“You’re in rubbish form, not won away all season, only scored one goal, a penalty at that. It’s a certainty that you’ll win 4-0.” I’m not a betting man, but based on that text message, sent at 11am on the day of this game, perhaps I should be. Then again it hardly takes a genius to work out what will happen when a side that’s looking to give someone a thumping comes up against a side that’s been looking for a thrashing all season. You can argue that the score line didn’t really reflect what happened on the pitch but you’d struggle to convince me that even this poor Liverpool side wasn’t four goals better than Latics on the day.
The only good spell that we had across the 90 minutes came when we were already 2-0 down. In sharp contrast to Liverpool, who took the only three clear cut chances that they had in clinical fashion, first McCulloch and then Camara spurned the opportunity to get Latics back into the game. If either McCulloch’s close range volley or Camara’s side footed chance had gone in then Liverpool would have been knocked onto the back foot and we might have seen some of the low confidence that has beset their recent performances.
Let’s face it though, Liverpool are, and should be, a much better side than Latics. They can be allowed the expectation of victory against us, but they shouldn’t expect it to come easily. Fans and club alike will have been surprised at the lack of effort required on the Scousers’ part to expose Latics’ weaknesses.
Resources are low at the minute but questions have to be raised over whether the team selected for this one could have been different. Indications were there that Liverpool would line up 3-5-2 and it became clear on Friday that Bellamy would start. It’s fair enough if Jewell thought that Scharner and Skoko could handle three of Liverpool’s midfielders and that Hall and Jackson were equipped to deal with the pace of the Welshman. I would have thought it was a forgone conclusion that they wouldn’t.
The Spurs game had already shown that a lack of balance could cost us dearly. McCulloch’s starting place on the right suggested that the lesson had been learned but within 15 minutes, the wide men had switched. As effective as Lee has been on the left in recent years, playing on the right takes away Kilbane’s main reason for being in the side. If the Scot is to play in midfield then surely it has to be one or the other.
It’s not my place to tell the manager his job and in any case it would be short sighted to lay the blame for such a heavy defeat purely at his hands. Similar Latics line ups have made better fists of competing against more capable sides than this Liverpool one and at the end of the day or for the first half at least too many of our players just didn’t apply themselves.
There is another line of thought (or the sort of crazed paranoia that only football fans are capable of) that says this effect was neither the players’ nor the manager’s fault. This theory says that David Whetherall’s goal that kept Bradford in the top flight unwittingly sold Paul Jewell’s soul to Bill Shankley and if will never beat Liverpool again.
This result wasn’t significant, but Latics performance yet again puts pressure on for the next game. In West Ham we’re facing a team that we should be worried about and a game that we should be hoping for points from. Upton Park may have been a happy hunting ground for the last two years, but, if Latics put in another performance like this one, the Hammers will be collecting a much needed 3 points.