Liverpool Soapbox: from Dowdly benevolence to gradual control


It was a grand day out: I enjoyed watching both sets of supporters applaud a besuited Steven Gerrard as he walked round the touchline, smiling and singing autographs; I enjoyed seeing as many of ours applaud the traditional Gerry & The Pacemakers singalong as booed it, and I enjoyed seeing Liverpool fans applaud the superb touches of Stéphane Sessegnon (one Sunday paper’s rating of 5/10 was laughable). And Pete Sixsmith took enormous heart from a tremendous Sunderland fightback: for once, as he put it to me afterwards, deserving the cliché “very much a game of two halves” …

Another game with the once mighty Reds gets mired in controversy. We’ve had the beach ball, the back pass and the dive, which made it 2-1 to Liverpool on iffy decisions. Our turn this time, as Phil Dowd gave Kieran Richardson a considerable benefit of the doubt and showed him a yellow instead of a red.

Good job Phil isn’t a JP in Haringey, as some of those who were redistributing wealth last week would be writing out 100 times “I must not burn down houses” rather than preparing for six months in Wormwood Scrubs.

We got away with it. I couldn’t see anything other than a red: home crowd, clear run on goal, about to go past keeper – it had to be a red.

But maybe Dowd saw that Suarez did not have full control of the ball and that there was the possibility that he may have let it run too far wide, so he saw Richardson’s attempts to make up for his shocking error as careless rather than malicious. Had Kieran hacked at him from behind, it would have been a red; as it was, he fell into Suarez, knocked him over and got a yellow. On such things do games turn.

So, 2-2 in controversial decisions and we rode our good fortune in the first 35 minutes. The penalty kick was awful but Suarez showed his quality with a fine goal a few minutes later, when he got ahead of er, Richardson (not one of your better 45s Kieran) to give Liverpool a deserved lead.

For the next 20 minutes they ran us ragged. Carroll rightly had a goal disallowed for a gentle nudge on Ferdinand and Downing’s screamer hit the bar. Two down and we were out of it; at 1-0 we always had a chance.

And so came the second half. They ran out of steam and ideas, we began to play. Cattermole had got his booking out of the way (a nasty tackle on Suarez; not proud of that) and began to show what a good player he is, working along the line, picking up loose balls, bringing Sessegnon into the game. If only he didn’t have that nasty streak in him. He can be very hard to defend at times – although not in the Joey Barton class as complete and utter t***.

Larsson came into the game, Gyan worked really hard up front, pulling their central defenders out of the middle, and we conjured up an equaliser that was certainly the best goal scored on the opening day. Good back heel by Gyan to Elmo, great cross to the far post and a wonderful finish by Larsson. Quality or what?

From then on, we controlled the game. Colback got involved after a first half where he looked as far out of his depth as Boris Johnson on Clapham High Street, Sessegnon carried the ball well and Brown was simply magnificent at the back.

He rarely missed a tackle, completely subdued the Gateshead Mauler (who once again reminded me of Kevin Kyle with a pony tail), and oozed calm and class throughout. That the home crowd stopped booing him tells you how well he played. I always think it’s petty booing players who come from your rivals. You wouldn’t catch me hooting at Carroll and Enrique!!

Mignolet impressed after the warm-up, too

Brown was clearly our best player, but his confidence has rubbed off onto Mignolet, who had an excellent game in goal. In the second half, when Liverpool resorted to crossing the ball in a vain attempt to find the lumbering oaf aka Carroll, he handled very well and used the ball effectively. The long kick to Elmo so he can flick it on could well be our equivalent of the Delap Throw.

We need a bit of tuning before next week. Vaughan came on for the last 10 minutes and did what he is very, very good at doing – not losing the ball and making sharp, accurate passes. There should be a place for him against the Mags, maybe at the expense of Colback. Vaughan gives us an element of creativity that was missing on Saturday.

After his first half nightmare, Richardson had a much better second, although how much of this was due to him and how much to Liverpool tiring is debatable. The young right back, Flanagan (maybe they could sign Swansea midfielder Joe Allan for a musical duo; crazy idea, I know), switched roles with Kieran. He had looked good in the first half but had an awful second, vice versa for KR.

Think they meant The Sun, not Salut! Sunderland

We came out into the hordes of football tourists masquerading as Liverpool supporters, with smiles on our faces. What was basically last year’s team had taken a well deserved point from a team who had spent in excess of £100m in eight months. What’s not to be pleased about?

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15 thoughts on “Liverpool Soapbox: from Dowdly benevolence to gradual control”

  1. I think Suarez like a lot of other players do slowed down to allow the chasing defender to clip his legs from behind , and then went down. It looks like a foul but isn’t in the true sense of the word( i.e. no intent).Its clever gamesmanship and has been going on for years particulary with the overseas players. I think its called drawing( as in soliciting) the foul. Perhaps Dowd was aware of this and as such was able to find a reason not to send KR off.It would be nice to think that refs were looking to keep players on the field even though apenalty has been given. I live in hope.

  2. TG says:
    August 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I must say that I would have been, extremely, disappointed if we had scored the Carroll “goal” and it had been disallowed because any push, on Ferdinand, was (IMHO) minor.

    The strange thing, though, was his lack of any expectancy that the goal would stand/celebration at scoring.

    Maybe he’d heared a whistle from the referee before he put the ball in the net?

    Who knows?

    Pete Sixsmith says:
    August 15, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I’m still not convinced about the level of contact and believe that Saurez dived!

    If, though, the ref believed that a foul had been committed it was not (according to the laws of the game) a red card and Dowd got that call 100% right!

    The very fact that we can still be having this debate, after watching the incident again and again (in extra slow motion) shows just how difficult a ref’s role actually is!

  3. One of the things I miss about the close-season is Pete (Hooter- of- ex-Mags) Sixmith’s fine reporting. Good, honest stuff as ever Pete.
    And great shout Tom Lyn. For many years we have lacked the belief that we can compete with clubs perceived to be bigger, better and more “fashionable” than us. We have to believe we can give anyone a game, and win it. Our status so decrees.

    I also agree with John Penman. I am Mr Optimistic, and support everything Steve Bruce does and says. However, I think he’s made a huge mistake in not bringing in a recognized striker, and we are going to struggle to score goals this term. Gyan is overrated, Wickham is untried at this level, and I can’t see Don-Wong making the grade in a hurry. I love Sess like my own sister, but he’s new to the role, and he’s no 20 goal a season stirker. I’m not sure how badly injured Asa is, but I am hoping that the injury forces Bruces arm. There is a rumour we are in the hunt for Bendtner. He would be a great buy, considering the service he’ll get from “Super-Seb”!

    Come on Mr Ellis – get your hand in your pocket – one last time!!

  4. Funny how in all of the weeping and a wailing by the hard done to Liverpool players, management, fans and their pathetically over the top sycophantic media following, little has been said about the injustices that arose during the most one sided 2-2 draw in recent Premiership history last season, a match where we were denied two blatant penalties and Gerrard stayed on the pitch in spite of a series of cynical fouls that would have seen many a non England-Liverpool player dismissed. Although we received fair praise in many quarters, there was still a sense of ‘How dare Sunderland not lie down and die and let Liverpool’s hideously expensive new look team [£75m on Carroll, Henderson and Downing alone!] run riot?’ around. Sunderland are a historically famous English club formed on 1879 with a proud and passionate support that should never succumb to any side without a fight. Now we have the nucleus of a squad that should give us all hope that we can give every team in the top flight a good game on any given day [especially if Bruce can sign the specialist left sided players we still lack]. Well done lads, a great comeback at Anfield after a nervy start. It is imperative, however, that this Saturday we begin the game as we began the second half at Anfield-high tempo and totally committed. Follow The Mackems!

  5. Us scousers were impressed with you 2nd half, so don’t think we didn’t see how you improved. Nobody is saying otherwise!!!!!

  6. The result was a fair reflection of the game.There is little doubt Liverpool bossed the first half and we, after one of Steve Bruce’s legendary half time pep talks, began to play a bit and rightfully earned a point.

    I can see both sides of the red card debate. If you are flashing red on the basis of Richardson ‘denying a clear goalscoring opportunity’ then is a red. However that rule is open to interpretation (sometimes) and the fact that Suarez was running away from goal and had the keeper and Richardson in the vicinity I think gave Dowd some uncertainty hence a yellow.

    It is one of these that fall into the category of for us and it’s a stonewaller, against us and it’s not.

    However when Suarez had initially blocked Richardson’s attempted clearence on the halfway line with arms that were well above his head then that should have been handball and this whole debate would have been immaterial.

    Encouraging signs out there though. I have concerns that we are still lacking a quality striker and we may struggle in the goalscoring stakes but overall we look to have the makings of a mid table team.

    I agree with Pete that the MOTD coverage was appalling with the great ‘Liverpool love in’ firing on all cylinders. Maybe this is due to the fact a former Liverpool player and a Mag were on the panel but either way little praise was given to us on our second half performance.

  7. I’ve watched it several times and Phil Dowd got it absolutely right. It was a penalty as Richardson made contact with Suarez. It was a yellow card because Suarez was going wide and was likely, but not certain, to score. I don’t mind Dowd – he referees a game in a pugnacious way and he seems to understand players.
    What I didn’t like was the red card waving by Lucas, a thoroughly unpleasant character, in the aftermath of the decision. Dowd was quite right to book him.
    As for the media, I am on the verge of giving up. A few patronising words on MOTD (MOTD2 was even worse; the irritating Dion Dublin with his sub Kris Akabussi laugh,thought that Bruce had signed Henderson), same in The Observer and this mornings Guardian, where it was all about Liverpool’s pecieved failings and not Sunderland’s strengths.
    In fact, the whole weekend, we have been ignored by the national press, who seem to think that the likes of Stoke, Fulham, Norwich and (god forbid) Bolton, bring more to the PL than a club with an average gate in excess of 40,000.
    What a pathetic turn out by Bolton fans at the home of boutique football on Saturday. Can’t have been more than 1200. Even at the absurd prices charged by the money grabbing gits who run Rangers, that’s pathetic. Mind you, the quicker QPR crawl back to the nether regions of the Football League, where they clearly belong, the better.
    Rant over!!!

  8. The game of football is a contest over 90 minutes and at the end of that period the score counts. For a team that came back from 3-0 down in a Champions League final you should appreciate that and be noble enough to accept that Sunderland were worthy of a draw and possibly could have won. Carroll was made to look ordinary against Brown, Bardsley had Downing in his pocket and Jordan look overpriced Charlie Adams at times looked scared of Cattermole. Liverpool are looking at a false dawn and were for pro players unfit and puffing like old men at the end

  9. Hi Guys, United fan coming in peace. I read an interview your writer did with United site ROM a few weeks ago. Us fans seemed to be the only ones who knew Wes Brown is still a top four premiership defender. It is he, and not O’Shea, you guys should be most thankful about. I saw the game on Saturday and he was as good as we remember him. Brown is a class act and I’m glad he will be playing week in week out. Good luck for the rest of the season boys and thanks for taking a point at that dump of a ground!!

  10. Suarez was disgusting. Consistently.

    He overcame a hard summer with a sit down every 5 minutes – and that was adjudged to mean that Liverpool were allowed a free-kick.
    Not to mention his old handball trick in the build up to the penalty.

    Ref was terrbile – media reaction worse ( a review of Liverpool’s performance as though it was a pre-season friendly against an unknown team).

    We should take a lot of confidence from the fact that STILL we can mix it with the ‘Champions League contenders’. If we can play like that against the teams around us, we can believe in bigger and better things…

  11. Come on lads forget the Pen look at the overall 1st half, Liverpool should have buried you but as Kenny said you did well 2nd half……………..all the best Mackems i reckon you will do well if you start a bit brighter early on, next time you might not be so lucky???

  12. I really can’t believe all the furore with the Richardson incident – if you watch it on slow motion Suarez actually trips himself up , he brings his right foot across the back of his left calf – something he obviously practises in training along with sitting on his backside for most of the match . He’s a fantastic talent but also a very accomplished cheat – no other way to describe him . He fools the ref every time , he went down once first half like a bag of spuds when Ferdinand was a yard behind him – I only hope the refs suss him out
    Back to the match and 2nd half we should have won it – Cattermole had a great game , even after his obligatory booking – if on he could shoot , we’d have taken all 3 points

  13. Sorry mates… I insist it was handball and that he trippedhimself, the cheating little guy. As far as Carroll’s goal (don’t be a bad looser) he never even attempted to celebrate, does that mean nothing to you?

  14. Please set your DVD player to ultra slo-mo and watch Suarez dig his right toes into his own left calf.
    There was no contact between the two players other than Richardson’s hand on the Uruguayan’s shoulder.
    As for Wes Brown, yes, very impressive.

  15. I thought Liverpool were superb 1st half and the game should have been over by half-time, Phil Dowd is as bad as Howard Webb useless!!!. Not sending off Richardson was a joke and Carroll’s goal was totally legal, yet nobody expected Suarez to ballooon the peno???. Sunderland did well 2nd half but as i said, really it should have been put to bed very early…..oh well that’s life and well done you jammy Mackems!!!!

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