Well that didn’t exactly go to plan now did it? Needing a win to put them back on track, Liverpool travelled to Bolton with expectations of a win. Bolton had other plans and came out winners, putting 3 past Liverpool.
Now I’ll admit that I missed the first 15 minutes, however by all accounts it appears that the majority of the Liverpool team did too. Conceding a goal within 4 minutes is never a good sign, but they then went 2 nil down, before Bellamy pulled one back on 36 minutes and there was a little bit of hope.
That ended shortly after the restart, with Bolton getting the final goal. You’d think that maybe the first 4 minutes of the first half would have been a lesson in getting out there and playing from the start, but Bolton then scored their third 5 minutes after the restart.
So what went wrong? How did one of the best defences in the league let in 3 goals against a team that was in the relegation zone. Well, as Kenny Dalglish said, it really boils down to the appetite of the players. Sure some of them may have been thinking about the cup games that are coming up, but playing badly in the game leading up to the cup games is hardly the best way to ensure you’ll make it to that cup game.
Unlike last time, there isn’t really much scope for blaming the starting line up. The four at the back would have been my starting 4, with the only possible exception maybe being Carragher for Skirtel, yet Skirtel and Agger have done a great job this season so it fair enough. With Lucas and Suarez unavailable, I would have probably picked the same starting midfield and forwards, in fact here is my post on Facebook from a few hours before the game:
“My preferred line up would be (assuming Agger is fit)
Johnson Carra/Skirtel Agger Enrique
Henderson Gerrard Maxi
Maybe Bellamy playing on the left for Maxi, with Kuyt up with Carroll… or Kuyt for Henderson.”
Which bizarrely is spot on (well except for that Carra/Skirtel toss up I suppose).
It’s attacking enough given who we had available, and should have been good enough to beat Bolton. With a solid back four all season, you would have expected them to deal with any threat from Bolton but in the end, it was frailties at the back that cost us dearly, as much as an inability to score goals. We have now scored 25 goals in the premier league… that’s the joint 12th best. That’s atrocious.
Mind you, I don’t necessarily think that the solution is as simple as just buying another striker. To me some of the problem is the service to those strikers. Andy Carroll was able to succeed at Newcastle because they played to his game, It’s hard to criticise a player when players were bought seemingly to suit his game (Downing, Adam, Henderson and Enrique all had outstanding assists records last season), haven’t all managed to bring the same standard to Liverpool. So really it comes down to, do we keep Carroll and try and sort out the midfield, or do we sell Carroll and bring in different strikers? Enrique has looked good, and Adam probably justified his price, but Downing and Henderson have their work cut out for them if they want to be remembered for having a decent first season.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, regardless of Carroll staying or going, we still need a striker that can put the chances away. Suarez may be a wizard getting round people but he’s wasteful. We need another Robbie Fowler, or a Ruud van Nistelrooy. If Carroll does go, then we would maybe also need another striker as two main ones isn’t really enough.
However, the bigger problem I feel is that we need at least a short term replacement for Lucas. When we had Lucas at the back it just felt more secure. He was able to help out the back four a lot more than somebody like Adam can, and that allows the rest of the midfield and the two full backs to go further up the field. We need that sort of player if we are going to get into Europe.
Of course that’s easier said then done as the dilemma Kenny and Liverpool face is how to go about that, do we just get a decent player on loan, or do we just buy one. If we are to buy would we be looking to replace Lucas long term, or are we then looking to have Lucas back as a starter. Do we maybe just go out and bring in a slightly older player knowing full well they might be cheaper, and that Lucas will be back next season? Then there is the issue that a knee problem can be a tough one to overcome. Not many players come back better from knee injuries and there will always be the worry that it may happen again.
Whatever happens there needs to be something done quick to sort out this goal scoring issue. We won’t get into Europe with an abysmal record of 25 goals from 22 games.
The only positive from yesterday was that Kenny came right out and blasted the players. He has every right to do so, but way too many managers look to blame things on referees or conditions or maybe the other team’s tactics being too negative. I feel that the players needed that kick up the back side and I’m confident that Kenny went into that changing room and gave them all hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple are dropped for the Man City game.
Mind you, at least we do have two cup games in a row. That’s another two games from Suarez’s ban; another two games where draws wouldn’t be too bad; and another two games to try and get everything back on track. Two great wins here and it could be the turning point of the season. Play like we did against Bolton and not only will we be out of both cups (and thus any real chance of silverware this season) but we may well be on the wrong end of a spanking, and nobody wants that, least of all from Man City or United.