The performance at Wembley was unacceptable, whichever way you dress it up, writes Liverpudlian.
We were playing a bang average side – who are flirting with relegation and who were better than us in every department. In a season of disappointments, this ranks alongside the worst. In fact, looking at the bigger picture, it stands alongside the biggest disappointments in years. This was a prestigious game at Wembley for a chance to restore some credibility and maybe, just maybe, the chance to put a trophy in the cabinet with a return visit against Arsenal.
Symptomatic of the season though, when it came to the crunch, the lack of quality was staggering. Delph and young Grealish ran the midfield while Benteke, predictably, gave us problems all afternoon. Villa looked the better team, despite a host of injury problems. Let’s take nothing away from their display, they deserved it. They wanted it more than us and when was the last time you could say that about a Liverpool side?
In the days up to the semi, we had read how this was our chance to make a statement, to lay the bogie that we were chokers, the nearly men, that our success last year was down to playing less games, it was
our chance to move up to the next level…etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So what do we do? Play right into the hands of our detractors with a woeful performance devoid of inspiration, quality and passion. If this was a one off you could say, ok, lets move on, but we all know that is not the case and it is very difficult to make an argument for a single one of our lads playing to their full ability. If they had come off blood stained and weary, having given every last ounce of sweat, you could gave forgiven them …..but that?
I have supported them all season when the critics were baying for blood, reasoning that once Daniel Sturridge had returned from injury, we might see a steady improvement but the simple facts are now that the two main goal scorers that took us to within an inch of the title have been missing since last summer and in terms of solutions and ideas on how this shortfall was ever going to be overcome, well, we are all still waiting for the answers.
How was this allowed to continue, though, once it got to the January transfer window? You would like to think the club did a bit more than try and bring in Divock Origi early but either way, the situation with Sturridge must never be allowed to happen again. Ok we missed out on Alexis Sanchez in the summer and also the Falcao loan, but the Balotelli gamble has misfired totally and there is no other “striker” of quality to lead the line either on the bench or in the reserves and you are kinda wondering why this is?
Coutinho is improving all the time into a more attacking role but very regrettably, with all this going on, young Raheem now seems hell bent on pissing us all off big time. The result is, of the attaching
trio that took the premiership by storm last year, one is in Spain, one wants to go there and the third might as well go there now on his jollies and start getting himself relaxed, fit and ready for next
season because we cannot have anther season like this.
Yes, Raheem is a great prospect, arguably the best of his age in Europe but he isn’t quite a great player yet and we are all waiting for some more maturity in both his play on the field and his conduct off it. His problem now is, once you even hint at breaking that bond of trust with the supporters with any kind of insinuation that your heart is not in the cause, then it is like signing your own death warrant and you simply invite the scrutiny.
Kevin Keegan, Michael Owen, Steve McManaman and Fernando Torres all did it and will never be quite viewed the same way again. They, however, had at least done it on the pitch whereas, Sterling hasn’t yet. This all may seem incredibly harsh for a lad of twenty but its shit or bust time now.
After flirting with the big time and taking six steps forward in getting to a runners up spot, we have, with
indecent haste, taken three back and the very familiar struggle for credibility, a top four place and, on top of the Wembley fiasco, the last thing we need now is any more dissention from within the ranks.
The outcry to his ill-advised interview was pretty universal in condemnation and even critics of our club rounded on the lad, but the very relevant point has been made that he is not even playing well enough this season to either justify a hundred grand a week or to consider that one of the big names in Europe will necessarily pay big bucks for him. If he was getting his head down, playing his heart out and saying nothing, no one would say a dickie bird, but I think he is starting to believe his own hype and, lets face it, he is not alone.
It’s fair to say that apart from Emre Can, none of our young imports have really been a success so far and they have it all to prove now or I fear the patience of the crowd may well start to wear thin.
The honeymoon period is over now with what looks like a meaningless run-in with nothing to play for. All the credit gained last year has been used up. From the situation appearing quite promising, everything is in danger of going pear shaped. Our manager rightly got the plaudits for the change to playing three at the back but it now requires a re-think as teams have sussed it out almost as quickly as it started and he has got to get it right again.The shadow of the steelwork will not be the only thing looming over Anfield if he doesn’t do that going into next season.
The owners are putting their money where their mouths are but not many of our players can look back at this season with any sort of satisfaction.
What they all need to do is to look at themselves in the mirror to see if they want it as much as we do, because I never saw it at Wembley.
You let us down lads, big time.
Disappointing times to be a red.