Those famous words of Bill Shankly had some significance yesterday. Those words that should be engrained in the hearts of all those academy, reserve and first team players before they’re allowed to wear that famous red shirt.
I’m not one to hark back to the glory days, but I think history and ethos should be your lens for how you go forward in the future. Yesterday, those young players who no doubt have all the ability in the world and a long prosperous career ahead of them showed the elements missing from their game; football intelligence, aggression, desire and most of all character.
That was not the case for Oldham, they came out fighting showing the belief and desire that they could get a result. Rodgers clearly had thought the team was good enough to win, but the team showed an arrogance which belittled their opponents ambition and heart.
Indeed Rodgers was praised for his selection by most of the pundits prior to kick-off, the reality of two massive league games in the space of 7 days the reason for not fielding his best XI – a decent XI all the same – just not an XI good enough for a street-fight.
There was only one fighter in the end – the man that inspired that famous come back in Istanbul. Even the magic of Luis Suarez crafting a magical goal, with help from a superb run by Borini to draw out the centre-back and provide the space for Suarez to run inside, was not enough to stop the rot.
I have to say the captain’s armband suits Suarez. I thought he managed the players well and lead by example, but in the end it came to Steven Gerrard to lift the team and try and produce something special. Nearly, so nearly, yet all too late in the end. That is the story of our season so far; too little, too late.
No doubt, many of you reading this will call for Rodgers to be axed; that is your opinion and you’re entitled to it but it’s not a view I share. Yesterday, Rodgers was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. Start a full first XI and you put your league position at serious jeopardy. Or start a team which by all means is capable of winning and they let you down.
Sebastian Coates came out looking like a homeless wanderer rather than an established defender who’s won the Copa America, confidence gone and completely mentally ruined. Jack Robinson telling Saurez to, well you all saw it – you can’t speak to someone who’s carried the team like that.
Rodgers came into a side in turmoil, Maxi and Kuyt looking to leave and Bellamy looking to go home having shown he was still capable of producing magic for Liverpool. A boardroom not quite operating at an effective level, a task to change the way the team play and the biggest job of his life on the line from day one. He’s resurrected the career of Henderson and Downing, improved Reina and brought in some fresh young blood. He’s made mistakes as any man would do, but has understood the call of the fans that the league’s important but so are trophies, and he’s had to rely on the reserves at times to still be in the position he is.
That’s not a bad haul. He’s also statistically performing above Rafa, Hodgson and Dalglish since 09/10 in terms of win/loss ratio and goals scored. Credit has to be given when doing better than the current England Manager, a Champions League winner and the legend that is the King. The next two games will tell us a lot about this Liverpool side and the collective desire.
Yesterday’s test in character and desire was a fail without question. The challenge will be to put it all behind them (again) and to remember that there will be many more brick walls to run through – the question is can they do that? If not then they should go and in my view, good riddance!
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