Terrace Talk: Liverpool - Entertainment a luxury that can wait for now

Marquis De Sade wrote all his best work from his asylum cell. I really must try it sometime, especially since I might not have any choice with this team.

Terrace Talk: Liverpool - Entertainment a luxury that can wait for now

A brief explanation on how this column works. The match is the integral part of it, but you’d prefer time to ponder the issues that sprang out of the weekend’s action.

Fat chance on a Sunday. At six, the final whistle blows. By nine, apresumably cherubic sub-ed is politely enquiring where your, ahem, “copy” is.

This can necessitate jumping the gun somewhat and predicting a theme. Freud would say that explains all the personal abuse towards Rodgers, since Liverpool are anything but predictable on his watch.

Take Stoke v Liverpool for example. In the four games after they came up this fixture produced five goals in all. Even Houllier might have demandeda refund.

In the first three games under Brendan there were 19 goals! True, Stoke still scored most of them but the 5-3 was exciting while the 1-6, poor as Liverpool were all season, didn’t show up on any crystal balls.

Blind loyalty makes fans do odd things. United would have run Houllier out of town, Benitez too to an extent, but if Van Gaal garners enough desultory 1-0 wins he’ll be a genius.

Meanwhile, the Liverpool fans that lapped up pragmatic epigrams like “Can’t score? Get a draw” turned 180 degrees when Rodgers almost came top. One night at Palace, they fell in love with a side 3-0 up after an hourthat raced back to the halfway line, convinced they could get another 10 and close the goal difference gap on City.

Madness of course, but this was the exact helter-skelter insanity that other clubs used to nurture. They’d pontificate about schools of science and the glory glory game, while Liverpool stood in their silver-laden palace and sneered. Rodgers even had a spell of defensive solidity early this year, just to confound expectations further still, gloating about “the new defensive coach everyone’s talking about” with sarcasm so thick you needed lasers to cut through it.

Hubris, regular as clockwork, cut him down to size again but it showed how second-guessing Liverpool lately can be nonsensical.

And so, once you’ve given it that almighty build-up, the match turned out to be a steaming lump of stodge. It was as it both sides couldn’t believe what happened last May and had their guards up for anything vaguely resembling an effort on goal.

Even Stoke’s boo-on-a-loop morons seemed to quickly lose interest, while Liverpool were mostly disciplined. Lovren’s got to at least try and get some clearances away from danger but he and Skrtel certainly looked more secure.

Clyne was good. Gomez was a tad too eager at times but you’d expect thatfrom a kid, especially one in a role Liverpool never seem to get right. Ibe was useful but the team’s crossing in general must have had Benteke wondering what he’s let himself in for. Even Milner couldn’t find him.

Things improved a bit in the second half but not by very much. It might even have been a handy point gained, were it not for Coutinho’s brilliance.A year ago, he wouldn’t have been on the pitch to score it after another wispy display early on. You leave him out there now.

What’s changed? He does get stronger these days and certainly scored afew beauties late on last season while Lallana is the new obvious candidate for hour-mark replacement. Perhaps their goalie might have done a bit better but he was probably stunned to see any shot heading his way.

Quite how the ref booked so many of our lads defies logic. Eight years in the Premier League still hasn’t robbed Stoke of minnow status.

It wasn’t a good game. No-one cared. Entertainment is a luxury that canwait for now.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox