Aston Villa Burst Brendan's Bubble
Yesterday Brendan during his weekly press conference decided to talk the talk and stated that he could see Liverpool finish not only in the top four but in second place. Now don't get me wrong here because it is absolutely fine for a manager to have ambition. The problem is, that ambition is totally out of touch with what the true standing of the team is.
So at the beginning of the match today, we had not only a team that were over confident but a team who although still not the finished article, had a lot of pressure piled onto their shoulders. That was a sure sign that things would go wrong and they certainly did.
The day itself started with a minute's applause for ex-manager and player Phil Taylor who had passed away a fortnight ago - How I would love to know his feelings about the game. It has also been arranged that everyone would applaud when the clock struck nineteen minutes to show their appreciation for Sylvain Petrov, who is winning his fight against cancer.
There were signs from the moment the match began to be honest because they did not start with the pass and move style of play as quickly as they have done over the last few weeks. It was extremely scrappy and whether that was down to Brendan's team selection only he will know. We were definitely missing Enrique who is still recovering from a hamstring injury, but Stewart should have been able to cope with the Aston Villa players, although I have to say that the performance from the other ten players was so bad, that he was given man of the match.
Liverpool seemed to recover and for most of the first half literally ran around Aston Villa as they controlled the field of play. There were also the obligatory chances to score, but for some reason, rather than take a chance and shoot the players freeze and the balls go anywhere but into the back of the net.
Then for some reason Liverpool's defence became wide open and Aston Villa seized the opportunity by scoring their first goal of the afternoon after Benteke picked up a ball from Brett Holman. Pepe whose form has been the subject of scrutiny over the last few months could only stand and watch it going into the corner.
Now you would have thought this would have been seen as a wake-up call to the Liverpool team. Instead the opposite happened and with their confidence appearing to have been completely drained from them. So much so that just before half time, Weisman sent shot past Pepe Reina. Liverpool was now two down at home and it obvious that Brendan needed to have a re-think about his playing strategy over the half time interval.
He did but the player chosen to come on was the wrong one. Now we all know that Joe Cole is in the shop window but today from the moment he stepped onto the pitch, he was an utter disaster. For someone who was sent onto the pitch to make an improvement, came no effort whatsoever and it would have been better if Brendan had sent on Suso. It was also Joe Cole who was responsible for Aston Villa's third goal, having allowed Holman to take the ball away from him. This was then passed to Benteke who sent his second into the back of the net.
Liverpool then decided that perhaps it might be a good idea for them to do what they were supposed to and they began to lay siege on the Aston Villa goal. Unfortunately, without an out and out striker in the team, no goals were forthcoming until Stevie G picked up a deflection from Glen Johnson which found the back of the net. It was too late though and to be honest I think everyone was pleased when referee Neil Swarbrick blew the final whistle.
Now Neal Swarbrick also ensured that yet again there is controversy around penalty decisions not being given. There were two incidents and both happened in the second half. The first was when Daniel Agger had his shirt pulled by Ciaran Clark and I suspect it was the fact that Daniel appeared to pull his shirt that stopped the penalty from being given. The second was when Glen Johnson was pushed in the face by Benteke - How he only escaped with a yellow card, is one of the life's unanswered questions.
What made the day worse was the fact that with twelve minutes left to play, Anfield was emptying fast. Now I can understand why we the supporters are extremely annoyed this evening, but the one thing you do not do, is leave before the end of the game.
Aston Villa entered the game lower than us in the league and to be honest, there are a lot of people this evening that should be asking themselves if they actually want to work or indeed play for Liverpool Football Club.
It was also the day when the Hillsborough Justice single was played at half time and I urge all those of you who have not yet planned to purchase it, to do so. You can do this by texting JUSTICE to 80010 and it will be downloaded to your mobile on Monday. The cost is £1.00 plus your normal network charge. It is also available to download from i-tunes. If you want to purchase a CD, these will be available from HMV and Tesco.