Liverpool 0-1 Wolves: The Ranting Rebel FA Cup 4th Round Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

How’s your 2017 going?

No matter how disheartened you may be about Liverpool’s recent form, you’d have to be having a spectacularly harrowing 2017 to have it worse than Loris Karius right now.

Poor Fandango started the season with a broken wrist, got his place back in the team, lost it again, but was comforted by the news that he would be the ‘Cup Keeper’ for the rest of the season. A Wembley final beckoned, a home 3rd round tie against a fourth tier side was on the horizon, and while not where he wanted to be, Karius could at least console himself with the prospect of plenty of games for the next few months where he could seek to impress Klopp and change his mind about the No. 1 shirt.

Fast forward to January 28th 2017 and Loris Karius now faces the best part of 4 months picking splinters out of his arse, with no cup games scheduled until at least next August.

Of course he’s not just a victim here. He must carry some of the blame for the predicament he finds himself in. While the marking for the Wolves opener was appalling, Stearman headed the ball just 4 yards from goal. There were no bodies impeding Karius from coming to claim the cross, so it is his hesitation, as much as the statuesque defending, that is at fault for the opener.

As for the second goal, well in truth that summed up the whole Liverpool team yesterday. Too often the men in red made it look like they were trying, while in reality they were getting out of the way – all talk with very little walk. When Karius came charging out of his goal when Weimann was clean through he should at the very least be clattering into him, risking a penalty and a red card, but preventing a certain goal. Instead he slid harmlessly out of the way to allow the Wolves man to walk the ball into an empty net.

Still, at least his hair was immaculate, as it shall be for the remainder of the season on the bench.

5/10 

Connor Randall

Conor Randall:

 

I’m not saying that this guy has been out of the picture for a while, but you wouldn’t believe how far back I had to go through my picture database to find his mugshot. I whizzed past Flanagan’s and Norwich City crests and even a shot of Chirivella…aye, it was like taking a stroll through last season.

Of course I’m now deleting his mugshot from the database, as we sure as hell won’t be seeing Conor Randall in a Liverpool first XI ever again.

When you’re two down at home to a team from a lower tier, and you’re hooked at half-time in a change that necessitates a change in formation as well as personnel, well the writing is on the wall.

The fact that the man you were marking (less than a yard away from) managed to walk the ball into the net at the Kop end, while you aren’t even in the picture, is merely the nail on the coffin which bears the inscription:

‘For Sale: One Promising LFC Youngster Not Quite Good Enough To Make It At This Level’

I wish Conor all the best in the future, and for encouragement he should look at young Conor Coady who was very impressive for Wolves yesterday. He too didn’t quite cut it at Melwood, but has gone on to find himself a central part of a Championship side.

4/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While not directly responsible for either of the goals, you have to ask why the senior member of the defence (did I ever tell you he has over 130 caps for Estonia?) allowed both himself AND Joe Gomez to mark players at the near post while the defensive stalwarts that are Gini Wijnaldum and Divock Origi were marking their big centre-half at the far stick.

F*cking nonsense.

Jurgen picked a ‘young’ team, but he was relying heavily on those senior players to step up when it counted, and to a man they disappeared off the face of the planet. The defence was shambolic as soon as the merest hint of pressure was applied with young Joe Gomez the only one seemingly capable of showing any kind of composure.

That’s a damning indictment of Klavan who I suspect will find himself fourth choice CB next season, if he even remains at Anfield. Deary me, some players really mapped out their futures yesterday, eh?

5/10

joe-gomez

Joe Gomez: 

 

HURRAH! A BRIGHT SPOT!

Well, it’s not exactly dazzlingly bright. In fact you wouldn’t need sunglasses, and a mere squint would probably do it, but still, at least it’s not another black hole of despair…

This kid is class and, at the risk of coming across all Louis Walsh (no, not in that way, although I have some tales that would raise your eyebrows above your hairline), he’s going to be HUGE…

Now steadily making his way back from a horror 15-month injury nightmare, he’s comfortably third choice CB right now for Liverpool Football Club, has got himself a brand spanking new shiny five year contract, and has just watched Ragnar Klavan shoot himself in the foot.

What odds a Gomez / Matip CB partnership next season?

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno: 

 

He can’t even foul his man who’s about to play his teammate in for a certain goal.

HOW F*CKING HOPELESS CAN A ‘DEFENDER’ BE? 

He’s predominantly left-footed but when he gets himself forward on the left wing he repeatedly cuts inside onto his weaker foot, narrows the pitch, and contributes NOTHING going forward.

HOW F*CKING HOPELESS CAN A ‘FULL-BACK’ BE? 

Enough is enough.

4/10

lucas

Lucas Leiva: 

 

I’m reliably informed that a representative of Inter Milan watched the match yesterday and breathed a sigh of relief so hard that it registered as a Force 6 Gale on the Beaufort Scale in Milan at 3.3opm local time.

Awful. Truly awful.

Mind you, we all knew that Lucas as a defensive midfielder was a busted flush, so quite what Jurgen was thinking with that selection, I’ll never know.

Unfortunately we’ve reached the point where Lucas contributes nothing to the cause. He can’t play in midfield anymore and he makes the defence weaker when he’s slotted in there. The sight of anIcelandic big lump of a forward racing past him, getting to the byline, cutting back and almost making it three will live long in the memory…and make me sit bolt upright at 3am in a cold sweat.

Marvellous.

4/10

wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

I don’t like this new flavour of wine gum.

While you chew, it makes you foam at the mouth and yell expletives at the TV, while after it’s all over it leaves a horrible, bitter aftertaste and deep sense of resentment .

Another ‘senior’ player who was truly awful when we needed him to turn up and lead the kids. Outshone easily by Ejaria (more of which next), we have a supposedly attacking midfielder who doesn’t score away from home, but can’t bring himself to score at home much either.

He needed to DEMAND the ball. He didn’t.

He needed to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. He didn’t.

He needed to ROAR FORWARD. He didn’t.

He needed to PLAY ATTACKING FORWARD PASSES. He didn’t.

The hero of the day on the last day of 2016…how the mighty have fallen. It’s clear that Jurgen prefers Can whenever possible (I’ll leave you to shout at the screen now), so when we finally have everyone back (this Tuesday by all accounts), Gini is going to be sat on the bench…isn’t he?

5/10.

ovie-ejaria

Ovie Ejaria:

 

Ovie looked to be the stand-out midfielder for Liverpool yesterday, and this is one of those glass half full / glass half empty moments.

If you’re an optimist, you feel that he showed his quality and that he’s a real prospect, very raw, with a huge improvement and future ahead of him.

If you’re a pessimist, you feel that it wasn’t bloody hard to stand out among the utter dross on display yesterday.

On a day as depressing as yesterday, I’m looking for rays of hope, so I’m going to be an optimist. Having said that, it was positive like being told you’ve got a 51% chance of survival. It’s not exactly a reason to break out the bunting.

6/10

 firmino

Roberto Firmino: 

 

This guy is hot and cold like an Eskimo drying his balls with a hairdryer.

Terrible yesterday. Just terrible. Poor touches, poor passing, poor vision. The only thing dazzling about him was his teeth, and even they’ve faded in recent weeks.

Maybe a quick trip to the dentist and a full teeth bleaching will bring back the dazzling smile we saw earlier in the season…so I’ve made an appointment for Bobby for Monday afternoon.

5/10.

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

He looked more of a first-team regular than the first-team regulars did, despite the fact that he was asked to play Right Wing Back for the second half, and still isn’t old enough to have a beer to calm the nerves.

I have high hopes for Ben Woodburn, particularly as I watched the likes of Fowler and Owen breakthrough, and remember the kind of impact they had on LFC. However I’m growing weary and wary of ‘modern’ football, and I know the odds on young Ben Woodburn ‘making it’ are growing slimmer by the month.

Go on Ben, prove everyone wrong.

6/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Well, he scored.

In a period of the season when we had two ‘back up’ centre forwards who we needed to bring it when it mattered, they’ve both failed, although some have failed more than others….

That’s all I gotta say about that.

6/10

Substitutes:

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

It’s all booked.

You, Bobby and Sadio, Tuesday morning, at that Spa Resort I told you about.

I’ve got you all booked in for a pampering session, facials, indian head massages, the lot. Then there’s a DVD in the room for you all to watch, called ‘The Three Amigos’. Finally I’m going to meet you all for a quick heart to heart at 3pm before you head to Anfield for the game.

What I’m going to tell you there will change you all forever and ensure victory against Chelsea. You have my word.

Love you xxx

6/10

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

I wish someone would let Daniel know that when he does a really clever turn to beat his man, he’s unlikely to be able to repeat the trick…3 SECONDS LATER….

Time after time, a turn became another turn, and possession was squandered once more.

Credit where it’s due though, nice assist for the goal. However in the game itself, and this season as a whole, it was too little, too late.

6/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

Meh.

Yeah, that sums it up.

6/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Note: This may take a while, so if you’re in a rush maybe come back to it later….

premier-league-table

Do me a favour. Take a look at that table. Now, forget about everything that has happened since August. Take yourself back to July…the sun is shining, you’re on your holiday in Spain/Portugal/Turkey/wherever, and you’re looking forward to the new season. A mysterious stranger walks over to you as you bake on your sunlounger and claims that he’s from the future, and he can tell you where Liverpool will be in late January 2017. He tells you who will be President Of The United States and who will be playing the Mens/Womens Australian Open Tennis Finals.

Trump as POTUS? Venus v Serena? Fed v Rafa? LFC in 4th, 2 points off second?

He’s clearly mugging you off, right?

Yet here we are.

Trump is POTUS and a serving British MP can’t travel to America anymore. Serena beat her sister to overtake Steffi Graf. As I type Roger is 5-3 up in the fifth and serving for the title at 35 years of age.

And Liverpool ARE in 4th, two points off second, 10 points off the top with a home game against the leaders on Tuesday night.

Now stop and think about the reaction that you’ve seen over the past month to the problems that Liverpool have had. Yes, it’s a slump, a dip in form, a deeply concerning run of results…BUT…

I’m not saying that the domestic cup competitions are trivial. I love watching Liverpool win trophies at any time, but in ‘modern’ football (and I hate myself for making this point), the Premier League and associated places at the Champions League table trump everything else (if you’ll pardon the pun). LFC have played 8 games in January, but only 3 have been in the league. The draw at Sunderland was disappointing but hardly a disaster. The point at United was disappointing, but only due to the fact that the team was minutes from victory. The defeat at home to Swansea WAS an unmitigated disaster, there’s no point in denying that. HOWEVER…

If Liverpool had played 8 LEAGUE games in January with a record of W1 D2 L4, then it’s likely that the chances of a Top 4 finish would be all but extinguished. Top 6 would be a challenge. So while the slump in form is extremely disappointing, the silver lining is that it hasn’t affected the top priority as much as it could have. Obviously if it continues over the next 8 games, then the season as a whole will be a bust, and the loss of the domestic cups will sting even more than they do now (and believe me, I’m hurting, which is why I left it 24 hours before putting my thoughts on record).

There is still LOADS to play for. Should Liverpool secure a Top 4 spot this season, the Champions League is on the agenda for next season, and that changes everything, including and perhaps most importantly, in the transfer market. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of FSG/Klopp over their transfer dealings, but so many people seem to forget that it is incredibly difficult for a team to attract the kind of quality/talent to the club without being in the Champions League. They also seem to forget that Jurgen Klopp is NOT a chequebook manager, and FSG have made it clear that they are NOT chequebook owners. It’s not like they’ve come in and lied to everyone about this stance. They’ve found the manager who has similar beliefs to their own, and up to a month ago the vast majority of LFC fans were full of praise for both.

The calls for Klopp to buy this January have been bizarre and quite frankly ridiculous. I’ve rarely seen anybody identify players who were guaranteed to bring an improvement to the team. In fact, the only actual detail that I’ve seen from those demanding additions to the squad has been ‘We need a fast winger’. Well jeez, thanks for that! That’s that sorted then! All Jurgen has to do is have a quick peek at Football Manager, pick one out of the list, and bobs your uncle, we’d win the Premier League at a stroll. FFS.

Nobody has stopped and wondered a few things:

  1. Do you know who Jurgen Klopp wants? Nope, you haven’t a clue.
  2. Do you know if the players Jurgen Klopp wants are available this January? Nope, you haven’t a clue.
  3. Do you think that Jurgen Klopp should bring in someone he isn’t sure of? If you say yes, you’re an idiot.

I’ve seen it said that the purchase of a player would have instilled ‘momentum’ into the squad. What a crock of sh*t. Andy Carroll sure instilled ‘momentum’ into the squad, eh? That Luis Suarez came in and we surged up the table immediately, right? Err, no. In fact it took over 18 months before the ‘Suarez-effect’ kicked in.

Well guess what? Sadio Mané is on a private jet on his way back to Liverpool right now. Wow! He’s like a new signing! It’s marvellous! But hang on, what if we’d  bought some random speedy winger last week like everyone demanded? What of him then? What? We’ve spunked £30,000,000 on a band-aid? No wonder the NHS is f*cked.

YES – we need more depth in the squad, but don’t forget this is the FIRST full season for Klopp. He spent all of last season working out who he needed to get rid of, and NOBODY gets EVERYONE they want in a transfer window, no matter how much money you throw at it (and if you think that’s horesh*t, you should probably have a word with a certain S. Gerrard). Jurgen has taken a long term view on this project, and will add to the squad WHEN HE CAN GET THE PLAYERS HE WANTS. Squad depth can’t be ensured in one transfer window, and January is barely a transfer window (just look at what our rivals have done for proof).

Another thing people don’t seem to realise is that Jurgen Klopp has NEVER been an instant success. We all want the success he had at Dortmund, but we want it to happen years quicker. What makes you think that’s possible? The key to Klopp’s success is that he coaches players in a system. A tough system that only works with certain types of players. Many players fall by the wayside, and that’s why Jurgen is prudent and wary of adding to the squad until he finds the right person. He could go out and buy another Daniel Sturridge or Andy Carroll or any other type of player that won’t fit the system, but that’s just wasting money, and don’t forget that without CL football to dangle as a carrot, the best won’t even think of coming here…

Jurgen called for the fans to become ‘believers’ when he first arrived, and that still holds true. I’m not saying it’s easy, and my cat certainly didn’t think the message had gotten through to even me yesterday afternoon (that’s a joke by the way, before you call the ISPCA). But he’s right, we do need to become believers. BUT…so do the players, and right now, that’s the biggest challenge for Jurgen Klopp. Every team will go through a slump during a season, and this is ours. Who knows, maybe Chelsea will have one? Spurs are due one too! Neither may happen, but maybe our slump ends on Tuesday night and we finish the season with the same form as we showed until the end of December…if that happens we’ll stroll into the Champions League places, guaranteed.

So hopefully we have a CL place to bargain with in the summer transfer window, and next season we’ll play the ‘reserves’ in the League Cup and FA Cup, but those reserves will be a huge upgrade on this season’s reserves, the same way this season’s reserves are an upgrade on last season’s reserves (and they are, just think about the cup games last year…). It’s a process, sometimes a long, slow, frustrating process, but a process none the less.

So believe in Klopp, and trust him. The season is not over. Tuesday night is huge, but we’ve shown we can beat ANYONE this season. Sadio is back. The front three of Firmino/Coutinho/Mane is available. Matip is back.

Believe.

6/10.

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

 

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