Four wins on the trot, confidence at an all time high and morale-boosting performances is how I would like to describe Liverpool’s recent resurgence. The positives on the pitch result from hard work during training although I sense that the new owner (and his wife may I say) have been instrumental in instilling a fresh aura, a renewed sense of belief. Roy has, from day one, asked for patience and for fans to impose judgment after ten games or so. The Christmas deadline I set as a time to gauge Roy’s influence is fast approaching and right now it seems our manager is passing the test with good grades.
Roy has learned a great deal about Liverpool, the team and the fans during the last few weeks. He’s learned to cut down on his remarks about Man. Utd and has started to distance himself from arguments related to the Rafa era. It seems he recognizes that Poulsen has got limitations (other managers would have pressed forward and played him to justify him being bought in the first place). He is taking more of a professional attitude on the pitch – the ‘I mean business, no nonsense’ stance. He promised Chelsea ‘a hell of a game’ and that is exactly what the Blues got. He has now started to lay down the rules and the players are following suit.
The players have been integral in the restructuring process. Senior names have stuck together, supported the manager and staff, the result of which has trickled to the younger lads who are more likely to get disenchanted by a team’s lack of improvement. It must be said that the competition for a starting place in the first eleven is even more rife now after comments made by Roy earlier on that too many sub-standard players are on the club’s pay books. Again, January will be a month were I believe we will see many outs rather than ins and this is testing time for many players.
Onto the pitch matters and I can only describe yesterday’s result against Chelsea as a fully deserved achievement. I initially thought that the decision to throw Kelly as right back was suspect and might have back fired. Make no mistake, the boy was a decent proposition but he did tend to move inside and this was crystal clear in the second half during Chelsea’s twenty minute siege on Liverpool’s goal. Many attacks were driven from the left (Kelly’s right) with little or no opposition. It was only when Hodgson pulled Kelly over to highlight the deficiency that things improved. Kelly responded promptly.
Executed to perfection were positional play, discipline and recovery. It looked as if movements were rehearsed time and time again during training so much so that one could notice players back tracking and slotting back into position at ease. Passing has improved a great deal and players are more alert and comfortable on the ball. Miereles is still that little bit impatient and many times his final pass is not conclusive, although it was his pin point delivery to Torres which led to the Spaniard’s and Liverpool’s second goal. It is an area which has tremendous potential so I’m sure Miereles will be coached into improving his final touch. The Portuguese international has been a fantastic and key acquisition by Roy.
I am a huge John Terry fan. He epitomizes everything that a dedicated footballer should be. So it is a shame and a pity when Terry repeatedly tackles in nasty as was the evident case yesterday. He got away with two serious yellow card offenses most notably during the first half after jumping a few feet and planting his knee into Torres’ neck – this could have easily resulted in a straight red. This is bad publicity for Howard Webb who failed to note two grave incidents. Nonetheless, the referee’s overall contribution was positive.
Lucas was definitely my man of the match and his performances have been steadily improving. His work rate and dedication must be commended. Two other stalwarts during yesterday’s match were Pepe and Kuyt, the former producing one particularly unforgettable save from a point-black shot. Reina was clenching fists so overwhelming was the adrenaline rush. Kuyt was the usual composed hard working provider. The Dutchman is so good at retaining possession and making things happen as was the case during Torres’ first goal.
The near future looks interesting for us fans. It’s Wigan away next for Liverpool and here’s hoping the high flying Reds keep up the level attained so far. It’s still early days and we’re still negotiating corners so let’s keep our feet well on the ground. Many positives lately, including clean sheets, goals being scored so now it’s time to consolidate the hard work by wining the next two games both away – a tough test, which, if failed, will weaken the foundations put in place in the last weeks. The game at Stoke is never an easy encounter but we need the points to get us in the top four. We’re only five points away and many teams breathing down our necks so the onus is on the players to keep moving forward. After the barrage of criticism laid on our club it is now time to go on the offensive and prove that the Mighty Reds are definitely back to winning ways.