Two Games, Two Slightly Different Teams but the Lack of Committment is There for All to See
Liverpool has in the last four days played in two different games. The first was in Trabsnor in Turkey and the second took place this afternoon at Anfield. Several seasons ago both of the teams would have I suspect have been a walk over, but since then, the team for many reasons on and off the pitch has been in a steep decline.
We can have the usual arguments about whether the players are not good enough and whether there has been enough money in the transfer account for us to purchase the calibre of players that are needed to bring the squad up to date. These though will not help the fact that the players still seem to be unable to give their best for the club.
The team for Thursday's trip to Trabznor , saw several of the senior players left out, to enable them to rest for the West Brom game this afternoon. This of course left Roy to make up a squad that included several of the youngsters who have moved up from the academy. The addition of Joe Cole to the team though meant that they should have played a lot better than they did.
The Team picked for the game in Turkey was Reina, Johnson, Kelly, Kyriakos, Carragher, Aurelio, Lucas, Poulsen, Kuyt, Cole and Ngog.
Substitutes were: Gulacsi, Pacheco, Babel, Spearing, Shelvey, Skrtel and Eccleston,
It was as luck would have it, a very wet evening in Trabznor and the conditions were not as ideal as they should have been, but there was a football match to play, a match that would either see us progress further into the European cup or leave us to concentrate on the Premier League. The team came out to very little applause and singing from our supporters which was understandable as only 90 of them had made the trip overseas. Also the stadium was open to the elements so they were very wet. The club is believed to have paid for their rain wear to help make the experience a little better.
Liverpool in the first half appeared to be being held to ransom, Trabzonspor . They simply seemed unable to get any rhythm going and even their passing was a lot poorer than it should have been. Trabzonspor scored early in the first half and this meant that Liverpool had to find two goals at least to progress further on. We had Ngog on as the striker and as usual his nerves seemed to play a major part in his game and he was not picking up the ball. I know the team is bereft of a striker, but he really needs to serve some more time in the reserves. That and that is the only way that his game will ultimately improve. The look on Roy's face at the end of the half said it all. Another stern half time team talk was I suspect on its way.
The second half opened with Liverpool kicking off but again Trabzonspor scored quickly. This one though was ruled offside and Liverpool, who appeared to have woken up, had a period of possession where it looked as they might take something from it. Sadly though it was not to be and it was only after Pacheco came on that things began to look up. I am not saying that Aurelio was the wrong player to pick but the inclusion of Pacheco suddenly seemed to improve the field of play.
The game was edging towards the dreaded period of extra time when Glen Johnson picked up a ball and aimed at the goal. This was intercepted by a Trabzonsbor player, who sent it straight into the net. We were now on level terms, but this seemed to do the trick and the great workhorse of the team, Dirk Kuyt scored making the final score 2-1 to Liverpool.
It was not as I have said the greatest of games and to be honest there was hardly any mention of Joe Cole or Poulsen. Two players who should have done a lot better than they did.
The second game was our home tie with West Bromich Albion, a team that a couple of seasons ago we would have walked over and should have done so again. The senior players were now back in the squad and after having an extra couple of days rest, should have been firing on all cylinders, but what we the supporters witnessed on the pitch was an entirely different story.
The team was: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Skrtel, Poulsen, Lucas, Gerrard, Kuyt, Jovanovic and Torres.
Substitutes were: Jones, Pacheco, Babel,Spearing,Kyriakos and Martin Kelly.
Referee for the afternoon was Lee Palmer.
West Bromwich kicked off and Jamie immediately found himself embroiled in one of his trademark tackles but play continued and Liverpool seemed to be on the upper foot with a good period of passing play. This though did not last long and West Bromwich seemed to take over the game and was piling on all the pressure. Was this I wonder due to the fact that had been beaten by Chelsea and were determined to show that they had, in fact learnt a very hard lesson? Or was it that the winning mentality that had previously been installed in the Liverpool, had yet again gone missing?
There were certainly plenty of incidents in the first half that Lee Palmer appeared to either not see or was afraid to issue you cards for. Many of these appeared to centre on the shirt pulling by both teams. I expect that the one that should really have resulted in something being done was when Torres was pulled down. It was in the eyes of many people, supporters and the press alike, a penalty.
The half was edging towards its finish when West Bromwich appeared to panic but again Stevie, Torres, Glen and Jovanovic seemed unable to create the chances that would lead to the much needed goal. This was a game that as I have said, we should have been able to take control of from the beginning but it simply was not happening. When we did have the ball, it was not held for very long, or the players decided to take matters into their own hands. Jovanovic is one of these and having watched him play now, since his arrival, Roy really needs to install into him that he really needs to share the ball.
Liverpool kicked off knowing that they really needed to kick start their premiership campaign. They have drawn one and lost one and are languishing in the relegation zone of a fledgling premiership table which is totally unacceptable but will become the norm unless the players realise who they are playing for.
Although I suspect they had yet another talking too, it certainly did not seem to have any effect on the way the team played. Again Jovanovic got the ball and decided to keep it, thus preventing a move that could possibly have ended in a goal. He was also involved in a Rugby like tackle which Lee Palmer again choose to ignore, proving yet again that the more experienced referees should be in charge of the higher profile teams.
The team though were really just jogging along and I suspect waiting for the final whistle, when after a scare by West Bromwich, Reina threw the ball more or less to the other end of the pitch. This was picked up by Torres and after a couple of smart moves, the ball was in the net and Torres had opened his account for this season.
West Bromwich though were determined to fight back and continued to do so, right up until the final whistle even though the ref eventually woke up and James Morrison was sent off for an extremely bad tackle. The match though finished with Liverpool winning, albeit only by one goal.
Liverpool has finally got a win in the premiership under their belt, but when you have a closer look, there is still an awful lot of work for Roy to do. His pre season games gave us; I suspect a false sense of hope for the coming season. There still seems to be this 'I don't really want to be here' mentality amongst several of the players, Torres included. The look on his face yesterday certainly told a multitude of stories and I suspect I know what one of them was, but that is another story, for another time.
Hopefully once the internationals are over and the transfer window is closed, Roy can really get to work with the players and we can see an immediate improvement on the pitch, if not the return to the top four may be a long way off.