LET me make this absolutely, 100 per cent, crystal clear: Southampton deserved to win last night.
They deserved to win at Anfield, they deserved to win at St. Mary’s and they definitely deserved to make it through to the final over the course of two legs.
That doesn’t mean it’s not true to say that the referee was abysmal. It’s also fair to say that decisions from officials have been generally poor for a while now. Frustratingly, I can’t think of a decision that’s gone our way because of refereeing mistake for some time now.
Jock Stein once said that if you’re good enough then the referee doesn’t matter. That’s absolutely true and Liverpool haven’t been good enough recently. Some may cite ‘Emre Can not being good enough’, ‘Daniel Sturridge missed a sitter’ or ‘you can’t blame the referee’. Here’s the thing, though. The referee is literally on the pitch for no reason other than to apply the rules of the game. His assistants don’t have to do anything other than watch the game and help him out.
Despite what some referees might think, it’s not about them. They’re not there to primp and preen and referee circumstance. They’re there to make sure that the game is on a level playing field. That’s how smaller teams can beat bigger ones. It’s how you can play poorly and still get something from the game.
There’s no question that we’re in a slump, now. It’s not just the results that are problematic but the performances. How different would things be if we’d left Old Trafford with three points, though? In the buildup to their goal their player was a few feet offside, stood on the opposite side of a line cut into the pitch that couldn’t have made it much more blatant.
For anyone who thinks Valencia wasn't clearly offside…look at the line on the pitch. Lovren is one side, he's the other. pic.twitter.com/R3JoicULpr
— Olé (@Ole_LFC) January 15, 2017
Last night Martin Atkinson missed a handball from Shane Long in the box that was pretty blatant. He gave a goal-kick when their defender booted the ball into the back of The Kop. There was also a penalty shout towards the end of the game when Divock Origi went down under a challenge. Personally, I thought there was contact and that it was a penalty, others don’t agree. Either way, that’s two obvious decisions and one debatable one that Atkinson got wrong.
Again, none of that excuses how poor we played over both legs, nor does it make up for how badly we’ve been lately. Yet the go-to line for people is that these decisions equal themselves out over the course of the season. Will we be up against our fiercest rivals at their home ground, losing 1-0 when an assistant referee fails to notice one of our players about five-foot offside before the end of the season? It seems unlikely. It’s unlikely that a referee will fail to give our opponents two penalties in a cup semi-final, either.
The notion of swings and roundabouts for refereeing decisions is an absolute nonsense. It’s just not how the game works. There was one big decision that the referee got right today and that was the moment the ball seemed to cross the line but didn’t. No coincidence that that decision wasn’t his to make thanks to the introduction of goal-line technology.
Isn’t it funny that technology has not only been introduced seamlessly to the game but has also helped referees out? Why are the Football Association/FIFA/UEFA so reluctant to introduce other forms of technology? Those sitting at home get to watch an incident over and over again from several different angles before players have even finished crowding around the referee. It really wouldn’t be that difficult for the fourth official to watch something back and make the correct decision. Still debatable? Go with the referee’s original decision like in cricket.
Referees aren’t perfect and they get a lot of blatantly obvious decisions wrong, but they’re also human. The game moves faster than it ever has before so why not help them out? By not doing so we make them look even more stupid or, worse, dodgy. The technology’s there so it’s time to use it.
Sometimes you’ve got to say ‘well done’. As poor as Liverpool were over the two legs, arguably only playing well for one half of the four, Southampton deserve a huge amount of credit for how well they played against us. We’ve faced them four times this season and they’ve stopped us from scoring on three occasions. That’s incredibly impressive against this free-scoring Liverpool side.
Our January isn’t going very well at all, yet the ‘first team’ have still scored in every game apart from against Saints. It’s less than a month since we scored three at Middlesbrough, four against Stoke and one against Manchester City. We’ve been scoring goals, is my point. Claude Puel has got the measure of Jürgen Klopp and is evidently also not intimidated about playing Liverpool when you consider he’s not lost in five games against us (two with Lyon in 2009).
I was expecting to see a response from Liverpool last night but it didn’t happen. That’s, in part, due to mistakes from Klopp in his starting line-up (Can is stinking the place out at the moment and shouldn’t be on the pitch, in my opinion), in his formation (by pushing Roberto Firmino out wide we’re losing what he offers through the middle in order to accommodate a Sturridge who is woefully out of form) and in his substitutions (they came too late). Yet, you also have to say that Southampton got their tactics right and were superb at executing them.
This isn’t necessarily the time to be trying to look for positives, but Loris Karius has proved over two legs that we have not bought a dud. Had Southampton beaten us by four or five over the course of the two legs we couldn’t have had a massive complaint. It was entirely down to the German shot-stopper that they didn’t.
Simon Mignolet has been in good form in the league games and deserved to reclaim his starting berth. Perhaps Klopp made a bad decision dropping him for Karius in the first place, forcing the younger man to prove he was amazing before he’d even had a chance to unpack his boxes. When he made a couple of bad mistakes some supporters decided to write him off and suggest that we should bin him and buy a new ‘keeper.
The Belgian has been better of late but he’s still got a few mad moments in him (rolling the ball out to a defender under pressure in the last minute at Old Trafford, anyone?) and he’s not good enough long-term if Liverpool are to challenge for titles on a regular basis. Karius may well turn out to be no better than Mignolet in the grand scheme of things. He may not be enough of an upgrade on him to make it worthwhile.
What we’ve learnt from 180 minutes against a quickly counter-attacking Southampton team, however, is that he isn’t a complete waste of time. There’s a decent shot-stopper in there who is still young. That matches with what people who know the Bundesliga said about him before he turned up at Anfield in the summer. There’s very little to be feeling good about for Liverpool just at the moment, but that may well be the one thing we can cling on to.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
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Too much time spent talking about a Karius and Mignolet,it’s about what’s in front of them.
The current drop in form is nothing to do with who we have in goal.Its about not having a squad to cover for injuries, Mane missing and players out of form.
I think this article is a bit over exaggerating things in a negative way. Not quite sure how you can say that Southampton deserved to win yesterday. You must have been watching another game from me. I thought Liverpool were easily the better team yesterday and deserved to win. I agree with Jurgen Klopp that i thought Liverpool’s performance yesterday was pretty good. You have to understand that Southampton put 11 men behind the ball and weren’t that interested in attacking but occasionally hitting us on the counter attack so it was not easy to break a team down who play like that especially when they are actually quite a good team. Liverpool had 72% posession, 13 shots to Southampton’s 7…..that’s not bad against a team only interested in defending most the time. Sturridge could easily have scored a goal, we could easily have had a penalty, there was a goal line clearance, there was another shout for a penalty when Shane Long handballed. All of these could have changed the game and then no one would be talking so negatively. I think a lot of people are over exaggerating because they are just frustrated with our recent results. I think we have played quite well in most of our recent games, it’s just fine margins of not being clinical enough or losing concentration in defence as well as dodgy refereeing decisions. I think if we just keep doing what we are doing we will be fine and Mane who we have definately missed will be back soon, and Coutinho will be back to speed soon. Lets have a bit more positivity please.
Think we played well last night too but just didn’t create enough chances. Chances create opportunities to win games and Southampton did create more of them.
Don’t care how you do it. Just win.
Another thing on ref’s – which I hate banging on about but does my head in. Is time added on. Why not have a separate clock on the scoreboard in the stadium controlled by either the 4th official or someone else in the stands. For every goal add 30s. Every sub add 30s – longer if they take longer etc. Every goal kick/free kick/throw in which takes more than say, 10s (random figure off the top of my head), add the time on. Player injured? Add the time on. So then everyone can see where we are. Then at 45/90, start the countdown to HT/FT.
Then everyone can see it. Everyone knows the rules. And its standard across every game. It also will quicken the game up and probably make it more entertaining – something the powers that be love.
Fair play to Southampton for slowing the game down etc but Foster took an age for goal kicks from the 1st min- the result? 5 mins in total extra time over both halfs no yellow or anything from Atkinson. Its daft and surely with the technology available, not that hard to sort?
Liverpool had 72% posession, 13 shots to Southampton’s 7…..so basically opponents just sit deep and let and an already exhausted team run themselves into the ground for 67 mins and then play on the counter.
Flawed strategy? Without any depth of quality it is starting to appear that way.
In terms of last night’s decisions:
. Lovren got away with pulling Yoshida’s shirt
. Stephens got away with pulling Matip’s shirt
. Sims (or whoever) somehow got away with a goal kick after twatting the ball over his own bar. That was a risible decision
. If I am totally without bias I don’t think Origi’s was a penalty.
These things do even out. It’s a semi-consistent variable, the human factor within this group of shitty Premier League referees, and there’s no agenda for or against Liverpool FC. What I concede is the possibility it might not even out enough during the course of a single season. So I agree with it being a problem, or a notable element of the game as we know it, even if I don’t agree with the siege-feeling of this article.
I can think of a couple times this season when a Liverpool midfielder has barged into an opponents back to steal the ball, ref gives nothing, and we end up creating a chance at goal. I suppose part of the issue is that, due to LFC style of play, whenever the opposition do manage to build an attack it’s usually a break which means any refereeing fuck-up is inherently more cumulative towards a chance at goal than at the other end. A bigger proportion of opposition possession tends to be dangerous compared with Liverpool’s, hence the refereeing mistakes in our favor going more unnoticed.
As always, the way to have the discussion about whether things even out or not is to first frame the context and decide on what kind of refereeing mistakes can be considered decisive and therefore relevant:
– Those directly responsible for goal or denying goal bound opportunity.
– Those indirectly (but conceivably) responsible for goal or denying good chance…aaaand already it became impossible to draw the line. Do we really want technology to creep into the decision making? Shall we have someone take a look at every single dubious incident and have the game last three hours? Or only the ones deemed relevant by the wise old grey beards?
I don’t want to have this discussion.
Whenever this happens with the refs I just think back to 2005 and the build up to Smicers goal. The linesman frantically waving his flag for offside, the ref not take any notice and you know the rest. Makes me feel better on the inside.
It’s not the defence it’s the midfield. We need a bit more bite to shield the defence, and a bit more creativity to start the transition to attack.
Henderson plays too many sideways or backward passes. Klopp needs to have a word.
Can,.. Just not good enough.
Play Gini on the left, Hendo on the right. We need something/someone else shielding the back 2. Maybe even try Lucas until the summer window.
That still leaves a lack of strength on the bench. If the kids can’t come thru quick enough.
If you gave the ref the option of seeing a replay they would take it every time.
Because they don’t want to be wrong either.
Technology only works for definitives like over the line or not, subjective calls like last night’s penalties would still be open to interpretation. The tackle on Origi is a penalty in my opinion but a good tackle for others. Sitting around whilst some bloke looks at the replay(s) and eventually tells us what he thinks is no way to run a game of football, especially if you don’t agree with the decision!
Football is about controversy and mistakes as our back line show on a regular basis. Just let the game flow and argue over a pint or two after the match. Yes the game revolves around money these days and a case can be made for ‘getting it right’ because millions are at stake, but if the game is disrupted, enjoyment diminished and mistakes are still made, I suggest lots of supporters would vote with their feet, including me. Then what? No fans no game.
The referee’s opinion is subjective at the moment. There are plenty of things a ref would give as a foul, penalty or sending off if they could see it again. Giving them help from the timeline would take no time whatsoever. We have watched it five times at home from different angles before the players have even finished arguing. If it’s still not definitive then you go with the referee’s original decision, just like cricket.
It’s got nothing to do with money. It’s got to do with the fact that we’re acting referees to do the same job that they did fifty years ago, despite how much the game has changed since then. Players used to have pie and chips for their dinner before a game. A warm up would be a cigarette and walk along the pitch. Times have changed. The game is three, four, five times faster now than back then. It’s pathetic that we aren’t helping referees keep up when the technology is readily available.
how have we played Southampton 4 times this season?
It was a mistake on my behalf, Colin. Wishful thinking, I guess! Don’t really want to play them again…!
me neither :-)
Southampton were the better team,got their tactics right,hit us on the break and should have been 2 up at half time.The ref got the hand ball by Long shout wrong,but the tackle on Origi looked a good one.
Can anyone remember a game where LFC got anything from Martin Atkinson?