Putting aside the pretty toothless defeat to Tottenham on Sunday, the second half of the season has been damn swell for Liverpool Football Club. From the brink of relegation in September to fifth place in May, the season has been the epitome of a roller coaster ride. With each crazy turn, people have gotten off (Hodgson, Torres), and more have gotten on (Dalglish, Suarez, Carroll). And while Liverpool may not be able to look forward to European football next year, it is not a loss that will dampen anyone’s spirits too badly. With King Kenny being signed up for three years, the youth team progressing and producing at a rapid pace, and a set of owners willing to do whatever it takes to bring the club back to greatness, the future looks incredibly bright from here on out.
But let’s not get carried away.
I’ll admit that I was allowing myself to get a little carried away over the last few weeks. With stellar performances against Manchester City, Birmingham, and most recently AT Fulham, there were plenty of reasons to start believing we were all but assured the Premier League title next season.
Obviously the game against against Tottenham gave everyone, myself included, a big slap in the face to wake us up to the fact that despite an impressive run of form since January, the club still needs improvement in many areas.
I’m not even sure where exactly the problem was against Tottenham. I felt this was as winnable a game as could be. The recipe for success was as follows: The momentum and confidence surging through the team, combined with Kenny Dalglish’s fresh signature on a three-year contract, and add in the extremely poor form of Tottenham and presto! Three points for the Reds with at least a +2 or +3 goal difference on the day. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
It didn’t make me particularly happy to see the last home game of the season, after such an incredible run of performances and results, end in such a limp defeat. But taking a step back to look at the bigger picture is much more important.
I saw Raul Meireles as a bigger loss in that game than I thought he’d be. That’s not to say I don’t think he’s great when he plays, I just felt the team had enough about them to cope without the Portuguese playmaker. And despite Kenny saying he doesn’t think a change in personnel and formation caused the defeat, I’d like to think it still had a lot to do with it.
Tottenham must also be given credit as, for the first time in months, they decided to actually show up and play their hearts out for a game. Fair play.
Many have suggested it was Andy Carroll’s lumbering, half-fit presence that really did the team in on Sunday. Outside of a handful of decent touches, he was pretty useless overall. He was pedestrian up front, he failed to win headers when challenging Ledley King, and he wasn’t linking up well with his fellow forwards. It almost seemed as though his inclusion on the team was more of a hinderance than an asset on the day.
I’m not denying that Andy Carroll had a poor game against Tottenham, so did a lot of the other players. But going back to the idea that the bigger picture is what is important here, Andy Carroll “the problem” is a problem Liverpool haven’t had for a long time. That is, having a very talented striker to utilize while already having a very potent front line. Finding the formations and systems to get the best out of him is still a new challenge, but one that should be greeted with great joy from anyone supporting LFC.
For too many years Liverpool have relied too heavily on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to score the goals in a very limited formation. Now the team has options and fluidity up front which will only get better after this summer of purchases. If Andy Carroll is a problem to figure out right now, than he’s a wonderful problem I can’t wait for Liverpool to solve.