Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Liverpool 2, Middlesbrough 2: Weed the garden, Rodgers

Honestly, I don't know where to begin with this one.  I fought sleep and death from boredom throughout the match that could have been a 'how not to play football' instruction video and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.  I felt like I was having a flashback from a childhood zoo trip where I had to search aimlessly at an exhibit for 15 minutes hopelessly hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare giant elephant shrew.

Liverpool played beyond poor and it was frankly embarassing.  We needed penalties to defeat a side that had no right to be on the same pitch as we were and once again, the same issues we have been dealing with recently, surfaced again.  Unfortunately, we can now add another as well, 'movement off the ball'.  The endless vertical back-and-forth passing and everyone standing around, waiting their turn to touch the magic football was dreadful.   There was only one decent example of movement off the ball, when Enrique broke forward to start the series of events leading to the second goal.

I'll just come out and say it, Rickie Lambert was a bad buy.  He has either lost a step since last season or the whole damn world has sped up a notch.  It's not just his pace that is lacking, but his quickness as well.  Everytime he gets the ball it's like he's standing in a tar puddle, not to mention the Elephant man's bones could predict where his next pass attempt is going.  It's time to wave the white flag, give Lambert a bunk in the Reserves' house, and let him play out his contract there.  He can title his autobiography, 'I got to play 136 minutes for Liverpool and my beard is better for it.'

Another player I have a big problem with is Lallana.  Man of the match?! Are you kidding me?  Was that halo of Anglo-Saxon Britishness glowing so bright above his head that no one noticed all he did was dance around the pitch like Cristiano Travolta and then throw the ball away?  If 'Out of Bounds' was a player on our side, he completed three amazing, perfect passes to him.  All the rest, save the 'no look' back heel were painfully obvious and lead to nothing.

A look at the statistics further shows Lallana's showmanship.  He turned over the ball 17 times, was 3 of 16 on cross attempts, and had no chances created.  Outstanding!  Markovic was apparently 'terrible' despite the fact his stats are very similar to the 'Chosen One' (14 turnovers, 0 for 1 crosses, also no chances created).  The only thing that baffled me about Markovic was his inability to shoot the ball, he was like a deer in highlights every time he got a chance to thump it.  Sterling shows this at times as well, maybe Rodgers has put the fear of God in them regarding bad shots and the 19-year-old and the 20-year-old are traumatized.  Oh yeah, Sterling gets the excuse of being 19, but Markovic is too old for that, right?

Speaking of youngsters, it was quite clear that Rodgers gave Suso a 'shoot away' speech when he took the pitch and the Spaniard took it to heart, taking 4 shots in 22 minutes.  Despite spending less time on the pitch than any other LFC player, he had the most shots and tied Sterling with the team lead with two shots-on-goal.  It also seemed to really open up the match.  Wonder what would have happened if Lazar and Sterling had done so in the first half.

We're going to improve, right?  I mean this match was a step forward? I don't think so.  We played Middlesbrough at Anfield for Christ's sake and still had trouble marking players, still had trouble communicating on defence, still couldn't create space, and were still more predictable than Augustus Gloop near a chocolate river.  These are issues that have gotten worse in each of the four matches.  Rodgers is the gardener and needs to weed it out or else suffer the consequences of sub-par production.

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