Johnson Kyrgiakos Skrtel Carragher
Meireles Gerrard Poulsen Cole
Adam 29' (pen)
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.