03 October 2010

Liverpool 1-2 Blackpool

Johnson Kyrgiakos Skrtel Carragher
Meireles Gerrard Poulsen Cole
Kuyt Torres

Adam 29' (pen)
Varney 45+1'
Kyrgiakos 53'

The height of embarrassment. We're past infuriating and well into comical. Well done to the manager for making Liverpool look as bad on the pitch as the owners have off the pitch.

We had hoped that an open game, with Blackpool bound to attack, would help Liverpool find its feet in front of goal. Ha. Ha ha ha ha. The open game simply meant that Liverpool couldn't keep its terrible shape, and the home side were deservedly two down by halftime. And, in keeping with this season's overriding theme, Torres had gone off injured less than ten minutes into this fiasco. It feels like I've written "shit rolls downhill" in every match review this season.

Liverpool were in utter shambles until the intermission. Promoted Blackpool, with a squad that cost less than most of the Liverpool starters, dominated from the start. Liverpool simply abdicated the flanks, with Meireles and Cole again forced wide, but Blackpool still bossed the center of the pitch. Reina was forced into action by the second minute. But while Liverpool had marginally regrouped following Torres' injury, with Cole's 26th-minute chance from a corner blocked on the line, Johnson continued his sparkling defensive form, bamboozled by Varney and stupidly conceding a penalty with the majority of Liverpool players caught upfield. Reina went the right way – as he did for Bent's penalty a week ago – but Adam's shot still found the net. When the world's falling down around your feet, sometimes you still can't help but laugh.

And the home side had no immediate response. Fumbling aimlessly in attack, limited to speculative "shots" from distance and easy saves for Gilks, Liverpool were again exposed on the counter right before halftime. Blackpool passed their way through Liverpool's backline, with Varney beating the offside trap as Johnson failed to track his run, slotting past Reina seconds before the whistle.

Once again, Liverpool responded after halftime – it'd be nice if they could "respond" at the start of matches – and Kyrgiakos pulled one back in the 53rd, smartly heading in Gerrard's free kick. Who would have imagined that a centerback who's good in the air would make Liverpool better on set plays. From there, it looked a matter of time until Liverpool leveled, especially after Hodgson replaced the insipid Poulsen with Jovanovic on the hour mark, moving Meireles into the middle.

But Blackpool weathered the storm. Liverpool couldn't find a way past a team whose manager's repeatedly stated that it can't defend. Crosses went to no one. Moves broke down at the top of the box. Yes, Cole should have leveled, through in the 59th, and Liverpool could have had a penalty in the 70th when Adam handled Johnson's cross, but I'm struggling to remember any Liverpool chances from the 66th until the 88th. Meanwhile, Blackpool nearly when 3-1 up twice, both on the break, with Johnson making a redeeming tackle in the 69th and Varney shooting over in the 83rd when defenders stood off him. Then Gilks saved Kuyt's header, Kyrgiakos' landed on the roof of the net, and the Greek defender – again thrown forward in a last-ditch attempt – was spectacularly denied with the final act of the game. An equalizer wouldn't have been deserved.

It's impossible to encapsulate just how awful Liverpool were. There have been zero signs of progress all season long. The team's only gotten worse since the near fight-back against the Mancs, and has deserved its results in the last four matches. Square pegs continue to be forced into round holes. The insanely deep backline is an utter mess. Gerrard's had little influence, Joe Cole can't find his feet in any attacking position. Even Reina – Liverpool's only redeeming player – looks shakier because of the trouble in front of him. Liverpool is just terrible from top to bottom, and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel, any signs of positivity, or any plan for improvement.

After playing the likes of Northampton, Sunderland, and Blackpool, we can't complain about the opposition's strength anymore. It's the worst start to a season for 57 years. Liverpool were relegated that season, leading the way to Shankly's renaissance. I hope the club won't have to suffer that baptism by fire, but if this continues, there's every chance Liverpool could go down. You wanted Leeds and Newcastle parallels? We're getting Leeds and Newcastle parallels. This team is simply bad, and only so much can be blamed on the owners.

I try to avoid being reactionary, but this result bolsters the belief that Hodgson has to go. The sooner the better. I completely understand those saying that there's no point firing the manager with so many deeper problems, but it shouldn't affect the players to this extent. There's still some separation between the on-field play and the off-field turmoil, and Liverpool's shown no sign of getting better on the field. And while I don't trust the board at all, Liverpool has a ready-made replacement in the wings with Dalglish. While that's again a frightening parallel to Newcastle – resorting to an old favorite in the hopes of coming good – it's hard to believe the King could be any worse.

There needs to be a catalyst. Roy Hodgson cannot be that catalyst.


Ken said...

You practically say it all, esp. Roy. No comment is needed as just what I has been thinking. It becomes tedious from me and hope you can keep it up. Good voice to wake the fans to protest against Roy immediately.

Nithin Bekal said...

Couldn't agree more about Hodgson. I knwo it's not the Liverpool way to call for the manager's head so soon, but then Liverpool's manager's aren't usually of the kind that says a draw against Utrecht is a point earned than 2 points dropped.

With Kenny available to take over, I fail to see see why they should wait to sack Hodgson.

Hectorious said...

I get the feeling if the fans ask for Dalglish, the board will appoint Sammy Lee.

I can't really comment on Lee's time at Bolton as that would have required actually watching Bolton, but he had two seasons under Rafa, and knows the squad. I think he'd be the first to get a shot if Roy leaves or is asked to leave.

Ash said...

Bizarre to see Liverpool play so badly, especially when I would have thought last season was the low point.
Blackpool looked really good out there and the game was extremely open, no doubt due in part to Liverpool's deep backline as you point out. The defense also does not play well as a unit.
Normally, it seems prudent to ask for patience, but really? Is there something in the water in Liverpool?

lfcfan said...

"We finished seventh last season so I don't understand why it's suggested we should be comparing ourselves every day with Chelsea or Manchester United at this early stage of the season.It will be nice if we can get there. We will see but I certainly don't make that demand upon the players."

This is the problem. He just doesn't get it. We're in the fcking relegation zone and he's saying that all he wants are a few more points. We want our fucking legacy back. We want to beat the living shit out of Chelsea and Man U. We want to play champions league football. We want to give Torres and Gerrard the kind of team they deserve to play with. This is bullshit.

Fuck you, Roy. Give your crown to the King.

Matt said...

Hodgson even defended his tactics before the match - yet again throwing the players under the bus. The same players by the by, that unless I've missed it - haven't said a peep but to ask for patience ... propping up Hodgson ... I don't get any of it.

nate said...

Sammy Lee's tenure at Bolton made Gary Megson look like a revelation. They were 19th or 20th when Lee was sacked in October, Megson kept them up (albeit barely).

Now, he may do better here because of history with Liverpool, but I can't see it. Feels unduly mean to say, but he seems the type who's best as an assistant.

Anonymous said...

Some managers are best as assistant, as they lack that cutting pedigree as the main boss. Even Queroz learned it the hard way as well.

You know, I'm starting to miss Rafa's battling and unrelenting manner, and I was never fond of him leaving, but what's past is past, or is it? "For the love of god, bring back Rafa" might spark more than a few debates huh?

Ian Holloway acknoledged his team's poor defence and maintains a policy that offense is the best form of defense. Maybe Roy could immitate a thing or two eh?

Heck, why not three -- three strikers in Babel, Kuyt, Ngog (considering Torres is out)?

drew said...

Never been a bigger derby game for me than the one coming up--sure, we've met Everton in cup finals, in showdowns for league titles, whatever else, but this one is existential.

As it stands, we'll be selling Torres in January, and probably for a cut rate. It is vital by then that we have new owners in place, obviously, and a new manager who can be trusted to use those funds to improve the squad, not bring in more Poulsens or Koncheskys. If we're going to go down--and though that remains unlikely, we are certainly worth our place in the table at present--we can't afford to compound that by alienating our young talent and making us even more reliant on journeymen shitkickers.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say. As I read your post, Nate, I was thinking that the manager needs to leave. I don't like saying that, but this is not a team with second-rate personnel. Liverpool has world-class players at every level, yet they're playing like a team that deserves to be relegated.

The manager isn't a good fit for Liverpool. That much is obvious to all. Roy isn't working well at Liverpool, but neither is the team.

Ugh. I really don't know what else to do other than to sack Roy. What else is there to do?

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