The Age of the Beautiful Game Returns to Anfield
Or does it are one of them any thoughts going through the minds of myself and many other Liverpool Supporters today.
Last night was the return of our captain to the Liverpool Line-up. Although absent for three games he was immediately slotted back into the team, taking up the centre midfield slot to replace the injured Lucas. Whether this would help or hinder the team was a question that would be answered in the space of ninety minutes or so we thought.
Liverpool were playing their rearranged fixture against Fulham at Anfield and with the twelfth man fired up as well due to the return of King Kenny, everyone from the normal supporter to several members of the media thought that it would be an easy game - they had spent the day reminding people that during the King's last reign Liverpool had indeed beaten Fulham 10-0. If I remember rightly I was at that game and can remember what a great day it was.
Tonight though, Fulham now under the stewardship of Mark Hughes (Sparky to his friends) were not going to be a push over. They had come fully aware that the game would not be as easy as it would have been had they played us in December. Fate though has a strange way of interrupting and changing things though and the way the match started was indeed a sign of this.
The strains of You'll Never Walk Alone were still being heard around Anfield as referee Lee Probert blew the whistle to start the game and that as any Liverpool supporter will tell you is absolute sacrilege and must never happen. Thankfully this did not put the players off and they started as I suspect they meant to go on by beginnng an immediate onslaught towards the goal. This worked and Ferando Torres, finding his goal scoring boots again hit a beautiful volley into the goal mouth.
Where last week we had the wonderful Sian Massey running the line, tonight we had Mick Mcdonagh, who did the exact opposite and ruled the goal off-side, which of course it was not. This of course proves that women do know how to do their job and do it well (I am not being sexist, it is simply a well known fact).
At first this did not appear to unsettle Liverpool, because they played with the same determination that they had shown at Wolverhampton on the Saturday. There were a couple of mistakes, one of which could have led to a goal by Fulham had it not been for the handy work of Pepe Reina. These things happen though and although Fulham were putting up a good fight they went into the dressing room still on a level playing field.
I don't know whether there it is a worrying sign but from the moment that Liverpool came out for the second half, it seemed as though they had forgotten everything Kenny and Steve had managed to teach them over the last two and half weeks. I sat there watching as what could have been a horror story began to unfold. The players for at least fifteen to twenty minutes seems to have forgotten what the pass and move style of football was. Fulham suddenly became the better team and it was only because we have the best goalkeeper in the world, that they did not manage to score. That is of course until it was kicked into their own net.
This happened during a skirmish in the goal mouth and it was only after watching the replays that the commentators agreed it had it fact been scored by Pantsil. Whether the shock or annoyance with himself for doing this had an effect on his temper, only he I guess knows, but several minutes later he caused major problems whilst getting involved with several of the Liverpool players, one of whom was Steve G. I know as I saw him reach for his pocket, it was a case of gritted teeth and fingers crossed, because for some reason all I can see was another red card for our captain.
Thankfully though it was Pantsil who got the yellow and the game got under way again. The players of both teams seemed to realise that a sense of urgency was needed as the clock edged towards its end. I hate to say it though, I felt that Fulham had the upper hand at this point and as I have said before it is only because we have Pepe that a clean sheet was kept. Our back four were performing better but they are still not good enough.
The match ended with Liverpool gaining the three points that they needed to ensure a move up the table We are now in seventh position and as long as the beautiful football that we saw at Wolverhampton returns, we may progress higher.
It does though leave a major question unanswered - Do Liverpool play better with or without our captain. He was not on the pitch at Wolverhampton where Meireles controlled the midfield and showed what a good footballer he actually is. Last night Stevie, who in all honesty did not have that good game returned and it may just be me, but I honestly think his presence unsettled the rest of the team to a certain degree. It will be interesting to see what happens when Jamie returns to the fold.
There may also of course be a couple of additions to the squad, but that depends on whether anything is going to happen during the farce called the January Transfer Window.