Brendan Rodgers could have avoided the subject and not refer to Mark Halsey, but sometimes the damage the referee causes your team is so great with more than one decision it’s impossible to find something else. Liverpool shouldn’t have walked off the pitch at Anfield as the losing team on Sunday, while Manchester United didn’t deserve the three points they took, which isn’t new.
Jonny Evans made the exact challenge that Jonjo Shelvey did, but he was the one who got clipped, and by exaggerating, as all players who’ve been trained well tend to do, made things worse for the Liverpool player. Shelvey had some words for Alex Ferguson as he was coming off ‘This is all because of you’, which holds inside the feeling of frustration for many who play against Manchester United, who more often than not get this unexplained advantage by getting calls, big ones, go their way, even when they shouldn’t.
Decisions didn’t go our way today. If Jonjo Shelvey gets sent off, Jonny Evans has to get sent off as well. It is a tackle the player has to go for and also one the Manchester United player has to go for. But the Liverpool player can’t get sent off and the Manchester United player stay on the field. There were a number of poor decisions.
And the penalty? It was never a penalty. Glen Johnson has made a fantastic recovery run back in and I don’t know why Valencia goes down. Up the other end, Luis Suarez gets the contact [from Evans], goes down and doesn’t get a penalty.
But beyond the injustice and the bad luck (Fabio Borini, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly all leaving on injury) there’s the actual situation for Liverpool. Five matches into the season, they have only two points, and have lost two of their first three home matches in a brutal stretch of facing Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United at home. Next week at Norwich away, and there’s no reason to talk about easier and harder games. A win must come from somewhere.
Once again, there wasn’t anything really bad with the way Liverpool played. The switch between Borini and Sterling seems to have worked, but Fabio Borini still isn’t a winger, and if Rodgers is to get the most out of the young Italian, he will need to put him in along with Luis Suarez, in front of some version of a four man midfield. Luis Suarez, who plays well but something is simply missing for him when it comes to the final shot so far, whether it’s stopped or he makes a decision to flop on the ground, is untouchable.
The midfield, even with 10 men, showed promising signs. Steven Gerrard played his best game of the season, not just because of the goal. The problem is he doesn’t seem to be containing the kind of energy the special occasion at Anfield brought out of him for every week. Joe Allen is a lot of good things, but he’s not a defensive midfielder, which Liverpool simply don’t have until Lucas comes back.
For now, the 4-3-3 isn’t the way to go in my opinion. Some sort of asymmetric 4-1-3-2 is a better option, but the short squad with the recent injuries and suspensions isn’t flexible to these kind of changes. Liverpool are off to pretty much the worst possible start, but don’t have a lot to fix it with.