Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Now Liverpool need to make their own luck

AS cliches go, it's right up there with 'a game of two halves' - this baseless notion that luck evens itself out over the course of a season.

It's a shrug-of-the-shoulders soundbite delivered with monotonous regularity by lip-biting managers who can't say what they really think when a decison doesn't go their way. 

It's about as convincing as Mark Bright.

But let's just entertain the theory for a moment. Watching Liverpool this season, it's easy to get wrapped up in the balance of luck argument.

Beach balls, an injury list longer than Alex Ferguson's bar bill and a string of unrewarded penalty shouts suggest the Reds have been hard done to.

But that's now an argument to consign to the same dustbin as Everton's plans for a new stadium in Kirkby.

Because against David Moyes's Blues, Liverpool rode their luck.

Football - Everton v Manchester United FA Cup Semi FinalDon't get me wrong, beating the Toffees is always sweet. How could it not be when so many of their fans seem to put Liverpool failure over Everton success?

But as for evidence that Rafa Benitez's side have turned the corner, it was far from convincing.

Yes, some players are still returning to fitness, Fernando Torres was still injured, and Alberto Aquilani was still not considered in the right condition to warrant an appearance.

But Everton were not at full strength either. And their league position - and form - tells its own story - even Hull scored three against them...

Yet we had to rely on a deflected speculative shot from Javier Mascherano and a world-class double save from Pepe Reina to make sure of a laboured victory at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Many are saying it's the result that matters, not the performance. In some respects that's true.

But if Liverpool are truly to turn around this substandard season displays like that need to be the exception rather than the rule, especially if this long unbeaten run people keep dreaming of is to become a reality.

The general play against the Blues was predictable, pedestrian and disjointed. Players looked short on confidence, unwilling to try and beat a man and David Ngog was left isolated.

Too many times the 20-year-old was called upon to fight for hopeful aerial balls that resulted in Liverpool conceding possession, something which happened too often on the day.

And to not pick Tim Cahill up from a set piece...surely simple on-field communication can sort that kind of issue out?

But while the play was far from what's required, at least the fight was back in the bucketload.

Jamie Carragher and Javier Mascherano looked like their old selves, while Lucas Leiva threw himself about and even spilt some claret for the cause. Of course that still won't be enough for some people...

But say what you want about Liverpool, there's certainly no lack of effort from the players to put things right.

Now let's have some finesse to add to the fight.