There is no doubt that if there is one aspect that the Reds have frequently come out tops in this season, this is called statistics. We usually dominate possession; have more shots on goal, more corners, and more passes, more tackles, you name it and we’re there at the top. We are even Number 1 at hitting the woodwork! It is converting these pro-active statistics in positive results and points that seems to be the stumbling block.
When a team goes from a game of total dominance to another with long periods of submission to lesser opposition, aptly described by a no-nonsense Daniel Agger as ‘running around like headless chickens (case in point first 35 minutes of the second half at home against Swansea) there is only one word that can summarize it perfectly: inconsistency! Consistency is pivotal in any sport, and in a highly competitive environment such as the Premier League it is the prime factor between success, failure and mediocrity.
Let’s face it, deep within we all feel we have the right ingredients to do well, hence the irrepressible frustrations when we don’t. We begin to ask questions: did we spend wisely, did we get the right players, are they good enough, are they being played in their position, why are certain players not being utilized? All legitimate questions and as fans we have a right to voice concern and reiterate our perplexities.
Let’s get more specific! I often ask myself why Maxi Rodriguez is not even taken into consideration after having finished so strongly last season. I also wonder why Craig Bellamy, who has shown his hunger to serve, is left on the bench. Is Kenny justifying his signings by playing them at all costs? Are we aware that with Gerrard out, we have no one to effectively dictate the tempo of the game and to efficiently link the midfield with our forwards? Who was the ‘chosen one’ to take on this task knowing Stevie G was still far off optimal fitness? If Kenny believes so much in Henderson’s youth potential, why was Shelvey shipped out to Blackpool?
Allow me to take you back to the last few months of last season when the Reds were prolific playing with the likes of Flanno, Robinson, Spearing and Maxi almost game in game out. Allow me to state that with Gerrard absent, there was a certain Meireles who was moved to a more favoured position just behind the strikers and not only proved an effective link, but was also on the scoreboard on more than one occasion. Okay, so Aquilani wanted out and Meireles left in questionable circumstances, but with Gerrard’s physical condition still precarious, was it not the case to prioritize this position to make sure we havea suitable back-up? Could it be that Charlie Adam was seen as his possible substitute? Is he up to it?
The Reds were marching on championship winning pace post-January 2011, so is the Redvolution of the summer (where we can comfortably claim the squad was overhauled) not leaving the desired effect? Is it the players, is it the game-plan, is it tactical, or is it the management? Questions, questions, questions!
Objectively our defense is joint second best with that of Man City (and better than Utd, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal). We have lost less than Chelsea and Arsenal and only 1 more than Utd. The other side of the coin is that we have scored fewer goals than the first 9 teams in the table.
We need to reverse this trend and strive for consistency. We have to be bold and brave and we need to prepare our games better, much better. Whether the Reds will resort to the transfer market to make the necessary corrections come January remains to be seen but one thing’s for sure: we need to sharpen our finishing, and we need to utilize the players, outfield and current perennial benchwarmers much better than we have done so far, as failure is not an option!