Editorials — December 6, 2011 22:40

Fulham 1 Liverpool 0 – View from the Putney End

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The Build Up

Liverpool were in fine spirits on the back of some fantastic performances against Man City and Chelsea. The mood amongst supporters had changed and the feel good factor had returned. Liverpool had turned a corner, and it was onwards and upwards.

The last outing to Craven Cottage turned into a carnival, but last night’s outing was probably one to forget. The Asian Kop were in attendance along with the ever present Travelling Kop. The atmosphere was what you would expect with fellow Reds, full of passion, singing and unrivalled support!

View from the Putney End

No Maxi Rodriguez was the main talking point. The winger, who on his last outing to Craven Cottage scored a memorable hatrick did not start. Many would have put their mortgage on the Maxi starting, especially with his recent goal scoring spree, so for him to remain on the bench came as a huge surprise. Nevertheless, it was a strong line up which on paper should have dispatched Fulham and come away with 3 points. It was just a fortnight ago when Liverpool came to London and made light work of Chelsea. Fulham, who probably don’t offer the same calibre of personnel as Chelsea should have been an easier proposition to manoeuvre.

Same story different game

Unfortunately the same old story unfolded last night – chances created but not being converted. It sadly has been a feature of our season and continues to be a point that needs addressing. A player in the mould of our former number 9 is probably what we desire the most. Luis Suarez for all is magic and trickery can not be relied upon as Liverpool’s main spearhead in front of goal, pressure needs to be eased on our number 7.  Liverpool are continuing to create chances at an alarming rate but they are not being converted.

Whilst it is a massive positive to be in a position where your team is creating chance after chance, and finding ways to break a team down. Not being able to kill off games is something which is haunting us. It has been a while since we can boast a squad which has quality in depth and have players that can find the back of the net, but at this moment, it’s not quite happening.

Liverpool will need to strongly consider a move for a striker who is confident and comfortable infront of goal in the January transfer window. Picking up ‘a striker’ may not resolve the goal drought, Liverpool need to bring in an experienced striker who won’t take to get going. There have been whispers of former Red Nicolas Anelka possibly making a return to Anfield- this may be a smart move.  Anelka has previously played for Liverpool and bagged goals during his loan spell under Houiller. He would not be starting at a new club, so to speak.  A confident goalscorer will certainly ease the pressure on Suarez and may in fact act as a catalyst for other players to get on the score sheet.  A confident goalscorer has been a strong feature of Liverpool teams of the past.

When Ian Rush was leading the line, scoring goals for fun, it started off a chain reaction with goals coming from all quarters, including midfield and defence. I remember one game in which Steve Nicol as punching the air after notching up a hatrick from his position as a full back. Yes, full back, quite simply unheard of these days. Liverpool are making headway in many areas of the pitch, the final third is not as strong as it could be, reinforcements are needed and fast.

Decisions, Decisions

The game itself was full of controversy. Officiating matters was referee Kevin Friend, and from the start decisions were not going our way. As the match wore on, the decisions became more and more noticeable. Suarez who was on the receiving end of numerous fouls was left frustrated throughout the game. Charlie Adam was through on goal when he was adjudged to have been brought down outside the box by Phillip Senderos, who only received a yellow card when it could have been red. Suarez then turned on the style with a brilliant acrobatic goal in the 65th minute which was ruled off for offside. Taking a closer at that decision, it was close call but benefit of doubt is normally given to the striker. The goal should have stood.

The main talking point of the game was the sending off of Jay Spearing. Again, it could have gone either way, rather harsh on Spearing but given the trend that was emerging through the night, it came as no surprise. It reminded me off the Olympiakos game at Anfield when Liverpool were on the receiving end of some very poor decisions. The disappointment of some of the decisions was not only etched on the faces of the supporters but also on the players. Frustration was creeping in and may have been a factor in our performance.

Final Thoughts

Lucas who has been a rock for the Reds was sorely missed last night. The clean up operation that he has been enforcing in the centre of midfield was not the same last night. Spearing was enthusiastic and committed to the Liverpool cause, but those boots will be hard for anyone to fill. Lucas has made a huge mark on the pitch with his performances in a Red shirt. Irreplaceable Lucas has become such a massive hit, that the Travelling Kop were in full voice singing the ‘Lucas Leiva’ song, a fitting gesture to a player whose season as been unfairly cut short.

Glimpses have been shown of what Liverpool can do. We can match the big teams pound for pound and turn them over, but for some reason the lesser teams seem to be the conundrum we can’t crack. Season upon season, the smaller teams have held their own against us. Whether these smaller teams feel that playing Liverpool is their cup final or a bigger scalp, we still need to finish them off.

In his recent interview with The Asian Kop, Howard Gayle touched upon Liverpool not having enough continuity to challenge for the title, how right he was. It’s been a stop, start season so far. The frustration at Craven Cottage have only reignited and brought up the same old issues of the previous games – chances being created but not being taken. The same issues keep coming up, fans are talking about the same things and we all know what needs to be done.

I still believe we have what it takes but these issues need urgent addressing if Liverpool are to pursue their quest for Champions League Football. We have made good progress under Kenny, there is a little more tweaking that needs to be done. We are coming together nicely but these stumbling results are increasingly hindering our continuity.

Once everything starts to click -the mood will once again change – results will come our way- In Kenny we trust.

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