By Martin Fitzgerald
WHAT round was that?
Who are the sponsors now?
I’ve no idea. All I know is it’s the League Cup – the cup you don’t take seriously until you take it seriously.
We’ve played a home game against Middlesbrough that had 31 penalties. We’ve played a home game against Swansea that saw the better of two poor sides scrape through.
It’s hardly The Road to Istanbul but somehow we’re in the quarter finals. A round with the word final in it, a round that teases you with the eventual destination.
This is sometimes what success looks like. It doesn’t always start with scorched earth in opponent penalty boxes and adversaries cast asunder. Sometimes it’s scoring more penalties, sometimes it’s scraping through.
And then you get somewhere, somewhere that teases you with an eventual destination. At that point you take it seriously.
Is this League Cup team a weakened team?
Was Jones worse than Mignolet?
Toure worse than Skrtel?
Borini worse than Lallana?
Lambert worse than Balotelli?
Lucas worse than Gerrard?
It’s difficult to say. So much is not working – in first teams, in weakened teams, in rotated teams.
A team that scored 101 goals last season, that scored a disproportionate amount of goals through its two strikers has metaphorically had its head cut off. Like the Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail it’s up for the fight but it would fight so much better if it had all the right parts, in all the right positions.
Not that it’s suffering from a lack of parts. If anything we’re suffering due to a glut of replacement parts.
The two best windows under Rodgers were January 2013 where we bought two players (Sturridge and Coutinho) and January 2014 where we bought no players.
What a window January 2014 was. The complete lack of ins and outs, the masterful inactivity. I’m in awe of that window and the run of form that it produced. The most majestic example of doing nothing and making do you’re ever likely to see. I’m gonna write a book about that window one day. An hour by hour chronological account of how everyone just did absolutely nothing. And don’t tell me we tried to sign players and failed. I’m not interested. We tried to do nothing and succeeded in spades.
Think of that window next time someone tells you to seize the day. Think of that window and let the day look after itself.
I’ve gone off on one about that window. Where was I? Oh yeah, no head and a glut of replacement parts.
So, it’s become aimless. It lacks a point.
Swansea scoring helps. It gives us a point. We now definitely need to score. We now urgently need to score. We’re still somewhat aimless but we definitely know we need a goal.
Swansea should have learnt from Hull. If you’re not as good as us, don’t score. Keep it relaxed, keep us relaxed. This Liverpool side seems to react when there is something in the game.
We score. Twice. Two goals from crosses for the team that crossed the least in the league last season. They’re not Liverpool goals but their goals for Liverpool. They count but they don’t point to all this working just yet.
But sometimes success doesn’t look like that. Sometimes you just need to get to the next stage of the process. And we have, we’re in the quarter finals, a quarter of a final. Loads of other teams aren’t.
Rodgers will work out the no head thing. Rodgers will work out what to do with all the parts.
That’s all to come. Football is always a process, solving problems, working with what you got and then going at full pelt until the next set of problems arise.
So I’m looking forward to the full pelt bit. The bit you don’t see coming until it happens. The bit that everything was leading up to.
It’s coming, it’s always coming.
Pic David Rawcliffe.
There feels a bit of a feel good factor about tonight. Feels like we needed to win for some momentum. I don’t understand these people who say it’s important to win it though. I have high expectations. Winning the League Cup or even the Europa feels a bit phoney to me.
I definitely have a side to me where Liverpool winning is not only about celebrating with my mates but also to say ‘fuck you’ to the supporters of other teams (or the ‘haters’ at least). I don’t feel I can do that after winning the League Cup. Shankly was dead right at the time but football has changed. My view is in 2014, Liverpool exists to be in the Champions League. I’m not talking about the necessity of the financial side of it, I’m talking as a fan. There’s nothing more disheatening than hearing that CL music either side of the ads on CL match nights when Liverpool aren’t in it. We need to be at the top table, not fighting for the scraps that the big clubs have thrown away. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing fringe players start in the LC. It’s another thing that makes me desperate to succeed in the competition. I appreciate they’re not mutually exclusive but if extra time tonight had inadvertently made us drop points on Saturday lunch time then I think I’d rather go out, despite all the goods things about it. Top 4 could come down to 1 or 2 points.
I feel like I’m talking myself into liking it here but another good thing about it is the memory that the last LC final was a brilliant day out. Our coach was like going back in time to the 80’s. It was certainly built around then. Beer was piled up to the roof. Flags covering every window, everyone in the aisle singing all the way down, and for others a bit of shop lifting at the services. On the way back though it was more like a pensioners trip to Llandudno. Ok, for me, and I’m sure others it was a result of drinking all day, having the adrenaline, then the joy / relief of winning followed by the inevitable crash (not the bus, surprisingly). It was more than the headaches though. It felt like a case of ‘Next’. It didn’t satisfy us. When we won in Istanbul we partied for days. It felt boss. We felt like kings. It’s all about pride and prestige for me.
Another thing is, I like Brendan Rodgers but I feel he’s looking for a ‘back door’ route to success. I’ll be judging him by his league position and very little else. So, I’m absolutely made up about tonight’s result for many reasons none of which are the importance of winning the League Cup.
Laboured performance with a couple of bright spots: Fabio and Mario. Fabio showed a lot of heart tonight, he was involved in all that was good about our performance, he was Suarez lite (very, very lite, but you take my point), grubbing around, fighting, trying to make things happen. He can do a job for us in a wide position. Give him a run Brendan! He deserves a start after last night.
Agreed. And that was probably the best cross I’ve seen anywhere so far this season. He’s clearly got the right attitude too, giving absolutely everything for a manager and club that don’t even want him there.
He put in another great cross, was it the Ludogrets game? That Mario almost put away. Maybe he’s the only guy who can cross!
A win is a win and that’s all you want in a cup tie. Pretty much same old, same old with the quality of the football though.
Agree with Robin that Brendan is probably feeling the pressure and being forced into picking the team he did. Where was Rossiter? Benched after a very good performance in the last round. He deserved another start but methinks Brendan couldn’t afford the risk. Why not?
I’m not suggesting we play a team of U21’s but this competition should be used to give opportunities. Until we play Man U or Chelsea when we go all pop guns blazing.
We most certainly won’t be playing Manchester United James. You may remember they lost 4-0 to Buckinghamshire’s finest in an earlier round.
Think Milton Keynes is in Bedfordshire, mate. Not sure if there is a league team in Buckinghamshire….Wycombe Wanderers, maybe? Anyway, Man U lost to a club from a county that doesn’t play first class cricket – never a good sign!!
Between the Dawn Of A New Age optimists and the ‘we were lucky’ pessimists probably lies some truth about that Swansea game. Another win that couldn’t allow any room for an expansion on how good we were.
I’m not buying the assertion that the League Cup is worth winning. It would undoubtedly be a big deal for Bournemouth or Derby and good luck to them with that. Liverpool though? Premiership, yes, Champions League, yes, FA Cup, yes. League Cup? Not interested. When was the last time you heard someone bragging about winning it? It’s always mentioned and then followed up with an apology that it’s not a proper trophy. And it isn’t.
Things are a bit mad with the team at the moment but heaven help the day we’re so desperate that we’re getting excited at the thought of winning the Mickey Mouse Cup. The way we’re shaping up at the moment I’d honestly trade a League Cup final win for a draw against Real away.
Jesus H Christ in chicken basket, some people.
We are not going to win the league. Not this year. Last year was us punching above our weight, probably a good 2-3 years ahead of schedule. That doesn’t mean we should settle for 7th this year, but we’re 10-12pts off winning the league at best. Man City and Chelsea are head and sohulders above the rest.
We are not going to win the Champions League. The knockout round of 16 is still a realistic possibility and with a favourable draw the quarter-finals are within reach, but once we start mixing it with the Bayerns, Madrids, Barcelonas and PSGs we will succumb.
Unless you have your head up your arse, we have a realistic chance to win two of the four competitions we’re entered into. The League Cup is one of those. I’m as proud of our history and heritage as the next fan, but like it or not this is where we are right now. We can still shoot for the stars, but you take your trophies where you can find them. Just ask Arsene Wenger.
In the first post-Suarez season and with all the new additions to absorb, I’d take fourth plus the League Cup right now if it were offered (especially if it meant a victory in the final against Chelsea). Are there seriously any of you who wouldn’t?
Think we’d all just take 4th and fuck the league cup tbh.
Poor again last night overall, after a good first 35 minutes. But even when we were good all we had to show for it was two shots from Borini. Neither looked like scoring. We didn’t look like scoring. We never look like scoring. Needed 2 late goals, a goalkeeping howler and as bad a refereeing decision you will ever see to help us.
Balotelli’s missed a few chances since he’s been here, although not as many as some make out. (I wish it was many as we’d at least be creating them) But as the modern cliche goes, at least he’s in a position to miss them. You start to worry as a striker if you’re not getting the chances. Which brings me to Lambert. Couple of nice touches early but anonymous thereafter until getting the hook. Not even getting into positions to miss.
Borini was ok. A 6/10. Certainly not as good as some are making out. Great cross though. Putting aside his performance, the effort he exerted was a good to see. As mentioned above, the manager wanted him out. He said no. So the manager is freezing him out no matter how badly we’ve been faring in attack. And he still busted his balls. The same with Lucas btw. Treatment of both players by the manager is very poor and reflects poorly on Rodgers. He didn’t treat Henderson like this when he didn’t do as Rodgers wanted and go to Fulham.
Bottom line is this – the defence won’t be sorted til Summer. Going forward can be sorted out in January. Lambert for sure needs to go. Maybe Borini. We need 2 strikers to come in. Keep Mario til Summer, see how he plays with Daniel for a run of games, injuries permitting.
Agree on Borini. He bust a gut which is says something about his character, but I’ve yet to see anything from him to suggest he’s good enough for a side with top four aspirations. It was a sublime cross, but if one great ball a game is all it takes to get a place in this side, then Gerrard could play until he’s 75.
Believe me guys, I’m not saying he was great! But he put in a shift and tried to make things happen; he even had a niggle or two at their left back. It was good to see a bit of passion because no-one and I mean no-one has shown any passion or leadership this season. What a difference a summer can make eh? I’d give him a start out wide because he at least knows how to cross the bloody ball.
Except Moreno. He’s shown a bit of passion.
Obviously, I’d like us to win it but let’s not kid ourselves it would be a great achievement. The reality is, with the way the game has gone the League Cup has been devalued. Even the bottom half of the Premiership teams put out weaker sides because it can be a distraction from league survival. People talk about the curse of the League Cup and with good reason. You only have to look at when we won it last. Just prior to the final we still thought a push could get us top 4. After the win things went downhill. Unrelated maybe, but look at the number of sides who’ve either slumped or been relegated after getting to the final. Will you be pleased if we win it then go on to miss out on top 4. I’d hope not. Therefore it’s clearly down the list of priorities for LFC. If we can win a cup, get top 4 and get out the CL group then that’s fantastic but I don’t believe anyone can challenge on 4 fronts. For many the League Cup has become a distraction. There’s certainly no prestige in winning it. It’s become a cup for reserves. For the big clubs its almost become choice about how far they go in it. Rodgers is clearly targeting it. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come back to bite us. So, yeah, whenever Liverpool play I desperately want them to win and that includes the League Cup. However, it’s a side show to the main event. What’s more, if us winning the League Cup leads to us not getting top 4 then winning it becomes a disaster. Just be careful what you wish for. Sometimes you have to put common sense before passion. When you go into a sweet shop you can’t just choose everything.
Whatever happens in the League Cup it will have zero influence on our ability to qualify for next year’s CL. We’re already in the quarter-finals and have yet to field a first 11 (although does anyone know what our best 11 is?), so at most our first team will play 4 more matches if Rodgers picks the first team from here on (which he won’t anyway) and we get to the final, played nearly 3 months before the end of the season. In other words, given the way managers of top teams approach the competition (including Rodgers) you can want your team to be successful in the League Cup and not worry about the impact on other competitions.
Of course it’s not *the* priority and I accept the importance of getting back into the CL, but I say it’s a false dichotomy. You don’t have to choose one or the other, which is why we don’t have to careful wishing for success in the League Cup. And given it is one of only two realistic chances of silverware this season, we shouldn’t be so sniffy about it, either.
If come March 1st it’s Chelsea against Man City at Wembley, you can be your life you’ll wish we were there. If nothing else, victory over one of them in a final should be great for our confidence as we approach the league run in. I just don’t see where the downside lies.
If you can’t see where the downside is then look at the last four League Cup finalists. 4 years ago Birmingham won it (well done) then in their last 13 games only won twice and got relegated (not so good). 3 years ago it was us. At the start of the year we hoped a push would get us in the top 4 then in the 8 games either side of the final we took 5 points. We still finished 8th which tells you that was our worst period of the season by a mile. 2 years ago Bradford reached the final. Again, this is a team that made the play offs that year. So 5 points from 8 games leading into the final clearly wasn’t their best spell either. Last year Sunderland made the final. After their semi final they went on a run where they took 2 points from their next 9 yet they didn’t go down. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out that it wasn’t their best spell of the season either.
The start of the new year is an important time. You’re just off the back of the hectic Christmas period. It’s a time you need momentum. It’s like the back 9 in golf. A renewed belief that what’s gone is gone. Start again. There’s 4 PL games in January plus 2 FA Cup games. In February, the Champions League resumes. Bare in mind the semi’s are the end of Jan / Start of Feb (and there’s 2) so it becomes too much. Don’t tell me Rodgers will put out Rossiter in the semi’s because he won’t. He’ll get a sniff of a trophy. If you win then you have a league game postponed that then becomes a midweek match in your run in. Then there’s the other side to it. As I write this David Silva has just picked up an injury and gone off after 9 mins. It’s just not worth the hassle. Had Sterling not played 2 hours in midweek against Middlesborough then he may have been more effective on the Saturday morning and we might have got 2 extra points against Everton. We’ll never know. All we do know is that life and football aren’t as simple as you make out. 2 matches here, a match there, a few young lads, jobs a good un. The League Cup is a burden.
The worst of it is the gain isn’t worth the pain. We don’t celebrate winning the League Cup. We don’t have songs recounting famous League Cup victories. It’s not mentioned in any. The FA Cup is mentioned in a fair few of our songs. In Every Other Saturday we name all the decent cups we’ve won. It’s not in the list mate. In A Liverbird Upon My Chest we have verses for the 86 and 89 FA Cup victories over Everton. There’s no mention of the 84 League Cup win over them. In our psyche we know it’s a waste of time. Second rate. And that brings me back to the Shankly quote. In 2014 we don’t exist to win cups, whether it’s the League Cup, the Community Shield or the Guiness International Cup. We exist to be the best and if we can’t do that then we want to be among the elite. When we’re not among the elite, we’re a failure and winning the League Cup is not gonna change that. Managers still get sacked. If we miss out on the Champions League place by a point or two which sends us back to the dark ages then it’s a joke. Nothing to be proud of.
Different. I liked it.
You must have seen the recent TV programme with the Australian ‘expert’ who said, although one of LHO’s shots hit JFK, the killer bullet came from a FBI agent in the car behind, fired by “accident” as he prepared his weapon for a return fire?
(No punch line in that obviously. )
Think that’s posted on the wrong article Bob.
Ha! Sorry. That’s the one I liked! ;)
Any way answer the question!