Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Mercy Side: Post Match Thoughts (Liverpool 2-2 Northampton, 2-4 on penalties) 22/9/10

Hey people, I'm at a local library writing this, I should be back online properly next week. Here's my thoughts on the Northampton match last night. Enjoy.

Catastrophe? No, it’s a disappointment.
So here we are, in September, and it’s the end of the season already.  Oh, how I love the optimism in the air at the moment. The press have spoken, papers have took the mickey, fans are annoyed and what for? Because we “crashed” out of the Carling Cup at the first hurdle. But there’s not as many headlines explaining that only 3 of the top 8 teams from last season are still left in the competition and that only Everton were ranked lower than us from those 5 teams. Granted, the team we lost to were 69 places lower than we are, and that it definitely is the worst defeat of all the Carling Cup matches, but I just love the words that are being used. It’s a catastrophe, it’s a disaster. No, it’s a disappointment you fools.
Here’s what we have, “It’s a shambles,” says the Telegraph. The word “Cobblers” is written everywhere. The funniest is on Yahoo, where it says that “ Liverpool 's season reaching crisis point”. If a quick exit from the Carling Cup is the crisis point then that would suggest we will do the treble this season. What annoys me is that this is the least prestigious of the 4 trophies, and only 6% of LFC fans wanted this as the top cup priority. It’s a shame that 6% of Liverpool fans, we were let down.
Now everyone is saying that The Hodge is being close to the sack. All along, despite his clarity, his humbleness, his frank approach to the fact that this club is in a transition period, is all ignored. A paper mentioned that we won the trophy more than anyone else – correct – however we are still in transition. Does anyone in the media know the meaning of the word transition? He said before the match, if we lose, we’ll be slated, and we’ll accept it and move on. And that’s exactly what happened, it’s not a catastrophe, it’s a disappointment. Rafa was so reserved, always keeping his cards to his chest, The Hodge has brought clarity between fan and staff member at Liverpool Football Club.
I honestly don’t think this is Roy ’s fault. Steven Gerrard did a post match interview and he makes the best point, he says “The amount of ability and talent in that squad was good enough to roll Northampton over and I'm sure nine times out of ten it would have, but in cup football sometimes a shock happens and you slip on the banana”. He is absolutely spot on. Roy chose a very talented squad; this is the best batch of youngsters to come through the Reserves and Academy than the nineties I personally think. If this was the FA Cup, and we drew, and we’d play a reply back at Northampton and chose the exact same team, I reckon we would have won. Hodgson was right to put faith in the kids, they will shin, or at least I believe they will. But he didn’t hide his disappointment, his frustration, they let him down. And they did, they are responsible for the loss, not The Hodge. Roy should continue to use the youth sparsely, the same way he has done so far this season. These players need to learn in the cameo appearances that they make.
And they will learn. It’s a minor set back I think in a group of players that should play a lot this season, and play well. Gerrard’s words are absolutely true, I’m really happy he hasn’t slated the team, these players ARE still good players, one match doesn’t make or break a player unless he, the manager, and/or the media let them. Psychology is so important in football, you need to have a good state of mind, not let defeats affect you too hard for too long. I hate him with a passion, but it’s that ego that makes Cristiano Ronaldo a world-class player, he doesn’t let set backs affect him a great deal and in football it’s required. These players need to believe in themselves, believe they can make it sooner rather than later because we can see their individual qualities, they just need to make these qualities affect matches in a great way. A decisive tackle avoiding a goal scoring opportunity, a 25 yard strike hitting the back of the net, a brilliant through ball, something. Then people will believe them.
As I’ve said, this season for me is a transition period, we are with a new manager with a new philosophy, and in the next few months hopefully we will have new owners with new cash available. That to me means that results matter, but it’s not the end of the world. I want us to finish in the top 4 this season, but if we don’t, if we finish in a Europa League spot, then that’s fine, as long as these youngsters have had a dozen or two appearances. They need to blend in the first team and learn their craft. It’s quite funny, because if this season for me represented one of the competitions, I’d actually compare it to the Carling Cup – the time when youngsters are given a chance to shine. Let’s hope that they learn from this lapse and show their mettle on the pitch more this season.
This is a setback; this is a disappointing and frustrating one at that. But it’s not a catastrophe, it’s not a crisis and The Hodge doesn’t deserve to be sacked over this. Have patience, have faith, and let’s concentrate on the long-term plan not the 120-minute match that has just gone passed us.

Date: 23/9/10