Hull 2-0 LIVERPOOL

Liverpool’s “nightmare” (AKA 2017) continues as Hull managed to take all three points as we visited their stadium, only to be defeated.
Liverpool won only 1 fixture in January, in a FA Cup 3rd Round replay against Plymouth Argyle. The other 8 of 9 games in January were all draws or defeats. Before then, Liverpool had won on New Year’s Eve against Manchester City and were only 5 points behind Chelsea, with an upcoming fixture against them which we were extremely confident we’d end up winning and possibly ending up about 2 points behind Chelsea (because assuming we’d win just as many games as Chelsea up to that point was part of the whole confidence Liverpool fans had). Things did not plan out that way at all. We stopped our winning streak and turned it more like into a drawing and losing streak.

Without a doubt, the best thing about this squad was that Sadio Mané was returning to the starting 11 once again for the first time since he left to play in the AFCON tournament in Africa. After all the run of draws and defeats we had been having, some fans were “watching for Mané, not for Liverpool”. It’s been hard to keep your eyes on the pitch when we’ve dropped into some bad form and results lately. However this was welcome news and something to make sure you didn’t miss our game for. Klopp has enough sense to use Mané as more than substitute now, at least.

The rest of the team weren’t just any inexperienced youth players either, we had a strong and experienced lineup that had high potential to beat this Hull side. Nobody could justifiably blame Klopp for our defeat due to “squad selection”. He selected as strong a side as any manager could have. It’s what happened on the pitch that went wrong. The players certainly carry more blame for the bad result than the manager.

The first half saw Liverpool push the ball around, keeping possession and controlling the flow of play. However, Hull had their moments and chances to score too. They looked rather strong in their attacks, this side was not going to be a pushover. Indeed, it would be the home side that opened up the scoring first.

Nearing the end of the first half when Liverpool looked ready to head in to the dressing rooms for a team talk by their manager, Hull took advantage of what looked like an unsettled and tired Liverpool defence. Alfred N’Diaye scored on his debut for Hull and would make the score 1-0 just before the break.

Jurgen Klopp could still have been confident when he spoke to his players. Against Swansea, Liverpool had been 2-0 down and then Roberto Firmino would score twice to make it 2-2. If the Brazilian could do the same here, Hull would have been losing 1-2 at their own stadium. Unfortunately, we’d not get to doing that kind of thing in this game. It was rather frustrating to watch, apart from when I was looking at Mané or Milner. Both were hard at work, making chances and assisting their teammates but it was what their teammates ended up doing eventually which was the let down. Just nothing that would result in a goal, basically. We really should have been scoring with some squad players who know how to score like Sturridge (remember when he was scoring 24 goals in a single season? I do. It was 2013-2014 and we still had Luis Suarez who played alongside him and scored 30 goals too). Now he seems to look unsure about whether he wants to pass to a teammate (because he could get called selfish if he just shoots himself) or if he wants to try a shot (and why not try a GOAL instead? Goals are better than shots… some shots miss.)

If we can’t score because we’re unsure about our options on the attack then we seriously need to look back at what some of the Liverpool legends have said – both Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley have said this kind of thing (I think Paisley picked it up from Shankly and used it later himself) :
If you’re not sure what to do with the ball, just pop it in the net and we’ll discuss your options afterwards.”

I love this little statement. The point of it is simplicity. There’s no need to complicate football. Overthinking matters and doing all kinds of things with the ball that maybe isn’t even going to end up with your team getting one more goal ahead in the scoreline of the match is just bad. Sometimes teams only realise that by the end of 90 minutes and then they realise that they didn’t even score because they tried so many tactics that they had no time left for actually scoring.
One of the most basic things you can understand about football is that putting the ball in the net (scoring) is one of the best things you can do in the game. If you’re a player, it should be made one your ultimate targets and achievements to be doing it as often as possible.  When things seem a bit too complicated and you know your manager has all kinds of tactics he’d like tried out – don’t forget that simply scoring would probably please him even more than if you did all the other options which weren’t as good as a goal.

This is some of what I see missing in the current Liverpool squad at times – they’re eager to please Jurgen Klopp with all his clever tactics like “Gegen-pressing” (which translated from German, means “Counter-pressing” or “Counter-attacking”) but the players aren’t relying on their own abilities to just get the ball into the net enough. A counter attack is fine. A goal is even better. Know what I mean? It’s not always overcomplicated tactics which are best for the game. Simplifying matters can bring success. Make scoring the easiest thing your team does again and leave the other teams to play their overcomplicated football. You’ll beat them by simply scoring more goals.

Back to the Hull V Liverpool game

Hull still looked just as strong as they were in the first half. Liverpool did gain a measure of confidence after some changes were made to our lineup. I wasn’t very happy with Can who was replaced in the second half. We have needed strong offense more than strong defense lately and Can is a defensive player. If we were the ones winning 2-0 I’d probably have been fine with Can playing all through the game. But, we needed something more offensive and so he had to go.

Liverpool knew that if they wanted even a single point, pushing forwards to get ourselves a goal was necessary. That’s true, but it also leaves you rather open to counter attack when the opposition knows what you need to do unless you want to lose. Late into the second half, Hull would yet again do as they had done in the fisrt half and score so late in the half that the whistle to end the half (and now the game) would come fairly soon after their goal.

Hull’s new loaned in player Oumar Niasse is officially one of our Merseyside rival’s players. That’s right, Hull’s match winning goal came from an Everton player. Well, if it was going to get worse instead of better for Liverpool then it might as well have been him who was going to get the goal. So, the game was won by the home side. Liverpool’s 3 consecutive lost games at Anfield weren’t about where we played, obviously. We can lose away, too. The location isn’t the most important factor in our results, we know.

Liverpool’s year just needs to improve significantly. No, we do not need to sack the manager. All you Liverpool fans saying “Klopp OUT” are not being true supporters. Your manager needs support. Your team needs support. At a troubled time when we have stopped going on a successful winning streak and replaced it with draws and defeats, we do not need inciting unrest at the club and potentially removing a manager who hasn’t even been here two years yet. I believe Klopp  has a five year contract and I myself would like to see him go through the entire five years of that contract. I’m getting behind him with my full support, no matter what our results are turning out like. I am very happy with the achievements he managed to share with us at Liverpool so far and will look forward to seeing what else he can achieve.

Man of the Match

It felt like James Milner was everywhere, at least on the left hand side of the pitch. He was at the back, defending against Hull’s attackers. He was also pushing forwards to help out the more offensive teammates in the Liverpool side. Working hard and doing whatever he could to at least so that we didn’t get overwhelmed by a side who could have scored more if he wasn’t there to stop them. The goals we did concede were not Milner’s fault either. Mostly, Mignolet had made some unfortunate errors which ended up giving Hull a serious chance to score. Well done, James lad. I enjoyed watching you play.

What’s next? 

Liverpool have a whole SIX DAYS before their next fixture, which hasn’t happened in a long time because we had so many fixtures to play (as little as 3 days per game in the new year) until we were knocked out of the Cup competitions.

Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. Though your dreams be tossed and blown… Walk on. Walk on. You’ll Never Walk Alone.

 

[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 (more than 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.

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