Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland: The Ranting Red Rebels Ratings


Loris Karius:


You’ve probably already seen ‘that’ incident involving Fandango yesterday, but for those of you who haven’t let me just sum it up by saying that the ghost of Gary Sprake (RIP) shook his head in bemusement.

Anfield has seen many goalkeeping howlers in its time, including the infamous Gary Sprake chucking the ball into his own net at the Kop end, but I’m not sure it has ever witnessed a goalkeeper taking a goal kick and booting it directly out for a corner.

Rumour has it that the laws of physics are now being redrafted by NASA to try and explain how it was possible.

On a more serious note, Fandango had very little to do but what he did need to do he did very well, eventually. His hesitation in the first half almost let in Pienaar but he made amends by rushing out to smother the shot. He then went full length at the feet of the most Ginger man in football when denying Watmore, with the game poised at 0-0.

Two clean sheets in a row, minimal action to deal with…long may it continue.

9/10 (7/10 for the performance and 2 bonus marks for making me laugh long into the night)

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:


My initial reaction was one of frustration at Patsy as I felt that he didn’t carry enough threat going forward, considering he had bugger all to do going backwards, but then I had a good long hard think for myself and I came to the conclusion that I was being harsh.

Clyne didn’t mark anyone yesterday, but he was marked by Victor Anichebe. I know…Moyes-Tastic. Fullbacks also tend to be effective when overlapping into space, but the Mind-Numbing-Mackems had 11 behind the ball all game, so no such space existed.

Therefore I have come to the conclusion that Patsy was his usual solid self, and we should be thankful for same. It wouldn’t hurt if he smashed a thunderbastard or two into the top bin every now and again, but there’s time for that. I hope.


Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:


Here we have a man who is absolutely flourishing alongside a central defensive partner that suits him down to the ground.

Dejan can now play his own game, free in the knowledge that when/if he ‘does a Dejan’, there’s Billy (Joel) Matip alongside him to make it all better instantly. As a result Dejan is actually making less errors, is growing in confidence and his decision making is improving all the time.

He joined in the attack to create an extra man (although we’d have had to sneak on a 12th man in this case to make any difference), giving David Moyes something else to think about, besides the prayers of ‘Please don’t let them score, I have no idea what I’m doing’ that he was repeating to himself over and over and over all game long.

Dejan’s deft backheel to Mane in the second half almost broke the deadlock but as for his defensive performance, he was once again perfect in all he did. Long may it continue.



Joel Matip: 

Yesterday (Billy) Joel dedicated one of his Da’s hits to David Moyes, showing once more the compassion he has for all, despite the fact that Moyes has managed our two biggest arseholes rivals.

Only The Good Die Young:

Well, they showed you a statue (of Fergie), told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you away (Old Trafford)
Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done (managing BOTH of THEM)
Only the good (careers) die young
That’s what I said
Only the good (careers) die young
Only the good (careers) die young

You might have heard I run with a dangerous crowd
We ain’t too pretty we ain’t too proud
We might be laughing a bit too loud (at you, obviously)
Aw but that never hurt no one (or does it Moyesey, eh?)


Aye, your career is over Moyesey. 11 men behind the ball and ‘the most defensive side I’ve ever seen’ as Herr Klopp said himself. From United to Sunderland and a perennial relegation battle which you’ll eventually lose. Good riddance.

As for Joel? Imperious. As ever. Liverpool were even happy to leave him one-on-one with Defoe at times in the second half, which some may have considered risky. Risky? It’s Joel Matip v Jermaine Defoe. Never in doubt.



James Milner: 


I’m not sure why so many were so concerned at James Milner playing this season at left-back, as it’s now clear that for the majority of the season he’ll be playing left-wing.

He missed his Brazilian buddy on the left when he was taken off injured, but in true Yorkshire fashion he plugged away, bombing up and down the left, probing for the chance to break the deadlock, at one stage missing a Geordie Winegum cross-cum-shot by inches as the furthest man forward in the six-yard box.


Is that the oddest ‘football specific’ term in existence? I mean, we all know what it means, we’ve all grown up listening to it being used to describe a very specific act in football, but if you take a step back and think about it….

…it really describes the act of someone who ‘gets off’ on crucifixions.


Emre Can

Emre Can: 


Jackie has a constant look of a man that’s been told he can be the greatest player in the world, as long as he goes into a round room and takes a seat in the corner.

It’s right there, so close, but he just can’t quite work out how to do it. He tries hard though, so very, very hard, with that constant furrowed, confused look on his face.

You know what? We needed hard workers yesterday. Hard work was the only thing that was going to get us three points against the massed Sunderland hordes in their 6-4-0 formation. I even said so at half-time yesterday:

Twitter Snippet 1.PNG

Emre follows me on Twitter, so you can all thank me now. Well in Emre lad.


Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson:


I was too harsh on Captain Hendo last week, I’ll hold my hands up and admit it. The frustration of that 0-0 draw got the better of me, and Jordan, I apologise.

Hendo is the metronome of this side, constantly on the move, getting the ball from the back, giving it to the front, passing forward, passing left, passing right…he had more passes yesterday than Donald Trump would on Mastermind if his specialist subject was ‘The Duties And Responsibilities Of The President Of The United States Of America’.

I’ve compared Jordan to perhaps our greatest ever midfielder too often, so last night I thought about him in comparison to perhaps my favourite ever LFC midfielder, one Xabi ‘Dreamboat’ Alonso. If Jordan Henderson had been born in Spain and was named ‘Jordi Hendersone’, I’d argue that we’d all be raving about his performances in midfield. He’d be the ‘mercurial midfield maestro from Malaga’ or some such shite.

Admittedly Hendo looks more like a Labrador with his head out of the car window, tongue flapping in the wind, compared to Xabi who looks like…well, he looks like a Greek God. Yet we must never judge on appearances. Isn’t that right President-Elect Trump?

In short, his performances are more like the Alonso we all worshiped, and therefore we should worship him too.



Geordie Wine Gum:


Last week I argued that Emre Can and The Geordie Wine Gum were too similar to effectively dovetail in midfield, and thankfully Herr Klopp agreed when he rang me to discuss a few bits and pieces on Monday night.

Against Sunderland we saw a slight change in both the role and quality of performance of Gini, who I felt put in his best display yet in a Liverpool shirt. He was more advanced, particularly following the departure of Coutinho, and was unlucky not to create a goal for Milner in the second half.

Prior to the Coutinho injury it was assumed that Gini would lose his spot upon the return of Lallana, however now you could argue that Lallana could move into the front three, making the Can/Gini axis ever more important.



Philippe Coutinho: 

Dearest Philippe,


There are no words. My heart is broken, probably as much as your ankle/knee/right leg.

I’ve already texted Kloppo with a plan. Considering you don’t actually use your right leg apart from using it for balance, why not get a custom made boot to fit over the cast/brace and get back out there?

If you need any more words of wisdom or encouragement, you know where to find me.

Love you.




Roberto Firmino


Bobby will get punched by an opponent before the end of the season.

I guarantee it.

He must be THE most annoying player to play against. He never stands still, his first touch is supernatural, his brain works two steps ahead of everyone else and he’s got the biggest smile on the planet. If he wasn’t playing for Liverpool I’d f*cking HATE him.

Of course he does play for Liverpool and I smile each morning when I wake up and remember that.

I have one concern however…

The ‘chemistry’ between Coutinho and Firmino is undeniable. They’re brothers in arms both for Liverpool and Brazil and they’ve formed an extremely powerful connection and bond. Now one of them is very, very sick, and I think I’ve seen how this plays out…

Elliot ET.jpg

Oh God….


Sadio Mane.jpg

Sadio Mané:


I’ve seen others ‘criticise’ Sadio for his performance yesterday, but I think that’s harsh. A player who’s main asset is pace is always going to be hindered playing against an 11-man defence, and he also lost one of his main attacking foils in Coutinho early on.

Bearing all that in mind, I felt that Sadio showed a superb work-rate and work-ethic throughout the 90 minutes. He was a constant menace for Sunderland, moving from the right to the left and working well through the middle in the second half. He got his just rewards late on as his lung-bursting run from deep ended up with his upending and the penalty that secured the points.

Aside from all that, I also captained him for my Fantasy Football team, so y’know, he was screwed from the start.




Divock Origi

Divock Origi:

Timing is everything, not just in football, but in life.

Say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the missus and you’ll pay for it dearly, particularly if you’re talking about a ‘Cross-Cum-Shot’ and you’re not talking about football.

Had a certain D. Sturridge been on the bench as he had been all season, it’s 99.9% certain that he’d have had the call following the Coutinho injury, and not Divock. However, a certain D. Sturridge was not on the bench and opportunity arose for D. Origi instead.

Opportunity Knocks.jpg

‘Opportunity Knocks’ was a very popular talent show on TV back when your parents were children (or your grandparents, depending on how young you are reading this). Yesterday Divock Origi won the whole damn show.

He had one chance…and I can confirm that Divock prefers M&M’s to Smarties…..

If you had
One shot
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?




Lucas is opening up a new Security Company that will specialise in the retail industry.

Yep, he’s an expert when you need someone to ‘Shut Up Shop’.

I’d use him. If I had a shop, like….



Ben Woodburn:

Robbie Fowler’s Debut v Fulham was not live on TV in 1993

Michael Owen’s Debut v Wimbledon was not live on TV in 1997

Steven Gerrard’s Debut v Sheffield Wednesday was not live on TV in 1998

Ben Woodburn’s Debut v Sunderland was not live on TV in 2016 (but technology has advanced, so I saw it. Just don’t tell anyone…)

We may all remember this game, not for the scoreline, but for the debut of Ben Woodburn, at 17 years and 42 days old. I don’t know what you were doing at 17 years and 42 days old, but I was preparing for the Irish equivalent of the A-Levels, wondering how to get off with girls and hanging posters of Robbie Fowler on my bedroom wall (note the obsession with girls for those of you with a vivid imagination).

Woodburn has the pedigree. The whispers from the club about this young prodigy echo those that came from the club before Fowler/Owen/Gerrard, which we heard before the days of T’Internet and LFCTV. Klopp has rewarded him / enticed him with a debut, and the League Cup Quarter Final next Tuesday night looks a lot more interesting now….

Good luck kid, we’re all rooting for you.

10/10 (He reached the top of the hill. Now he has to stay there)


Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 


I loved Houllier for his success

I loved Rafa for being Rafa

I love Jurgen for his passion. His desire. His unbending will to win. He bollocked 55,000 people in an instant. Roy Keane did similar, but after a game and by ridiculing them (rightly, to be fair). Jurgen does it RIGHT THERE. In full view of everyone. He knew his team had their head down, arse up in the face of the most negative excuse for a football team he had seen in his career, and all he could hear were moans at misplaced passes and frustrated silence.


I’m heading over to Anfield in February and I cherish the tickets and the chance to cheer on my beloved Reds. I won’t be quiet for a second, and I won’t be moaning at a missed chance or a loose pass. I’ll be roaring the boys on to help them in any way I can. It wasn’t a coincidence that the breakthrough happened AFTER Jurgen urged for more from the fans. He knew his players were giving it their all. If you happen to be lucky enough to attend most Anfield games and you don’t leave with a hoarse voice, give your ticket to someone who will.

It’s 27 years and counting since we won the league, and we have 25 more games to help this team, this squad, this club to climb the mountain once more. 4 teams are on track for 84 – 90+ points this season, which is INSANE. If we’re going to win this league title, it’s going to take a monumental effort. I know the players will give it, but we need every single fan, home and away, to give it too.

You’re not going to a ‘game’, or an ‘event’. You’re going to THE MATCH. You can help. You can make a difference. If you’re smirking, or rolling your eyes when reading this, DON’T GO TO THE MATCH. Let someone who believes me go instead. I implore you. We’re going to need every single person involved with Liverpool Football Club to row in behind the team/manager and give everything they can, be it during one game or over the next 23 games. It’s all or nothing. It’s time be believe.


Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook ( If you would like to pay me to write like this, please do get in touch.


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