WE woke this morning to headlines alternately heralding a tactical masterclass from Mourinho, alongside claims that Brendan Rodgers had thrown bitter barbs in Mourinho’s direction, highlighting his ‘two buses parked’ comment. The reality is different – here’s his post-match press conference. Is this a bitter comment?
His demeanour is significant. In the face of a room full of journalists looking for the post-match spat (“Did he shake your hand?”, “Would you set your team up that way?”), he was calm, made a point of congratulating Chelsea for the win, and took responsibility for his own side having been unable to break them down. That he’s calm betrays where he is in his mind. He has a vision – a team that breaks down whatever’s in front of it – even European Cup semi finalists playing 11 men within 25 yards of their goal.
He only briefly expanded on what it might take to break teams down in those circumstances – “a wee bit of combination play”. But the Manchester City game a few weeks back told us everything we needed to know. That second-half spell after Milner’s introduction, where this Liverpool team was calmly squeezed into its own goal.
High tempo one-touch football. Intelligent movement in tight spaces. Patience. Calm. Good decision making. Provocative angles of running that ask serious questions in close contact. Now the hard part – combine all that for several minutes, and even the best sides in Europe will struggle to hold you at bay. It’s not easy – there’s nothing harder to master, in fact. But the rewards when you get there are gold and shimmery.
Yesterday it was interesting to note that Raheem Sterling was our calmest player. The one playing high tempo one-touch football. The one boasting intelligent movment in tight spaces. The kind of patience and calm that was lacking in his seniors for most of the game. Rolling players, running in behind, committing them to positions and places they didn’t want to find themselves in, parked bus or no parked bus. Joe Allen showed signs of it. Flanagan showed signs of it. And that’s the point. This is a young side that needs to learn the lessons that go with its belief in its right to win things. This is a manager who takes responsibility for his team not having broken the other side down, and turns down the chance to make cheap excuses when fed them by the media throng.
To complain about anti-football in that context is to deny that winning mentality – the silver lining to this particular cloud. Rodgers said the game would prepare them for Crystal Palace, but the truth is that yesterday’s lesson, if harnessed, will arm the team in its pursuit of that next level.
Rodgers talks about a side with tactical discipline, and this season has proven it more than just empty rhetoric. He doesn’t complain, and he doesn’t explain. The focus is internal, and on the next game. But that focus is founded on a footballing vision, and it’s the hard lessons that will allow that vision to manifest fully.
Exciting times, folks. It’s just one game.
Pic: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo.
Perhaps I am being harsh, but what are the lessons? To not have a freakish, 1-in-500 games type of error? If anything, we needed Sterling to be less calm and be more of a try everything in the books type of player. Forcing it is the only way to go when you have the double bus parked in front of the goal you are trying to score in.
To win the game. Not to ‘not lose’ the game.
And forcing it isn’t the way. It’s provoking the opening that’s the art.
Interesting read that. And I hope that’s your real hair!
I read this late Monday, which I deemed it safe to browse the Web. Really glad I did as it has given me a new perspective on the match and our glorious season. Two games to go and we could still win it all. We go again
I think we will win it mate. I’ve no real idea why – just a feeling. But what a season, regardless, eh?
Chelsea had to win the game to have any hope of getting back in th hunt. What was the idea ? Get ten men behind the ball and wait for Liverpools most dependable player to have banana skin boots ?
Great article. It is almost impossible to break down that style of defensive play without a little luck. We used it to great success against Barcelona,and in the last week we’ve seen Bayern,Atletico and Liverpool all fail to score. It’s also the highest compliment tha Mou thought it was the only way he could get something from the game. #wegoagain
I don’t feel like Gerrard’s mistake cost us the game – it was the reaction to it. I was worried because of a) the timing and b) the identity of the man who made the mistake – the man who feels it more than anyone, who has dragged us from the brink single-handed in the past and could end up desperately trying to do it again for 45 minutes.
I tempered this fear with the way we handled the potentially damaging West Ham goal at the same time, but unfortunately I was right. The desperation is understandable, but that calmness was what was really needed.
Instead we played last 5 minutes football for half an hour. The desperation spread, the pot shots increased and Chelsea knew they had us.
I, like Roy, believe we can and will learn from this, and Brendan is right that it should help prepare us for Palace who you can bet will try exactly the same, with the help of their own vociferous crowd.
I still believe there’s a twist. Winning 14 out of 14 would have been absolutely unheard of. We’ve lost one. We’re still top, and regardless of what the BS want, they’ll do a professional job on Saturday. If they lose, then there’s STILL Villa AND Andy Carroll to give us hope :)
Ultimately the team didn’t break Chelsea down. With (fingers crossed) new players coming in, and a years more experience under their belts, even if we don’t win it this season, we’ll be able to master the art of breaking Maureen-esque teams down next year if need be, whilst maintaining our scintillating attack.
This season, we’ve been the best attacking team bar none. If we don’t win it, we’ve known our defense is a little flaky, and we’ve also known there’s no real Plan B that can be executed well – CURRENTLY. But it will come.
He built the team like Shankly did, our kids will tell the story…
Great read, not so sure we will do it now. Wallet struggling to see City throw it away. But to come in 2nd on GD is an awesome result and our future looks brighter than it has for a very long time. Absolutely gutted for Stevie mind.
And Mourihno is going to have one last say as we collect the 19th after picking up the next six points … when the striker he loaned out scores the winner at Goodison Park on the weekend. Won’t that be a beautiful moment.
hahahah i really hope so,
Roy’s right though whatever happens what a season. I personally have an inkling that we may not need anyone’s help. Surely if anyone is capable of smashing 5 or 6 past Palace and the dreadful newcastle then it is this team of ours.
Always good for some perspective and analysis, Roy. Had to give this a second read of the day to cleanse my mind after reading Dave Kidd’s thoughts on the same post-match comments you nailed here. Apparently you can watch that video you’ve got imbedded and come to the conclusion he underestimates Mourinho and is just like Wenger. Y’know the bad, specialist in failure, no trophy in 9 years Wenger Jose likes to tell all us national ‘journos’ about at the ‘pressers’. Not the good, Invincibles, changing English football forever Wenger.
‘We live in an age of football snobs, who wish possession stats and pass-completion rates could replace scorelines as the game’s deciding factor. A time when any victory not in the style of Guardiola-era Barcelona can be seen as a moral defeat.’ In an article about Rodgers and this Liverpool side, that’s in. As if it’s still 2012 and that shout’s relevant.
Been found out after that one loss; dogmatic, stale, toothless Rodgers. Should just play everyone in central defence and wait for one of the opposition players to fall over because ‘Bob Paisley used to win European Cups with the same tactics as Mourinho on Sunday’. Shouldn’t be trying to get Liverpool to walk it in just like Wenger’s Arsenal, should he? Except for when they do… 96 times in 36 league matches – a decent chunk of which have come as a result of us being the best set piece team in the league as well as any great stuff on the deck, but never let facts get in the way of a good misinterpretation of a manager’s words.