Soapbox: on beating – again – a ‘distinctly average’ Liverpool

Sixer by Jake (the Soapbox is hidden)

No beachball to win us the game. No long-distance McCallister dive to claim them a draw. Just a solid, hard-working but full deserved victory for the better side.

This was Michael Goulding at the Blackcats list: “I have always liked Liverpool and used to think Dalglish was the dog’s bollocks. I lost respect during the Suarez affair (as has half the country, by the sound of things) and his buying record and current form are akin to previously sacked Liverpool managers like Souness, Roy Evans, etc. Roy Hodgson got sacked without losing three league games in a
row (which Dalglish has just done). My good Liverpool-supporting mate went to Wembley the other week and says it was just papering over the cracks.”

And this is Pete Sixsmith with a magisterial assessment of the game, the BBC’s deranged priorities and the current state of two great clubs …

On a day of controversy in the Premier League, little time or space was given to one of those things that may be becoming a regular occurrence – Sunderland beating Liverpool.

At Bolton, a place so cold that polar bears were sat next to a continually moaning Alan “Greeny” Green, an assistant referee called Mr Pollock (a fishy character, if you ask me) failed to see a header from Clint Hill cross the line before the Bolton keeper clawed it out. Those of a long memory may remember Clint as the Tranmere player who was sent off against us in 2000, leading to John Aldridge sneaking a sub on for the last few minutes. What goes around, comes around, Clint. Go ahead, make my day.

QPR lost and slid into the relegation zone where many of us hope that they will stay, thus sparing at least one of the triumvirate of Lancashire clubs from relegation and ensuring that we get a decent day out, with lots of tickets at a fair price.

Then, something so astounding that front pages were held, commentators were stunned and the earth stopped revolving on its axis. Tony Pulis admitted that one of his Stoke City players was correctly sent off. Ricardo Fuller’s full blooded stamp on Branislav Ivanovic was so obvious that even the usually myopic Pulis could not blame it on the Serbian for diving, falling or doing a triple cartwheel in order to get his man dismissed.

Elsewhere, Wolves showed the folly of promoting from within by losing to Blackburn, Everton survived a second half bombardment by Harry’s Boys to finish the White Hart Lane title challenge and show Good Old ‘Arry in his true colours as he almost wrenched the microphone from the reporters hand and stuck it where the sun don’t shine in his MOTD interview.

Oh, and Villa won at home (a collector’s item) and the few Villa fans there booed Alex McLeish (not a collector’s item).

While all this was going on, Sunderland managed to beat Liverpool, something regarded as so inconsequential that the BBC allocated seven minutes of it to their flagship football programme – a flagship that is more and more beginning to resemble the Costa Concordia as it limps along.

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My youngest brother, at one time a Liverpool fan, has neatly analysed the timings, for which I am grateful. The commentary from one Simon Brotherton is so Liverpool top heavy that it would cause any ship to sink. According to him, when Suarez runs at you, your defence can do little else but have a fit of the vapours and allow him to score. In fact, the cheery little Uruguayan spent most of the second half retrieving the ball from the South West Corner, where he had allowed it to run out.

Enough of linguistically challenged South Americans with their misunderstood descriptions of black people; he was only a side show in a competent performance from Sunderland that saw a fully merited win against a distinctly average Liverpool side, obviously still exhausted after their magnificent Carling Cup victory on penalties over a Championship side.

There were a few talking points that emerged from this game, but none which will linger as long as the earnest discussions that Sunderland supporters have had with Our Friends from the North this week and which are clearly destined to last until the next opportunity arises for Sports Direct hoardings to be scattered to the four winds

The major one is how relatively easy it was for a Sunderland side missing three important players to overcome a Liverpool side that appeared to be at full strength apart from Daniel Agger. And straightforward it was. Our back four held them well, with Bellamy posing the only threat. O’Shea and Turner were strong and held the line well and I thought Wayne Bridge did well at full back.

The midfield was full of artisans – Gardner and Colback against Adam and Spearing and no doubt which pairing was the better here. Colback grew into the game and it was his run and ball that put Fraizer Campbell in for the goal, while Gardner looked very comfortable in his more forward role. Spearing was anonymous and looked a step away from a loan move to Preston, while Adam just ran around clattering into Sunderland players, for which he did not receive a yellow card and gave the appearance of being a one-season wonder.

On the flanks we had Larsson and McClean, who worked and worked and worked. I don’t think Larsson ever stops. He covers Bardsley, moves inside to tighten up the centre, gets forward with some lung bursting runs and speaks English far better than most people I know, including me.

McClean was effective at times and helped Bridge through the opening phase of the game. Compared with Adam and poor Jordan Henderson, he looked an absolute bargain.

That we won was down to a togetherness that was evident in the goal. Colback won the ball, moved forward and gave a lovely short pass to Campbell. He turned the ponderous and occasionally brutal Skrtl (if you think I am being unfair, check his tackle on Bendtner near the end) and hit the post with a cracking shot. We had a smidgeon of luck when it hit Reina’s head, but Bendtner reacted far quicker than any Liverpool defender and rattled it in. No beach ball needed this time …

After that, they huffed and puffed, but did not create a single goal scoring opportunity. Andy Carroll, the poor man’s Kevin Kyle, arrived and did nothing, as did an increasingly overweight Stevie G. He ran around a lot and that’s being kind to him.

We, on the other hand, brought on David Vaughan, who played a vital part in the last 15 minutes by making a series of astute tackles and interceptions and carrying the ball away from our penalty area. A good player to have up your sleeve and used perfectly by O’Neill.

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So, three valuable points that probably ensure our Premier League place for next season and take us to the dizzy heights of eighth with the possibility of kicking on from there. The squad is strong – we had Cattermole, Sessegnon, Richardson and Brown out, all regulars when fit – and we beat another team the media persist in calling top four contenders. We know we are not scintillating to watch (we’ll leave that to Athletic Bilbao), but the organisation and self-belief is such that we are able to compete effectively with sides who are, allegedly, better than us.

Hopefully, Bendtner’s injury will not be serious and he will be available for next week. Many thought that he had an excellent game, holding the ball up and bringing players into the game. Those that didn’t should take a long look at themselves. His absence next week would leave a big hole in the team.

We go to Everton buoyed by a solid if unspectacular win. I would happily settle for the same next week. Maybe ITV will be a little kinder than the Beeb.

19 thoughts on “Soapbox: on beating – again – a ‘distinctly average’ Liverpool”

  1. Read Dogleash’s autobiography (actually, don’t) released a few years ago and you will see how one-dimensional he is.
    The Liverpool match was typical of those games where you have to consider – were Liverpool poor or was it simply that we refused to let them be good?
    It didn’t look like an easy game to play in thanks to what seemed windy conditions on a lively pitch. (I was back in Essex).
    A lot of alleged ‘top’ teams seem to enjoy living on their reputations and high media profile, but, following Cpl Jones’s insightful observations, “they don’t like it up ’em”.

  2. Look can we settle this once and for all- I was young and naive and I soon realised that there was only one team in the world that I should and did support. Good to be called young though even at 55!
    Regarding Dogleash- what reputation? He had bundles of money at Blackburn- one seasons success, inherited a decent Liverpool side, did nowt at Celtic and Newcastle. Looks like it could be the same again.
    Great to see a Sunderland team battling for a full 90 minutes, even though it did last only 7 minutes!
    Onwards and upwards!

  3. I was very proud of the lads again on Saturday. They all worked hard,knew individually what they were meant to do and pulled together as a team. It’s a long while since we’ve gone into matches against one of the ‘Big 4’ – should that be now the ‘Big 6’ – expecting to get at least a draw. Some visiting supporters still come to the Sol expecting us to roll over, and the area around the stadium is littered with toys thrown out of prams

  4. Got to agree with Tom’s comments . Although the match was hardly a classic , there were some superb performances from Sunderland players , even Bridge grew in confidence in the 2nd half . Turner and O’Shea were magnificent and rarely troubled , Bardsley hardly put a foot wrong , Colback and Gardner ran the midfield and upfront Bendtner imo had his best game for us to date whilst Campbell never stopped running – Of course none of this was shown on MOTD where Hansen et all resided over how “poor” LIverpool were . How many managers / pundits etc have said how poor the opposition is after they have played Sunderland ; don’t the get it ?? Sunderland make them look poor

  5. Sunderland under MON are a team. The sum of the parts is far greater than the whole, a clique but true, Liverpool have spent enormous amounts of money and yet have not become a team of any stature, depending on individual brilliance to earn points. Suarez despite his ability to get under the skin is an outstanding player and without him where would Liverpool be, Jordan Henderson although a regular for the reds has gone backwards he is not half the player he was at Sunderland and appears to be a poor buy. Carrol although I hate to say it was twice the player at N’stle as he is now, Adams has also gone south. Liverpool struggled and were lucky against Cardiff and were poor on saturday, they are a waning force and Mr Dalglish must take a serious look at himself and move his team into the 21st centuary or ship out, his tactics are old fashioned and without a cutting edge. The best team won because they are a team and Liverpool are a bunch of individuals highly paid and badly motivated by the belief that history and past glories will see them through. Its a dream without a happy ending

  6. We strangled the life out of them, and prevented them for creating any chances of note.We deserve no credit whatsoever for beating them. The divine right for Liverpool to walk all over people has been revoked. In fact it was revoked more years ago than I can remember. The Scousers were too busy nicking hub caps to hear about it.

    They’ve always been magnanimous in victory, but my goodness they can’t take the sharpness of defeat. Dogleash is living on reputation with terrible buys for ridiculous money that he hasn’t got a clue how to use to best effect. You’ve got a very average team, which is even poor at times. You were extremely so, and as I say we deserve no credit at all for beating a mediocre side performing badly. We’ll take the points though, as we really don’t give a monkey’s chuff where they came from or what Liverpool FC once was. Have a good night.

  7. Joe: it is one thing to advance a reasoned response but another to dismiss a superb piece of writing (yes, I know I would say that but I also happen to believe it’s true) as a “load of absolute crap” because you (ie Browny) presumably disagrees. I say “presumably” because he didn’t get very far in making his case.

    • Now I’ve stopped cringing at your self-congratulation, I’ll agree that it was a fairly-well written work of fiction.

      • Cringe away. But I didn’t write the report so self-congratulation is simply the wrong term. It is surely my right as editor of the site to praise any contributor I want. But again, you respond with a fairly well written one-llner devoid of serious argument.

    • On the front page of my Kindle there are photographs of literary geniuses, eg Agatha Christie, Alexandre Dumas, Virginia Woolf, Jules Verne, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde. If they did a football website edition of the Kindle then surely Sixers face would be staring out at you. Brilliant piece of writing.

  8. There has been a great deal of talk about how mediocre Liverpool were, and to be truthful, they are, but I detect a theme in the descriptions of Sunderland’s opponents after they have just been beaten. The fact is that a team is often only as good as the opposition allows it to be, and
    Sunderland’s current tactic of counter-attacking football has, and will continue to strangle their opposition in the Premiership.

    I would like to see this reflected in the media reports on our games, with the reporters putting a little more thought into their analysis.

    OK the Liverpool game was not a classic, but I for one enjoyed the experience of seeing Jack Colback gradually win the central midfield, and John O’Shea, ably supported by Michael Turner, completely dominate the Liverpool forwards in what was yet another largely faultless performance by them.

    Next week in the cup it would not surprise or disappoint me if we played Vaughan in a 5 man midfield with Campbell as the lone striker. It would be a dour game, but one that I would happily draw or win 1-0 with no plaudits for expansive football.

  9. Dear me, Browny. It’s not our fault that your manager has spent all that money on Wor Donkey, who made Milton Nunez look like Pele. We thoroughly deserved to win the game because we had more about us that Liverpool did. Adam is looking more and more like a one-season wonder, and was lucky to stay on the field.
    Wake up and smell the real game of football. You’re not very good at the minute, accept it and move on – not sure where that will be to, mind

    • Cheap reply, isn’t it? You might not agree but I think Browny’s point is valid.

      Both teams were rubbish – Sunderland just got the lucky break. Well done and all that but let’s not pretend it was well-deserved.

  10. What a load of absolute crap.

    M.o.n said you didn’t deserve to win and even though Liverpool were terrible, they had 5 shots to Sunderlands 2(same move)

    Shocking game and one where neither side should be crowing

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