Of course it’s nice to open a new era with a win, but even with the fact that Stewart Downing scored his finest goal since coming to Liverpool which isn’t saying much, it’s only a qualifying round in the Europa League, and only FC Gomel from Belarus.
The match? Scruffy, as expected. Fabio Borini and Joe Cole (returning from loan) were the only new faces in the lineup, but Liverpool’s problems were at the back. Without Daniel Agger, presumably on his way out, Jamie Carragher got the start which made the defense look bad all together, like it did last season whenever the veteran centre back, making his 700th appearance for the club, stepped on the field. His time is over.
Altogether it was a bad performance from Liverpool. The Gerrard – Spearing midfield duo couldn’t handle the home side, with Jordan Henderson still not managing to put in an effectual performance for the club. Fabio Borini, who only started enjoying space and good service after Downing’s goal which crushed Gomel’s spirits, found it hard to live by on scraps, managing to create only one real chance late in the match.
Joe Cole’s second debut for the club ended with an injury (it was a red card last time), hobbling off the pitch as wonderkid Raheem Sterling took over, failing to impress or show why Tottenham might be willing to pay £7 million for the 17-year old. Liverpool did look better with Lucas, making his return after a long injury, came on for Henderson. Jay Spearing got credit for 90 minutes, but he really shouldn’t be stating for a club that has plans on a long European season and a high finish in the Premier League.
Except for that, you can see that this team lacks confidence. The game was mostly played on the ground, but it benefited the home side who looked much more synchronized, creating chance after chance against the troubled Liverpool back four, testing a well prepared and in form Brad Jones.
What’s left to learn? Liverpool will make it through in Anfield unless something really shocking happens, but this team is a long way from Rodgers and the owners’ vision. Where else would it be with pretty much the same squad from last year that had so many problems, while Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll weren’t part of the group that traveled to Eastern Europe?
The biggest problem in the near future for Rodgers is getting the midfield to mesh, but probably more importantly, figuring out what to do with or without Daniel Agger. If he does sell the Dane, the Skrtel – Carragher duo won’t manage to notch a whole lot of clean sheets.