Before most of you get going and take out your protective shields, I want to make to make it perfectly clear that I am a very pro-Dalglish Liverpool fan and I am behind him being confirmed Liverpool manager all the way. Yesterday however, Kenny and Co got it all wrong from the start, and made matters worse during the course of proceedings. Allow me to state my case!
So we are playing West Brom, managed by our ex-Roy and refereed by what is arguably considered a dodgy referee in judgment such as Martin Atkinson. Mr Atkinson frequently conditions results and the course of games with decisions that often end up under fire by the damaged party and the media. You will all remember what SAf said about this ref, and even though he said this after very dodgy decisions which contributed substantially to Man Utd’s defeat at Stamford Bridge, he was right. This to set the conditions in which we were called to play our fixture!
The initial line-up presented to face West Brom was, in my view, only flawed in that we should have played Cole in place of Kuyt on the right, Maxi in place of Meireles on the left, and Meireles to dictate the game and tempo just behind the two strikers in place of Spearing. Meireles was out of position and it showed, Kuyt was out of puff and it showed, we had a huge void between our defensive midfield and our strikers and it showed!
So we start the game and the back four seem capable of coping with the speed of execution which is the main weapon of West Brom in the person of Cox, Brunt, Thomas and more importantly Odemwingie!
Johnson gets injured and we replace him with Kyrgiakos (and we have Roy already rubbing his hands and face!). We move Agger to the left and he limps off injured a few minutes later. On comes Wilson who takes up the left full-back position. As I said in the previous paragraph West Brom use speed to put their adversaries in difficulty so putting on Kyrgiakos reduced our reactive speed to slow motion! Kyrgiakos would have been the solution should we have been playing the likes of Stoke with Kenwyne Jones or John Carew up front, but not when you have a missile like Odemwingie whizzing across the attacking front. My solution with what he had available: bring Wilson on for Johnson, and when Agger’s game was over bring on Maxi to play with a back four of Carra/Skrtel/Wilson/Maxi. This was the only solution to remain with a speedy set-up at the back. We did not need aerial power at the back this time round.
Now you will ask: Maxi as left full-back? Yes, why not? Yesterday SAF took off Evra during the half time at West Ham and guess he replaced him with? Ryan Giggs! When you consider that Utd went from 2-0 down to winning 2-4 in the last 25 minutes I think we can confidently say that the plan worked.
Moving a bit up-field, we were very uncreative in our midfield because we played with two defensive midfielders. Meireles should have been moved to a more centralized attacking midfield position, Suarez moved to the left (as eventually happened) and seeing Kuyt out of puff and not into it at all, replace him immediately (not in the 80th minute) with Joe Cole, leaving Carroll as a lone striker.
So starting eleven Reina, Carra/Skrtel/Agger/Johnson, Maxi/Meireles/Lucas/Cole, Suarez and Carroll! Following the first half injuries change formation to Reina, Carra/Skrtel/Wilson/Maxi, Suarez/Spearing/Lucas/Cole, Meireles just behind Carroll as lone striker! This would have kept us relatively rapid at the back, it would have take the attention of the central striker area by moving Suarez to the left from where he created one opportunity after the other, and it would have given us a creative advance midfield which was totally lacking yesterday!
I read comments regarding the penalty decisions. On the first I must say that I have the impression that Kyrgiakos did touch the ball, but his challenge was clumsy and inside the box which was idiotic really. The second…well…Kyrgiakos left Reina in a spot and the Spaniard tried to put his experience to good use the interpretation of which was deemed to be a penalty! It ridiculous to debate whether these penalties were either cast in stone or marble for all I care. They were both situations we could have avoided had we not opted to play the big Greek amidst West Brom’s whiz-kids.
As far as commitment is concerned we were not as bad as West Ham. Tactically, the game was not well read in my view and when the course of events went against us we did not resort to the correct counter-measures and practically gifted the game to our adversaries. Notwithstanding the above, we had managed to graft a lead which dissipated because we were just not good enough to control the game and bag the very precious 3 point tally!