The tasteless side to Popcorn Football

When John Henry strolled along the Florida boulevards with Martinez, then eventually settled for Rodgers, clearly someone had whispered in his ear about the sort of football Liverpool ought to be playing.

Saturday’s whirligig must have delighted him.

Others might beg to differ. I’m obviously not averse to popping party balloons and pissing in the punch but this was precisely why many have reservations about our current incarnation.

A friend, who writes about LFC on a far higher plane than I, is often dismissive of such ‘classic’ fare.

You should hear him about Alaves, West Ham 2006 and even Is***bul. The professionals can be equally sceptical; Keegan and Evans scorned the famous 4-3 while Dalglish actually resigned after another Goodison goalfest.

I was obliged to search for a dismissive term to describe this and Popcorn Football is as good as any. Entertaining for the neutrals? Of course it is, but so is X Factor and none of that conveyor belt tripe will ever trouble Pop’s compilers of icons.

As for Rodgers, one is beginning to suspect he doesn’t know how to solve these problems, or he simply doesn’t care as long as he can keep wittering on about his ‘philosophy’.

Here’s an interesting stat; the six sides that finished above us last season have now scored against Rodgerspool 27 times.

He’s turned to the seemingly-banished Flanagan for Arsenal and Everton away. There’s a hint of flippancy which makes you believe he does not regard defence as anything like a priority, though the young defender mostly dealt well with his thankless, isolated task — unlike the awful Johnson.

Thanks to Hodgson’s obstinacy and Sturridge’s disregard/spinelessness we were forced into playing five midfielders anyway. Not that you’d know it; Everton began to pour through the centre at will and gave Mignolet the busiest afternoon of his life. But for him we’d have been well beaten. Rodgers replaced Lucas and Allen with Moses and Sturridge, but we were porous long before that.

Those who accentuate the positive can point to the three goals we scored and I have no qualms with that. We exuded an air of superiority without actually creating the chances that could have converted it into actual dominance.

Well, there was one standout chance missed of course but we can discuss my burning desire to defenestrate Allen another time.

What we should dismiss right now is the gradually creeping acceptance of this “3-1 and it was game over” mantra.

No, it wouldn’t be over. Maybe if we’re three goals clear against the chaff, but when the game is close and the opposition are obstinate, everyone who is anyone nowadays knows that against this Liverpool team they will get chances whatever the score.

Gerrard is now propped up by workaholics and the skill of Coutinho. We no longer have one individual who possesses ALL aspects of midfield play; creativity, movement, aggression. There are instead four or five players trying to camouflage the deficiencies in others. As for discipline, forget it.

We’ll point to the Allen disgrace or the coward Dowd, the excitement of the occasion and maybe grudgingly accept Everton’s obvious improvement as signs that all is well. I’ll always plead guilty to dragging the word ‘curmudgeon’ to new depths but there is something about this manager that makes me believe he wouldn’t agree we’re doing anything wrong.

Supporters can be spoilt rotten. We’ll cry rivers about boring football, but then when we get excitement we want the shutdown back. It’s obviously a sign of progress that merely 15 months into a new regime we’re talking about what’s lacking in order for us to reach the very top.

These helter-skelter matches are regarded as isolated cases, but a quick glance at our record against the quality sides shows they’re not that at all. We score, we concede, we entertain. All very pleasant.

As far as it goes.


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