European Football - UEFA Europa League - Group Stage Group B - Liverpool FC v FC SionA WORRYING trend continues. Liverpool go a goal up against average opposition, then don’t build on it. They concede an equaliser and then don’t know what to do. Players look to each other for inspiration. Leaders are searched for and not found. Games drift away far too easily. The crowd boos.

Winning is said to be a habit. So is failing. Now when Liverpool go a goal up they don’t believe they can see it out. When they concede shoulders slump. Here we go again. The midfield have no faith in the attack. The attack have no faith in the defence. The defence have no faith in the keeper. No-one steps up.

Liverpool are at least creating more chances, but that doesn’t mean much if you can’t take them. Or if the defence remains shaky, and a shot on target equals a goal. Playing nicely but not winning is mid-table. Top teams find a way to see it out. Liverpool seem unaware of how you even go about doing that at the moment. Never mind executing it.

In a text posted on our Facebook page last night Neil said not “every minute of every game” should be about the manager. He is right, of course. The obsession, not just at Liverpool but in modern football, of the manager is a curious one. Chelsea vs Arsenal is billed as Mourinho vs Wenger, rather than a battle between 22 top-class athletes on a playing field. In no other sport I can think of are the trainers of the sportsman seen as the main difference between success and failure.

But the manager has to be accountable, all the same. He shouldn’t be allowed to talk about ‘rebuilding jobs’ after over three years in charge. He should recognise that part of the reason we are so disjointed is because of a decision, that he was part of — to sign and release masses of players two years in a row after we were told the summer of 2014-5 was a one off.

We can’t be allowed to think that Daniel Sturridge will solve everything, when there are plenty of other expensive footballers at the club who need to take responsibility. Both in attack and defence.

A few came out with some credit last night, although all with significant ‘buts’. Origi did well for the opening goal and looked bright throughout. His movement looks far ahead of his finishing at the moment though. Ings was quiet, but will score more when his team mates get on to his movement around the box, especially from set pieces, where he should have been slipped in twice. Lallana is in the right place for the first goal and takes it well, but he really needs to finish the second with so much goal to hit it into. His unquestionable talent means he should be head and shoulders above everyone else for Liverpool reserves vs Sion, yet he doesn’t quite manage to impose himself in the way he should.

Then there was the midfield. I’ve seen it debated how well, or otherwise, they played. With Neil (again) giving Joe Allen man of the match in his player ratings and plenty of praise for Jordan Rossiter too. First of all I think playing in a midfield in this system is often tough, with players unsure whether to stick or twist. 4-2-3-1, for example, gives defined roles. I’m not sure our midfielders at the moment, whoever they are, know exactly what they should be doing. Should they cover the wing backs or leave it to the wide centre halves? Should they look to get forward or offer protection to a backline that is more re-enforced anyway?

Rossiter had a decent enough game eventually, winning the ball back frequently and getting more confident with his passing as the game wore on. He looked lost in the position at first though, with Allen doing nothing to guide him, in terms of defining his own role so Rossiter can adjust and try to compliment, or in terms of actually talking to a young lad making one of his first senior starts like a senior professional should.

After watching the game back this morning Allen is more involved in our best play than I thought, terrific in particular for the Origi one on one. I can’t help but feel he symbolises Liverpool in 2015. Tidy, but lacking in personality. Talented, without looking like a winner. Too often just sort of there, without enough purpose. 

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Group Stage Group B - Liverpool FC v FC SionMaybe I’m being harsh. Bill Shankly once said “A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.” I like this quote, partly because it doesn’t make any sense. Why do you want three piano players? Are they on shifts? Or are they playing at the same time banging in to each other? But it does remind us, in an unusual way, that football teams are very rarely full of world class players. Alex Ferguson recently claimed that he only had four of those in his whole time at Manchester United. I’m sure he feels he had plenty at the level just below too. But he also had loads of lads who were really good at carrying the piano.

Three piano players. It doesn’t sound a lot. But they are the lads who cost, and earn the money, and when you don’t have them it’s frustrating. You can look predictable, short of ideas. You also start shouting at the piano carriers for not being better at playing the piano. Like I do with Joe Allen. Which isn’t really fair.

In the 2014 run in we had three piano players, and we looked terrific. They made the piano carriers look amazing too. Only one of the players is left now, so many of the same carriers look worse.

Look after them fingers Danny, lad

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Pic: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo

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