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Liverpool’s Missed Opportunity

After three less than convincing victories but with at least one of those being against the goal striken neighbours, I strolled up Walton Breck Road towards the Kop pondering whether this could be victory number four against the bitterest of all bitter rivals, Manchester United.  The post American Revolution, although not firing on all cylinders yet, seemed to be warming nicely and a convincing home win could provide reason for more optimism.

 

Alex Ferguson had declared that week via his reformed relationship with the BBC that he felt this fixture was the biggest club match in the world and I tended to agree.  The setting was set for a match of good versus evil, Liverpool versus Manchester, nineteen titles versus nineteen titles, socialism versus capitalism, past versus present, moral high ground versus animalistic tendency and ultimately scorn versus hate.  As has been the increasingly familiar custom by Mr Ferguson in previous trips to Anfield he donned his ‘on the buses’ cap hailed his obedient minions aboard his big, oversized, one hundred percent mortgagee leveraged American bus and proceeded to park it slap bang in the middle of Anfield.  The first half was a stale mate and as Gerrard’s finely tuned free kick rattled the net, the revolution looked certain.  But as the half wore on and the tempers increased we ended up with a very forgettable one all draw. We shuffled out bemoaning two points lost and not one point gained, a revolution temporally on hold, wondering when Andy Carroll would prove the increasing amount of crictics wrong, and, most importantly of course, with our moral high ground intact, or so we thought.

 

Now some six months later, our firm and evidence based faith in Andy Carroll is now truly a blind one and the moral high ground within which Shankly built this empire appears broken.  The accusations about that Luis Saurez arrived and we mocked Patricise Evra for planting a typical Manchester United low blow on the new number seven and we wondered how low their morals had sunk.  Quite simply put, we were wrong, the definitive details of the events on 15th October 2011 will never be known, but racist comments were passed and not just once, enough said, period.  But what we do know deifinitively is what and how Liverpool management responded to the situation.  All in all it was a disgrace, the t-shirts being the lowest point.  The architect for this composite response is our greatest of legends Mr Dalglish.  One thinks what Glen Johnson made of it.

 

Following the Anfield clash with Manchester United Liverpool continued unbeaten in the league for the remainder of the year, not convincingly though, considering the amount the seven home draws.  This was the warning sign and since the turn of the year a mere eleven points have been collected in the league.  Which to put it simply is relegation form, not just a poor patch.  To win the League Cup was a well needed cool beer during a hot summer’s day until you realised that it was done on penalties against a Cardiff side who are struggling to hold on to a playoff place in the Championship.  The honest Liverpool fan would have admitted to being very worried about the Everton clash at Wembley.  Those concerns were realised today, but a scrappy fight results in a potential cup.  So would a mid-table finish, a league cup victotry and finalists in the FA Cup be a successful season?  Check out the out lay.  A huge £112 million was spent on revitalising Liverpool in 2011.  Luis Suarez (£22.8m) has proved troublesome as discussed, but his effort and a hand full of goals appear to be worth it at present.  Jose Enrique (£5m) has had a good season and his attacking qualities have been well utilised, but his form has dipped this calendar year.

 

Unfortunately, the positive signing end there.  Andy Carroll (£35m) didn’t want to leave Newcastle and in all honesty the last time Liverpool played a style of football that Carroll would prosper with, Steve Highway was busting a gut down the wing in 1977.  Evidently he was a reaction signing in response to the well needed Torres’ move.  Unlike Suarez he just doesn’t fit the Liverpool playing style, round peg, square hole.  As a result he has scored four goals (all away from home interestingly) and has despite the back to back Blackburn and Everton victory goals the utter lack of confidence remains.  Jordan Henderson (£16m), who scorched through the centre of midfield for Sunderland in recent times to such an extent that the bigger clubs came knocking, has continued to be used on the wing, and, as a result has underperformed and been ineffective.  Charlie Adam (£8m) is continually expected to play a holding defensive role in the centre of midfield, while his only abilities in the centre are passing and distribution.  Stuart Downing (£20m) was purchased to try and establish an Andy Carroll friendly delivery, which is a great idea in principle.  Unfortunately, no, he has been very poor and particularly at home has looked out of his depth and almost scared and as discussed above Liverpool haven’t played that style of football for some twenty five years.

 

When the ever mature and reliable Pepe Reina starts trying to play the hard man, then you know there’s something wrong.  This is more than a run of bad form but evidence of something far deeper.  The decline on the pitch is evident, but who is responsible?  Well, according to the actions this week of John W. Henry and Tom Werner of Fenway Sports Group it appears Damien Comolli, Director of Football and Peter Brukner, Head of Sports Science and Medicine have paid the price.  Is that fair?  Is that correct?  Dalglish admitted this week that he had agreed with every transfer.  And fair enough, player transfers were the main part of Comolli’s job but if the Fenway Sports Group are disappointed with the price then enough, sack him, but if you want to but responsibility on anyone’s head regarding the mismanagement of sensitive issues off the pitch, advice, recommendation or endorsement for a group of players that don’t fit tactically and for the general sinking of the empire look no further than our beloved King Kenny.  His position appears to be strengthened by this week’s P45 action.  Kenny did a fantastic job of stabilising the ship post Gillite and Hicks, a job Hodgson just wasn’t up for, but a rebuilding and rethinking from the bottom up was required.  A clear thought out and progressive plan was needed to be executed by someone who understands the modern vortex that is Premier League and Champions League football.  Romanticism with one of our greatest sons, with ill planned, knee jerk and tactically naive signing have spoiled a potentially beautiful revolution.

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