Kelly Carragher Ayala Robinson
Cole Aquilani Maxi
Flanagan Kyrgiakos Wilson Insua
Kuyt Henderson Downing
Let's get the excuses out of the way now.
• It's preseason
• It's because Liverpool wore blue (fine, white with cyan trim)
• Hull, at home, wanted it more
• It's preseason
• Liverpool were missing Suarez, Gerrard, Reina, Lucas, Johnson, Meireles, Agger and Skrtel.
• All of Hull's goals had an element of luck
• It's preseason
Continuing defensive mistakes are both frightening and disappointing. Liverpool rarely looked like scoring, especially in the first half. The side frequently looked flat, slow, disjointed, and second-best. Of course, it is preseason. All that matters is players' fitness.
Nonetheless, the first half was particularly torpid. With the likes of Cole, Aquilani, Ngog and Poulsen involved, Dalglish shined a spotlight on those Liverpool would like to sell. Georger succinctly summarized the subsequent result on Twitter: "If this is a shopwindow tactic, the store is on fire and any potential customers are fleeing for their lives."
It's tough to decide which was more disconcerting: conceding two regrettable goals or the complete inability to dictate possession in midfield. Hull's 4-4-2 often danced through Poulsen and Coady while Liverpool resorted to chipped balls over the top, often from Carragher or the Danish midfielder. Sometimes Ngog held play up, trying to involve runners, sometimes attackers looked to run past the last defender. It rarely worked; the lone drama came when Hull's on-loan-from-Liverpool keeper Peter Galaxy (© @sidewaysdown) saved Ngog's blast set up by Aquilani, with Cole ballooning the rebound into orbit.
Meanwhile, Hull tallied twice. First, Robbie Brady steamed down Liverpool's right with both Kelly and Cole caught upfield. Coady backed off long enough for the winger to cut in and around the retreating Kelly (at least he, unlike Cole, actually retreated), with the fortunately-deflected shot curling into the far corner. 13 minutes later, Hull's midfield triangles easily carved through Liverpool's tender underbelly, again giving the attacker – this time Robert Koren – space to sumptuously blast in from the top of the box.
Liverpool looked sharper after the interval with more of the first team involved, including new boys Downing, Adam, and Henderson. Downing nearly notched with his first touch, set up by Kuyt but well-saved by Basso, before again testing the keeper with a tame half-volley. But Hull's third came at the worst possible time, sending the visitors back to their corner just as momentum mounted. Hull again passed and moved through the midfield, ending with Kilbane's open cross from Liverpool's right. Adebola beat Wilson in the air and Insua played Simpson (just) onside, turning and firing past Jones.
After five or so more wonky minutes, Liverpool reestablished the upper hand, but that upper hand was often parried by excellent defending from center-backs Chester and McShane, as well as McKenna from midfield in the second half. Carroll poked wide following a swift counter-attack, Henderson had the ball in the net but was well offside, and Basso smartly prevented Kuyt's injury time consolation. That's about it. Otherwise, Liverpool attacks broke down in the packed final third, while Downing was far less effective on the right after switching with Kuyt midway through the frame.
But, in case I haven't mentioned it yet, it's preseason. No one got hurt, and Clarke and Dalglish have more footage of mistakes to use in their ongoing attempt to beat defenders out of their complacency.
The next stop on the Fumble Toward Sunderland train stops in Turkey in five days time against Galatasaray.