THE expectation and the reality there. Billed as a cup cracker, in theory it seemed at the very least intriguing. Even more so given the Frankenstein’s monster of a Liverpool team, thrown together from a pool of recent loanees, kids and a forgotten man that should have remained so.
A 14-strong unit that had never previously existed as one until this evening deployed to take something from a televised match on a bog of pitch in the name of Liverpool Football Club. Get the popcorn, this could be interesting.
The match had echoes of a competition called the Liverpool Senior Cup. When all the local Liverpool area sides across the levels go head to head. When young Liverpool sides take on gnarly old non-league sides — one team with the touch to die for and the guile to raise eyebrows, the other with the cynical physicality and the nous of a hundred battles on a slop of a surface.
It’s not a head to head you normally see. A change from the norm. Something different. Part of the remaining charm of a cup struggling to remain relevant.
How would Liverpool fare against the toil and trouble of a team playing one of the games of their lives?
And perhaps we’d learn something. Perhaps this collection of waifs and strays just needed this stage. This big chance. They’re all professionals. All paid by Liverpool. Someone, somewhere saw something sometime. Perhaps we’d see it now.
That was the expectation. In truth, despite the outpouring of superlatives on the final whistle, what’s the reality? Liverpool have drawn with a team 16th in League Two. It’s great for Exeter, and you’d have to have a heart of stone to not feel for their players, who squeezed out everything they had to secure a rematch at Anfield.
For us, though. What did we find out? That Adam Bogdan isn’t good enough. That those who screamed “you’re shit ahhh” on every kick from the Hungarian don’t look far wrong. That Liverpool desperately need a goalkeeper (or two). Now.
That Jose Enrique hasn’t been unlucky, mistreated, frozen out or anything else. He just isn’t any good. The pass delivered into the stand under no pressure on 87 minutes his night in a nutshell, the ease with which he was bypassed for the first a sign that it’s time to cut our losses and wave goodbye.
That failing to stop crosses isn’t exclusive to the first-team regulars and that even a different set of players can’t work out how to get something out of Christian Benteke (great save yes, he should score though, no?).
That staying in the hat is a positive. A defeat to an old money Fourth Division side isn’t a blot Liverpool should accept in the history books, no matter what the circumstances. Some might shrug about a cup, not something I can understand, but the club has a name and reputation to respect and honour. When you lose to the little clubs people remember. Northampton. Roy Hodgson. Exactly.
Liverpool showed *some* fight tonight — and it was just enough. Tiago Ilori isn’t the worst footballer in the world after all but he was pulling no trees down, just his socks. £7million? Worrying the first teamers? Nope. Capable of “doing a job” sometime soon. Maybe.
Brad Smith has got something about him and took his goal well. Ryan Kent is bright, Joao Teixeira can be clever, Cameron Brannagan has some nous and desire and did some good things in both boxes while Ojo looked exciting — all put some plus points on their football CV but it was hardly kicking down the manager’s door stuff.
Jerome Sinclair scored and transformed Aidy Ward’s eyes into dollar signs. It’s unlikely to be Liverpool coughing up on that performance though. Sorry, mate.
As a team, was there enough collective hunger? Enough hunting in packs? Enough will to make it happen over the 90? It’s hard to judge one way or another given the context, but it did seem too easy for Exeter at times.
It’s not entirely clear how Jürgen Klopp feels about it all, either. Lucas Leiva and Adam Lallana seemed like the break glass and win game options. And yet they remained watching from the bench as the Reds emerged from the mud to fight another day with Klopp sporting an expression that said “arsed”.
Perhaps he was was desperate to tick a few more boxes on his watch list as he formulates a long-term plan. Perhaps he’s just completely bamboozled by English football and needs a week off.
Now we must do it again. And he didn’t look too thrilled by that prospect.
At least then, an escape from the embarrassment. A solid foot placed down on the screaming banana skin. One finger in the eye for the schedulers desperate to screen an upset and two fingers to the blerts in the stand singing about Steven Gerrard.
So what now? Liverpool sweep them aside at Anfield? Class shines through in the end and we move on to the next round? That’s likely the expectation.
Well that remains to be seen.
Pics: Propaganda-Photo–David Rawcliffe
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
I hope 95% of The Pink covers how much of an ass Danny Murphy is.
It takes a special type of analyst to make you long for Lawro,
Did my head all evening,
has the hots for Lallana.
He talks a lot of sense to be fair. Chester lad too!
I know what you mean about Murphy, he really bugs me, the way he thinks kicking lumps out of players is generally alright, like he’s a hard bastard or something and how he goes out of his way to NOT defend Liverpool in case someone thinks he’s biased.
Ojo was impressive eh, like to see more of this bloke!!
Didn’t watch the game but listened to it on the radio on a drive back from Essex. Klopps post match interview and reaction over the 2nd goal surely means he knows our goalkeeping options are not up to scratch and we need to invest not in the summer but now! Sounded like brannagan had a good game and ojo was bright coming off the bench. We’re still in the cup we could do without the extra game, but a game at home on a decent pitch against this level of opposition and we should be into the next round. Fair play to Exeter as well for raising there level and giving us a tough game.
I thought the kids did all that we could ask of them, only to be let down a bit by the seniors. Branagan was excellent in my book and if we going to give first teamers a bit of leeway while they get their fitness up, how about Ilori?
We are still in the hat, the lads will get another go and surely now we will be getting a new keeper.
Have to agree, so tough to take anything meaningful from this game for the younger lads really. Enrique? Bad that I pretty much forgot he was on the books when I was considering who would start in the absence of our entire defense? Nope, proved he’s no option.
Also agree that some of the younger lads looked decent enough, and we should be happy about that.
To be fair, Klopp probably just wanted a look at the boys. Before the game I was thinking, we win yippee!! We lose, can’t be arsed, at least we won’t have games + replays (alas here we are, not all bad though). However, with a decent starting line up stuck in the sick room – 12 lads with 6 legs between them – what can you really hope for?
Think the more experienced players in Benteke, Enrique and Bogdan let the team down.
Bogdan fucked up another corner, Enrique just fucked about and Benteke misses another fucking sitter. How many is he allowed to be excused??
The youngsters did well some better than others.
Still almost 1 in 2 that lad. Give him a break.
Everyone keeps saying that – but hasnt he played over 20 games for us? For 6 goal return?
That game was like trying to have a conversation with a tired teenager…anything you hear or see, just disregard it until a better, more clear minded time.
I thought the young lads did well. They don’t play on pitches like this ever. It becomes a leveller. My team played at Everton’s academy one winter and the pitch was like velvet. It was my lasting memory of the place. It’s hard to press relentlessly on a soft pitch. A draw for me was the same as a win. Yeah, it’s an extra game but he could play a similar team. It’d be good experience for them. Dads can take their lads too with both the ticket availability and the low cost. It’ll be an extra game for us to enjoy as well. In the end, the way it panned out I’m just glad the lads didn’t get beat. Some of them didn’t deserve it and I didn’t want to hear people saying Klopp got it wrong and how the FA Cup was special. It’s Arsenal and Utd up next. I didn’t want to see one of our fit players get injured. Klopp got it right and we’ll be in the next round without playing any first team players, Benteke aside though I can’t see him being much of a first teamer when Klopp has a choice. Feel for Bogdan a bit. He had a look of a man who knows his Liverpool career is over before it began (and quite right). To me, that situation is more embarrassing than not beating Exeter. It’s hard to think any differently that we bought him because he played well at Anfield. Enrique hasn’t played for years, he can’t be expected to be match fit. Combined with being rubbish, it was always a danger but we had little choice.
Do I feel sorry for Bogdan…….. not really I mean he’s getting his chances and ultimately it’s down to him to take them. It’s not like he’s come into a side where the Keeper has locked down his place for years on end like say Reina.
In a sense I feel sorry more for their lad Nichols, non of the pampering of a premiership U21 set up but learning his craft at a much lower level where the facilities are, well you can see what the standard of facilities are. So I hope he gets his chance to shine a bit more at Anfield and progress through the league ranks…… (But we win)
At last some sense! I think everything g about that game went exactly as it should in the circumstances. The right team selection. The right decision to recall loanees. Lets not forget most of those players have been spread to the 4 corners of the football league and our effectuvely strangers playing together (and in some cases just playing) for the 1st time this year. The pitch. Wow. I know to the uncultured neutral moron the pitch should never be seen as an excuse for millionaire footballers but lets remember that these are not millionaire footballers and that Exeter had the vast advantage of playing together, on that cow field, as a TEAM, week-in, week – out.
Now talking of playing as a team – putting those young lads out again in the replay will be the right thing to do and the U21 coaching staff’s brief now should be to get working with them between now and then to get them all working as a cohesive unit again, regardless of who has recovered from the 1st team. Great shout about making it a cheap experience for young fans to attend too. Certainly enough kids enjoying themselves in the Exeter stands last night.
All in all I think it was largely a great effort from those young lads – keep it in context. Don’t forget they had to come back from going a goal down to an absolute howler on the stroke of half time, too. Showed more character than many of our first team have mustered this season on a certain games.
I agree. This is a ‘team’ that had never really seen eachother before, played on a dog of a pitch against an un-checked committed, physical team. Most of these lads, including Enrique, have not had 90 minutes at this pace for a while. So if Enrique sends one out in the 87th, it is likely because he is tired.
I thought Enrique showed some class and was excellent as a center back in later stages. He showed strength and poise. I don’t want to overstate here, he was against a tiring third division team but he looked about right. I don’t get the slating here.
The only one who may be due for a slating is Benteke – he should be showing his class at this level and didn’t. Why is that? Perhaps another one who feels his career (with LFC) is on the slide. Could do with some support to help his confidence. How about it? He’s ours, there is a player in there, and we need him to play. Is it too much to try to help him out a bit?
A replay is fine. If we’re playing the kids, the biggest issue is the mental task for the coaching staff. But we simply can’t throw this one away and allow a blot on our record. No way. Come on you Reds.
Not like you to talk sense pal.
Aimed at Crimes that.
Thought Gibbo was a bit harsh on the young uns.
Ilori showed some promise.
Kent started ok but was trying too hard later on which is a shame cause I was looking forward to seeing him given a chance.
Give em another go in the replay.
Bring on the Arse.
So is anyone out there attempting the 14 hour train journey home?
Can Benteke play centre half?
or as keeper?
We’ll be fine at Anfield. Play with the same team where the U21s balls in to feet way of playing will suit them with the bigger and better pitch. Anyone who thought we’d batter them is a soft shite. The Mansfield and Oldham games were only a few years ago and Bogdan’s the ginger Brad Jones.
Klopp’s interview after it was one of the greatest managerial post-match interviews of all time. He’s sick of it all already and not afraid to tell you. What a guy.
Apparently Liverpool have played there relatively recently with Suarez upfront when we ended up going on to win the league cup and I don’t remember ever watching it. Mad: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/14569491
Cheer up Ffs! What did we all expect from playing the U21s with a sprinkling of 1st teamers on a night which can be best described as a
lose/lose circus show, a banana skin of an event with the chucking of over ripe tomatoes thrown in for exra effect.
Another away game as far away from Liverpool as is possible anywhere in Britain never mind England! And 3 days after another away game semi final. We know the FA are fucking cracked but what about we the fans!? Get a fucking grip.
We have effectively been asked to play 2 midweek cup games away from home, and when circumstances dictated the inexperienced where required for that nonsense tonight. Lets just give thanks and credit to the Team for not loosing and saving our embarrassed faces and reputation, allowing us to fight another day.
Some may say the 1st team may take inspiration from these youngsters coming from behind twice to salvage a draw. They have my full respect a away. YNWA
Gareth is spot on with his review.
Klopp used this match to get a cold, hard look at the youngsters and what they are capable of. For him, it was obvious the FA Cup has become the least of his priorities and that selection showed that.
In the harsh light of day , a L’pool composed of expensively assembled youngsters plus a few seniors should have easily despatched that shite – 76 places below us in the leagues.
The reality is that only Ojo could even come close to being considered a prospect.
I’d go so far to say none of the others will make it at LFC. Not even close.
Ilori has had a few on here clamoring for his inclusion. Tonight showed why even Villa wouldn’t give him a game. 7 million quid for that? Twice the amount of the entire Exeter squad! Thanks, Brendan.
Texeira showed a few glimpses, sure, but so did similar players such as Suso and Danny Pacheco. Where are they now?
Sinclair? As Gareth accurately writes, it won’t be us ‘coughing up on that performance’.
Cue the rose tinted brigade to come back on and make the usual excuses : ‘hastily assembled’, ‘never played together before’, ‘ first time out’ ‘shite pitch’ etc etc.
Though the 32.5 mill. Benteke showed little inclination for the fight, I expected a little more hunger from the younger lads.
I have even more respect for Klopp now as he allowed these youngsters their big chance and got a good look on what his predecessor has assembled for a not inconsiderable amount of dosh.
Can anyone really say we have unearthed some diamonds there?
Think the biggest thing it showed was the gap between U21’s and playing real competitive football every week. Would their Nicholls look out of place in our U21’s, probably not. Thought we looked light and inconsistent on the ball all over. Overall dog of a game but would play the same lads in the replay.
Illori looked like someone who is a footballer that just trains and doesn’t play which must be just weird for the lad and ultimately if it goes on much longer will damage his prospect of playing at any serious level.
Was impressed with Enriques ability to keep his kit spotless
during 20 minutes that Ojo played, memories of young John Barns came back to me. Hope Ojo would go on to give us some hope in the next production line after Ibe.
all the points by Garth on 14 players are spot on.
3 Senior players let the team down last night. The kids deserve another chance.
our club policy was to buy whoever played well against us. ~ Benteke and Bogdan, Carroll and Charlie Adam. I hope Klopp has bin that policy. If not we may see the two Watford guys, few Westham guys in Reds soon.
These young lads showed pride in wearing the shirt. They came from behind TWICE on a bog of a pitch against hardened pros to earn a draw and all you can do is bitch and moan. When opposition fans jibe about deluded Liverpool fans living in the past and demanding titles just because ‘they are Liverpool’, it is you they are talking about.
Fuck you. I was thrilled to bits to see them fight it out and earn a draw. They worked themselves into the ground for the badge and they deserve better than morons like you slagging them off.
Easily pleased are we Jase?
These ‘hardened pros’ are 76 places below L’pool.
Showing ‘pride in the shirt’ is the very least requirement.
Now wipe the foam from your mouth and go take a walk in that Wisconsin air, calm down, make your popcorn and sit back on the couch and chill.
You OK, hun?
A good result. I wouldn’t give our first XI better than a 50:50 chance of beating Exeter, right now, or any other league side. Still think Exeter are the more likely side to go through.
A pretty pointless competition, these days. It would be good to have it begin and end during the Winter hiatus of European club games, at least for Premier League teams.
thing that bugs me with benteke is that we have turned someone who regularly battered defenders into a wallflower and we have players who either don’t know how to use his skills, which is a lack of intelligence, or don’t want to. i like him i think he is very good at what he does and yes he needs to adapt but so do others and that will make it harder for opposition to play against us. last night i saw some players who look as though they may have a chance of making it, Brad Smith has plenty of energy and a good touch, i would like to see more of Illori alongside a more experienced centre back and lets see how he develops. one thing is brendan has left a mess behind which is going to take some sorting and will take time.
That we had to play the youngsters shows how far our great club has fallen in a short time. I have nothing more to say about the Club
13 players are injured.
If that’s the best second string we could put out, injuries or not, then we’re a mess of a club. No wonder Kloppo keeps rubbing his hair plugs.
It was a third string side. the second string is basically broken.
To be fair to Ilori, it’s incredibly difficult for a young centre back to not play for months on end and then come into a game like that and look good. I personally thought he did ok considering. (And i know logically some of that also applies to Enrique but he’s a living-stealing clown so it doesn’t).
Generally I thought the only three that looked ready for a higher level were Smith, Teixeira and Ojo (who seemed to have an encouraging level of swagger about him when he came on – though is he not a bit, erm, fuller of figure than he was in the summer? maybe he overdid the mince pies)
Since I wouldn’t have backed the first XI to get a result there I don’t think they did too bad