Midweek saw us go from 2 nil down and in complete control with 13 minutes to go to losing 3-2. Today we played fairly averagely and lost 2-1 to Wigan. Maybe we didn’t deserve to lose today but we certainly didn’t do anything that made us look like winning. The penalty was harsh, but it was something that would have been given at any other location on the pitch, Suarez may have been called for handball or the foul on the defender, but at the end of the day 10 minutes of great football at the start of the second half is not good enough, especially not at home, and even more so against the likes of Wigan.
I’ve said it before here that a number of players just seem to be going through the paces in the league games. They seem to know that they won’t be getting that 4th place and all that remains for the now is to stay fit for the visit(s) to Wembley and then possibly making it to the Euros. That means that we’re coming up second best against a large number of other teams. Those fighting for relegation have 11 men on the pitch working the hearts out, those above us are fighting for 4th place, and even those below us are looking to possibly still make it into Europe. Something needs to happen to make some players start to realise that they are in the privileged positions to be able to put on the Liverpool shirt.
I’ve also said before that I’d like to see the youngsters get some time, and today we did. Flanagan started the game, Shelvey came on with about 25 minutes to go, and the crowd got its wishes when Raheem Sterling came on with 10 minutes to go. All three of those, in my opinion, made the most of what they had. They would have given anything to get into first 11, and when they did they did all they could. Flanno had a solid game at the back. So much so that the worrying tell tale signs were there on Twitter, as my timeline was filled with comments on how well he was performing at the back. Great to hear a player doing well, but never a good thing to see it being the main thing against a side like Wigan at Anfield. Shelvey maybe made less of an impact but he was constantly looking to get on the ball, he kept trying to win the ball back, and he did his utmost to get Liverpool back in the game.
Sterling, however, was the one the crowd wanted to see. So much has been said about this guy, that it would have been easy for him to be overshadowed by the hype. However, he came on and did what he’s good at, using his pace and running at defenders. Something we don’t really have in the squad. His introduction though did something else. It got the crowd going again, and that in turn got the other players going again. It was maybe too little too late, but at least he now has some experience in the premier league. That will all come to good use. Now that 4th place is surely well and truly gone I’d like to see him get a few more games. Maybe next time he gets 20/30 minutes, maybe in a couple of games he gets a start, but using the youngsters will not only give them experience but you can be certain that it’ll make some of the established players pick up their game.
With the Euros around the corner, some may well have thoughts towards not getting injured. However, before you can get picked you need to be playing for your club and ideally playing well. If they’ve mentally decided that they’re already in the squad for the Euros or the FA Cup games, the best way to dispel that theory is to stick them on the bench and make them watch a young player, hungry to make his name in the game show them how it’s done. I’ll guarantee that there were a number of players today that usually play on the wings, that were worried about their position when Sterling was on and doing well.
Sure there is a potential for some of these lads to have the pressure get to them, but what better a season for them to get those jitters out of the way, than one that seems to be heading towards a 6th or 7th place finish anyway? I’d rather see them make any mistakes here this season, then either a) losing them to our rivals because we’re not giving them a chance or b) them having to come on next season as we challenge for the title and their mistake costing the team big (which in turn demoralises them even further).
Whilst we’re on about changes, how about not using 4-5-1 when we’re up against the likes of Wigan at home? Lius Suarez needs help up there in the box, either from another striker or from the wings. There is no point in having Gerrard, Downing etc lobbing balls into the box, if the nearest man is 10 yards away from it waiting for it outside the box.