HULL 1 – 0 LIVERPOOL
3 points dropped or not claimed, yet again. Liverpool are not doing what is necessary right now. The last 2 games pretty much needed to give us 6 points as we chase the team directly above us (we are 5th and want 4th place at least). The team in 4th has varied from Manchester City to Manchester United (though Arsenal seemed to keep 3rd place as those two went up and down the table, swapping places) but Liverpool needed to be winning as they had draws or losses and that hasn’t happened. Manchester United lost to our Merseyside rivals Everton recently in an embarrassing 3-0 victory at Goodison Park which saw United drop down to 4th again and gave Liverpool the chance to gain some points on them and close the gap a little. What did we do? We got a goalless draw with West Brom and just 1 point. Around the time in early April when Man City were losing 2-1 to Crystal Palace we were also not taking advantage – what did we do? We found ourselves losing 4-1 to Arsenal, again causing us not to have closed the gap significantly enough, causing major problems and threats to our dreams of playing Champions League football next season.
It wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t the necessary reaction to the opportunity we were given as the teams above us lost. Only victory can bring about the change we need – the gap in points to close and the chance for climbing the table. Some Reds fans may already think we are doomed to stay in 5th or worse by now. I’m a very positive guy and try to never speak negatively about the club I love, but I do realise that we have almost too much to overcome for claiming 4th place by the end of the season after seeing the results we needed slip away from us recently.
The last month has not been what we expected or wanted, even seeing us knocked out of the FA Cup as our chance to play in the Cup Final was taken away from us by Aston Villa. Disappointment after disappointment has followed in April with the only Premier League victory we managed to achieve being a 2-0 home win against Newcastle. We could and should have done so much better and gained more points than we did.
The whispers of “how can we change this?” and “what do we need to do to get better results?” have gotten louder with every disappointing result, in fact they’re not whispers any more – they’re heard quite loudly spoken by the fans who want realistic answers to these important questions. A couple of the suggested answers to these questions have been – “change the squad” (sell some players who are underachieving and buy new ones who will live up to expectations within a short time period hopefully) and “replace the manager” (sack Brendan Rodgers and find a new manager who will try to turn the club around and bring more success, hopefully more than Rodgers has). Only time will tell if these things are going to happen or not, but they are potentially the best ways to bring about a fresh start and perhaps the continuous winning streaks we saw last season again.
Back to the game with Hull.
Jordan Henderson would once again captain the team. The manager had chosen to rest Steven Gerrard for this game, stating he would need to be at full fitness for the QPR game – not that QPR are a particularly big threat. Tactical decisions like that are often only made for the biggest of fixtures, like when you have to play Man United or Man City or Chelsea next and you know you will need your best players at their absolute fittest. It’s only QPR next, making the decision by the manager rather weak. I would have liked to seen Gerrard play, especially since he has only to score one more goal before he surpasses Robbie Fowler’s record of 183 goals for Liverpool (which has been equalled but not broken). If one more thing can be achieved for Stevie G, I’d like it to be that he gets to 184 goals before the end of the season and the end of his career with Liverpool, making him 5th highest goalscorer for the club ever. He deserves that much.
Mario Balotelli was yet again given a chance to shine and show us what he can do, possibly score a goal and restore our hope in him that he could still be a regular goalscorer for the club, if given the chance. Unfortunately, he failed to put the ball in the net, again. One more chance given to prove himself. One more chance wasted. One more disappointing result while he was playing in the team. This is why we miss Sturridge so much when he’s out with injury. The players that take his place while he’s recovering just don’t seem to live up to expectations or be able to find the net as easily as we already know Daniel can.
The first half saw Liverpool do some attacking football, we had some chances to score though we were denied by either defenders blocking our shots or the goalkeeper saving them as Coutinho and Balotelli tried their luck a few times each. Hull really didn’t look like the better team, we’d been making the most offensive plays and keeping possession most of the time, challenging them for every ball but it didn’t seem to make a huge difference and the first team to score would do so from a simple set piece.
The first and only goal of the game would come around 35 minutes. Emre Can would concede a corner and as it was taken, the ball had been sent out by Ahmed Elmohamady to Michael Dawson who headed home what would be the winning goal of the day. Hull 1 – 0 Liverpool.
I refuse to criticise Simon Mignolet for conceding this, he’s done so well at keeping clean sheets this season and perhaps the defenders could have done a better job of clearing the ball but really, it was something that shouldn’t have mattered so much and which could have been cancelled out by one thing – Liverpool scoring their own goals. We had the remainder of the first half and the whole of the second half to do it but never did happen, we had our second consecutive game without scoring a goal.
Are we done giving more and more chances to Balotelli this season? There are other attacking possibilities to be considered. Given that we have had a “goal drought” in the last two games, surely we could try out using another striker than the one who has failed to deliver (Balotelli). Earlier in the season, we saw some great performances and goals from Lambert and Borini (yes, I’m serious! This is not a joke). They partnered each other in a way that complimented each other, as good strikers should do – teamwork and partnership is important for a side if they want to be successful. I’d love to see that again. I’d love for them to get back to what they had been doing so well.
Could we use this moment to attempt something admittedly risky though potentially brilliant if it turns out to be just what we needed? Radically changing the offensive line to utilise a player or two that honestly haven’t been given as many chances as Balotelli to go straight into the starting lineup and see if they change the game, not from the substitute bench for about ten minutes but from the first whistle of the game and for the whole 90 minutes, perhaps. Give an entire game to Lambert or Borini (or both) and they may be able to show you better performances than when they’re brought on to simply replace Balotelli for the dying minutes of a game that is pretty much already over. Feel free to say “You’re CRAZY! Replacing Balotelli with Lambert and/or Borini? That’s not the answer to our problem”. It’s just a suggestion. A thought. A hopeful tactical change that is unlikely to be implemented by the manager who will probably just keep on using Mario until Sturridge is back but I wanted to make it clear that we are not entirely out of attacking options at this point where we haven’t scored a whole lot and the results we’ve gotten have suffered because of it. We don’t want that to keep happening. Changes may be necessary. I offer this change. What do YOU think needs to be changed?
Anyway, as mentioned earlier Liverpool have Queens Park Rangers to play next. We’ll move out of April and hopefully into a much better month as May begins and we keep on continuing our season with another Premier League game. Keep walking on, Reds fans. Walk on with hope in your heart and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Your Anfield Family is walking with you.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.