Sunderland 2 Liverpool 2

They say it’s grim up north and in Sunderland it certainly was. My New Year Resolution of going to games full of joy and expecting a win has been binned. I don’t think Jürgen was overly chuffed either. The effort put in against Manchester City might have been good reason to explain how we played but we still should have won. I hate to give Moyes due credit but he probably got his tactics right just as Jürgen got his right against City. Sunderland, like Everton, were in our faces and wouldn’t let us settle but there were also times when we wanted to make five passes when one might have done the trick. Even after Manè put us 2-1 up there was a foreboding feeling around the away end and with referee Anthony Taylor proving his many doubters right he gave Sunderland the chance they wanted. Not even the most one-eyed of Sunderland fans shouted for the free kick that led to the second penalty. How bad was Taylor? Well when both sets of fans boo him at the end it tells you a story. When Sturridge was injured even the Sunderland keeper was trying to tell the referee but he ignored him and that tells you something else about him. Maybe he is a Manc of some sort after all? Sunderland deserved the draw but the fixture planners and TV match snatchers had played their part. It’s football now and the level playing field is a thing of the past.

Liverpool 1 Manchester City 0

I had to endure this game following updates because I wasn’t there. Boxing Day ruined by Sky and New Year’s Eve ruined by BT. Sometimes football has to take second place although had it been an early start I would have made it. This was either our big test or the game which showed Manchester City aren’t going to deliver what they thought Guardiola would bring them? When I saw our line-up with Emre Can in the side and both Origi and Dancing Dan in the comfortable dugout I suspected The Kaiser wasn’t going to take the richer of the Mancunian clubs on in a slug fest. If that was the case, it turned out just fine. The Golden Wonder, Gary Lineker said later it wasn’t the classic neutrals hoped for, well tough titty pal. To me this was the perfect appetiser for what I would feast on later in the evening. Gini Wijnaldum said we shouldn’t be surprised he scored with his head – it wouldn’t have bothered me if he scored it with his backside – but it wasn’t a bad effort was it? Vincent Kompany must have been equally impressed watching from the away end but maybe not so chuffed with his own teams efforts? Jürgen got his tactics spot on and there won’t be too many games in the remainder of the season when Manchester City don’t have a worthwhile effort on target. I don’t care for the phoney New Year’s honours list but we look to have more chance of being mentioned in them than Manchester City.

Liverpool 4 Stoke 1

I suppose the only good thing about TV switching this game to suit themselves was the fact that we could let a few cobwebs clear after the Christmas Day binge and feast? After the ‘real’ Boxing Day results we were again left playing catch up as everybody who was expected to win, won. I was sat in the Main Stand lower far too close to the Stoke fans for my comfort. They’re a real mouthy lot and remind me more often than not, what some football supporters used to be about. However, they weren’t the only source of irritation because we were surrounded by what seemed hundreds of the “Who R Ya” sort and they had a day to remember!
It probably all started when Stoke scored and they begged the same question of us but when we levelled, all around me were on their feet gesticulating and shouting one of the most boring chants in football. After each goal it got worse and more annoying. It did cease towards the end of the game though, because most of them had made an early exit.
I got home just as Sky showed the highlights and the most audible bit was those claiming to be Reds, hollering “Who R Ya”, yep “Who R Ya” indeed.
Other than that, I thought we played far better than against West Ham, Middlesbrough and Everton. Stoke came to give us a game and for half an hour might have been able to claim they were the better side but after Lallana levelled things up we played some really good stuff and with a bit more composure around the box we might have added a couple more. Since he ‘De-Mobbed’ himself from National Service Milner looks better every game. With Coutinho almost mended we’re beginning to look stronger in numbers and if I had a bit of an headache following the festive fun, The Kaiser might have a bigger one naming his best eleven.
One comment about our goalkeeping situation, maybe Mignolet could have done better with the Stoke goal, but so could the defence. The save from Joe Allen kept us in the game at the time and maybe he has benefitted from the kick up the backside? Time will no doubt tell us more.
Well done to the Kop on Peter Crouch applause, nice to hear his song again. Also to those who tried to get the ‘Merry Christmas, Everton’ one going, a valiant effort was made in the Upper Anny.

Life After Basle

Now the dust has just about settled after the loss in to Seville in Basle hopefully the club will support Jürgen Klopp when he requests transfer funds. We didn’t lose against Seville because of any one player, or any particular incident we lost because collectively this Liverpool team just cannot defend and hasn’t been able to defend for a few years now. It was something that Brendan Rodgers never seemingly sought to address but should have done after the likes of Jamie Carragher decided he wanted to become a pundit and Daniel Agger was shoehorned out of the club [or so it seemed].
Under Jürgen we’ve struggled to defend set pieces and we’ve crumbled under pressure all too frequently. You can see in his face the frustration and agitation when the basics become difficult. In a fifteen minute onslaught Seville exposed all our deficiencies and once they’d levelled just seconds into the second half you could sense what was coming next. Like the manager said, we had around 44-minutes to sort things out, but couldn’t. It’s happened before so it wasn’t a surprise.
Before the game the experts constantly said Jürgen had improved so many players and in a few cases that might be fact but collectively it’s not the case. He’s definitely got a bit more out of players but all over the pitch there are so many shortcomings and with limited resources he’s tried to plug too many holes. This is shown by the league table, we finished eighth!!!
I am not criticising Jürgen Klopp but I think he put all his eggs in one basket, win the Europa and get into the Champions League and I fully understand the logic. However finishing eighth [and I don’t care where Chelsea finished] isn’t acceptable. We finished eighth because the players he had at his disposal weren’t collectively good enough. No matter how some like to view it Manchester United have unearthed a few young talented players, if Chelsea and Manchester City want to use them, they too have some young talents at their disposal…and us?
Okay, Origi might realise his potential but we paid money for him. I had high hopes for Jordan Ibe but his career has gone backwards over the past eighteen months, or it’s not moved forwards. More to the point though, it’s a long, long time since anybody came out of our Academy and gave us hope with the possible exception of Jon Flanagan who, after all his injuries, is still in the maybe, maybe not category. Our Academy needs its umpteenth overhaul because at the moment it’s producing very, very little.
Next season we should have a fully fit Danny Ings and Joe Gomez to add to the players the manager has but so much more is required. Whatever Jürgen wants Jürgen must get; we have to have a side that’s competitive in every way and in every game. We can’t go on having a defence that resembles the proverbial chocolate fireguard when the heats turned up. We can’t have players that go into hiding as soon as the going gets tough – would anybody want Firmino on their side in the trenches? There are others that fir into that category.
Although we will only have domestic issues to go for next season, we still have to have the players who can turn things round when called upon; we haven’t got many, if any, of what they call Impact players sitting on our bench have we? Brendan’s nearly team took advantage of the fact that they only had one game a week to occupy their minds and hopefully Jürgen can use that to his advantage and maybe that’s why he put all his eggs in the one basket towards the end of the season.
Despite Leicester City showing you don’t have to spend a billion or two on a team you can bet that Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and maybe even Arsenal will do just that in an effort to claw back what they think is rightfully theirs. At least two of that four have new managers and both will have taken the jobs on the promise of a bottomless pit of cash, and if Mourinho ends up at Old Trafford he’ll expect the same. Financially we might not be on the same league [hence the need for that good Academy] but over the past five years we’ve spent a lot on money on players who haven’t or can’t deliver, time for that to stop and I know I’m stating the obvious.
I’m sure our manager knows what we need, as do most of the real supporters. A defence that can defend with a goalkeeper that can catch a few crosses would be a start. A midfield that can frighten the opposition and a forward line that strikes fear into opposing defenders would also help.
Not a lot to ask is it?

Having A Wine

I was in Budapest airport whilst the final Premier game of the season was being enacted at the Hawthorns. I had a glass of wine and that seemed the better bet from what heard about the game in the Black Country. Still we got a draw and that was considerably better than last season’s final game at Stoke.