By Dal Dhariwal
Much as I loved our win against City on Monday night, it left me feeling a tad frustrated. I see the PDH in these games and think, why is it not a constant, for every game. Surely, unless the players are schizophrenic, they must approach each game pretty much the same way, No? Why can they play Chelsea, Manure and City off the park and yet put in such “couldn’t care less” performances against the likes of West Brom/Ham, Blackpool and Blackburn?
My recollection of the Liverpool team I watched as a preteenager in the late 70’s and early 80’s, was of wide eyed amazement at the manner in which the Liverpool midfield chased around like a pack of dogs until they won the ball. I tend to get all nostalgic when I see the occasional performance that contain PDH, games like Mondays for example, where Man City were given no time or space, games like the home game against Chelsea, where the relentlessness of the players was truly awesome. Little glimpses of the way it used to be for ALL games the team played.
I was chatting with some mates about this during the week and to my surprise, I discovered that for a “consumer” of a certain team down the M62, this is the “here and now”. It was quite sobering to listen to his observation that these ingredients are the starting point for any game he watches. He added that the only time he doesn’t expect to see it is during pre season friendlies. My natural next thought was the dreaded “Oh my god are we one of those sides whose players can only get up for big games”.
I always remember in years gone by how I’d scoff at teams like Spurs, Manure and Everton who only ever seemed to play for the fans in big games and would wallow in mediocrity the rest of the time. In particular I remember the great big hoo-ha over Everton No7 Andy King scoring a winner against Liverpool after 7 years without a win against us, yeah all very well but what about the other 40 games of the season, where’s your PDH then? In recent years, I’ve always put in down to the fact that we now live in a very different time and having that “constant” level of PDH is not sustainable. Well, I suspect I’ve been wrong, perhaps we’ve been a tad soft on those who have not shown PDH for us. Carrager, Kuyt, Gerrard and more recently Suarez appear to give nothing less than 100% every time they cross the white line, for varying reasons, I guess they are very aware that for everything they do one the pitch, there are, perhaps a hundred million of us who would make unhealthy sacrifices to be able to do it instead. The King has already touched on the need to be able to put in a more consistent level of performance. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are four reasons for this:
1. Lack of fitness. Players subconsciously find them “saving themselves” for games to come?
2. Lack of focus. Perhaps the old Anfield ethos that we only talk and concentrate on the next game has been lost
3. Character. Perhaps, the character of some players simply does not fit. I remember reading a former players comments about how, for Bob Paisley, it was more important what a players personality was, than his footballing ability, perhaps that was a touch farfetched, but it does illustrate that personality and ingredients like PDH are perhaps as important as ability
4. Management. Acceptance of players not prepared to give 100%, perhaps even; insufficient warning to the eleven about to take the field that anything less will not be tolerated.
It seems that PDH is one thing, old rednose down the M62, has always got right, let’s face it winning as many games in the manner they do is not accidental. Passion, Desire, Hunger, sad to say, they always have it. At present, we only have it in fits and bursts. In my humble opinion putting this right in the summer is far more valuable than any expensive new player we may bring to the club in the summer.