Such was my misguided confidence over how we’d do on against Stoke on Wednesday.
But the one of the direst results in our recent history made me have a re-think.
Even during the days of Roy Hodgson, I have never seen a more inept, tactically barren, embarrassingly clueless display by a Liverpool side. Sure, we passed the ball around well enough and Stoke seemed happy to let us dominate for small portions of the game but today, the opposition side had many things we didn’t.
The first, and perhaps most important, was a manager that knew what his players could, and couldn’t, do. For many moons have I campaigned for Rodgers to show some kind of adaptability. He honestly doesn’t seem to have a clue how best to use some of his players.
When that includes the likes of Cole, Henderson and the – once again – completely left out Assaidi, I could maybe understand. But when he’s pulling players off to be replaced by those that haven’t contributed any less – or more – than the other players, you really begin to wonder whether he even knows what their natural roles in the team are.
Watching Stoke on Wednesday night was like watching Liverpool circa 2004-05; not a particularly amazing team but a solid one, and every single player knows (and knew) what their role, position and focus was when the match kicked off. Sure sometimes we often lost that season. But sometimes you just have to accept that you don’t have a good enough team, or squad.
There are other problems, though. For weeks, Gerrard was awful. Then for a few games Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson were awesome. Allen was great for the first half dozen games, and Suarez was scoring for fun. But we can’t seem to get them all pulling in the same direction at once. Stoke, though, were all playing – and, in many cases, fighting – for one another. Something our players weren’t doing. This needs to change, drastically, and quickly.
Finally, our defence is a joke at the moment. But watching the opposition on Wednesday evening was like watching an example of what our defence ought to be like. Sure, Shawcross and Huth are no Agger and Skrtel but you know what? They made them both look bloody awful on Wednesday.
Both of Stoke’s central defenders were run ragged at times but they also stuck to their jobs and were rarely found out of position. For a team like Stoke to embarrass us like they did takes a manager that knows how limited his squad is and how best to utilize it, and that’s exactly what we need. Unfortunately for us right now, that is also exactly what we don’t seem to have.
Sort it out, Brendan, before the tide begins to turn inexorably against you…