Seven Weeks On The Bubble Has Been Splattered
Seven weeks ago yesterday King Kenny was reunited with his beloved club and everyone including myself suspected that our recovery would be instant and league standing improved to such a degree, that we could possibly be in Europe next season.
Several things had appeared in the press earlier in the day and I wondered if that would have any bearing on the game. There were what are becoming tiresome rumours about Arsenal coming in with yet another Â£20 mill bid for Pepe. There was also the news in one paper about Kenny being offered a 2 year contract in one of the papers - this though should not have affected the performance of the players.
As sometimes happens though, these things very rarely go to plan and today, was the day when Liverpool's bubble burst. Today West Ham was the hosts and going by their recent form, should have been a walk over, needless to say it wasn't.
The match started with the storm clouds gathering over Upton Park in more ways than one. It became evident in the first couple of minutes that Referee Mark Halsey was going to have a bad game - something which I admit is very strange for him. Martin Skrtel started off what was going to be rough afternoon for us decision wise by going in hard with an early tackle at seven minutes. When is that lad going to learn - when you tackle, you do it in a sensible way, not in such a way that it lands you with a yellow card that early in a game.
Matters though did not improve and apart from an early strike at the goal from Meireles Liverpool did not seem to have the inclination or the urgency to get the ball into the net. It was West Ham who scored first from a brilliant strike by Hitzlsperger. I don't think this sent the Liverpool players into a panic as much as it did the travelling Kop. From being a very noisy bunch, they became very quiet and that where the 12th man is concerned is very worrying.
For some reason, and some will say it was because we played on Thursday evening there seemed to be lethargy amongst our players and they were losing balls far too easily. I don't buy that argument myself and without singling out anyone the whole team were playing well below par. There was very little linking up in the defence with both Jamie and Martin Skrtel making mistakes. Suarez who really needs to be given a lesson on how to make a touch look roughter than it was (I don't condone cheating but it does not hurt to know) tried to get us a couple of penalties. West Ham of course tried it at the other end but it was obvious within seconds that they were trying it on.
We also had players who appeared not to be on the pitch, Stevie who had returned from injury, seemed anonymous, along with Suarez to be honest. I don't honestly think that they had that many touches during the first half.
As halves go though, it was awful as I said to watch, they were all over us and to add to our misery Martin Kelly, who has been absolutely fantastic for us since Kenny took over, was chasing the ball as he does and suddenly gripped his hamstring - he is now out for up to six weeks. Kenny then sent on Joe Cole. I hate to say but I knew then that we had lost the game. Joe had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes, when Meireles went in for a tackle and seemed to be injured. He recovered quickly although I think for some reason this sent the team into panic and a couple of minutes before half time West Ham were two up.
I had hoped that Kenny would have given them a real rollicking at half time but those hopes were quickly dashed. Almost immediately, it became obvious that West Ham were not going to let there lead go. Our defence was deplorable and balls were beginning to trouble Reina immediately, who in my opinion was day dreaming for most of the game. Then as is becoming the norm, four minutes into the half Meireles was substituted. His replacement to everyone's horror was Ngog. Now I trust Kenny implicitly, but why oh why, put on a young man whose confidence drops to zero, the moment he is on the pitch. We had young Jay Spearing on the bench and after the way he changed the game on Thursday, should have been given the chance.
That to me signalled that we had indeed lost the game. Liverpool though are not known as the comeback kings without reason. As the half continued, Stevie and Suarez seemed to wake up and things began to happen. Stevie took a wonderful free kick that was just too high and Suarez had a couple of chances. Then of course it happened, Suarez picked up a ball, did some fancy footwork, kicked the ball towards Glen Johnson and the ball was in the back of the net.
Would this cause West Ham to lose their nerve in the remaining 8 minutes (5mins plus 3 mins extra time). They carried on fighting and as luck would have it scored a third a couple of minutes before the whistle. Liverpool had lost after having such a great run, but give all credit to West Ham, they played extremely well and deserved the win.
The two managers of course had their post- match interviews and although I laughed at Avram Grants, I respected Kenny's and it was great to hear a manager talk in the manner that he did.
What did they say; well Avram said that he normally talks to David Gold to discuss the teams tactics before a game - today due to David Gold being very ill in hospital. Now no disrespect to the man, but perhaps he ought to leave Avram to do it on his own every week. Kenny, who as we know is always truthful admitted that the team did not play well, but also said that perhaps he and Steve had not prepared the team well enough. A lot of manager's would not admit to that and Kenny needs to be admired for admitting it. I still would not like to be one of the players when they arrive at Melwood on Tuesday morning for training though.
Of course the today's result has sent my mind into overdrive and I began to wonder if today's methods of dietary control and medical intervention are working. We now have players who seem to be unable to play more than 1 game a week and who get injured so quickly. In the 60's and 70's with Shanks and Bob, they played up to three games a week, very rarely got injured and ate good old fashioned English food. I may be wrong and I know a lot of people will yell at me, but continuous pasta dishes and different times of salad are no good for anyone.
I honestly think that come the summer a major rethink on everything needs to take place. We need to start from scratch with everything from the advice given to the team to who plays where.