Are you over it yet? No? Good, because neither am I, or maybe I’ve just not ‘accidentally’ bumped into enough scousers to have fully expressed my smugness just yet. The only thing I’ve had by way of comeback is “do you think I’d have rung you if we’d have won?”, which was easily dismissed with a “no, but I didn’t telly you that I’d get them to go easy when they got to three”. A missed opportunity of course, because I should have pointed out that I hadn’t realised he meant three corners.
Of course, last night’s win wasn’t that easy, Latics won because they put the hard work in where as Liverpool didn’t, cared where as Liverpool didn’t and took nothing for granted where as Liverpool, erm, did. In attitude, as well as ability, the visitors showed themselves as a side with only one world class player.
Steveee Geee? Forget about it, I used to think of him as the English Roy Keane but Keane would never accepted a performance like this from his team, even more so a performance like this from himself. Gerrard was repeatedly shown up by Diame and McCarthy and the signs of frustration were apparent well before his eightieth minute booking.
It wasn’t just England’s latest captain that misfired, despite some early rays of light and a decent amount of second half huffing and puffing. Their only player who looked dangerous was Torres and he couldn’t manage to craft a decent enough chance on his own. If he’d bagged one of the half chances that he did get, then who knows what would have happened, but he didn’t so we’ll leave it there.
Why were Liverpool so bad? Well they looked like they didn’t have a plan, but I suspect that it was more to do with their plan not including Latics coming at them from the start, full of energy and a growing confidence and ultimately closing them out of the game. Their manager talked last week about showing Latics respect, I think Stevie and his boys would struggle to look you in the eye if they tried to tell you that they thought they needed to do more than just turn up at the DW and go home with three points.
Enough about them, because it’s wrong for us not to savour a victory like this, beating “big four” sides isn’t quite passé yet and, as with Chelsea, the manner of victory was something to be even more proud of. This was the vindication that Bobby’s tactics needed and a timely reminder that when the team pulls together they can make the system work. Yes there was a lot of defending done but Latics attacked brightly both through patient build up, in the first half, and on the counter in the second.
This was so consummate a team performance that the only player you could really excluded from the man of the match reckoning is Chris Kirkland, but he had a relatively easy night, so he’ll perhaps not be bothered. Caldwell and Bramble lead from the back, both full backs ran the lines tirelessly; Diame and McCarthy bossed the centre of the park, whilst Scharner made a nuisance of himself. N’Zogbia and Rodallega provided a constant threat from out wide and Moreno never got out of Jamie Carragher’s face.
Of course they got the drop of luck that they’ve been missing, not only in finding Torres without his shooting boots, but in Kuyt’s perfectly measured pass to put Boyce in for his assist, in Carragher’s decision to vacate the space for Rodallega to run into. The finish wasn’t the cleanest either, but none of that stops us taking a goal that we richly deserved and in some ways it’s more satisfying that we finally caught a break.
There has been much talk about this being a confidence building result, in reality the performance should give us even more heart. The sort of teamwork that was on show here, the overbearing attitude being one of not want to let your team mates down has not always been apparent this season and as Paul Scharner pointed out over the weekend that attitude is nigh on a necessity if you’re going to avoid a relegation fight.
It’s one thing to say it and another for it to happen, but if Latics can take that sort of attitude, application and confidence into the next few games, if they can keep focussed and not get too carried away with a big victory then the coming weeks are looking a lot brighter. In the space of ninety minutes, the fans will have gone from relying on games against Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth to wondering what we can get from Villa, City or even Arsenal.
Increased expectations can be a problem, but we’ve seen too much this season to allow ourselves the thought that, by this time next week, we could be sitting fairly pretty, all but out of the fight. We’re still in recovery, we still need to take each game as it comes, but we need to make sure that we take them like this one but that’s how simple it would be to make all this season’s problems disappear.
Oh, and scousers, apparently you’ve never won on a Monday when you’ve been managed by Rafa, but at the same time Latics have never lost when they’ve played on a Monday night after the mini Perm has been to football ‘training’ in his away shirt. It might have been his first but when things aren’t going your way you have to take cold comfort where you can find it. Blame it all on ESPN, that’ll work.
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