Better From Liverpool, But Improvement Still Possible

I am not a royalist. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I’d abolish the monarchy tomorrow, if I had a choice. The cost of living crisis would vanish overnight, for starters. Whatever my feelings about the Royal Family, I wouldn’t have made noise if I was inside Anfield last night. Partly because, regardless of what you may think of the Queen, a person died. With certain obvious exceptions, that isn’t something to celebrate. Mostly, though, I would have listened to the words of the Hillsborough families, who rightly pointed out that a lack of respect for the silence would inevitably lead to ‘Hillsborough’ trending online. As expected, that’s exactly what happened in the wake of the silence last night. Watching on TV at home, I was dismayed to hear quite a lot of noise in the moments after the referee blew his whistle to start the silence. Those that were in the ground said it was just a few voices that were quickly silenced, so I can only assume that BT Sport were a little naughty with their sound mixing.

For those that wish to hate Liverpool, they’d do it regardless of what last night brought. I wanted to silence to be observed because I can’t be bothered with the ‘whatabouterry’ that will come in the next few months. I won’t be surprised if some people decide to sing ‘God Save The King’ during the next silence at Anfield, for example, as though there is any link between why it is that some Scousers have no time for the monarchy and the reason why silences are asked for after deaths or to commemorate a footballing disaster. Sadly, too many people are too keen to point score whenever possible nowadays, forgetting that actual lives are involved in the ‘banter’ that they send back and forth. I hate Manchester United. They ruined my childhood and most of my adult years, yet I would never convert that hatred into mocking the Munich Air Disaster. There is no place for that sort of thing in football.

A Grown-Up Conversation About Trent

Trent Alexander-Arnold is, in my opinion, a world-class talent. He is a phenomenal footballer who has changed the way that managers think about right-back as a position. For most of the last two seasons, Trent was as influential for us as Kevin de Bruyne was for Manchester City, all whilst playing in defence and without the sports-washing squad around him. I truly believe that he will go down as one of the great all-time players for Liverpool Football Club, such is the extent to which I believe he’s an incredible player. Yet I also think that, right now, we need to have a grown-up conversation about him. That is to say, we need to be able to talk about what is happening with him without going into defensive mode or shouting ‘WHAT ABOUT KOSTAS?’ There is an excellent thread from Stephen Drennan on Twitter, exploring what happened for the Ajax goal last night that is well worth reading.

Whilst I have sympathy with what is being said in the thread, my problem with Trent isn’t in not spotting the danger but in his lack of reaction once it was developing. As we have seen from him a few times recently, he just seemed to amble back towards goal rather than busting a gut to get there and help to make up the numbers. Not seeing the runner is forgivable for the reasons outlined by Stephen, but not working hard to help out your teammates once the trouble is taking shape isn’t. One of the big issues that we’ve got with Trent is that there isn’t suitable cover for him. Joe Gomez is serviceable in the role, but James Milner’s legs have gone in front of our eyes and Calvin Ramsay is both injured and too young to be depended upon. I’d say that we should consider moving him into midfield if he’s going to continue to lapse so often in his defensive duties, but with no one around to take his place I don’t see how we can. Hopefully the forthcoming enforced rest will do him good.

We Need To Take More Chances

The conversation of late has been entirely focussed around the midfield. Given the extent to which it is the part of the team that helps the defence and supports the attack, I’m not surprised. For me, though, the bigger problem is the fact that the attack seems to be so profligate all the time. Apart from against Bournemouth, when everything we hit seemed to end up in the back of the net, our strikers seem to need so many chances to score a goal. We had 24 shots last night, with ten of them being on target. To have ten shots on target but need the winner to come from a defender’s header from a corner, requiring the goal-line technology to confirm it, isn’t ideal. It also seems to sum up what’s been going on for the Reds at the moment. I don’t really know what a Liverpool goal looks like any more. Hoping someone does something magical doesn’t seem to be an overly reliable way of getting on the scoresheet on a regular basis.

Of course, there is an extent to which I’m playing devil’s advocate. It was always going to take the team a while to get used to playing with an out and out number nine, having spend the entirety of Jürgen Klopp’s tenure playing with a false nine. It also feels clear that Darwin Núñez is struggling to relax under the pressure of his price tag, seemingly desperate to ‘prove’ that he’s worth the money rather than accepting that he’s here and not going anywhere. Once he does that, I’m confident that the goals will start coming. It also doesn’t help that we lost Diogo Jota to injury at the same time as selling Sadio Mané, meaning that a new boy and an ageing Roberto Firmino had to shoulder most of the responsibility. Jota is back now, Mo Salah is scoring again and hopefully Núñez will begin to settle into his role as he gets to work with the manager and his teammates in the coming weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *