Liverpool 0-1 Southampton: The Ranting Rebel League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Ratings


Loris Karius:


Just take a look at that barnet….

Some say it’s a style thing, but they’re wrong.

Goalkeeper safety has been highlighted ever since Stephen Hunt kicked Peter Cech in the head (well, he was playing for Chelsea at the time…), and the stopper began wearing a protective headgear thereafter. There was much sniggering and mocking when Cech first appeared with the new safety accessory, but we’ve all now grown to accept it. In fact, I don’t recognise him without it. He could walk past me on the street and I wouldn’t know him unless he had something on his head, like a cap, or an American Football helmet, or a Donald Trump wig….

As you know, Fandango is a self-conscious lad, not shy from looking in a mirror once or twice a minute day, so while playing in a precarious position such as goalkeeper, he needs protection, but also needs to look good. So how does he do it?


Aye, the same stuff as Cheryl Tweedy nee Cole nee Fernando Versini nee Whatever You’re Having Yourself uses, but in far greater quantities.

Pre-game, 19 bottles of that stuff are sprayed on Fandango’s head, ensuring that his ‘stylish’ hair is also harder than concrete. He has his own changing room too which has an extensive air-change system installed to suck the gas out and pump oxygen in. Have you ever seen his hair move out of place, even when he’s making saves or bending over to pick the ball out of the net? Nope, neither have I. So now you know.

As for his performance last night, no fault. He made a crucial save in the first half and didn’t put a foot wrong. It’s typical really, just as we get to the stage of the season when both goalkeepers stop f*cking up, the forward line is busticated. FFS.



Trent Alexander-Arnold:


Left regularly exposed on the right flank due to the diamond shape deployed at the start of the game, but he gave as good as he got, and showed real danger when going forward. Some of his crosses were threatening compared to a Patsy Clyne cross (although a fluffy chick is more threatening than the majority of Patsy Clyne crosses).

He demonstrated his ability throughout the game with some sublime first-touches to get him out of trouble, and his experiences this season should see him kick on next season.

Yes, I’ve started thinking about next season. Sue me.


Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:


Dear Dejan,

Any chance when attacking corners you could, you know, move about a bit and vary where you are in the box when you want to head the cross?

I lost count of the number of corners that were slapped to the penalty spot, with Lovren poised, but for a Southampton defender to read it (and why wouldn’t he, it wasn’t complicated) and head clear.

Poor James Milner was getting dogs abuse for his set-piece delivery, some of which was deserved, but if your target keeps standing in the same spot, all you can do is try and hit him…



Joel Matip: 

A welcome return to the side for Joel, who had never featured in a losing side for Liverpool before last night. Had you heard that stat? I know, they kept that secret, eh?

Anyway, as ever Joel is guided by the writings of his father Billy, and these lines rang true last night as he lay awake trying to comprehend how the team he plays for are so utterly sh*te compared to when he last played for them.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From conceding a goal so late
To driving home in my jeep

I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
James Milner gets wide
But finds it too hard to cross

And even though I know James Milner is wide
I go up for every corner and I stand in the box
And watch him cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out who he’s looking for

So the unbeaten record is gone, he didn’t cure all ills magically (as I suspect Mané won’t when he returns), and lo and behold the current problems can’t be solved with the return (or purchase) of one player.




James Milner: 


There’s a lot made of the fact that James Milner is supposed to be ‘boring’. Hell, I’ve even alluded to it myself, in jest of course. However one thing I’m afraid James Milner was last night was…predictable.

At this stage of the season, if Millie is attacking, the opposing defender knows that he’s going to pull the ball back on his right foot…and if he goes on his left, the odds are that the cross is going to be gash. Predictable.

When Millie takes corners, he’s going to aim for Dejan Lovren, usually standing on the penalty spot. Predictable.

There’s nothing wrong with predictability in many areas of life. You want your wage payments to be predictable. You want your penalty taker to be predictable (and successful). You want the bus/trains that you get each day to be predictable.

I prefer my full-backs to have an air of unpredictability about them, particularly when chasing a semi-final deficit. I even thought about Bertie Moreno at one stage.

The acid bath after the game was bloody painful.



Jordan Henderson: 


Now here’s the thing…

The thing is that the skipper is playing with an injury. Klopp’s been vocal about it, it’s no secret. Everyone knows it…EVERYONE….

Numerous times last night Hendo dropped back into that space between the centre backs that is now so en vogue, looking to pick up the ball from Matip/Lovren and launch an attack. All well and good, except for one thing…Lovren passed to Matip (around Hendo) and vice versa. Honestly, it happened regularly. Why???

Is Lovren/Matip better at passing forward than Hendo? Nah.

Are they subconsciously worried about Hendo due to his injury? Maybe…

When you have both Emre Can and Jordan Henderson in the squad, and one is injured, then the other steps in, or should do. Yet last night, and for the past few games, we’ve seen Can and Hendo play alongside each other, and I can’t work out why…

Does Jurgen not trust Emre in the holding role? If so, he’s not fit for purpose as he’s not really good enough to play the Gini/Lallana role…

I’m puzzled. I suspect I’m not alone.


Emre Can

Emre Can:


I thought he played alright actually.

He came closest to scoring (although it would have been an assist to a Fraser Forster howler), and he kept his dilly-dallying to the bare minimum. He also tracked back to great effect, particularly in the first half.

However I refer you to my points above in the Henderson review piece.

Also, ignore the contract tittle-tattle in the press. Nobody knows what’s really going on.



 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 


I thought his night was summed up late in the game when he had an opportunity to burst forward but ended up trodding on the ball, stretching his leg back to get it and tripping his opponent.

He was playing in his preferred position, but didn’t have the impact he has had throughout the season…like so many others.

I get the feeling that the key to Liverpool’s success is not ‘a single thing’ but actually a rather complicated puzzle where numerous factors all need to be just right. My theory is:

Firmino central, Lallana deep, Coutinho roaming, Mané in Liverpool, Henderson fully fit, Wijnaldum on the pitch and Matip playing.

Last night 4 of those pieces were missing.



Roberto Firmino:


From the fulcrum of everything good (in a bad team display) against Swansea to a peripheral figure last night.

He tried, but he was out of position, and Bobby plays horribly when he’s out of position. That’s alarming in itself, the fact that his impact is so clearly limited when not in his favoured role…

One thing that has emerged clearly is that Bobby and Daniel can’t play together. Let’s just add that to the long list of problems gathered in January, shall we?



Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,



A new 5 year deal, and I’m glad you listened to my advice about staying. Honestly, that Barcelona place looks nice in the brochures, but it’s a kip in reality. A real dive.

Anyway, your next mission is to give Jurgen a kick in the baws, please. Hooking you with 3 minutes to go and we’re chasing a goal? What the f*ck is THAT about? Would the 3 minutes have gone against your ‘comeback schedule’? Me arse.

Needless to say, we need you back to your best asap mate.

Love you xxx



Daniel Sturridge:

There are certain players that you watch for a long time, and you slowly, gradually come to a conclusion that they just don’t fit / just don’t have it anymore. It can take a full season or even longer, and you regularly fight the evidence of your own eyes and try and justify all the reasons why that player is still the dogs boll*x and needed in the team.

Alternatively you can have moments of clarity – a stunning bolt from the blue as you watch a player and you know, YOU INSTANTLY KNOW, that it’s over for them at your club.

Alas, that happened last night with Daniel Sturridge.

No, it has nothing to do with the misses (of which there were a few), as they can happen to any striker at any time.

This was a moment in the second half when a ball was played over the top, into acres of space for Daniel Sturridge to chase. Yes, there was pace on the ball, but having watched him for years, you know he could catch it with ease, and would then be in a great attacking position. Daniel set off after the ball…and just didn’t have it in his legs to get there, succeeding only in back-heeling the ball to the opposition, in a desperate attempt to keep the ball in play.

Is his extra yard gone from his legs due to the toll of constant injury?

Is his extra yard gone from his head because he’s afraid of further injury?

I don’t know if we’ll ever know the answer, but I know that to go where we want LFC to go, we can’t carry that in the squad, particularly from someone so close to the first team.

I’m gutted, but I know what I saw and I know what it means. Daniel is going to the airport this summer, but he has no idea where his final destination will be .




Geordie Wine Gum:


I have no idea what his introduction for Philippe with minutes left was supposed to achieve.



Divock Origi:


Desperately unlucky not to win a tie saving / month saving / season saving (delete as applicable as the season goes on) penalty, and having been sprung from the bench, that’s as much as we could have asked of him.




Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 


The beard has been trimmed.

The excuses and complaints are flowing more freely than ever before.

The laughing has stopped.

As a cup campaign that promised so much fades into the memory banks, the torrid month of January continues with two more games left…another cup tie and Chelsea at Anfield.

The race for the Top 4 has 6 runners and riders, 4 of whom are above the 2 points a game target that normally guarantees a Top 4 place, and the other two are just outside that incredibly high standard.

Make no mistake, Jurgen Klopp is a manager under pressure.

However this is NOT a crisis. It’s a tough time, but that’s all it is. As quickly as the magic died it can be started again, often without rhyme or reason.

Yes, the squad needs more depth, and yes the transfer window is open, but no, that does not mean Klopp should buy someone, anyone, just because he can. He has signed a long-term contract because he sees this as a long-term project, so he’ll only buy players as and when he feels they are suitable and when they are available. That’s not this January, no matter how much you want it to be.

This is still his first full season in the job, I’m amazed at how many forget that, or disregard it and demand instant success. Instant success in a league crammed with oligarchs and oil billionaires and José’s and Pep’s and Arsene’s and Antonio’s and Mauricio’s. I’ve seen it said that THIS season was OUR chance, and we blew it. Yes, THIS season with a team on 55 points after 22 games, which wins the title EVERY season (even when Newcastle blew it 21 seasons ago they had 54 points after 23 games ffs).

Klopp preached early in his tenure that he wanted to turn doubters into believers. It was a nice soundbite at the time, gladly seized upon by the press, but it’s only NOW, when things are not going exceedingly well, that you understand what he meant. Liverpool don’t have believers anymore, and maybe that’s understandable after 27+ years without a title. We’ve all been burned by raised hopes and dashed dreams, so isn’t it natural that we all doubt that it will ever happen? Perhaps, but what good is that to Jurgen and the team? What use is the crowd when it’s deathly quiet or moaning and whining when the going gets tough? The team don’t need the crowd at full volume when they’re smashing Watford for 6, they need them at full volume when they’re struggling to break down a resolute defence, or trying to come from behind in a game.

If you don’t agree with any of this, that’s your prerogative, but throwing all your toys out of the pram, demanding instant signings and calling for the head of Klopp makes you a spoilt little child who has no business being a Liverpool fan.

And that’s my prerogative.


Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (


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