New Season, Same Old Story, But The Shoots Of Growth Are There
Today was the day that football supporters the world over had been waiting for. It was the day in mid-August that signalled the start of the 2012-2013 campaign for each and every one of them. A day when they fast forward to the following May and see their beloved team sitting at the top of the Premiership.
It doesn't happen that way of course, there will always be those teams that struggle at the beginning and those that hit the ground running. I would love to say that Liverpool are included in the section that hit the ground running but today proved that there is a lot of work yet to be done.
The day itself was a beautiful hot summer's day and everyone was in extremely high spirits after all we were only playing West Bromwich Albion and they were being seen as a team we could walk over. What I think everyone misjudged, myself included, was that they were now managed by ex-Liverpool assistant manager Steve Clarke. Now Steve of course, knew the majority of the Liverpool players, their individual habits and the way that they played, which must of course have counted in his favour.
Liverpool whose 2012-2013 campaign had already begun with the early rounds of the Europa Cup was expected to be the fitter and the more experienced of the two teams. It looked that way for the first half, when Brendan's style of tikka-taka football began to take shape. Then as always seems to happen to Liverpool, young Zoltan Gera of West Bromwich wake everyone up with a stunning strike just before the half time whistle.
Then to be honest I really don't what got into the player's heads because the sudden loss of concentration was alarming. Our defence folded and mistakes were being made all over the place, so much so that Daniel Agger found himself with straight red for a professional foul on Shane Long.
Liverpool were now down to ten men and as we witnessed last season, rather than group together and put a massive effort into trying to stop any further damage, Liverpool just seemed to wait for the next disaster to rear its ugly head.
It did of course and after saving one penalty, Pepe Reina was powerless to save the second, which if the truth be known should never have been given by Phil Dowd. It involved Martin Skrtel who having lost the ball brought down the opposition player whilst trying to retrieve the ball. Replays have of course shown that it was a very harsh decision, but these things unfortunately happen in football.
With the match now in its final quarter, Liverpool were playing the like the Liverpool of last season and I will be honest when I say that he was not a pleasant thing to see. But see it we did and it did not take long for West Bromwich to get their third and put the match beyond Liverpool's reach.
All said and done though, it was the first match of the new season and there were several positives to be taken from the game. The first being the debut of young Joe Allen, who proved by his work rate and passion that he will be one of stars in the future. Fabio Borini seemed very quiet but I am sure that once he, Stevie and Luis get used to each other, then the goals will not only flow from him, but Stevie and Luis as well.
Now, Luis and goals that is one of life's conundrums. Whilst he was playing in Europe, he was scoring goals like no tomorrow but over here, his timing and his aim seems to be ill-judged. His movement is still as good as it ever was and the way he moves in out of the opposition is a wonder to see.
Although having worked under Brendan now for a good month, the rest of the team seemed to out of sorts today. Why I have no idea, but you would have thought that being the first match of the season they were raring to go.
There of course of the theory that several of them know that at some point during the next two weeks their Liverpool career will be over. That is a footballer's life I am afraid and it should not stop them doing what they are paid to do.
It was not a very good start to Brendan's career as Liverpool Manager but he must now realize the enormity of the task ahead. He himself has said on many occasions since taking over that to get Liverpool back to where they belong will be a slow and sometimes painful journey.
A journey where we will see the 'little' teams beat us through silly mistakes and lack of concentration. That journey though once the team knits together could well be one that we will cherish forever and Brendan needs to be given all the support we give him.
There is no point, no matter how upset or angry you are over the result, yelling and shouting for his head or indeed having a go at the players after just one game. After all, with two weeks of the transfer window left, we may be in for several surprises. Surprises that will help Brendan make the journey enjoyable not just for himself but for each and every one of us that are Liverpool supporters.