The losing ritual – and the backlash that follows

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AnfieldTHERE would be no justification in sugar coating the performance on Saturday against Arsenal.

While my last piece spoke of the opportunity for apprentices to confound the masters, the reality was that the master was preparing his greatest work so far this season.

This Arsenal side showed discipline, with touches genius within an exquisitely applied tactical plan as they brushed aside a lacklustre Liverpool team.

Since then, I have followed the well trodden match ritual after such a defeat.

First, Match of the Day is missed, as are the Sunday games, the Champions League games are swerved, this time with the help of some fireworks, and then by around Thursday football has become tolerable again. The gossip column draws me in and soon the next game is in sight.

My senses heighten and I can smell and taste  a thrashing on the cards. We’re owed a result, we need that backlash and when Saturday arrives excitement has bubbled through as I wake with the knowledge that Liverpool will avenge my agony and deliver the ultimate riposte to a devastating defeat.

It’s a very successful ritual after a particularly tough loss. Saturday’s result was painful because Arsenal dismantled a Liverpool side that has showed real promise. They were confident, industrious and punishing. In fact, they had all the hallmarks of some of Wenger’s greatest sides. They showed invention, the crisp passing movements were too much for the reds to contend with and when there was a moment where they could waiver, they responded in ruthless fashion with Ramsey lashing in a goal of the highest quality.

More than that though it was hard to take because in the first make or break moment of the season Liverpool wilted. Last season, we unraveled at the mere mention of Europe. So far, we have looked like a team that is capable of actually making that step into the top four but in the first pressure match it was not just the result that was deflating, it was the manner in which we were comprehensively outclassed.

A bold selection in bringing Flanagan into the first team backfired. It was an odd decision to throw a player who is so young and has been out of the team for so long into the hotbed of what was a top of the table clash. Had it worked, we could have been talking about the depth of talent in our right-back position and Rodgers would have seemed to be a tactical guru plucking divine inspiration from the ghosts of managers past. Instead we were left with questions over the abilities of Martin Kelly and the pondering whether sending Wisdom on loan was Rodgers offloading the trait rather than the player.

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Make no mistake though, Flanagan was not the reason that the team lost against Arsenal. We were stifled too easily and players were rushed in possession instead of the considered and incisive team that we aim to be. Of course, to a great extent that was due to the quality of Arsenal’s pressing but it also revealed much about the temperament of our current team. Rodgers talked about wanting players who were bold in possession of the football. In midfield on Saturday there was little bravery in that arena.

The temptation after being outclassed is to tear up the blueprint and start afresh. But there is little need to conduct an inquisition into the make up of the team on the back of such a defeat. Arsenal’s team has been much longer in the making than ours and while we should have concerns about the fortitude of our squad, we can only genuinely assess that come the end of the season. If we learn from the pressure games both in the team and the management then we won’t just be a team battling for the top four, we will become a team battling for the title.

Saturday’s game taught us relatively little about our team. Our midfield is not effective but if you hadn’t sussed that out watching Liverpool this season then you are probably into the wrong sport. We learned that we’re not going to win the title but if you had convinced yourself that Liverpool would, then you’re probably outside of the realms of optimist and within the realms of insanity. It was chastening to be given such a schooling by Arsenal but we should all refrain from making any irresponsible judgments about this team on the basis of one match. There is no shame in losing to a quality side away from home.

What we must remember is that we have 4 more points than we had against the same opposition last year and we are still in the top 3, ten games into the season. We’ve seen some sublime football from Liverpool so far this season and we haven’t even been playing well for a full 90 minutes in our games. The return of Coutinho will add to our ingenuity and we should look forward to the prospect of the Brazilian, Sturridge, Suarez and Moses potentially playing in the same team.

If last season is a measure of how the team will progress, then we are likely to see our performances improve as the season wears on and with a few select additions in January we may well scramble our way into the Champions League. That would mark an incredible turnaround in 12 months against highly competitive rivals.

If the Arsenal game taught us anything new, it is that it is great to be back near the top and having league games that have real meaning in the discourse of the season. The setbacks are painful but having the opportunity to go top of the league this far into the season is priceless. Now let’s move on to that thrashing.

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  • vicky says:

    BR is an apprentics, he is learning coaching.. Nonse.. A coach that Lacks experience of how to rotate players for better performance.

    • no sheep says:

      I know all these apprentices managers are killing the prem. tell me haters how many points dies rodgers needs to get out of the next 10 games to stop you lot to stop crying. Really I would like to know? Most of you won’t even have to look at the fixtures to tell me 28’points.

      • realist says:

        Ha ha ha

        Getting comments fRom the fool who thinks Suarez is not good for Liverpool is like getting comments from a 4 year old

        Your the one crying little no sheep . Does nobody like your little Brenda ?

        You have never had 1 intelligent comment . Still think Wilshire is not a first team player ? Ha hahaha hahaha ha ha ha hahaha hahaha

    • realist says:

      Your absolutely right Vicky . Rodgers is an apprentice manager but he doesnt seem to be learning very fast

    • aaron says:

      1. Arsenal
      2. Liverpool
      3. Southampton

      For an apprentice manager he sure is keeping up with and outperforming some seriously experienced managers.

      • aaron says:

        That or he has brainwashed ALL FANS, ALL MEDIA AND THE WORLD.

        What a sorcerer this man is. Deadly, he should be locked in a straight jacket or something.

  • pino pino says:

    No sheep (no brain)like it or not Br is a championship manager at best until he starts winning big games am not yet convinced and Leiva is a championship midfielder at best only good against weaker teams.No sheep u are a CHILD BY UR WORDS I DONT NEED TO BE CONVINCED.

  • no sheep says:

    “No sheep u are a CHILD BY UR WORDS I DONT NEED TO BE CONVINCED.” “No sheep(no brain)” if your really think I’m the childish one then your a muppet as well as a troll. And as with most tolls they can only back their argument up with name calling.

    “This is the best Liverpool team sense iv been here.” Glen Johnson. Do you know who he is?

    • realist says:

      No . Wrong again no sheep. You are the troll .

      You are unbelievably stupid . Do u believe everything the players say ? Gullible and stupid

      Gerrard said Joe Cole was like messi , was that true ? Or Stevie ass kissing a teammate ?
      Gerrard said Hodgson was the man to restore glory to Liverpool . Was that true ?

      99% of players only say nice things about their team / team mates . Get it ?

      It’s no wonder your so stupid if you believe everything that is said

    • realist says:

      No sheep says
      “and as with most trolls they can only back their argument with name calling”

      Ha ha ha

      In the same comment he called pino a Muppet and a troll

      Ga ha ha haha

      You just called yourself a troll !!! Ha ha ga ha

      Comedy gold as usual from the self-confessed troll no sheep

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