By Sabrina Fende (@jeanXgrey)
Don’t hate me just yet!
Utterly devastated would probably best describe my feelings since last night’s match finished. Sure, it was gonna be a difficult task, after all, we had lost to Basel before this season and it’s not like we’ve improved drastically since, internally or domestically. Add misfortune to the mix and we’re out in the UCL group stage.
But honestly: Stop moaning and complaining!
Already I am sick of people going on about how we would’ve won hadn’t it been for several decisions by the referee. I agree, when Stevie went down in the box after the challenge from Basel’s keeper Vaclik, there could’ve been no other choice than a penalty to our captain and even a straight red card for the keeper. Hadn’t it been for him grabbing our skipper’s foot, the latter would’ve gone through with the ball and might’ve scored – there’s no guarantee for that either though, and no one can be entirely certain that our captain would’ve scored from 12 yards. Yes, that would’ve been highly likely, but far from set.
Markovic’s red card was a tougher case in my eyes. I know that most LFC supporters would disagree, but I can’t blame the ref for making the decision he ultimately made. A yellow card would’ve been fine, but so was the red one. It wasn’t how hard he hit him, but much rather his intention. Had he just run, could he really have been stopped? I doubt so. But Markovic turned his head around, slowed, reached back as far as he could, hoping he would somehow connect with his opponent’s head and still make it look like an accident. So, for the impact it would’ve been yellow, for the intention, red is justified in my eyes. The most stupid part in all of this was surely not by the ref, but by the player. I’ve hardly ever seen a situation where a similar action was less necessary.
Ultimately: four minutes of stoppage time? Bit short for what we’re used to from the Premier League. Should’ve been at least 5 or 6 minutes for us. Still, in other leagues 4 minutes is plenty and who knows what could’ve happened even with 10 minutes added on? Maybe we would’ve even conceded in the end…
That being said, what I am disappointed in is our team. The team as a whole really, not just a few particular players and I’m not picking out any positives either. We’ve been shite all season, few glimpses of former brilliance shown through. A team that has lost 3 out of 5 fixtures before their final tie, drawn 1 and won just 1, simply doesn’t deserve to advance tot he knockout stages, no matter the final result. Were we, as Rodgers said, drawn in the toughest group? Pretty far-fetched if you ask me. Imagine what we could’ve looked like in a group with PSG and Barcelona, or with Bayern, Man City and AS Rome. A team that plays like we’ve most constantly done this season, should not be in the CL and I’d rather be knocked out in the group stages and still play in the Europa League, than advance to the group stages as a disgrace to our club and then, even more disgracefully, get demolished by any team that at this point actually belongs in this competition. It hurts me to say that, I have shed several tears last night, but it’s really just the truth. Our team needs to get a grip if we are not to embarrass ourselves in the Europa League either.
And in the team, I include everyone, the manager too.
Rodgers’ decisions regarding the starting line-up and changes were, well, questionable to say the least. First, we need to stress the point that we had to win. That one was mandatory. Why then would he put on Henderson, Lucas and Allen? Bit defensive, maybe? But that wasn’t even the worst part! I get that he had no real choice, but to start Lovren after Touré’s injury blow (get well soon!), but Enrique in the full-back position really baffled me. What has that guy shown this season to even remotely deserve a spot in the team for a tie as a crucial as this one? Well, I guess it didn’t even take 45 minutes for Rodgers to realise that as well… One substitution wasted there, as Moreno must’ve started!
Granted, Coutinho’s form hasn’t been quite up there lately, but surely he would’ve been the better choice over any of the three DMs, Allen most notably? And also Henderson was a bit overwhelmed by his new, more offensive position. He didn’t seem overly comfortable out there and most often lacked the proper touch to create some sort of danger in or around Basel’s box.
Now, here comes the part I think I’ll never fully understand. Why wouldn’t he just play Can? With Stevie being pulled forward into a more attacking role (thankfully, he finally wrapped his head around that!) that frees up a nice spot for the German who, as most times, was kept on the bench for full 90 minutes. When he was played a while ago (seems like it’s been ages) he impressed. Obviously, Rodgers has seen different matches altogether.
Don’t get me wrong there, I still believe it would be wrong to sack Rodgers now or at any other point during this campaign. That is for a lack of suited alternatives first and foremost, but he needs to be given the chance to set his wrongs right. Don’t forget what he’s achieved last season! Though, the question must be asked, whether a more experienced manager might’ve not let it slip (no pun intended!) in our final run to becoming England’s champions once again.
After all, this has been more of rant than a consistent story of mine, but I can’t get any of these points out of my head either, so here’s to some peace of mind!