Flanagan Kelly Kyrgiakos Robinson
Degen Cole Insua
• 46' – Kuyt for Degen
• 46' – Aquilani for Robinson
• 46' – Jones for Doni
• 68' – Spearing for Shelvey
• 70' – Ayala for Kelly
• 82' – Coady for Poulsen
• 82' – Wisdom for Carroll
Baros 8' 39'
Almost exactly like Hull, except the third conceded came much later and was far sloppier, and without the wholesale halftime changes. Similar personnel (if a slightly weaker side), similar tempo, similar lack of possession, similar kamikaze defending, and similar impotency lead to the same result.
Despite my attempt to overvalue preseason results earlier this week, the sole conclusion to be drawn from this similarly disappointing defeat is that Liverpool are paying far too many inferior players far too much money.
It's once thing to see the likes of Kelly – in an unfamiliar role as center-back – or Insua underwhelm. It's quite another watching Cole, Poulsen, Kyrgiakos, and – somehow returning from whatever alley Liverpool attempted to abandon him in – Degen stumble aimlessly around the Ali Sami Yen.
Galatasaray's pressure was almost instantaneous, and Baros' 8th-minute goal felt a long time coming. Insua caught out of position led to Ujfalusi wide open and drew both Kelly and Kyrgiakos out of position, leaving Baros open at the center spot to punish his former club with a neat volley.
Liverpool slowly began to nullify the rampant hosts after the opener, slightly more secure than against Hull but not especially impressive considering they were playing with six nominal defenders. But having blown their lone real opportunity, when Kelly couldn't make true contact after Kyrgiakos knocked down Shelvey's free kick in the 36th, Liverpool again conceded thanks to an asinine individual error.
Poulsen, of all people, was ostensibly marking the dangerous Baros on a corner. The Danish midfielder, facing Baros, had absolutely no clue where the ball was when a Galatasaray player won the near post flick-on, and the striker effortlessly ghosted in behind for the header.
The second half, which saw Kuyt, Aquilani, and Jones replace Degen, Robinson, and Doni, unsurprisingly saw subsequent improvement, which you should get when replacing two out-of-position fullbacks with an attacker and midfielder; Cole moved out to the left with Aquilani behind Carroll. The Italian aided Liverpool's previously futile efforts to keep possession, continuing to increasingly blunt Galatasaray's attacks, but Liverpool remained blunt at the sharp end as well. Carroll threatened on a couple of set plays, while the Gala keeper smartly saved Aquilani's 65th-minute first-time effort after good work from Kuyt down the right.
Then, despite few chances for the home side, Liverpool completely lost the plot in defense in the final few minutes. Flanagan, Ayala, and Spearing were too clever in trying to play from the back, and Elmander blasted in a wonderful volley when Flanagan was caught in possession on the right. A fitting capstone.
I understand putting players in the shop window. Liverpool really need to get the likes of Cole, Poulsen, Degen, etc (even Aquilani, Insua) off the books, and by proving they're fit is one of the few ways to do so. I just worry that it's taking time away from players who Liverpool will actually need. But with another friendly immediately on the horizon, in Norway on Monday, we'll increasingly see more of the first team and it's unclear whether that lot are actually holding anyone back.
Carroll got a full 90 minutes for the first time in a long time, Kelly finally played at a potential position for the future (where he may well be needed next season), Flanagan did well until his brain lapse in the 85th minute, Shelvey had his moments (if inconsistently), and Kuyt and Aquilani clearly improved the side.
It's only preseason after all.