CIRCUMSTANCES out of Rodgers’ control made the Reading victory harder than it should have been.
Playing your best football is never easy after international fixtures – most of the players were jet-setting around the globe and played two competitive games only a few days apart.
This is nicknamed the ‘Fifa Virus’ in Spain.
Suarez had even flown to Bolivia where the game was at high altitude, and also to Argentina to represent Uruguay.
The Reds are missing Martin Kelly, Lucas and now Borini to long term injuries, whilst Pepe missed the game on Saturday due to a hamstring complaint picked up with Spain during the week. Even Johnson and Gerrard’s preparations were thrown into chaos due to England’s game against Poland been played a day late due to a waterlogged pitch (if only they had shut the roof earlier). So both players returned late to prepare for Brian McDermott’s men. I am not making excuses just stating fact.
The game on Saturday was a must win. It was paramount to obtain 3 points, to get the first win at Anfield. Don’t forget our run-in leading up to the Reading game had not been kind; Manchester City, Arsenal and Fergie’s men all in the first 3 games at home. Also Stoke proved tricky due to the way Tony Pulis likes his teams to setup and ‘play’ – go for the draw and ruffle a few feathers. Even Man City drew with them a few games ago.
Promoted sides should be beaten at Anfield, but that is not always the case (just look at last season – Swansea springs to mind, amongst others from previous seasons).
Only a goal for Sterling setup by our number 7 was our only reward in the first half despite controlling the game.
The second half was different story however, and whatever McDermott had said in the dressing room at half time certainly kicked them into gear as they made a go of it. Jones made some key saves to keep us in front.
This may sound strange but timing is decisive – sometimes scoring first can make teams nervous while the opposition have nothing to lose; that is why getting the second goal is vital in games like this to kill the ‘fear’. The longer the game progressed the edgier it got (nail biting time in my wheelchair in the Kop) as the pressure mounted to try and get a second goal.
Control of the game was slightly lost in the second half but a win is a win and keeping a second consecutive clean sheet is positive – we are moving in the right direction. The Reds have took 7 points out of a possible 9 hopefully this will give Brendan, Stevie and the lads the springboard and confidence to go in to the fixtures ahead starting with three points against Samuel Eto’o and FC Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday night, then the Pride of Merseyside clash with neighbourhood rivals Everton.
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