Sub-standard, lethargic, clueless, wayward, blunt, so on so forth to describe yet another classic Liverpool performance which epitomises where the team’s gone wrong as far as the football is concerned.
Blame Brendan Rodgers all you like but there’s only so far he can go. The rest is up to the players to get the basics right.
Possession was repeatedly given away in crucial areas of the pitch which allowed Stoke to pile on one attack after another.
Even when Liverpool did have the ball and were making some threatening moves on goal, the lack of fluidity among the players was painfully obvious to see.
There was hardly any movement among the players around whoever had the ball.
The Stoke defence had a field day just tightly marking everyone without having to move much to keep up the pressure.
Liverpool players seemed rooted to the spot, just waiting for a pass to be played in to them.
When that did happen, and they did open up some kind of a gap, they seemed to insist on taking extra touches and allowing the defenders to re-settle themselves to get a block in.
The guilty players include Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique, Glen Johnson, Raheem Sterling and even Luis Suarez.
You won’t win football matches like that and it’s all too well blaming Rodgers for his selection process and what not but at the end of the day the players aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.
The equaliser could possibly be excused as a brilliant ball through to Walters which caught Skrtel cold footed. But Kenwyne Jones’ header from that corner was a punchline which made the Liverpool players look like clowns.
Forget the fact that he was more or less unmarked, how did a weak header like that find its way past two players and squeeze in to the back of the net along the side of the post? Why wasn’t there someone around the near post area there?
Then of course Walters added a third for Stoke – again no one closing him down.
He simply brings the ball down halfway loops a side-footed volley past Reina. A foot up there just in the way of the shot would’ve blocked it and done the job.
This is basic football 101, which the players continue to get wrong. Let’s not lay the blame on one individual. It’s either Joe Allen or Stewart Downing or Steven Gerrard or someone else taking the flak, but the fact of the matter remains everyone’s been acting like schoolboys – learning to run with the ball for the very first time.
We know very well these players are more than capable of doing wonders with the ball. Criticise Joe Allen as much as you like but we saw his quality when he turned up against Manchester City some months ago, we know how lethal Gerrard can be on the ball.
But when these players don’t do what they have been known to in the past, no manager can do a thing about it.
Alex Fergusson wouldn’t be half as successful if his teams decided to pass the ball like idiots in a brewery after a drink off.
That’s what Liverpool players looked like against Stoke. They may be a tough side but there’s no way they should have been allowed to take the lead just 10 minutes after going behind.
It wasn’t as much credit to Stoke as it was a shame on the Reds.
Of course now they’ll be traveling to Loftus Road to play a QPR side who’re perhaps their twins when it comes to shambolic football this season – make that erratic.
That’s the word to describe Liverpool nowadays. One step forward with that 4-0 win over Fulham, two back against Stoke.
Now it wouldn’t be a surprise if coupled with the downer of this result and the fact they’re playing a side more or less down in the dumps, if they turn up on the day and knock 3 or 4 past them.
It wouldn’t mean a thing if the next game against Sunderland sees the same old story. And don’t be surprised if that is the case. They would be on a high after beating Manchester City as well.
Liverpool need to get back to the habit of grabbing the game by the neck and keeping their grip on for longer periods. 4 passes put together counts for nothing if the 5th always ends up with the opposition.
Only the players can sort this out – individually and together as a team. A manager can instruct the players what to do; he can’t go out on the pitch himself and do it.