Craig Rimmer

Abject Reds Anfield Woes Continue As Wembley Looms

Liverpool 0-1 Fulham
Premier League; Tuesday 1st May 2012

It takes an awful lot to dampen the spirits of the Anfield crowd just days before a cup final date at Wembley. The very fact that Liverpool, not only achieved that, but also saw their efforts in a lacklustre 1-0 defeat to Fulham greeted with audible disapproval from the stands at the final whistle, epitomises the disappointment that has defined this Premier League season.

This weekend’s FA Cup Final encounter with Chelsea was always going to be at the forefront in the minds of players and supporters alike. That was certainly reflected in a starting line-up which saw nine changes from the weekend victory over Norwich City. Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Pepe Reina were amongst those omitted from the squad altogether.

But any hope that this match could still prove to be something of a Wembley send-off party was cooled in the opening minutes. Martin Skrtel turned the ball into his own net for the only goal of the game. And any remnants of high-spirits never looked like resurfacing thereafter.

As an opportunity to rest key players ahead of the final, this may have been viewed as a success. But if this was supposed to be in someway a chance to allow some fringe players an opportunity to impress, or an audition for places in the starting line-up at Wembley, very few points were scored.

Youth and inexperience is barely an excuse. Plenty of experience remained in the Liverpool team despite the absentees and plenty of money has been invested in the players that started.

The decision to pack the substitutes bench with 5 defensive players, with Stewart Downing the solitary experienced, attacking player, also left few options to refresh a game which was heading away from Liverpool from the moment that Fulham took an early, if fortunate, lead.

In fact, the only point at which Liverpool fans were stirred to rise from their seats was the sight of 17-year-old, Rahem Sterling entering the field, at the expense of, the dreadful, Dirk Kuyt, for a 15 minute cameo.

Fulham, for their part, offered no great promise. Although, as we have come to learn this season, visiting sides are not necessarily required to produce a performance of any great verve in order to stand a chance of departing Anfield with maximum points.

Skrtel was perhaps unfortunate to turn John Arne Riise’s left wing cross beyond his own goalkeeper for the only goal of the game. Although better communication with stand-in ‘keeper, Doni, may have averted the situation.

Despite the momentum gained from an impressive victory over Norwich, the number of changes to the Liverpool team meant that the Reds were never able to carry that into this game. So much so, that Liverpool rarely looked capable of rallying for a fight back.

The Reds lacked any threat on the flanks; whilst the midfield of Jordan Henderson and Jay Spearing consistently struggled to retain possession. Even Jonjo Shelvey, who looked lively before the break, was abject in the second half.

The visitors looked more likely to extend their advantage and Pavel Pogrebnyak was denied by Doni, following Clint Dempsey’s chip over the top of the Liverpool defence.

Kuyt shot wide from Liverpool’s first genuine chance. Whilst Brede Hangeland had to clear Shelvey’s effort off the line with Mark Schwarzer beaten. The Norwegian also denied Maxi Rodriguez with an important tackle in the second half and Schwarzer also saved from Carroll’s header.

To his credit, Andy Carroll toiled throughout but to no avail. Carroll was dominant in the air and held the ball up well at times, yet he was desperately short of support. We had to wait until the closing minutes of the first half for the Reds to deliver a ball of any quality into the Fulham penalty area.

Alex Kacaniklic, a former Liverpool academy product, often offered Fulham’s greatest threat. Whilst Alexander Frei and Dempsey both missed chances to put the game beyond their hosts in the second half.

So Fulham became the third side in just a few weeks to earn a landmark victory at Anfield. The West-Londoners claiming their first ever away win against the Reds in the top-flight. Seemingly gone are the days when Anfield was a genuine fortress.

It may still prove true that, if Liverpool secure their second trophy of the season on Saturday, this season will be viewed as a success. However, Dalglish perhaps now find himself in a situation were he simply has to achieve just that, or risk endangering his very future at Anfield

Man of the Match: Alexander Doni

Tempting to award it to Rahem Sterling despite his fleeting cameo. But, of the players who began the game, Doni was perhaps the only one who could escape with any credit.

Liverpool: Doni, Kelly, Skrtel, Coates, Aurelio (Enrique 65), Spearing, Shelvey, Henderson (Downing 46), Maxi, Kuyt (Sterling 76), Carroll.
Subs not used: Jones, Carragher, Flanagan, Robinson.

Attendance: 40,106

Craig is our match reporter here on TIA, a season ticket holder in the Lower Centenary he also gets to many domestic and European away games. Craig was in Istanbul in 2005 and Athens in 2007. He is currently living and working in Liverpool.
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  • Ross

    Right now Liverpool are galloping up Diarrhea drive without a saddle!

    I cannot give a monkeys about the league or FA Cup after this waste of a season.

    The league tells the truth about the condition of a club and right now it looks very bleak. 

    I respect KD and was delighted when he took over but the manager MUST take responsibility for his team and make big changes this summer.

    • Auketas

      Agreed, i give kenny one more year as this season was always going to be a transistion period bu next year he has to deliver!

  • Martin Badger

    A match which summed up Liverpool’s entire season. No spirit, no talent, no fight, no class, no hope.

  • Saito

    Kenny has overseen Liverpool’s worst ever Premier league performance while also spending  massive amount of money. His summer dealings have also been very very poor (Bellamy, with enrique being the exception). Is this really progress? i would take the league cup win with maybe an attempt at 4th place progress but we are 8th and might even fall to 11th if we continue to lose games. Liverpool finishing 11th? really? A change is needed in personnel. Bring back the 2nd Rafalution! if we want to go with someone new, why not AVB? 

    • Ross

      I agree with your comment but AVB would be too much of a gamble. 

    • Intelligent man

      You need to start analysing this “massive amount of money” that KD has spent and see WHERE he was when he spent it. He inherited an awful squad that was 12th at the time heading to the Championship – this is a squad with mierles and Torres in it. Both of those players asked to leave and therefore he had no choice but to sell them. The money from the sale of those players was re-invested but of course he had to start with a squad less those, which is practically a Championship one (with no strikers in it at all). Spending £110 million isn’t going to suddenly magic you from a Championship squad to a top 4 one is it?

      • Saito

        There in lie KD’s mistake. Inherited an awful squad is up for debate but 12th? with torres and meireles still in? thats top 6 at least. Yes they handed in a transfer request but whos job was it anyway to replace them anyway? KD. If we couldnt find proper replacements then KD should not have let them go. 

        You are trying to justify KD’s POOR league performance by saying the squad he inherited is a Championship squad and spending 110million wont turn it into a top 4. That ‘Championship squad’ had reina,agger,skrtel,johnson, lucas, gerrard, torres, meireles, aquilani, kuyt. 

        Really? Thats championship? lacking squad depth maybe but thats top 6 already. You cannot hide two facts which are 1) KD overseeing the POOREST league performance in the premier league era while spending alot of money 2) That money he spent, he spent poorly. very poorly indeed.   

  • Kirk Dale

    How long are we gonna put up with it ? It’s shameful

  • Iwantbox

    Doni, Kelly, Skrtel, Coates, Aurelio (Enrique 65), Spearing, Shelvey, Henderson (Downing 46), Maxi, Kuyt (Sterling 76), Carroll.
    That team would get beat by the majority of championship teams and it doesn’t help when your manager is absolutely clueless.  

    • Intelligent man

      Well clearly not you muppet! So do you think the manager said “right then lads, go out and LOSE tonight”? You need an intelligence check to understand most of these players are not good enough bar Carroll, Kelly, Skrtel and Henderson.

      • james

        henderson? what are you on mate?

        • Intelligent man

          Henderson is good now and at 21 will get better and better. How many other 21 year old midfielders can you name in the Premiership that are playing far better?

          • AKM

            Normally I would agree that Henderson is a decent player and will only improve, but last night, yet again, I saw exactly how cringeworthy his tackling is. Just shameful. He might not be a hatchetman, so he is not supposed to wander around the pitch looking to enforce, but when there is a 50-50 challenge right in front of him, when he is playing as one of the two CMs, he MUST be more committed to the tackle.

            The moment I saw the tackle, I remembered Cole last season doing something similar (going into the tackle only concerned not to get any contact, drawing away, and hence losing possession) and Gerrard screaming at him in the middle of the game. If anyone noticed, even in the Norwich match Henderson did the exact same thing, and while we were celebrating Suarez’s second goal, Gerrard was saying something to Henderson (though I can only guess what that was). Someone really needs to tell Henderson that if he is playing that deep in the midfield, then he cant tackle like a porcelain doll, and specially when it is a 50-50 challenge, the fans and his teammates alike expect him to go in to win the ball.

          • AKM

            Normally I would agree that Henderson is a decent player and will only improve, but last night, yet again, I saw exactly how cringeworthy his tackling is. Just shameful. He might not be a hatchetman, so he is not supposed to wander around the pitch looking to enforce, but when there is a 50-50 challenge right in front of him, when he is playing as one of the two CMs, he MUST be more committed to the tackle.

            The moment I saw the tackle, I remembered Cole last season doing something similar (going into the tackle only concerned not to get any contact, drawing away, and hence losing possession) and Gerrard screaming at him in the middle of the game. If anyone noticed, even in the Norwich match Henderson did the exact same thing, and while we were celebrating Suarez’s second goal, Gerrard was saying something to Henderson (though I can only guess what that was). Someone really needs to tell Henderson that if he is playing that deep in the midfield, then he cant tackle like a porcelain doll, and specially when it is a 50-50 challenge, the fans and his teammates alike expect him to go in to win the ball.

          • AKM

            Normally I would agree that Henderson is a decent player and will only improve, but last night, yet again, I saw exactly how cringeworthy his tackling is. Just shameful. He might not be a hatchetman, so he is not supposed to wander around the pitch looking to enforce, but when there is a 50-50 challenge right in front of him, when he is playing as one of the two CMs, he MUST be more committed to the tackle.

            The moment I saw the tackle, I remembered Cole last season doing something similar (going into the tackle only concerned not to get any contact, drawing away, and hence losing possession) and Gerrard screaming at him in the middle of the game. If anyone noticed, even in the Norwich match Henderson did the exact same thing, and while we were celebrating Suarez’s second goal, Gerrard was saying something to Henderson (though I can only guess what that was). Someone really needs to tell Henderson that if he is playing that deep in the midfield, then he cant tackle like a porcelain doll, and specially when it is a 50-50 challenge, the fans and his teammates alike expect him to go in to win the ball.

          • AKM

            Normally I would agree that Henderson is a decent player and will only improve, but last night, yet again, I saw exactly how cringeworthy his tackling is. Just shameful. He might not be a hatchetman, so he is not supposed to wander around the pitch looking to enforce, but when there is a 50-50 challenge right in front of him, when he is playing as one of the two CMs, he MUST be more committed to the tackle.

            The moment I saw the tackle, I remembered Cole last season doing something similar (going into the tackle only concerned not to get any contact, drawing away, and hence losing possession) and Gerrard screaming at him in the middle of the game. If anyone noticed, even in the Norwich match Henderson did the exact same thing, and while we were celebrating Suarez’s second goal, Gerrard was saying something to Henderson (though I can only guess what that was). Someone really needs to tell Henderson that if he is playing that deep in the midfield, then he cant tackle like a porcelain doll, and specially when it is a 50-50 challenge, the fans and his teammates alike expect him to go in to win the ball.

    • Rederik

      Would you rather lose the FA cup Kenny hasn,t got the resources of the likes of Mancini and is trying to do something for the supporters that hasn,t been done for a long time that is lift two cups,if a muppet like you was in charge we would end up with nothing at the end of the season,I can,t understand some of our supporters we are in the final of the FA cup on Saturday and all some of you can do is complain, why were you not complaining for the last 5 years when we were winning nothing.

      • Pedanticman

         what garbage. If it was any other manager but kenny they’d have been sacked months ago. I’ve been making excuses for Kenny all season but I’ve just about run out. The league doesn’t lie and we’ve been dire. As for kenny not having  the resources of mancini – have you forgotten that KD spent £118 million last year? I ‘believe the only team that spent more than us is Chelsea.

        And i’m sick to death of so called ‘real supporters’ like you telling me I can’t criticise my club if they are playing badly and being managed badly. I’ve been going to anfield for 25 years and this is the worst season I’ve ever witnessed – have you ever seen so many home defeats and draws? I pay good money to watch this and I’m being served up crap.

        • massimo

          sad for you then, why not you watch at goodison park from now on. Problem solve. 

          • Alred

            Dismissive, ignorent, easy comments like this help nobody. We all want to see Liverpool do well, we just have different views on how progress can be made. Nobody is bigger than the club, Kenny Dalglish included. If you’re not doing a good job then you shouldn’t be allowed to continue to damage the club.

        • massimo

          sad for you then, why not you watch at goodison park from now on. Problem solve. 

        • Mintesinot Amenu

           yeah i agree with you i have seen football for at least 10 year but i didnt seen liverpool like this

  • Gladstone

    When I first saw the starting lineup I wasn’t too hopeful of us scoring a goal, and I wasn’t too hopeful of a clean sheet either. And I was proven right. Dembele ran rings around Henderson, and that led to the first goal. To be
    honest, I rather think we’re lucky not to concede more. And too be fair to our players there was nothing wrong with their attitude. They played their socks off. The only thing missing was quality, thanks largely to smart transfer dealings during last summer!

    • D1tdoyle

      What game were you watching pal, players didnt play their socks off at all, they were a joke. Great to see Raheem getting a run out but should have gotten more time. KK subbibng a left back with a left back when we are losing 1-0 makes no sense at all. I felt like the club were giving the fans the two fingers last night with the team selection and then the appalling performance. It was a “we dont’ give a damn” performance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=861110526 Jonathan Bradley

    Felt sorry for some of them out there. Shelvey played well behind Carroll but then when he was pushed back to allow for Downing, he didn’t look quite right. At least even when things weren’t going right for him (his left foot kept tackling his right), he still had the determination to get in and try to salvage something. Thats more then can be said for Downing and Henderson who were hiding again or Maxi who once again showed that for all the goals he scores, he barely contributes anything else. Doni, didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. Finally a keeper other then Reina produces a good performance in a Liverpool shirt. Skrtel was actually pretty good but for the own goal. Carroll toiled but barely had a decent delivery all night. He was left completely isolated by Dirk and Maxi. Even more so once Shelvey was pushed back. For all that though, when a half chance did come he didn’t look like a goalscorer. A goalscorer would have anticipated a chance when Fulham let the ball travel all the way in their penalty box. Sterling looked great. He should be getting more time. Has pace, finds space and delivers a better quality of cross then Downing.

  • Rob_cunliffe

    I was there last night, and i wish id stayed at home.  We didnt look like we had a plan or tactics on how we were going to score.  Endless passing across the back 4 and midfield without any movement or balls down the channels to the forwards is not good enough and this has been the problem all season.

    Kelly was virtually playing right back and right mid during the first half. Kuyt should be ashamed of his performance.  Shelvey and Spearing gave the ball away so much, they looked like they were playing for Fulham.

    We need a 20 goal a season Number 9 and a creative midfielder. Otherwise we will slide in to mid table mediocrity with only cups runs to get excited about each season.

    • james

      Kenny’s startin 11 is nearly devoid of creative or technical ability.  When they rest you get a performance like last night.  Miles and miles from good enough.  Carroll tried, Coates has potential, Shelvey and Kelly maybe a bit, but I would not keep any of the rest.

    • AKM

      If we were going to put out a B team anyway, then we might as well have started Stirling and Jack Robinson and given them some experience (unless this was a farewell match for Aurelio).

    • AKM

      If we were going to put out a B team anyway, then we might as well have started Stirling and Jack Robinson and given them some experience (unless this was a farewell match for Aurelio).

    • AKM

      If we were going to put out a B team anyway, then we might as well have started Stirling and Jack Robinson and given them some experience (unless this was a farewell match for Aurelio).

    • AKM

      If we were going to put out a B team anyway, then we might as well have started Stirling and Jack Robinson and given them some experience (unless this was a farewell match for Aurelio).

  • Shemps

    It’s funny to note that all those teams & players that hadn’t won or scored at Anfield have done so this season. . .I don’t know what KK is going to do but he needs to remind this bunch that they are playing for LIVERPOOL FC & not any other team.
    Now lets win the FA cup and call it a season!!!!!

  • Intelligent man

    Last nights horrific result and perfoormance was good for one thing – to show the thick fans who say players like Shelvey and Maxi should be playing more! Please understand these are players that are not good enough to take the club forward and last night showed it. Hopefully people now understand this!

    • anj2099

       Yes your not thick because your an “intelligent man”. patronizing dick!

  • Rederik

    Last night proved one thing we now know more or less the players that are no were near good enough for Liverpool, I still think big Andy will come good with the right support and tactics he could be a real threat to any defense,lets face it when we lift the FA cup it won,t look to bad a season at all, not compared to the last six any way.

  • Ron

    The problem was with the shape of formation.  Andy Carroll does not have the pace to beat most defenders and therefore needs width to provide crosses from the flanks.  Every chance they got, Henderson, Maxi, and (somewhat inexplicably) Downing seemed to pop up in the middle of the park, leaving Kelly to work completely on his own.  I have never watched a game at Anfield where it seemed easier to defend against a Liverpool side.

  • Kpeevor

    We all know last night was not an isolated incident. The performances have been poor all season and should not be allowed to continue. The fact they have and not been improved on all year indicates those in control of the club at team level are not operating as they should. For KK to come out today with the comments regarding the fan’s obsession with the league shows either desperation in justifying the current state, or a detachment from the club’s previous raison d’être. How many do you know who care a jot about the Carling Cup? How many would swap a cup final appearance for 4th, 5th or even 6th place? I for one would be happier to have been knocked out of both cups but be strong at home in the league, i.e. a tangible foundation block for next year and a reason for optimism. as it is, I see only one solution. Rafael Benitez.

  • nam pete

    nice, use, of, commas. i guess kenny expected more from his second string, as we all did. too bad, cos i reckon recent home defeats could actually cost him his job, regardless of a cup victory.
    the worst thing about htis result is i’m now less confident going into suarez vs torres. but sod it, we have to keep our chins up and get behind the team, cos that’s our job after all!
    YNWA