A Win, A Tetchy Player and Questions That Would Remain Unanswered
Yesterday marked the return of Mick McCarthy and Wolverhampton to Anfield, but would it be also be the return of the horror show that we all witnessed last season. That I am sure you will all remember as the game that signalled the end of Roy Hodson's reign at the club.
Fast forward twelve months and we now have a squad managed by a man who is determined to bring the good times back to the club. Would today be the day that our faltering season would begin once more?
As you all know, last Sunday, the team were a shadow of what they can be and floundered from the moment they walked onto White Hart Lane. Today though, they were back at Anfield, with a mid-week win in the Carling Cup under their belts. This win also included the return of Stevie G to the team albeit in a cameo performance and although Kenny had reiterated many times that he would be re-introduced gradually, it was not only hoped but expected that he would be on the team sheet that afternoon.
The team sheet did not reflect the fantastic game the previous Wednesday with Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt returning to bench. This meant of course that Andy Carroll, who has a major point to prove, was again on the team sheet as well as the return from suspension of Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam.
Now I don't know about anyone else, but I would have thought all those who played the fantastic pass and move game we saw on Wednesday deserved to start yesterday afternoon and going by the opening minutes should have done so.
Wolves appeared to have the upper hand in the game for the opening 10 minutes, with Pepe Reina having to make an early save after Jamie O'Hara made a good run. Whether this woke up Liverpool or not, I don't know but at the other end Charlie Adam picked up a ball and sent flying towards the goal. This was picked up by Roger Johnson but still ended up in the back of the net. It may have been technically an own goal but Liverpool were now in the lead.
This either shocked Wolves into submission or as I have said indeed woke Liverpool up, because they suddenly took the upper hand and the pass and move style of football began to show once more. So much so that their goalie became very busy for short time, until Luis Suarez picked up a ball and with a great deal of fancy footwork and movement found the back of the net. Liverpool were now two up and cruising towards a home win as they went in at half time.
Mick McCarthy was not going to surrender though and made two changes as the team came out for the second half. These two changes were Matt Doherty and Steven Fletcher and they made an immediate impact bringing the score line back as Mick McCarthy will tell you to a respectable 2 -1.
Liverpool as they have a habit of doing appeared to fold in the second half and with Wolves continually on the attack it was, if I am being honest, amazing that they did not score another.
Kenny sensing problems took of Jordan Henderson and replaced him with Dirk Kuyt. The change was immediate and Dirk ran his legs of as usual and not only created a couple of chances but had a near miss himself.
All the time this was going on Stevie G was warming up on the side-lines and finally as the clock struck eighty minutes he replaced Luis Suarez, who gave us a short display of his South American temper. Although he went off to a standing ovation, he could not understand why and the look on his face told a million stories as did his reactive kicking of a water bottle.
Stevie immediately restored a sense of belonging to the team with some wonderful runs and indeed a shot that went wide. We also have Lucas to thank for his 60 yard run to ensure that our defence did what they are supposed to do.
All said and done though, we won the game and Kenny appeared to be happy with the team's performance, which I respect but as I have said there are still questions that need to be answered.
We had several of the usual problems in our defence, where the players seemed to be unable to read each other's moves properly. Jamie does all he can to keep everyone together but it does not appear to be working, in fact Jamie is the that appears to be getting the blame which of course is totally wrong. Martin Skrtel again showed yesterday why he was sent off last Wednesday. Indeed he was lucky that Kevin Friend appeared to be erring on the side of leniency whilst refereeing the game. Martin Kelly did everything that was required of him and showed why Kenny is set on introducing the youngsters.
Our midfield was a muddle with Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson both showing that they have lessons that need to be learnt. Charlie needs to realise that he is part of a team and must pass the ball rather than keep it sometimes to enable someone with a better scoring chance to have a go. Jordan Henderson to me was virtually invisible once more and questions needs to be asked as to why he is in the first team. He may be one for the future but I feel a lengthy spell in the reserves will give him the confidence he appears to lack to ensure he performances week in and week out on the big stage.
Stevie G though, will be back sooner rather than later to help bolster the midfield so these problems should disappear.
Now to our forwards, Luis Suarez was his usual fantastic self and the goal that had been missing finally came, but his temper could be his undoing if he is not careful. To show off like he did at the end, was wrong and he needs as I have said to be educated about this.
Now to the enigma called Andy Carroll, who seems to throw up the same questions week after week. I am not against the lad and as Kenny has said he is young and has a lot to learn. But although he played slightly better yesterday, that disinterested look and the I am not moving until the ball reaches my feet was still evident. Now here is lad that when the PR machine is in full swing, we are told is now fully fit and rearing to go. That is not what I and the paying public at Anfield witnessed yesterday and needs to be rectified quickly.
So much so, that I hope come the Derby next weekend the team sheet shows that Dirk and Craig are back in the team sheet and that Stevie will be given more minutes. If not it will signal a very nervy and nail biting season ahead?