Well, that was fucking disappointing.
(pic: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
After a lively first half, my feeling that the game promised a few more goals turned out to be dead on. Unfortunately, they both turned out to be for Reading. So, the Reds fumble away a chance to make up ground on Arsenal, making United’s visit seem even more crucial (a six and a half pointer?).
To blame the game solely on poor refereeing would be a disservice to Reading, who took worked hard all match and took their chances with both hands (or feet or in Sonko’s case, whatever body part he could foul with). But, I can’t help but feel that the stars were aligned against us today with the multiple penalty shouts that were overlooked, not to mention some plain old shitty luck. The ball didn’t drop the right way or a goal or invention was missed by a few inches.
Sometimes these things happen. It’s football.
Still… fuck Andre Merriner (the ref).
Rafa was obviously none too happy with it either:
I’m not happy with the decisions. But we also had chances that we didn’t take and maybe that was the key.
The difference was that one penalty was given and one was not. But we had the chances and we needed to take them, but in the end we didn’t.
But enough about the poor match had by the man in black because there were a few in red who also stood out for all the wrong reasons. Or, in some cases, did not stand out but went completely anonymous for long stretches of the game.
Let’s start with Momo Sissoko. The highlight of his match came at the end of the first half when Torres almost put him through on goal and it looked as if he may have been dealt with by the defenders unfairly. But, we were never going to get a PK call today, so it was a moot point. His sole second half highlight came about ten minutes from time when he successfully completed two passes back-to-back, with putting a teammate into danger with his shitty touch.
Quite frankly, Momo was woeful. Although he got stuck in around the pitch with his usual fervor with his usual favorable results, his continually pissed away promising possessions with his Midas touch (heavy as gold) and his sickly passes, almost all of which were DOA. If he were a doctor, he’d been sued for malpractice and stripped of his liscense a long time ago. An inability to add anything to the attack is one thing, but when you become an outright liability on the ball, that’s quite another.
Where’s his progression? I know he’s young and you don’t rush to judgement on one dour performance (although he’s had a string of them, repeatedly showing the same piss-poor abilities), Rafa may have take another look at his central midfield options and decide to cash in on the energetic destroyer.
Hobbs had a tough day. He’s young, inexperienced and probably has a few more of these outings in his near future. That said, the growing pains should do him well. Hyypia may have been a better option (Rafa probably wanted to take Carra off early if we got a good lead), but Jack needs to get blooded sometime. He’ll be better for it.
But, in all fairness to the youngster, the whole defense had a less-than-stellar day. And there’s plenty of blame to go around.
Crouch and Voronin went long stretches where I forgot they were even on the field. Frankly, if you’re going to start three strikers, you should play a 4-3-3, not have them playing off or deep. Tactics are partially to blame and they both popped up with some chances (Voronin more so later in the match), but their constant presence(s) were lacking on the whole.
Rafa will be disappointed not to take any points away from the Madejski, but he also has his role in this defeat. He put a squad out there that you could tell, even on paper, was not going to play wide. When did we see any runs down the flanks? (answer: when Kewell came on) Or a fullback overlap in the final third (maybe once with Arbeloa)? To employ both Mascherano and Sissoko (and Gerrard, although he can technically play anywhere) is folly, but is compounded with strikers play out-of-position.
That said, that starting XI was more or less getting the job done for an hour. Gerrard and Torres stood tall for most of their match. But, I can’t pin the whole game on Liverpool losing it. Reading actually were industrious enough to win it. They truly earned the three points today, even if Liverpool should have converted some clear opportunities (ignoring the blown PK calls).
Seriously, they should have eaten that donkey Sonko alive. But, in the end, he got away with some crap defending and Liverpool paid dearly. At least Carra didn’t get a yellow.
I just hope this serves as motivation for the Marseille game. Which, I might add, I think I’m going tolive blog, just because I can. (We’ll see…)
You can find the links to the goals & highlights over at 101 Great Goals.
My thoughts on the match:
- The education of Jack Hobbs continues with a start alongside Carra. Kewell is on the bench, which I think is smart. Rafa has to treat him like he’s got a ‘delicate wash’ tag on him. It reminds me a lot of when Stevie G was young and was having reoccurring problems with his groin & back due to his growth. Ged had to bring him along slowly and it eventually paid dividends.
- With the personnel that Liverpool started with, it provides an interesting, flexible nature. That said, I’m not sold on strikers playing as pseudo-wingers. Babel being the possible exception.
- Torres got a shocking chance, six yards out, from a Riise throw but shot it right at Hahnemann.
- Torres knocked a ball back to Sissoko as Liverpool are going forward into space, but Momo pisses it away with a ultra-poor touch/pass. *sigh*
- Tonight, Hobbs is going to dream of nothing but Carra’s voice in his ear.
- A tough call for the ref as Carra knocked Gunnarsson outside the box, but it’s called a penalty. Hunt put it in as Reina went the wrong way. Silver lining — no card for Carra. Yet…
- Torres took a ball down, passed the ball over to a centrally-located Gerrard, who touched it into the box and knocked it past Hahnemann. The captain continues to lead by example! Ian Rush might be right — Gerrard & Torres could be the new Dalglish & Rush. *fingers crossed*
- A half-hour in, Voronin (and Crouch to a lesser extent) have been rather quiet.
- Reina is not afraid to boot the ball downfield, straight to Torres. I’m amazed (and enthused) by how effective that ‘pass’ actually is…
- Sonko is lucky to barely graze the ball as he stuck a leg out and subsequently brought Torres down just inside the area. The TV guys seem to think it was worthy of a PK. Sonko is the weak link and needs to be exploited.
- Voronin is defending (and relatively well enough) deep.
- On the other side of the pitch, Voronin danced his way into the box and unleashed a quality strike which Hahnemann put out for a corner.
- Torres almost put Sissoko through in the box. There’s contact but no call. Half-time. A relatively open, back-and-forth game.
- A couple minutes in to the second half, Torres flashed a header just wide. The Reading defense look plump for the taking.
- Sissoko pisses away another ball while surging forward but was bailed out by the ref’s whistle. Remember that one game at the beginning of the season when Momo looked confident and even productive on the ball? No, me neither.
- Reading don’t time their offsides trap correctly on a Riise free-kick and Hobbs is presented with an aeriel chance (all by his lonesome), but can’t handle it.
- Torres is felled in the Reading box again, but no call again. It’s Sonko, once again. And El Nino is receiving treatment for his ankle.
- “How many penalties should Liverpool have had?” “Three. At least two.”
- The Riise Rocket (off a free kick)almost delivers but Hahnemann makes a good save as the ball starts to bend outwards.
- Gerrard got Hunt from behind and saw yellow. You could see it coming at Gerrard tracked him down.
- Fucking Kevin Doyle nods the resulting free-kick in. Fuck me. Reina is at fault but nobody is marking either.
- Kewell for Torres on the hour mark.
- Why Sissoko is still on the pitch is anybody’s guess. His defensive steel isn’t a priority anymore.
- FUCK ME. A Reading break-away and Harper goes around Reina. Shitty defending. 3-1. Fuck fuck fuck.
- I’m tired of watching Sissoko continually put his teammates in trouble with sub-par passing.
- Kewell went close with a first-time slice across the goalmouth.
- Babel for Gerrard after 70. Rafa has given up on this game and looking ahead to Marseille.
- Oh, Peter Crouch is still playing in this game. I’d forgotten. Where has he been hiding?
- Sonko trots off after 80, after having gotten away with multiple penalites.
- Hyypia for Carra, protecting the vice-captain from suspension.
- Another hospital ball from Sissoko. It’s amazing how poor he is with basic skills like passing and first touch. What is he doing in training? Regardless of what he offers defensively, there’s no excuse for this. Seriously, Rafa should sell him and use the cash to seal the Mascherano deal. With Alonso, Gerrard, Masch and now Lucas, I can do without an offensively retarded central midfielder. Send him to Italy or Spain. (this is why you don’t make important decisions when you’re angry)
- Momo has completed two passes in a row!!!
- Crouch hits the post and the ball goes right to a prone Hanhemann. It’s just that sort of match for us today. *sigh*