It was the right thing for Suarez, Kenny and Ayre to apologize for the handshake saga. It wasn’t a good move by Suarez, refusing to shake hands. I can understand him feeling hard done by when he has been globally branded a racist. He maintains his innocence. But as a professional footballer he should have shook Evra’s hand, put the matter to bed once and for all and got on with the game. Likewise, Evra shouldn’t have tried to provoke him at the final whistle and Ferguson shouldn’t have made his comment that ‘Liverpool should sell Suarez’ as that’s got nothing to do with him.
Nobody at Liverpool told Ferguson he should sack Cantona when he kicked a fan. Or that he should get rid of Ferdinand when he was found guilty of deliberately missing a drug test. Or that Keane should be shown the door when he went out to injure Alf-Inge Haaland. You didn’t hear Benitez, our manager at the time, calling for Rooney to be sacked when he was proved to have once again cheated on his wife when he paid for prostitutes. And Kenny didn’t call for Giggs to get cast aside when it came out that he had been having an affair with his brother’s wife for years. Fair enough, Ferguson had a right to say he thought Suarez was wrong not to shake Patrice Evra’s hand but he shouldn’t start telling Liverpool Football club which players they should sack.
I was glad that the apologies were subsequently issued and accepted. Hopefully this goes some way to repairing the image of our great club. I also hope that we can all move forward and concentrate on football. Obviously there’s no love lost between Liverpool and Manchester United. We just don’t like each other. But that’s been the case for years. Fowler and Neville were never best friends. In fact it’s fair to say they despised each other. But the best way Liverpool or United can hurt each other is by winning matches. Knock each other out of cups. Beat each other to titles.
Personally, I would love Liverpool to keep Suarez. He’s one of our best players. He scored against United on Saturday and continually caused their defence problems. I’m just a bit worried that he won’t be allowed to get on with his career without discrimination. Liverpool won’t sell Suarez because Ferguson thinks we should. But if referees and the FA treat Suarez harshly and give decisions against him in the future then the club might have no choice but to sell him. I already think there are decisions that haven’t gone in his favour because of his reputation. There have been times when he has genuinely been fouled and referees have automatically assumed that he’s dived. Decisions like this will cost us trophies if they continually go against us and we lose games as a result.
Suarez has to try his best to repay the fans, Kenny and everyone else at the club for their unequivocal support throughout the racial allegations and his ban. He has to stop doing silly things like sticking two fingers up to Fulham fans and do his talking on the pitch. But the authorities have to allow him the opportunity to do so. Anyone can make a mistake. It’s what Suarez does next and how he is treated in return that will dictate whether he is able to move forward or forced to move on.
Liverpool going into this Monday night match on a tremendous run of form hoping to keep it going at Fulham as they chase a European place. Never an easy place to go to especially this season as they are unbeaten at home in the League this season. Fulham gave Liverpool a very tough match at Anfield earlier in the season as Dalglish recorded his first victory since his return to Anfield with an own goal being the winning goal that night. Fulham also went into the game with a good victory last weekend so confidence with both sides was high.
With Liverpool having no new injury worries and no players on the injured list back to fitness left Dalglish with an unchanged side from last weeks win over Newcastle. So Flanagan extended his run in the side this time at left-back with Johnson switched to the right-back position. The ever improving engine room of Lucas and Spearing also started and the free-scoring Maxi kept his place in the team. Andy Carroll still unfit to start as Suarez and Kuyt provide the firepower.
There are good starts to a match and for Liverpool they couldn’t have dreamt of a better start when they took the lead inside the first minute, Lucas played a great pass down the left freeing Suarez whose deflected cross was kicked clear by Schwarzer only to find Maxi who smashed the ball home continuing his goalscoring streak.
After taking the lead on 32 seconds Liverpool went for the jugular as Fulham were reeling and they doubled their lead on 7 minutes when once again Lucas sent a defence splitting pass through to Johnson who crossed perfectly to the back post for Maxi to volley into the bottom corner of Schwarzer’s net.
Liverpool were rampant now as they dominated proceedings and hemmed Fulham into their own half. Next came a claim for a penalty when Suarez raced behind the Fulham defence only to be impeded by Hangeland as the big defender was caught out, but appeals were waved away.
Then on 16 minutes Liverpool made it three when Kuyt shot low from just outside the box, it should have been a comfortable save for Schwarzer but he uncharacteristically let the ball squirm through him and into the net.
Spearing and Lucas were dominant in midfield and Suarez was virtually unplayable tying the Fulham defenders in knots at times and he almost made it four when he turned Hangeland down the left before firing wildly from close range.
The next chance was created by a good throw from Reina sending Suarez on his way before teeing up Maxi who volleyed into the stands as he looked for his second hat-trick in three matches.
Fulham were unlucky not to pull a goal back as they witnessed Johnson making a great clearance off the goaline from Dempsey.
So Liverpool went in at half-time three goals up and hoped to keep their good form going in the second half.
But early in the second half Liverpool were dealt another injury blow when Meireles had to be replaced by Shelvey. Fulham came out more like the team that has remained unbeaten at home this season as they pressed Liverpool into their own half.
Dempsey had a shot from 20 yards but it flew over Reina’s bar. But in the 57th minute Fulham got a goal back when substitute Zamora set-up Demele who curled a shot beyond Reina from just inside the box, it was only what Fulham deserved.
Zamora then had a header cleared off the line as Fulham felt the game was far from over after getting a goal back.
But the fightback was short lived when in the 70th minute Maxi got his hat-trick with a great strike into the top corner from 25 yards. It took the wind out of Fulham and Liverpool made it five in the 75th minute when Shelvey split the defence with a perfect pass to Suarez and he danced round Schwarzer before passing the ball into the net. It was just reward for his outstanding performance.
With the game now finished as a contest Fulham snatched a late consolation when Sidwell hit a 25 yard strike into Reina’s top right hand corner giving the Spaniard no chance. But it could not take the gloss off a magnificent performance from Liverpool.
I thought we would only come away with a draw from Fulham as their home form has been superb and I certainly was not expecting us to grab such a convincing win as this. I heard you could have got odds of 250-1 on predicting this scoreline. But obviously the early couple of goals were paramount in the performance and really set the team up for another great performance. The pressure and work rate we put Fulham under in the first half was impressive as Dalglish continues to have us pressing higher up the park and puting teams under pressure. Spearing and Lucas were dominant in midfield and some of their passing was a joy to watch, Lucas set up the first two Liverpool goals with passes from midfield. Like most people I can’t believe the form of Maxi who has now scored 7 goals in his last 3 matches. Suarez was a constant threat as the Fulham defence struggled to deal with his movement and he deserved his goal. It really was one of the best performances of the season if not the best and I’m just disappointed that we are at the end of the season.
Man Of The Match - Luis Suarez – I thought he was outstanding, his movement his constant threat and the Fulham defence couldn’t live with him. Great finish too.
Our last Monday night game of the season takes us to London and a visit to Craven Cottage as we try to keep our Euro dream alive. London hasn’t been a good hunting ground for us so this game will probably prove to be the toughest game of the ones left to play.
Spurs and Manchester City both dropped points over the weekend which makes 5th place within easy reach while we still have a shot for 4th. Three points will keep us in the hunt for the 4th place, a draw will kill that however it will still keep us online for 5th.
Martin Kelly might feature as he is returning to full fitness while Jamie Carragher will skipper the Reds in his 666th appearance for the club. I believe that Kenny will play the same eleven that started against Newcastle with Carroll in and Meireles starting on the bench.
Two wins on the trot and the King expects more from the team, and rightly so. Liverpool players should always strive to improve on every performance and Dalglish will know that succumbing to over-confidence is a factor at the root of a chronic issue which has plagued the club for years now, inconsistency. The players will be reminded that more such performances are required to achieve a high standard and this is exactly what is expected when wearing the Liverpool shirt.
Just looking at Kenny fills me with pride and joy. I can’t find any fault to the start of his reign and I say this not because of the huge respect Dalglish projects. He is simply getting everything right. Yesterday’s game against Fulham came a few days after Liverpool steamrolled past Wolves. Liverpool started off brilliantly, pinning the Cottagers back resulting in a perfectly legal goal by Fernando Torres being disallowed. I thought Torres felt downbeat after this ruling and took time to recover.
It was a industrious display by the Reds lacking flashy football (notable in the second half) but what impressed me most was the never-say die attitude and persistent pressing by all of Liverpool’s players. Meireles was, again, my man-of-the-match, instrumental in keeping the scoreline in favour of the Reds with a goal-line clearance and in the dying stages, as if possessed, intercepting passes in midfield. The temptation to clear the ball blindly seems to be a thing of the past. Possession is being retained and the ball is worked out of defense rather than the team resorting to Wimbledon’s notorious style of hoofing it high up field. This can only be the result of Dalglish and his team highlighting these elementary deficiencies to which the lads have responded brilliantly.
Another positive note was Poulsen’s performance, a player who has been heavily criticised under Roy Hodgson and given the circumstances, you can’t blame those who viewed the Dane’s performances as short of vigor and class. In the unfortunate absence of Lucas, Poulsen did a first-class job in the interdiction role and I appreciated his few but potentially devastating through-passes.
Dalglish stated the result was a “lucky” conclusion to a game which could have gone either way. Liverpool’s goal was no masterpiece but it showed how wanting the team is to do well, score goals. Dalglish has pointed out that the team must defend and attack as a unit, and that is exactly how Liverpool have been playing as of late. The reason for yesterday’s tight result, and, hence Liverpool’s failure to consolidate was, in my view, Gerrard’s lack of (or minor) influence, possibly brought about by his three-match absence and Torres’ dip in confidence after the disallowed goal. One can’t expect these two to be stalwarts in every game and such times call for others to take center-stage and pull the bull by the horns, a feat accomplished by the likes of Meireles, Johnson, Reina and the two center-backs who repelled and countered wave-upon-wave of Fulham attacks, mainly towards the end of the game.
Yesterday’s game was one which required the players to dig deep and grind out a result. This they did and with aplomb! Dalglish and his team have a good part of seven days to prepare the lads for another stern test, against Stoke, a team which easily put two goals past us at the Brittania, the final score resulting in heavy criticism for both team and manager. Rory Delap was allowed to wreak havoc with his long throws and this will be a potential pitfall the team needs to watch out for. Liverpool need to secure the three points before the final ten minutes to avoid a Stoke siege with balls pouring in from left or right in the form of Delap throws. Another entertaining game at Anfield to look forward to and with the current feel-good-factor at the club, I foresee another positive result.