Liverpool vs Manchester United. Just those three words brings with it mixed emotions for both sets of fans. Both wanting a win so badly, but knowing that a loss would ruin any week. This one was a little bit special though. It was the first since that incident with Evra and Suarez; and it was in the FA Cup. I love cups, always have. I don’t like it when we field weak sides in them, because I would like us to get as far as we can. I don’t mind a sprinkling of a few youngsters or fringe players there but I want us to be trying. I don’t mind the back up keeper getting a game here and there in the league cup, but I wouldn’t want that to happen along with say 4 new and untested defenders in front of him.
As a result I’ve enjoyed the cup side of this season. Sure maybe this is only happening because we are out of Europe, but I also sense that some of it is down to Kenny and possibly the owners. The owners are unlikely to want us playing a completely weakened team and getting knocked out of the cup as at the end of the day more cup games results in more revenue from them. King Kenny on the other hand strikes me as the sort of man that wants to win. He looks pissed off with every loss, and unhappy with draws. Compare that to previous managers who will tell you that losses are all parts of football. Not to Kenny Dalglish they’re not.
With a better team selection it is therefore not surprising that we made it through to the semi finals in the league cup; however we then faced a Man City that to all intents and purposes had their best 11 out both times. From what I could tell they were only missing players that were injured, or in Argentina playing golf. We got through both those legs and are now into the final at Wembley.
A few days later and we were to receive those other lot from Manchester, you know, the ones we don’t get on with. This time it was for the other cup, the FA Cup. Now to me, the FA Cup is the main one. Whilst it’s nice to do well in the League Cup, I would rather we made it through to the FA Cup final. It just means that little bit more, and the final is played as the last game of the season. It just extends your season by that one week, and that’s never a bad thing is it.
Sure getting United in the draw wasn’t the best thing to hope for if you want to reach the final, but if you’re going to win it, then teams like United have to be knocked out at some stage by somebody and it may as well be Liverpool. As I’m sure most fans were, I was nervous before the game, and that only increased as the game went on. That nervousness went down a little when Agger scored but truthfully it was still there right up to when the referee blew. Sure some fans will tell you they never had a doubt but anybody saying that is either lying or they didn’t watch the game.
We looked frail in midfield throughout the first half, and to me whilst Jamie is now a fantastic defender, I don’t think he’s going to be an answer to any needs at defensive midfield. It’s not his fault, he’s spent years playing as a centre back with being defensive the only thought on his mind. Sure he had a few forays forward as a right back but far less than say Martin Kelly ever seems to, and definitely less than Johnson. The problem is that when you plonk him in defensive mid, he seems to automatically revert to being more defensive than he should be for that position. That then leaves a big gap in the middle of the park and it means that the likes of Gerrard then have to work harder on the defensive side, and it drops them deeper when it comes to possession.
Of course it is very easy to sit here and say that in hindsight, and we will never know if playing Adam of Shelvey in midfield ahead of Carragher would have been a success or a catastrophic failure. At the end of the day it’s hard to criticise a manager who has come up trumps, especially against United. To be fair they had a decent midfield about them, filled with experience and enough pace in Valencia, along with Raphael and Evra coming from the full back positions to cause us trouble. It’s not that our midfield was bad, but to me with Jamie deeper, that forced the others deeper and that left Andy Carroll isolated.
I’ll be the first to admit that I maybe gave Andy Carroll too much stick, but my criticism is not about his work rate, and it’s also not so much about his positioning. To me it is that inability to win as many balls as a man his size (not just because he is tall but he is also a lot more powerful than say Crouch) should win in the air. Below is a video of Andy Carroll vs Manchester United:
Now 2 minutes from a 90 minute game may not be that impressive but we have to remember that he is a forward and for the most part the game was played in the middle of the park. What is astounding is the number of times he came back and made a tackle. I think to a certain degree I missed this whilst watching the game, partly due to watching it on a small internet screen, partly because I just don’t expect Carroll to be the one there making a tackle. He also does quite well with the ball when not being tightly challenged. Some will say as well he should, but I’ve seen many players, even in a Liverpool shirt, who with that time and space will have wasted the ball or just flicked it on aimlessly.
Kenny Dalglish said after the game that they have to work with Andy and get his talents working within in the Liverpool framework and that is something I’ve been thinking (and blogged) this season. I would imagine to some degree he has a bit of a lack of confidence from the amount of abuse he gets from the media, opposition fans and even his own fans; whilst another part of it may also be the mental thinking that winning these headers seems to achieve nothing as nobody seems to gamble on him winning it. Nobody other than Dirk Kuyt that is.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Dirk Kuyt seems to have fitted into the life of a scouser. He loves living in Liverpool, he loves everything about Liverpool, he has the lingo down, and he’s keen to stay for as long as possible. On top of that he doesn’t like Manchester United and he shows his dislike for them by scoring against them as many times as he can. When Pepe Reina launched that ball, Andy Carroll did what he had been doing all game, going for the ball. He won the header and flicked it on. Now throughout a lot of the game when he did that flick it on (or even when he failed to) there was nobody looking to latch on. Dirk Kuyt, however, was right there. Thanks to some woeful defending by that man Evra, Dirk was rewarded for his run and vision, and in his own words “all that was left was to score”. And how that delighted lil Luis Suarez in the crowd.
If in doubt, smack it towards De Gea. Now Andy Carroll has yet to come good on his price tag, but to be fair he came in at Liverpool and he was injured and with Suarez taking to the EPL like a duck to water, Carroll then found himself playing second fiddle to Suarez. De Gea on the other hand has found himself getting chance after chance even if Man United have a better keeper. Every chance he gets seems to be another one he takes, and proves to everybody just how rubbish he is. He seemed more interested in touching up and molesting Andy Carroll for Agger’s goal than he was about the ball. Had he stayed on the line, away from the players he would have found that ball coming to him and all he had to do was try to hold onto it. Dirk Kuyt may have had power behind it but it wasn’t like it was miles away from the keeper.
However, the media seems to have completely ignored that failure for the most part. Now maybe a large part of that is media bias against Liverpool, but some part of that seems to be their fear that Alex Ferguson will once again show his class, throw his toys out of the pram and refuse to talk to that paper again. Some argue that we should do the same, but it just doesn’t seem to be the Liverpool way. However, if we did adopt the same stance you’d probably see far less made of the Carroll situation. Once the media has a target in their sights they will never point out the good bits he does, and will always point to his failings. It is therefore up to us as fans of Liverpool Football Club to get behind all the players that are doing their utmost for the club. We should all get behind each and every one of our players, until they show that faith is not deserved.
One last issue, and that is unfortunately the race issue again. Liverpool fans have every right in booing any player they see on the pitch. It is not racism, otherwise they would have booed other players on the pitch too. However, looking at the pictures of that one idiot in the stands, that needs to be cut out of the game, and I have no issue with the likes of him being given life bans. Having said that, it is about time the media took the blinkers off. The Scum (and in this case it is fair to call them scum) were heard clearing chanting “The Sun was right, Murderers”. Has the media made any comment on that? No Chance. @HenryWinter was on twitter, he mentioned the booing of Evra was a disgrace, well what about those chants about a disaster that saw 96 people die? Is that not disgraceful. Get a grip, take that tongue out of the Manchester backside and try to do what reporters are supposed to do and report fairly. Maybe I’m being naive expecting a newspaper like the Telegraph to be able to give an unbiased view of something like a football game.
I’ll leave you with a joke taken from https://www.facebook.com/LFCTransSpec:
“Wenger, Boas, Redknapp, Fergie, and Kenny having a drink at a bar, Wenger buys the first round, Boas the 2nd, Redknapp the 3rd, and Fergie the 4th. Kenny buys the next round and Fergie complains “where’s mine?” Kenny replies, “this is the 5th round and your not in it!”