16 Jan 2008

Hollow Luton victory just papers over the cracks of Premiership failure.

Liverpool’s Pyrrhic victory against Luton will be greeted with rapturous joy by fans around the globe, but it merely papers over the cracks and provides brief respite from real problems both on and off the field.

I love the FA Cup – it’s a fantastic competition and I’m glad Liverpool are through to the next round. However, why does the team wait until an FA Cup tie against poor opposition to turn on the style? Where was the passion and pride against Wigan, Middlesborough and Man City?

Rafa’s stuttering team has limped to three draws in the last three league games, and this is not good enough. Indeed, I’d gladly trade progression in the FA Cup for wins against Wigan, Middlesborough, Manchester City and, earlier in the season, Portsmouth and Birmingham.

So – let’s recap: Against the desperately depleted minnows of Luton, Liverpool scored 5 goals and Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick. At Anfield.


What’s to be excited about? Luton are in the RELEGATION ZONE two divisions below Liverpool. They are embroiled in major financial turmoil off the pitch and recently had to sell three of their best players to survive, which left them significantly under-strength for the game.

Liverpool on the other hand played arguably their strongest team.

The result was a foregone conclusion; not just on the night, but the minute the final whistle blew at Kenilworth Road two weeks ago.

The fact is, Liverpool SHOULD be beating Luton 5-0. Steven Gerrard SHOULD be scoring goals against inferior opposition.

Given the respective fortunes of both clubs, Liverpool should have dominated more and scored more. Instead, the team looked ordinary for the first 45 minutes and only woke up in the second half.

There is no glory in beating a down-and-out Luton side in such a manner, especially when Liverpool’s tight-fisted refusal to waive gate receipts in the first game arguably exacerbated Luton’s troubles.

Furthermore, it is possible that the extra money from the gate receipts might have enabled Luton to retain at least one (if not all three) of the players they sacrificed for an extra two weeks at least, allowing them to play in the Anfield replay.

This would have, at the very least, allowed Luton to field a full strength team. The result may still have gone against them, but at least it would have been a fairer battle.

So forgive me if I don’t jump on the ‘Steven Gerrard is god because he scored a hat-trick against Luton’ bandwagon. In the context of this season, the Luton result is irrelevant.

Nine draws in the league – almost half of Liverpool’s games this season, is the relevant factor here, and it’s this failure to capitalize and kill teams off that has seen Liverpool’s league season grind to a juddering halt.

Once the inevitable celebratory back-slapping is over, and the usual glut of players fawning over each other in cloying self-congratulation has passed, it’s back to what really matters: beating Aston Villa in the next league match.

It’s a must-win game, but which Liverpool side will turn up on the day? The team with a never say die attitude and an unstoppable will to win…or the creatively bereft, lumbering side that runs out of ideas after 20 minutes?


Post a Comment