Fourth place still looked achievable until last weeks dismal display against West Ham. It was such a shame to see so much of the recent good work come undone and that sense of shame was only exacerbated by the league position of the opposition. After such solid displays at the back we were leaking goals against the bottom placed side and going forward, well, they looked like they were all wearing binoculars…
Seriously though, all credit must go to West Ham because they put in an exceptional performance in all aspects of the game. Liverpool on the other hand looked tired and complacent, symptoms of a long and difficult season.
With fourth place surely now out of reach, it would seem that there’s not alot for us to play for anymore. I assure you, that’s not the case. We now have no excuses not to go on and win the Europa league. It may not be the best trophy to win but any silverware would go along way to easing the pain of this season.
We also have to make sure we re-qualify for the Europa league. With Birmingham winning the Carling Cup only the 5th and 6th placed teams will qualify. Liverpool are currently seventh behind Bolton, although we do have a game in hand. Finishing as high as possible is as much about pride as it is about European qualification, though.
Speaking of pride, Sunday’s game is all about it. People say Liverpool are obsessed with their history, that we live in the past. There’s nothing wrong with that. We have the richest history in the country and we have every right to feel like we must defend it. Poor performances over the last few seasons have hurt alot, but nothing will hurt as much as if Manchester United win a 19th league title.
Sunday is a chance for us to stop them. Every player has to stand up and be counted. One hundred and ten per cent, no less.
Pepe Reina’s comments midweek couldn’t have come at a worse time. Just as we thought everyone was on board, pulling in the same direction, the player that many thought would be our future captain comes out and says he wants to play for a club “fighting for titles.” That one really hurts. Bill Shankly once said to his players that they should feel privileged to play for this club, I’m not sure Pepe does and if that’s the case, no player is bigger than the club.
It’s his impatience that is most staggering of all. At 28 Pepe is yet to even reach the peak of his playing career as a goalkeeper. Just look at Edwin Van Der Sar whose playing at one of the best teams in Europe at the age of 40. Surely Pepe is smart enough to see that with the financial backing of FSG we have the monetary power to rebuild this Summer and compete with the top teams next season, then again, maybe he’s not.
With regards to Sunday, It’s time Steven Gerrard put in that special performance we all know he’s capable of. He’s been ok this season, but when was the last time you saw him score a belter from 30 yards? When was the last time he really grabbed a game by the scruff of the neck? He’s our captain and he needs to lead by example. Big stages need big players and if there was ever a stage built for Stevie, this is it.
I’m sure the players are up for this one. Last week’s loss would have hurt them just as much as it hurt us and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be looking to make amends this Sunday.
Inconsistency had been the real dagger in the heart earlier this season. Under Dalglish and Steve Clark we’ve at least gotten a bit of stability back into our game, apart from last weeks anomaly we’ve generally been quite solid. Defensive solidity will be the key again against United, but we need to bring another dimension into our game if we’re going to win this one and in doing so, cause United to stumble in their push for 19 titles.