SUNDAY’S calamitous display against League One strugglers Oldham Athletic was not just worrying performance wise, sure we were poor and you can put that down to a bad day at the office, but what grabbed me was the amount of players hiding from the challenge.
The lack of heart and fight was depressing viewing. I don’t like to slate the team I support, it is in mine and many of my contemporary’s nature to try to add a positive spin on what the club are doing and trying to achieve.
From the highs of the Norwich win to the lows of Sunday this topsy-turvy form exposes our deficiencies and may urge the manager to revaluate his policy to throw 6 or more novices into the side at one time. Some may argue that it’s a learning curve for our fledglings, but being at the cost of our name in the hat for the FA Cup 5th round is unacceptable.
Brendan Rodgers pulled no punches in his condemnation of his young charges: “I was bitterly disappointed with the young players as they had a chance to compete for a club that has to challenge for trophies. We lost our concentration and only had spells in the last 35 minutes when we were at the right level.” He added: “The intensity of our game was nowhere near where it should be at the beginning.”
We gave the ball away too easily and were not strong enough physically. I believe that a public condemnation of the levels of ineptitude shown was totally justified. Harsh lessons need to be learned if the potential of this side is to be realised – if this goes on, the scrapheap beckons.
We can forgive that mistakes will be made in games but disrespecting the shirt by hiding and lacking the heart for battle is unforgivable. Most Kopites are patient, knowledgeable and faithful but if we feel that we are getting cheated by the same players who we back, week in and week out, they are harder to defend.
We have embarked on an exhaustive fixture list with games coming thick and fast every 3-4 days, but this can also be a blessing. A win at Arsenal would go some way to lifting the clouds which accompanied my disposition over the last few days as I trudged wearily past gloating Blues who relish these days!
Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge (to a lesser extent) have set the bar in which the remainder of the squad must follow in. Consistent levels every week is what we expect and are working to.
One or two old stagers who have seen it all may command a higher salary and will have little or no sell-on value but points on the board, knowledge and savvy which 150-plus appearances at the top brings should work wonders to placate the doubters.
Don’t see this as a side-swipe at Gerrard and Jamie Carragher who I have lionised in the past as true leaders but in very different ways. Carra has been falling into the shadows in recent years, his high pitched shrill and fist pumping does not have the same effect when performed in the dug-out, and our captain fantastic is well known to lead by example. Sometimes players need a kick up the backside and when there are so many youngsters in the side with varying levels of maturity it takes an old head to exact the home truths and remind them what it takes to be at the club.
This brings me to what I saw in Gary Neville’s (I can’t believe I’m writing this) excellent analysis on Monday Night Football. When the otherwise excellent David De Gea flapped at a cross which indirectly led to Clint Dempsey securing a point for Spurs in the dying embers of the game, every Reds favourite worst enemy brought our attention to the reaction of several Manchester United player’s towards their devastated keeper. You could clearly see in their body language that there was going to be no arms around the shoulder and commiserations. Instead there will be recriminations from his experience at the club and the mentality of winners insisting on people taking responsibilities for their actions.
If this is to be true at Liverpool our very own Brad Jones should be black and blue by now!
So what do you think? Do we need more experienced players? Is it acceptable that the average age of the side which lost to Oldham are a mere 22?
I look forward to reading your comments.