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Author Topic: The night the world turned upside down  (Read 1646 times)

Online dave.woodhall

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The night the world turned upside down
« on: October 05, 2020, 12:24:02 PM »





On the morning after the night before it struck me that I may not be the only fan who can not remember the last time we played
 a league match in which we looked likely to score every time we attacked. The big question is why we didn't get eight or nine.

If I'm trying to work this out, just imagine the sort of day Jurgen Klopp must be having. To his credit he did and said all the right things in the immediate aftermath but I guess the frozen smile did not survive the walk back to the away dressing room and I bet the coach ride back to Liverpool was a bundle of fun. By this morning, the awful truth will be dawning on his players that they do not have a second leg at Anfield next week to save the tie.

The result presents challenges for both managers. For Deano there is the nearly new territory of managing high expectations. Not just ours; the media demands for repeat performances will be intense. I thought something was in the air when my Sunday morning rag gave half a page pre-match to the ‘new’ Villa, well run at the top, superbly coached, no longer a one-man team and with a future England centre-back pairing. All coming off a canny and ambitious transfer window. No, I couldn’t believe it either.

I think we have to say, retrospectively, that Deano must be very good at handling defeat and disappointment because to have just gone through such a stinker of a season yet turn out a side with such enduring team spirit is some feat. And good luck to the bloke, he has a better hand of cards than he has ever had in his managerial career but it is not all a question of spending; players have to be motivated, enthused and made to believe in their abilities and potential. And the dressing-room opinion leaders need to be kept onside. Once they turn you are toast.

That the players earn a lot of money is helpful but, as we all know only too well, that is no guarantee of quality, effort or loyalty to the flag. The number of blokes queuing up for extended contracts tells you that something positive is going on. And when you sign a player from Brentford he obviously sees it as a step up but when was the last time someone turned up from Arsenal and said it was a career upgrade?





Deano will now have to keep his squad’s collective feet on the ground and  has to ensure that performance can be raised when we play the likes of Palace, Burnley and the other non-glamour clubs. More importantly for now, a result at Leicester is a must.  It will not all be easy and, when things do not click to our total satisfaction, I hope we are a little more charitable than the rolling out of tumbrils after the Stoke match.

For Klopp the challenge is tougher. He has a deeper squad but his system has been rumbled and any manager who did not know how to play him on Sunday morning certainly would have done by Sunday night. Not only was Liverpool’s defence utterly one dimensional, their only attacking outlet was down their left wing. It was so predictable and laboured it made Fulham’s long ball to Mitrovic look subtle and futuristic.

It will not be simply a question of tactical tweaking as he has to get inside his players’ mindsets. To say Liverpool turned up expecting a stroll in the park may be overstating things but, as they will have read the same historical stats that we all saw, it was probably not far off. More importantly, they had no idea what to do when the goals started to pile up (except attack down the left wing, of course). We even had the cheek not to crumble when Salah scored.

As anyone who has coached any form of team sport will tell you, once you start scoring against a side that ‘never loses’ they will often collapse mentally simply because they can not comprehend that someone who plays for another team might be any good. That, I believe, is what happened.

It is also a good tactic to target the star player because if he goes the rest will follow. Van Dijk was probably given the worst personal ninety minutes of his sporting life, even to the point of the ball going into the net nearly every time he touched it. Ho-ho. Van Dijk is a noted leader of men but this time he did not have the first idea of how to deal with things and he was badly found out.





The sage Shearer later deconstructed the nightmare that Watkins gave him; his partner Sancho was hauled off at half time and his full backs didn’t get in a tackle all night. One popular definition of madness is when you keep on doing what is not working but expect a different result. In this case the high press looking in vain for a few offside flags. Klopp’s fault or Van Dijk’s? Probably a bit of both but in dire straits players do tend to look to their captain for a bit of leadership. For the fabled Trent Alexander Arnold it was some wake-up call and I bet the the banter at next week’s England camp will be worth the price of admission.

Of course, it could all turn to dust. It has done before but just allow me to wallow in the beauty of the moment. Our defence looked solid, the new goalie has imparted visible confidence and the back four are working hard. Matty Cash was out on his feet: good lad. The midfield defended where it had to, pressed higher and harder than I have seen for some time and weighed in with four goals. Super John’s backside has begun to work well again (if you see what I mean), Douglas Luiz was solid but Ross Barkley was a revelation and the space he gave Jack was beyond belief. Needless to say, and despite the experience of freedom being rather novel, our local hero revelled in the situation. A clear run on goal must be something he thought he would never see.

There is no doubt that those managers now drawing up plans to get behind Liverpool’s back line will also be wrestling with having to re-think their pre-match instructions when they play us. Sticking three men on Jack and giving him a good kicking will not guarantee them anything other than gifting the freedom of the park to Watkins and Barkley.

Indeed, Watkins looked the part. Forget the goals, his mobility offers us a dimension that we could only dream of a few months ago. And full marks to Trez who played his socks off. Hope you were taking notes, Anwar.

Whatever the future brings I will have two wonderful weeks reflecting on the seven-goal dismemberment of the current national and world champions and gazing at the league table with us in second and with a plus nine goal difference. On the same day somewhere else in the universe I am told that a team from the Salford area shipped six at home and languish in sixteenth place with a minus six goal difference. Losers.

Colin Brown
« Last Edit: October 06, 2020, 12:37:23 AM by dave.woodhall »

Offline Scratchins

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2020, 12:39:27 PM »
A great write up. Van Dijk should have been warned about playing against Villa. I was at Walsall when he made his comeback from injury whilst at Southampton in an under 23 match. He had a terrible night.

Offline Somniloquism

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2020, 12:47:21 PM »
Great but it was Gomez as the partner and it was after 60 odd minutes.

Offline Monty

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2020, 01:06:41 PM »
Great but it was Gomez as the partner and it was after 60 odd minutes.

I think it was a Sancho Panza reference, but yes you're right about the time.

Online Jon Crofts

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2020, 01:40:21 PM »
Nice read, thanks Colin.

Klopp is certainly hard to dislike, he was magnanimous in defeat and his first words to Dean were simply 'wow'. I'd imagine a Wenger, Ferguson or a Mourinho would have had a completely different reaction.

Offline Hookeysmith

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2020, 03:20:00 PM »
Nice read, thanks Colin.

Klopp is certainly hard to dislike, he was magnanimous in defeat and his first words to Dean were simply 'wow'. I'd imagine a Wenger, Ferguson or a Mourinho would have had a completely different reaction.

I am no big fan of Klopp but fair play to him - he never mentioned the length of the grass once when everyone else knew what caused this upset

Offline JD

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2020, 07:46:14 AM »
Good article Colin.

Offline Damo70

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Re: The night the world turned upside down
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2020, 08:29:06 PM »
I think that whilst a lot of teams suffered from the short break between seasons we actually benefited because of the way we finished so well in the late knockings of last season. We seem to have started the season still buzzing. It also helped that we only needed to strengthen a few key positions rather than assemble a whole new team like last summer.

 


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