FOR weeks, months after Jürgen Klopp was announced as Liverpool manager, Sean Rogers would say on our Review show that we’d get whacked at some stage.
That we would have a moment, a game, when the wheels came off completely and we’d have to pick up the pieces afterwards and accept that this sort of thing happened every now and again when you walked the tightrope.
You’ve got a choice here. So has the manager. So, frankly, have the players. There’s more than one choice. Choose your own review.
Choose your own review. Shall we have a go? It means that Josh Sexton can’t move my paragraphs around. But I reckon we can do it together.
Let me ask you a question – when Jack Grealish scored his first and Aston Villa’s sixth, deflected off Fabinho’s face, did you laugh or were you furious?
IF YOU LAUGHED PLEASE GO TO PARAGRAPH 1. IF YOU WERE FURIOUS PLEASE GO TO PARAGRAPH 5.
1 – Everything was just getting out of hand by this stage and there is something about it which is downright ridiculous. Yes, Liverpool had been very poor and masters of their own downfall but this was simply far too much, like a film full of pratfalls, like Laurel and Hardy or like The Plank starring Tommy Cooper. Everywhere you turned things were just going wrong for The Reds.
DO YOU THINK ASTON VILLA DESERVE CREDIT? IF YES, PARAGRAPH 2. IF NOT, GO TO PARAGRAPH 4.
2 – The truth of the matter is that this Villa side very much got on Liverpool’s case and exploited a number of things they had observed about The Reds perfectly but then they were also quite fortunate. Sometimes everything you hit goes in, some nights everything you plan works perfectly. Dean Smith and his players deserve an enormous amount of credit.
3 – Throughout the game Oli Watkins showed why he is so dangerous. Brilliant on the flanks but also able to be a penalty-box striker. But Jack Grealish was a delight. He loves the ball at his feet, he loves a touch, loves a look. His decision making is excellent. I was delighted when he signed a new contract, when he didn’t go to Manchester United. I think Villa could finish top half but if there is one player from last season’s bottom half I wished could play for Liverpool it would be very close between him and Ismaila Sarr, and Grealish is much more for now.
4 – Pick your favourite cliche and put it on like a balm. If you can’t support them when they lose, you don’t deserve them when they win. Their cup final and within it Liverpool were masters of their own silly, stupid downfall. Whatever. The point is that this Liverpool deserve our love and admiration at all times.
DO YOU AGREE THIS LIVERPOOL DESERVE OUR LOVE AND ADMIRATION AT ALL TIMES? IF SO, GO TO PARAGRAPH 7. IF NOT, GO TO PARAGRAPH 6.
5 – Liverpool today need to take a good long look at themselves. As things unravelled Liverpool looked short of the qualities that have got them to where they have been as a football club across the last three or four years and this just might be the wake-up call they have been waiting for right the way through 2020. For too long there has been a complacency about the side and tonight they were deservedly punished by an Aston Villa side who listed their weaknesses and exploited each.
6 – The first thing is this: Liverpool cannot play without leadership. We cannot. The goals might have been fairly unsaveable in themselves but they were utterly preventable in the build-up play and in the organisation of the side. Not just the defenders but the midfield. They have to sweep back to protect Trent Arnold and Andy Robertson moving forward.
DO YOU AGREE THAT THE SIDE WAS SHORT OF LEADERSHIP? IF SO, JUMP TO PARAGRAPH 9. IF NOT, MOVE TO PARAGRAPH 7.
7 – You are going to get beat. There is something about this Liverpool side which makes all reverses seem utterly ridiculous. Only really Arsenal away in the last two years when we had already won the league makes any sense. Score, give two gifts and then have the opposition sit in and hang on. Every other defeat, whether it be Watford or Atletico or Manchester City, have been sufficiently ridiculous. Today is no different. It is just more extreme.
8 – This is why the deflected goals matter. They emphasise that some days everything will just go against you, some days you can embrace chaos but chaos embraces you. Quietly Liverpool had two or three excellent performances but the ball just never bounces for Liverpool in the same way that it bounces for Aston Villa.
DO YOU THINK THE BALL JUST BOUNCED FOR VILLA? IF SO, GO TO PARAGRAPH 11. IF NOT, CONTINUE TO PARAGRAPH 9.
9 – Leadership is a complicated thing but there is something about Liverpool captained by Virgil van Dijk that has never entirely seemed right. This isn’t to aggressively criticise the best central defender on the planet, instead to state that he may be better when he can worry about the goalkeeper and the three defenders and holding midfielder around him primarily and not the rest of the side.
10 – In this crazy season the truth of the matter is that resilience is what is going to count.
WERE LIVERPOOL SHORT OF RESILIENCE IN YOUR OPINION? IF SO, GO TO PARAGRAPH 11. IF NOT, GO TO PARAGRAPH 13.
11 – The midfield has to pressure the ball quickly and not allow the side to be overrun with long balls into channels. There is something that Liverpool lack – the high line is there but the pressure isn’t. The team is lackadaisical in all all areas and there are a number of individual performances that are genuinely lacking.
12 – But Liverpool today were short of resilience. Short of what has made them effective. They have been very rarely two behind but today they find themselves two behind and they disintegrate. What is there to tell us they will bounce back from all of this? What is there to tell us that they will find their way?
DO YOU THINK INDIVIDUALS NEED TO BE BLAMED? IF SO, GO TO PARAGRAPH 14. IF NOT, GO TO PARAGRAPH 13.
13 – This is best summed up by the penalty we don’t get or when the ball is given away by their goalkeeper and we don’t capitalise. That is just Liverpool being unfortunate. Everywhere you look at the moment the results are mad. Every day there are games and at least one result which makes you sit up and take notice. This is one.
14 – The manager substitutes Naby Keita at half time and deservedly so but he could have contemplated doing something similar with Fabinho, with Joe Gomez, with Alexander-Arnold and with Roberto Firmino. Repeatedly Roberto Firmino plays his team into trouble. He offers very, very little going in either direction.
DO WE NEED TO HAVE A CHAT ABOUT ROBERTO FIRMINO? IF YES, GO TO PARAGRAPH 16. IF NOT, GO TO PARAGRAPH 15.
15 – The attack created enough chances for there to be chances. Liverpool will do better under normal circumstances from what we saw today. Sometimes things just don’t quite click. Tomorrow is another day and we have seen that in the past. Also it is Diogo Jota’s first start with the first team.
GO TO PARAGRAPH 22.
16 – In general, Roberto Firmino remains the front three player with the most question marks around him. This is at times best thought of that when Liverpool look short in front of goal it falls to him but on nights like tonight, when he puts in performances like that he does himself no favours. The issue isn’t that he doesn’t score – though that doesn’t help – the issue is that he doesn’t bring people into play and that his decision making in all phases of play is ever so poor. Liverpool supporters have made their peace with the idea that isn’t going to be a 30-goal-a-season number nine, but that means you can’t stink the gaff out when the side is looking for an outball and some creativity.
17 – But Liverpool today were short of resilience. Short of what has made them effective. They have been very rarely two behind but today they find themselves two behind and they disintegrate. What is there to tell us they will bounce back from all of this? What is there to tell us that they will find their way?
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO ELSE IS TO BLAME? IF YES, GO TO PARAGRAPH 18. DO YOU THINK THIS IS, IN PART, ON THE MANAGER? IF SO, GO TO PARAGRAPH 21. IF NOT, GO TO PARAGRAPH 22.
18 – Joe Gomez just loses his mind as the match whirs around him, a state of affairs that stems from the early mishap with the goalkeeper. Fabinho, though, works it out and is unlucky in that sixth goal.
DO YOU THINK WE NEED A NEW KEEPER? IF NO, GO TO PARAGRAPH 19. IF YES, GO TO PARAGRAPH 20.
19 – The truth of the matter is that the substitute goalkeeper is about as good as you are going to get in realistic circumstances. Manchester United are in a weird keeper position but Sergio Romero may be better. Tottenham have gone with Joe Hart as second choice and Adrian is better than him currently. It’s the strangest possible position but you have to accept that he is excellent in one-on-one situations and has the character to get through nights even like tonight.
20 – If we have an injury prone first choice then we need to push the boat out on a second, especially one who is good with his feet. It is so important to how we play. Adrian has cost us before and he will do again and we need to do something about it as soon as possible.
21 – The manager has understandably made a virtue of our high line but there just has to be a plan B to get us through phases of the game. We praise this side for being pragmatic but the truth of the situation is that we showed tonight that we can’t adapt to sides having adapted to us. We have Everton next and they are likely to have taken what Aston Villa have done to us tonight and will be able to do likewise especially with James Rodriguez.
22 – Football is always about starting again. No matter how good you are. It is always about starting again. From the back to front. Go again. Every season. Every game.
Let’s end that nonsense.
Getting beat is dreadful. Getting beat heavily is no barrel of laughs. Until it sort of is, frankly.
There is something very difficult about watching the game in the current environment. In Liverpool, the city, right now, we aren’t meant to mix households. But that leads to people watching alone and watching alone is never good. Watching alone hurts. It always has. It can hurt in victory, let alone defeat. Watching alone is to be left with your fear, never to be allowed to nudge and laugh and be aware of one’s own ridiculousness.
We did HotMic and John Gibbons said that if you stand on a rake, alone, without an audience then you are a man hit in the face with a rake. But if you stand on a rake and then your friend stands on a rake and then another person stands on a rake you are three people laughing at your own ridiculousness. Laughing at rakes in faces.
To laugh is to live, is to feel. To appreciate. We literally have a song about not being alone. Being alone is shit and I am very, very sorry if you were while watching tonight.
As ever, it is what happens next. This is almost all of football apart from finals and even there Kyiv sticks its hand up.
Aston Villa away. Always an adventure for us. I miss you so keenly, so dearly. I wish we could be together. Goodison next. I have Pretty Green Eyes in my head; sparkle and light. When I wish we could walk together and even see the Blue brethren afterwards but you know I am daft like that, aren’t I? (IF YES, GO TO PHIL MCNULTY’S WRITE UP.)
And the main thing to say is this – whatever paragraphs you did or didn’t read, everything that we need to know about Aston Villa 7 Liverpool 2 is defined by what happens next. In part, for both sides, but especially for Liverpool.
You can have one of these every now and again, Liverpool. One every four years if that is the price of admission. You can split us all in two even while living the enterprise. But it can’t happen again.
Because while some of us can’t laugh it off once, all of us can’t laugh it off twice.
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“We’ve got right up everyone’s noses for a long time. When you’re up at the top you’re there to be shot at, so you take that on the chin.”
“Villa did their homework and thoroughly deserved their win.”
Need therapy? Listen to our post match reaction 👉 https://t.co/oaOWcUzrlr pic.twitter.com/mUfiwqrjdL
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) October 5, 2020
I read every paragraph. One of them, innit? Up the mighty Reds.
I watched the game as a neutral. Needed to make sense of it so came here. Wonderful write up. At that score, as you say, might as well laugh as cry.
The point about VVD as captain is so important..never seem right ..
Sorry Neil. You’re a great talker and a great thinker about the reds and I’ll always respect you, but the lack of pointing any fingers at Adrian (and actually extolling his virtues) is beyond belief. I’m flabbergasted by your position on this and it’s a massive blind spot across all TAW content to be honest.
Since March I have known with some certainty that this man was not good enough for his position. This man single-handedly took us out of the European cup when his teammates played their hearts out. He committed a disgrace of an error in the (obviously less important) FA Cup the previous week too. It was obvious then, and it’s obvious now, he’s miles below the required standard and would cost us.
He gave Lincoln a goal last week. He has a moment in every single game where he either gives a goal to the opposition or gets away with one. This included the period where we won a lot of games early last season. We won IN SPITE of him vs Southampton, just like Everton are now winning in spite of Jordan Pickford.
Even after tonight’s debacle, I can’t believe how few are even talking about the keeper. It’s mind blowing. It’s like how United fans perform all kinds of mental gymnastics to avoid criticising Ole at this point.
Of course our performance had so much wrong with it today. Gomez and Trent were so poor, the finishing was garbage, even Van Dijk looked off it. But make absolutely no mistake – it all starts with the keeper. The other players would’ve been looking at him and wondering what kind of performance he was going to bring and whether he was going to shit the bed. And he duly shit the bed after two minutes and it changed the whole game from that point. All composure and confidence drained from us at the back (in both boxes really) and it became a mess. To me it seems clear that the other players were wondering what they were going to get from him and quickly realised that there was no trust or confidence to be drawn from this guy.
But our fanbase and so many in both fan media and the media in general cling to this notion that we can’t do better with a number two than Adrian. I can’t believe this line of thinking. Even at his best, he’s never been a number one in the premier league. And when we signed him he was 32 and washed up, clubless and training with a sixth division (!) Spanish team. The idea that this guy should even be a reserve in the best club side in the world is ridiculous. He’s literally 2 divisions lower in his level than anyone else in the squad. And yet everyone seems to still love the Cinderella story and claim he’s better than other sub keepers who’ve won league titles as number ones. It baffles me. Adrian was not wanted as a number two by any premier club until we plucked him from absolute obscurity training with an amateur side. He wasn’t even wanted as a number one for a championship team. And yet here he is, starting a minimum of a month’s games for what is otherwise the best team on earth. Am I the only one who doesn’t think this is bizarre.
This problem is not going to go away. He is MILES from the required level. Absolutely miles off it. We need to act because our number one, whether by luck or physiology, isn’t bulletproof in his fitness and we simply can’t have this drop off anymore. I’d argue it’s the biggest drop-off in world football, probably even world sport, from first choice to reserve. Please god let them fix it because – nice guy or not – I simply can’t bare to watch this fella anymore. Sorry if you think that’s harsh, but this is a major problem for us and needs to be dealt with. I find it shocking that it is still getting almost glossed over and I’m extremely disappointed that you’re part of that Neil. You frankly should know better.
Adrian is a confidence sucking pit of a goalkeeper. Mr. Klopp has failed in signing a couple of other players like Keita and Minamino. These two lack the strength, speed and decisiveness needed by a high pressing Liverpool team. I expressed my thoughts severally to as many as i had the opportunity to talk to. Firmino needs a real competition. His lack of passion to push himself in games is increasing. Beyond Gomez’s appalling display, the offside tactics of Mr. Klopp is becoming embarrassing. We were badly exposed against Arsenal, though Lacazette saved our blushes. The team needed this humiliation to get their groove back.
Amen. That early blunder from Adrian shook LFC’s confidence and boosted Villa’s. They might have won anyway today, but surely if it was Allison as usual between the sticks they would’ve had to fight harder for it?
Excellent prose. Certainly something to think on. He is a liability writ large.
I agree Deco with all you say. Eloquently put. I could go on about Firmino as well (I think he’s massively overrated and seemingly bullet proof) but it’s all so raw at the moment. I’m very numb. That was as bad as I’ve seen in the last 37 years, even during the times we were just fairly average. But let’s all agree to never wear that strip again!
@Captain Haddock – Completely agree. The game simply doesn’t happen in the way it does with Alisson (or just a competent, dependable reserve) in goal. People saying ‘but Adrian was only responsible for one goal’ are missing the point completely. That goal and the tone it sets changes everything that follows. The chain reaction of lost confidence and composure and concentration emanates outwards from Adrian’s f***up.
He’ll do this in every game he plays. Sometimes he’ll get away with it, sometimes he won’t, but he’ll always do it cos that’s what he is. He makes mistakes an amateur wouldn’t be happy with.
And most of our fanbase continue saying we can’t do better for a reserve. Madness. Genuinely one of the few times where I feel like I’m in some sort of alternate dimension compared to most of our fans. Just don’t get the need to soft pedal this guy. He’s absolutely leagues below what we need. He’s a competition winner.
Agree with everything said re Adrian, he’s nowhere near good enough.
I have to add, though, Klopp is very culpable for the way this game played out (no, I’m not ‘laying into him’, he can be criticised as well when necessary). He won’t seem to change when it’s being demanded, certainly as Villa did with the inspired way they exploited our weaknesses – it was begging to be changed, and if Hendo’s on the bench, why at no time bring him on? For me, we needed an extra midfielder who’d up the tempo, and there are numerous ways we could’ve done that (personally, I’d have gone to a 541 with a diamond at 3-1 down), but we just seemed to carry on the way we always play, virtually asking Villa to come at us. That’s what I find so difficult to stomach.
Time to sharpen up very quickly!
Great review, and the idea that it was more than one type of thrashing, that it was an omnishambles and needed more than one review sums it up.
Despite the searing rage, I do take some solace from the sheer ridiculousness of it all. It’s a bit mad that Adrian is our number two, it’s beyond bonkers he does *that* after three minutes and it’s ludicrous that everyone else bar Robertson then falls apart for pretty much the rest of the match.
It’s also beyond daft to get that many deflected goals. Throw in the first one and it’s pure blooper reel. By the seventh – but only by the seventh – I was gripped with rage. But when that skittered in, what could you do?
Mad results are also a thing now. City getting walloped at home by Leicester who then get tonked by West Ham. A spurs side ailing badly a few weeks ago embarrass United (shortest period of scahenfreude ever – half an hour was it?). That we can utterly dominate arsenal on Monday and then produce *that* today. It’s possible some of this is attributed to overall systems failure, a lack of pre-season, prep done on the hoof. Maybe we are not alone. I’m pretty sure there will be more mad results this season. But there needs to be no more of them for us.
It’s also a bit mad that even at 5-2 I thought we could come back, I even mentioned 6-6 at one point only to realise how stupid it sounded. But if any team was capable of coming back like that, it’s this one. In this strange, sterile environment, everything going wrong, it turned into a disaster. Allison, a crowd, a slightly tighter affair against arsenal, and we don’t have any of that. But we need to come back from this, big style, re-assert ourselves and bash out a load of wins. That needs to start with Everton, we need to make them pay.
Who knew that Deco understands football better than Jurgen and his coaching staff ?
Also, re: plan A vs plan B: bringing Minamino on at half-time is agreeably plan A – until the fifth flies in via another defection. Maybe at the point, it certifiably being “one of them”, Hendo could have come on. Easy for me to say, but the last two goals are the ones that really hurt, they’re the ones that turn it from a hammering into an actually historic scoreline. Klopp is the complete manager, if anyone can ensure this is a blip, it’s him, but we really, really need to rediscover the steel and solidity that actually won us the league pre-lockdown. Again, such is the elite level of preparation and calibration of this side in a regular pre-season, we like everyone else are now learning on the job. But we need to get there sharpish. The real heartache is that the full, unedited celebrations of our incredible league win are in suspended animation and we still have to deal with this headache.
Just change Adrian’s shirt number before the Derby, that’s all it will take…
It’s a team game. The whole group was abysmal yesterday. But Alisson being out for 6 weeks is very hard to take and can cost us further.
We have a poor goalkeeper between the sticks in Adrian, whose mentality must be shot now. He has been shite for quite a while, going back to last season (CL + FA Cup). That initial spell he had when he came in and was solid for a stretch was a blip. The bounce of taking on the new job. That bounce is long done with.
We have a “Migsy and/or Karius situation” on our hands again in that the GK is so bad that opponents know it and our own defence gets nervous and lose confidence.
I don’t want to see Adrian in goal but we are stuck now.
Need to change up those tactics with the high line. We are getting exposed and Adrian is not the goalie to bail us out or play with his feet.
I am very worried about the upcoming (very important!) games in the League!
Great read and a balanced view of the game and overall.
Reading some of the responses here, still surprises me that the go to reason for last night is the goalkeeper. By no means am I saying that Adrian is faultless however, the notion that he alone was responsible for the result last night is ridiculous. Recovery from the first mistake is crucial, he is at fault there but other blinkered opinions failing to see that our press was non existent, our centre backs were still on the bus and our midfield offered no thought, decision making or adequate cover against the villa counter, is strange to say the least.
Quick recovery is essential which makes the international break an even bigger pain in the arse than it would normally be. Some of the laziness and lacklustre approach that began to show in the last few games, came fully to life last night. Mix that with the ridiculousness of the whole game and we are where we are.
Liverpool will bounce back though. Best game to come back to is the Derby, to put things right and move on.
Things to remember… still one of the best sides in the world, still champions, still privileged to be able to have them.
I understand that “alternate dimension” thing. There have been a number of times following this club where there’s been a difference between how I am apparently supposed to feel vs how I’ve actually felt (e.g the conclusion to the 2014 season, the Chelsea v City game that sealed the title for us) and a fair few occasions where I’ve felt like in that same alternate reality with what I’m supposed to think vs. what I actually think (too many to list).
It’s a surreal feeling and not necessarily a pleasant one, but maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I still recall circa 2016 when Arsenal finished in the top 4 but Claude on AFTV was bemoaning the state of the club and people thought he was being unnecessarily grumpy and downcast- but soon enough he was proven right.
Couldn’t agree more Deco, there were some terrible performances but if Adrian doesn’t make that indefensible early error the overall performance of the whole team simply doesn’t happen – He is a liability.