WAITING in the line to the steps of Wembley Park station, as the sun finally shows its face and Liverpool hide theirs after another ‘almost’ episode, an Aston Villa fan is still wide-eyed with a wide smile, writes MELISSA REDDY.
Roughly around the age of 10, he tugs on his dad’s jeans and confidently tells him: “We had giants, they had passengers.”
In the coldness of defeat, I didn’t bother to decipher whether the kid’s theory was something he’d overheard, or his own analysis. Wherever it came from, it carried truth.
Passengers don’t win silverware. They aren’t the driving force behind open-top bus parades. Liverpool have had too many passengers in too many matches this season. They don’t leave it all on the field, or find an extra inch when it’s needed. No stomach for a fight, no lungs for deep breaths, no heart to pump passion so thick and fast that it feels like they’re playing out of their skins.
Passengers sink into their shells and shrink into insignificance. They don’t exert themselves, they don’t stretch beyond limitations and reach for more. They fail to execute the easy pass, they don’t dare attempt the audacious. They don’t press high up, they don’t press at all. Passengers drop the shoulder on composure and sit alongside their old friend desperation. They float like a butterfly, but they have no sting. They are overawed by occasion and ousted by those more motivated.
Take it up a notch? You’re having a laugh. Passengers can’t elevate their game, because it takes effort. It takes balls. It takes brains. We can talk about tactics until Fat Bastard fits into David Beckham’s underpants, but formations and instructions can’t carry passengers. There’s no role for them in a diamond, 4-3-3 or in any system. You can talk to them about intensity, aggression, ambition and then watch them display all the antonyms. They are by design, by choice, by default. You can tell yourself, ‘Today, I’m going to give every fibre, every bit of my fabric. I will do whatever it takes, whenever it’s needed.’ Passengers don’t inspire themselves, let alone anyone else.
They don’t use the pace, or the gold dust. They stand off instead of standing up. They get out of position, lose possession and candidly jog back while others break a gut to cut out their errors. Passengers don’t gamble and attack the space, or the ball, or the odds. They stand and point at others, or waste a pass, or turn their backs, or shit themselves. They let the ball bounce, they give up the chase. They can’t help force a goal, or extra time… They won’t help.
Passengers watch as Aston Villa win the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. They don’t get another trip under the arch in May. They watch the claret and blue celebrations after the final whistle, being as effective as they were during the 90-odd minutes.
Liverpool had a few passengers today. Passengers don’t win silverware. They aren’t the driving force behind open-top bus parades. Passengers don’t deserve to be named, they should be as anonymous as their performances.
We know who they are. They need to get up, or get off.
Disclaimer: A more measured analysis from me will be given during the TAW podcast. This was written on the long, despairing drive home from Wembley.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo
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Rodgers, Pascoe & Marsh? You couldn’t pick a more unsuitable trio to be in charge of Liverpool FC.
But we’ve been told the primary attribute when picking our transfers we’re picking those with the right mentality, who can handle the pressure and compete despite the weight of the shirt
Aside from Can and possibly Lallana (although he hasn’t been seen enough in the big ones), I don’t see how any of the signings are big personalities. Dejan “brown pants” Lovren, Moreno who has made some high profile errors the past month in the big ones, Markovic who to be fair to him is still young
I think you’ll find that anytime we lose, it’s a generally accepted fact that all the players that were bad were all the players forced onto poor Rodgers by the vile, bloated, mad for power Transfer Committe (boo….hiss)
There is where the blame lies, not with plucky Brendan and his inversion of the quadrangle in the power play area of the tactical dartboard.
Not sure about that conclusion.
I think it’s widely accepted that Rodgers chose the likes of Borini, Allen, Lallana, Lovren, Lambert
Hardly game changers.
Ah I think I forgot to put in some irony characters like ;)
Rodgers is getting a load of flack for trying a number of different formations during that game but Villa played better than us no matter what system we used. A manager can only do so much, there comes a point when the players have to find that extra half a yard, that quicker pass, that more accurate shot. Villa did it, we didn’t. We can scapegoat the management all we want but there has been too many times this season when the players haven’t put in that little bit extra needed, for whatever reason. Rodgers will no doubt shoulder the vast majority of the blame but too many millionaires out on the pitch this season haven’t earned their pay in my eyes.
Who picked the players? Rodgers has said on more than one occasion that the transfer committee doesn’t bring in anyone he doesn’t want. If he’s lying then he’s taking the arrows that should be aimed towards the transfer committee, which he’s a part of. If it means that much to him, why doesn’t he tell John Henry to sod off with the committee crap? If Henry really believes BR is the next Guardiola then they’ll keep him. If not, they can find someone else. And given all the talk, I’m sure BR can find another job.
Poetic. Dramatic. Yet somehow doesn’t quite work.
‘Passengers’ suggests they didn’t give their all and there’s hidden/unlocked talent which they couldn’t be bothered to tap into.
With the obvious exceptions (Can, Sterling, Courtinho) that’s as good as they get. Worrying.
Too many passengers, I agree but as Tom said look at who is in charge of the bus!. The driver and his two crew are hardly Formula 1 are they?
As a neutral, I don’t get that “Liverpool feeling” much any more — the enjoyable anticipation of looking at the fixture list and anticipating the likes of Torres, Gerrard and Alonso ripping into a United or a Chelsea with a ton of passion and skill, with a significant football figure watching and guiding from the dugout. I had it a lot under Benitez, a bit with Dalglish and almost not at all with Rodgers. Sorry to say, I just don’t think he’s got it. The manager of LFC should have some stature in the game and some silverware to his name.
Ah it’s a balls..I can’t believe we threw that away! I had my mates texting me right through it with ‘oops’. It is really showing that we truly bought bad last season – Lalana, Louvren, Lambert, Markovic, Moreno? and that twat Ballotelli. Sturridge is a bloody sick note and Sterling thinks he’s Messi and has illusions of grandeur. Gerard knows he’s finished too it’s all too painful to watch – lacklustre! We couldn’t put the fear of God up a team from Grange Hill ffs! It’s definitely showing us up as a weak team that can’t beat the top 4 anymore with defeats now to Manure and Arsenal. Without world class players we will and are falling by the wayside. It’s clear Suarez carried us last year and made everyone look good. It is a long shot to get top 4 and relies on the wheels coming of the ManC wagon. I think it’s a major wake up call at Anfield for Rodgers and FSG if they don’t buy better players and strikers it’s bye bye next season. Come on give us some bloody pride in our team again..I am sick of being goaded by ManUre, ManShitty, Gooners, and now Villa fans !!?? In the name of…
Biggest problem is square pegs in round holes. Look at that starting 11 yesterday. There are seven midfielders there. Seven! A goalie, 3 defenders and the rest are midfielders. How many were playing in their very best position? Not many. If you’ve got a team full of players “doing a job” playing a position that’s not their best one you’re never going to reach the top level.
Gotta agree here. How many centrebacks have we on our books over 21??? Must be about 7 but yet we have to use a midfielder. We’ve 4 right backs and we still use the same midfielder. We’ve about 5 strikers and a winger plays up front. And all this is after spending £120mil in the summer.
We keep hearing about this transfer committee and Rodgers saying he has the final say.Does that mean that the committee identifies players and Rodgers says yes or no? Because if Rodgers identifies the players and has the final say is there any point in a committee?
Somebody will put me right but it’s just one of the many conundrums that seem to be present at the moment.
Another is all this talk about tactics.The number of times I saw 4 or 5 defenders swarm towards 3 Villa attackers on the left wing and other times 3 defenders facing 4 Villa attackers breaking forward.
The United game was another example when they hit long high balls to Fellaini time after time and we couldn’t deal with it.And they’d been doing that for most of the season.City fell for it too but look what happened when United played against Chelsea.They isolated Fellaini and forced him to play with his feet.And we all know that’s not one of his strengths.
Anyway,I don’t know about the players being tired or nervous yesterday or even lacking in effort.To me they simply looked confused and disorganised.
Surely the transfer committee doesn’t have a say in tactics too does it?
“Liverpool had a few passengers today. Passengers don’t win silverware. They aren’t the driving force behind open-top bus parades. Passengers don’t deserve to be named, they should be as anonymous as their performances.
We know who they are. They need to get up, or get off.”
Can’t help feeling this applies to the fans as well as the team. Compared to 2012 (granted, that was against the Bitters), it was like a wake until Coutinho scored then the noise quickly died off again. The build-up was subdued, pretty much everything felt off to me. Maybe it was the realisation from a lot of fans that winning would only give us a return to Wembley to be shown up by Arsenal.
It was more than ‘just’ a feeling of losing a big match, like a deeper malaise has set in.
This is a good point. I was at the Emirates sitting amongst Arsenal fans for the demolition the other week. Not a single Arsenal fan sat down for the entire 90. They sang for the entire first 45. Yes! Arsenal fans. There was so much positively within the stadium it was almost impossible for them not to be so dominant. This in contrast the dismal crowd at Anfield for Newcastle – I’m surprised the players bother showing up.
Our end was diabolical yesterday.
Like the team, we turned up but disappointed ourselves.
I commented on here after I think the Swansea game saying we looked as though we had a winning mentality beyond our years for such a young team but between the first half against United, the Arsenal game and yesterday they’ve sadly proven me wrong.
Coutinho and before he was injured Sakho haven’t disappointed anyone, you can’t really judge Sturridge this season and I’d discount Markovic from too much criticism because the management of him has been a bit odd.
I was desperately hoping for some match winning know-how from Gerrard but he just didn’t have it in him anymore. It’s quite sad actually; Henderson is the captain as of next year and should be responsible for his own shortcomings in a big game now but there’s no doubt he feels the need to babysit Gerrard so he’s not too exposed. Same thing when they were a midfield two when we were losing games for fun in September-December.
No one wanted him to rage against the dying of the light one last time more than he did but he just couldn’t. Not winning the league last year was the dramatic final chapter to one of the great careers. Everything from the myriad of subpar performances in the first half of the season to the red card v United to saving us from humiliation at Wimbledon is all epilogue.
Some well reasoned insight there.And you’re not alone!
But Gerrard is such an easy target isn’t he? No,nobody else to blame it’s all Gerrard’ s fault! Welcome to the bandwagon!
I know, I know. The endless devolving of LFC discussions to always banging on about Gerrard is tiring and I’m by no means saying his performance yesterday was any poorer than any number of other players. I guess I’m just a bit put out because yesterday was his last game for Liverpool of any real, competitive significance. He’s *the* dominant figure of my Liverpool supporting life so his story is intertwined with *my* Liverpool if that makes any sense whatsoever and doesn’t read too much like utter baloney.
Next season’s going to be weird with him not being there but even weirder for people that there’ll be no need to argue about him over the internet! When’s he’s gone we can just retrospectively talk about how great he was rather than lamenting the end of last season in such bitter sweet tones.
That was very well composed. Nice writing. Enjoyed it, Melissa.