Show them the way to go home, they’re tired and they want to go to bed. They’re only half a football team compared to the boys in Red…
A Professional Embarrassment
If Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund was about the club’s indomitable spirit and ability to never give up no matter what the circumstances, the 4-0 win over Everton last night was about pulling our neighbour’s pants down and embarrassing them in front of all of their friends.
Derby’s are supposed to be close encounters; occasions when the form book goes out of the proverbial window. It’s not supposed to be a time when the Kop can sing ‘Olé’ every time Liverpool complete a pass for about five minutes. Neither team’s manager should be able to dissolve into uncontrollable laughter when a defensive midfielder has a pathetic shot on goal like Klopp did over Lucas Leiva in the second-half.
— SBO (@SBOnet_) April 21, 2016
The question marks surrounding Roberto Martinez’s future had been coming before the game last night, but if the man himself still had any hope of maintaining his position he surely would have realised it was as good as over when the Kop started singing his name. If your nearest and fiercest opponents chant your name during the game that your team’s fans consider to be their yearly cup final, it’s fair to say the writing is on the wall.
4-0, this is unbelievably easy. The Kop are singing Martinez’s name now!
— 5times (@5timesco) April 20, 2016
For the first ten to fifteen minutes it looked like it could be so different for The Ev. They seemed to have set-up well, soaking up pressure and being happy to hit us on the counter-attack. More than once they looked like they could cause us some problems, with Kevin Mirallas in particular roving through our midfield like it wasn’t ever there.
Then something seemed to click for the Reds and it became a matter of when we’d score, not if. Adam Lallana could easily have had a hat-trick by the interval, consistently being thwarted by the excellence of Joel Robles in the Everton goal. The screw started to get turned and even the heroics of the Blues’ goalkeeper didn’t seem like it could last the 90.
Lallana getting himself into threatening areas, but the finish elusive at the minute. Liverpool getting closer to that opener.
— AttackoftheKop (@AttackoftheKop) April 20, 2016
Make no mistake, as poor as Everton were this was about Liverpool showing their class. There are lots of mitigating factors, of course. The word from the members of the press on the Merseyside beat is that Martinez lost the players long ago and is now just treading water until the end of the season. The decision of one of the club’s executives to walk out on the 60 minute mark would give credence to that suggestion.
Everton fans might also argue that their players had half an eye on the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United this weekend, too. If they were trying to avoid crunching tackles or situations that might see them suspended for that game, however, then someone might have told Funes Mori.
Oh, and Mori grabbing his badge whilst leaving the pitch after nearly breaking a young lad’s ankle is an absolute disgrace.
— Paul Cope (@paul7cope) April 20, 2016
The heading of ‘Professional Embarrassment’ in this section was intended as a reference to Everton’s performance, but it could just as easily be applied to Ramiro Funes Mori. The Everton defender was absolutely disgraceful last night, not only in his tackle on Divock Origi but also in his response in the aftermath. It looked a very deliberate tackle to me, with the Argentine twisting his foot as he landed on Origi’s ankle.
For him to commit the challenge was bad enough, but for him then to kick the ball away in disgust at the referee’s awarding of a free-kick and then to grab at his badge as he walked off the pitch, having deliberately injured one of our best players, is lacking in any sort of sense of professional conduct. Everton fans shouldn’t be proud of that sort of thing, the days of Duncan Ferguson are over and gone.
The Curious Case Of Young Jimmy Milner
There’s something charmingly weird about James Milner. By all rights he really shouldn’t be dragging in the numbers he has been doing for Liverpool. The last player I can remember looking as knackered as him within ten minutes of the start of football matches is Joe Cole, yet Milner seems to get fitter as the game goes on where Cole just seemed to get fatter.
I’ll be honest, I’ve gone through phases with James Milner. In the summer I wondered whether he might be the best signing of the transfer window, adding experience and know-how to a squad that was very much lacking in both. Then as the season wore on I questioned whether he might too old, too slow and too ponderous to work in a team that seemed to be all about the pressing and the closing down.
92% passing accuracy
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 20, 2016
Here’s the thing, though: You can’t argue with his numbers. He may be the very definition of a piano carrier in footballing terms, but there’s no question that he is also helping the team get the ball in the back of the net. His two assists yesterday take his tally for the calendar year of 2016 alone up to 8, equal with Messi and less than only Koke and Suarez.
He is not a Philippe Coutinho, he’s not the sort of person you want to be building a team around. In fact, when he’s started in the middle of the pitch rather than out wide Liverpool have looked lightweight, with teams bypassing him merely by running a bit quicker. But when you have other players doing the fancy work in the middle of the pitch and ask Milner to do little more than run his socks off and score or create goals, you’ve got a player who can do just that.
There are numerous players in the Liverpool team who you feel, if you were being totally and brutally honest, could be upgraded. Adam Lallana is one, Jordan Henderson another. James Milner is, for my money, a third. The thing that plays into his hands so well is that he plays at one pace from the start of the game until the end. At the start it seems as if the match is moving at too fast a pace for him, but by the end it has caught up with him and he begins to run the show.
Assists in 2016:
James Milner – 11 #LFC
— Football Talk (@_FootyTalk_) April 21, 2016
For a player who is genuinely abysmal at set-pieces it’s truly remarkable how good James Milner is at crossing the ball. Origi still had work to do for his goal but the cross was perfect, asking questions of a defence that really didn’t have any answers. His ball for Sakho’s goal was sumptuous, though the fact the Frenchman had time to do up his shoelaces, wave to a mate and stick a bet on himself to score before the ball reached him certainly aided his goal-scoring ability.
There’s no way to know how the team in Klopp’s head is shaping up right now. He’s got his transfer targets for the summer and he knows who he wants to bring in and who will keep their place. Is James Milner on his imaginary teamsheet? Perhaps. For now, though, he just needs to keep going about his business and helping Liverpool Football Club score goals. Oh, and maybe practice taking a corner or two…
Sturridge Is The Main Man Now
The debate over whether Sturridge or Origi should be first-choice striker has raged on for weeks now, with each announcement of the team-sheet being met by the suggestion that Sturridge has been ‘dropped’ in favour of the Belgian striker. At some point Origi’s excellent play will stop that narrative and replace it with the suggestion that the 21-year-old has, instead, been ‘selected’.
The injury the striker suffered last night might not be the break we all feared when we first saw the replay of the incident, but nor is it a mild sprain as we may have hoped. Instead it looks as though it’s ligament damage that will almost certainly keep him out of action for the majority of the rest of the season.
That means it’s time for Daniel Sturridge to step up to the plate and deliver on the scale we all know he’s capable of. I don’t imagine it will be that difficult:
Daniel Sturridge’s 50th goal for Liverpool comes in his 87th app, quicker than Suarez (91), Owen (93) or Fowler (94) pic.twitter.com/e2uvAxsn3P
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 20, 2016
Getting him on the pitch and keeping him there has long been the problem with Sturridge, but once he’s crossed the white line there can be no questioning that he is one of the best striker in the Premier League, behind only Sergio Aguero for natural goalscoring ability. Klopp seems to have managed his recovery perfectly up until now and whilst he won’t be overly happy that he’s going to have to ‘squeeze the orange’ more than he’d like, he’s got to know he’s got the perfect striker waiting in the wings and ready to take centre stage. Step forward, Daniel Sturridge, the spotlight is shining down on you.