong, even if I wouldn't do it myself.

 

We've completely fucked up our league season now. The best we can hope for is 7th again, and right now you wouldn't want to put any money on us even achieving that. There's teams breathing down our neck now, including the blues who have once again drawn within two points of us, as have Sunderland. Swansea and Norwich are also just one win away from catching us whilst Stoke are only a further point back and probably laughing their heads off at Kenny's claims of 'tiredness'.

 

Winning the FA Cup to go along with the League Cup would represent an excellent season, but we really can't be finishing any lower than 7th (which in itself is bad enough) and if the players need any extra motivation to get through those games when they're feeling a little bit jaded, then maybe we should pin a giant league table to the dressing room wall at Melwood and make them look at it every day.

 

 

Team: Reina; Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Henderson (Carroll), Spearing, Gerrard; Kuyt (Sterling), Suarez, Downing (Shelvey):

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Guest davelfc

I thought that not qualifying for the europe league last season was a blessing in disguise. But it appears not to have been, far from giving the squad time to recuperate each week and the training to concentrate on the league, we've got used to having it easy.

 

God only knows what the excuse would be if we had actually managed that europe spot, what state would the poor players be in?

 

I think a lot of this is in their heads, as you say they're thinking of the cup, some are already on the beach. I'd like to say some are at the euros but on current performances they'll struggle to make it. But I can some having already worked out that a few decent performances at the end of the season should secure a call up.

 

It's not good enough, it's a disgrace and for all his man management Kenny needs to take away that arm around the shoulder and get tough. I feel a lot are taking advantage.

 

I hope that while publicly taking the attention away from them he is privately giving them shit, they certainly served up a lot of that on Saturday.

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Ther blaming of tiredness is for me simply ridiculous. When we had a full squad Kenny still played the same players, no matter how they performed. He rarely make subs, again no matter how shit certain players played.

 

He have consistently played a young lad out of position, rather than play an experienced international in his natural position. Im not saying Maxi is a world beater, but he is a much better wide midfielder than Henderson. Carra tired? He has been "rested" for months. Carroll tired? He has`nt played much lately, yet Kenny still picks the so called tired players ahead of him.

 

I think the explanation is just as ridiculous as the constant "we have improved so much" mantra he goes on about. His team selections doesnt echo what he says.

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I don't think the cheer when Sterling was on was due to we hoped he could salvage anything, but more or less due to the fact we finally got to see him in the first team. I think the whole stadium knew we wouldn't get anything from this game....

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Ther blaming of tiredness is for me simply ridiculous. When we had a full squad Kenny still played the same players, no matter how they performed. He rarely make subs, again no matter how shit certain players played.

 

He have consistently played a young lad out of position, rather than play an experienced international in his natural position. Im not saying Maxi is a world beater, but he is a much better wide midfielder than Henderson. Carra tired? He has been "rested" for months. Carroll tired? He has`nt played much lately, yet Kenny still picks the so called tired players ahead of him.

 

I think the explanation is just as ridiculous as the constant "we have improved so much" mantra he goes on about. His team selections doesnt echo what he says.

 

 

Couldn't have said it better myself

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Spot on, as ever, Dave.

 

There is no wonder players were tired, Dalglish used eight of them from the start in all three of those matches (Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Gerrard, Spearing, Downing, Suarez) and only made a total of FOUR changes across the three games, two of which were injury-enforced.

 

Those two were Jon Flanagan and Jordan Henderson replacing Martin Kelly and Charlie Adam for the Wigan game. The only other changes were for the QPR game where Andy Carroll was dropped for Dirk Kuyt and Maxi was swapped for Adam.

 

So the tired excuse is valid, but surely the reason for the tiredness is because the manager chose to play eight of the team in all three fixtures.

 

Kenny is setting himself up for a fall by blaming tiredness. If he can't utilise the squad effectively, and with Europa League next season, FSG must be wondering why they would keep him in charge.

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As usual Dave hitting the nail right on the head, my godson has been nagging me for ages to take him to a game.I got him a ticket only 2 seats away from my season ticket seat and the two guys next to me switched seats so he sat next to me.I bought him a 7 Suarez shirt ,shorts socks etc kissed goodbye to £100 +,and after 20 mins he said "we are rubbish and are not going to win". So a 9 year old could see how crap we were playing . I never thought I would hear Kenny come out with the "tired BS",and if it is not turned round big style we can forget winning the FA cup and will have to grow a pair to make sure we finish in the top 10.Get it sorted Kenny and co

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I don't really think anyone were expecting Sterling to save us, it was more an appreciation that he actually was allowed to come on instead of any of those experienced players that had done more or less fuck all. I hope he gets more time as there is no excuse for not letting him play more often now that we're fucked for 4th place.

 

Fucking depressing to think that we would have been in reach of if we'd won the two games last week as Spurs are plummeting at the moment and have been ever since the England talk has surrounded Redknapp. All players should be fucking ashamed of what they've done lately. It's a disgrace to the club and a fair few of them should be kicked out as soon as possible.

 

On the other hand Kenny should take a long hard look at himself and ask himself why he doesn't start Suarez and Carroll together more often. We've actually won three of the last four games they've started together since Suarez returned from his suspension. Three of them were cup games. Why are they not starting league games? Both of the last two games were games Carroll would have given us a major advantage and Suarez would have had a lot of space to play and run in against some of the weakest defenders in the league. A huge tactical error of judgement.

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This might have been the first Reds match ever I could have watched to the end, but chose not too, 15 mins out. The script was written very early..and the same f*ckin butler (shite team selection) did it again.

 

'Dysfunctional" was the big word that sprang to fed-up mind. Dave is right about the Sports Science clowns, but could whoever "coaches" the defence put their hand(s) up too and explain why we've let in so many shithouse goals, the last few weeks ? C'mon own up.

 

Has to be the worst ever on this front - seriously. Can anyone remember a worse run of defending ?? I can't - even through the worst days of the Facerubber

 

And which overpaid "goalkeeping mentor" mentors Pepe to defend shots with his legs wide open ? It's kid's stuff (if Achterberg, that's fine I've a soft spot for Tranmere..)

 

We all love the King but it's simple now...finish 4th at least next year or move upstairs (ie back to your stand seat). Or as soon as it starts looking a long shot again (which might be right now...)

 

I don’t think he'll get the chance though. Henry hasn't shown a hard edge yet - but he's got to be thinking successor now.

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