“THANK Christ 2016 is over with.”
Look at the state of it. I mean, we have got Fascism marching its way across the developed world, led by a fella with the stupidest hair, voice, hands and face combination ever seen in a human being. We have got a Prime Minister who is so shit at her job that all she can do to get by is hold hands with ‘shit combo’ and piss off most of the continent by backing a nonsense called Brexit, not just a make believe limp towards leaving the EU, but a real, let’s make us all skint, unpopular and probably dead, hard Brexit. She didn’t even fucking vote for it for frigs sake. To make matters worse, the leader of the opposition is so utterly shambolic and incompetent that it makes you wonder whether he has got a tenner on us all being dead before 2026.
Oh, and the Reds can’t win a game for love or indeed money. And you said 2017 couldn’t be any worse than 2016.
I don’t know about you, but I’d snap your hand off for a significant reduction in the old fascism but a bit of a spike in the deaths of a few fellas who were really, really brilliant at singing and playing the guitar and that. I mean, I loved Prince and Bowie as much as the next man but frankly, I’d bring them back to life and then kill them both twice with my own hands if it meant the Reds could win again.
“Alright Prince, lad, bit of a mad gaff you have got here, isn’t it? Heavy few months them weren’t they? Come here lad, I’ve just invented a new colour, it’s a bit like purple, look there it is there,” crack with a big guitar over the head.
At this point mate, I’d drive Springsteen to the gates of hell in my own car for one of the Reds to get the winner against Spurs. “Get in, boss. I know it’s only a Passat and that but it is dead comfy, you know, and the boot is massive.”
I mean it is getting a bit ridiculous now, isn’t it? Hull away was so utterly soul destroying in its predictability. All of the same old faults and weaknesses that we all know about and are frankly bored stiff of talking about reared their ugly head again.
We have learnt a few things though, haven’t we? I mean first off, one thing that’s for sure is that you don’t win leagues with a fanny for a ‘keeper. Two games and two pretty desperate errors cost the Reds’ the first goal. We were able to come back in the Chelsea game despite our ‘keeper literally not looking at the ball while their lad kicked it at our goal. Imagine being one of our players then when you have dug him out by grafting your balls off only for him to come out for a cross against a team with absolutely no threat whatsoever and present it to one of their lads to tap it in from a yard. I don’t care who you are, that must be hard to wear.
There is a wider point here, though, and it isn’t just the ‘keeper who is to blame. This Liverpool side is set up to dominate possession. The idea that is preached by the coaching staff is that if we consistently move the ball, keep the ball, rotate the ball across the pitch then the opposition will become tired, knock off and allow the Reds a chance. We have battered loads of teams this season by doing just that. We score one, we start again, keep the tempo up, we score again and so on until they are begging for mercy. One defensive mistake normally leads to another as heads drop on theirs and confidence rises on yours. Simple really.
When the first goal doesn’t come though the key to the whole enterprise is to keep them under pressure. No team can win every game playing fluid, unbelievable high tempo football. Circumstances, atmosphere, the weather, kick-off times among other things will all conspire to prevent this. But, the best sides have an ability to control the match and keep the opposition under pressure until they break. How do they do this? They don’t give them a sniff. They don’t let them out. They starve them of hope until they eventually submit, from tiredness and a distinct lack of hope.
Our major problem this season is that our defensive unit is not clinical or ruthless enough. They dish out hope like the fucking Power Rangers, mate. The amount of times this year when a side has scored with their first shot. The amount of times when our ‘keeper has lashed one in his own net under minimal pressure. The amount of times this year when a nothing ball in our box results in everyone looking at each other as their lad, who hasn’t scored for 25 years, taps one in on his debut. The amount of times when an otherwise comfortable performance where the winner will probably come has turned into panic stations because we have gifted the opposition a goal out of nothing.
I can’t stress enough the psychological impact this has on an inferior side and their ability to dig in. Defending at 0-0, against a team who have had 70 per cent possession is not easy. It takes concentration, hard graft and a unity that doesn’t tend to exist in teams who are near the bottom of the league. Give them a 1-0 lead to defend, though, and poor players become a bit better, they work a bit harder, jump a bit higher, throw themselves in front of more shots. Players in a poor team want to win because winning is fun. Give them a sniff of a win against Liverpool and they will work harder than they ever have in their life to see it through.
The key to getting shut of these types of displays is to improve in defence. The only way to do that, for me, is to improve the individuals. The only real way of doing that is to upgrade on what we have already got. You can only improve someone so much by coaching them. If they are a dope they will probably always be a dope. If they lack character in certain situations (think Degsy Lovren and his 40 yard bIasters) then they will probably continue to revert to type under pressure.
I would be looking at ‘keepers with the intention of buying one who has made all his mistakes and learnt his craft in someone else’s goal. Someone with a set of bollocks.
I would be looking at a new, elite level centre-half. A ruthless bastard who thinks, like all good centre-half’s that a bouncing ball in your own box is a fucking emergency. For me, Lucas Leiva, Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are not consistently good enough to warrant starting for a side that has ambitions of winning the league. They have always got one in them; always, there or thereabouts, lurking in the dark, ready to pounce and relieve the pressure, like a massive big frigging geyser.
I would be looking for a left-back because Alberto Moreno is not even really an option anymore, more a social experiment.
I would be looking for an animal to play centre mid, something a bit like a mountain lion who will literally eat any fucker who tries to break through our midfield. We can all be Attenborough in the match.
In the meantime — until next summer — I think we can all expect a couple more of these results and loads of boss ones in between. It might not be what we wanted but at least we learned something new. It would also be quite nice if by the summer Fascism could fuck off a bit as well.
Up the ‘I was only messing Bruce, I wouldn’t drive you to hell but I would give you a lift home though and I probably wouldn’t kill Prince and Bowie with my own hands’ Reds.