It has taken a while to recover from Sunday’s game. Losing always is difficult, but losing to the Scousers is even harder. And Sunday’s game was one of those where nothing worked.
Let’s admit it: they ran faster, ran harder and wanted it more. And they had the support of top flight unexperienced referee Andre Marriner who blatantly helped the Dippers.
Last but not least… Ngog scored.
How to overcome all this?
Of course there’s today’s Carling Cup 4th round game away at Barnsley to forget to sorrows, but I think we have to look at ourselves to understand what went wrong on Sunday. Let’s face the harsh reality. Were Liverpool better? Nope. Did they want it more? Yes.
The red Devils started with what might have been called a surprise with Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes in the centre of the midfield. Although i can understand the choice for Carrick, it was a surprise to say the least: the gaffer certainly had hoped that the midfielder, who is struggling to win a place in the England 11, could deliver some of his lauded long passes over 50 to 60 yards in an attempt to work round the Agger – Carragher tandem. But it has been too long now since we have seen those passes. And Carrick hasn’t been the same since he missed his spot kick against Burnley. There is no doubt that for a midfielder his work rate was at a very high standard again but that just isn’t good enough when playing the Dippers. The choice also was strange because on the left wing was the rejuvenated Ryan Giggs, not the optimal or fastest choice when hoping for those long passes.
Another problem we had to deal with once more was our lack of creating chances. As usual we saw moments of fast and fluid one-touch football but there was no sharp edge. Berbatov really has upped the ante this season, always playing more and more in the role of the smart provider for the strikers but where are the strikers?
At the risk of offending many I am going to say it: Rooney is NOT the player to rely on up front. The talent is a player who can and will make the difference in many games but not the sole striker always there. His conversion rate in recent years has proven this, so has his low number of last 10 minutes goals. Rooney is best with someone next to him, preferably someone who plays even deeper than he does. Rooney’s great when on the counter or from second line. As can be seen in the tribute video, his speed is mortal. Not his work in the box though. And when playing a duo like Carragher and Agger, he will always struggle to make the difference.
What Needs To Happen?
It is hard to say, we have played some great football at time already this season. Our back four is returning to previous strength and form. valencia is improving on a weekly basis and found the crossbar a second time in less than a week. Both times were goal worthy, not accidental crossbar hits. Nani has shown at times what he can bring: pace, dribbles and good crosses, just as great shots from outside the box. Anderson has shown that he is ready to fight for a place in the squad. Hargo is hopefully close to his return.
Everything seems fine, still we fail at creating chances. That’s not something new. Ever since RVN found his place on the bench, and later left for some minor team abroad, we have struggled at scoring against teams who play defensively. Most of our goals have come whether from fast outbreaks or from second line. It is not just our problem, it seems to become a standard in modern football that goals are based on very fast gameplay with lots of space. It’s pretty much the style the Spanish League is based on. Leagues known for their organised play, like the Bundesliga and Serie A often have less goals. But it makes for a dull experience for the fan and team like our Devils struggle to score when playing the likes of Bolton, Wigan or Sunderland. Who is that tall, deadly guy in the box who can stand up and make a difference?