Saturday 12th January 2008 @ 3pm
Liverpool drew their 4th consecutive match in another miserable day against average opposition. Liverpool, lacklustre last week, provided more of the same this week. A collection of talented players who now appear to be playing like they can’t be arsed about the Liverbird on the shirt anymore.
As Manchester United appear to be closing in on a possible 17th title the apathy shown by some of the reds players is nothing short of a disgrace. The hundreds of loyal Liverpool fans who braved the long trip to Middlesbrough have been let down – as has everybody who holds the club in high esteem across the world. No longer are these sets of results down to misfortune, poor refereeing etc – these miserable results are now clearly down to a complete under-performance by footballers who have clearly lost touch with what it means to play for Liverpool Football Club.
One other thing appears certain – Liverpool’s talisman no longer plays in midfield – Mr. Reliable now appears to play up front, sports some flowing locks on his head, and goes by the name of Fernando. If there is one small glimmer of light to have arrived out of the past 6 months (and there really haven’t been many) then the arrival of Torres is certainly it. Today he scored the equaliser which ensured the reds didn’t add to their decent tally of only 2 defeats in the Premiership this season.
The reds were lacklustre and it was Stewart Downing’s cross in the 26th minute which eventually fell for George Boateng, one time Liverpool target, to head home. The reds huffed and puffed, but in the 71st minute Fernando Torres shot landed the reds a point.
The first half was poor – so poor that Gerrard walked off shaking his head, and Benitez made an unfamiliar half-time tactical change – removing Arbeloa for Babel – pushing Riise back from left wing to left midfield.
Benitez has endured the support of many Liverpool supporters – but when players begin to show a lack of effort then the ice he has been treading on will continue to get thinner. His responsibility is to ensure that the team fight themselves out of this mess, and at the moment Liverpool look like they lack heart.
Post Match Reaction
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate:
“Had we got the second when we hit the post, I think we would have won the game.
“But then you look at the guy (Fernando Torres) who scored their goal – I think he cost about as much as our entire 16 – and it is not such a bad result.
“I am really pleased with the performance we gave.”
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:
“In this position, you cannot think about the leaders, you must think about the next game.
“You can play well, you can create chances, but you need to win.
“When you talk about a draw away, sometimes you think that is good, but when you are trying to reduce a gap, you must be disappointed.”
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Arbeloa (Babel 46), Gerrard, Mascherano, Benayoun (Alonso 59), Voronin (Kuyt 75), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Itandje, Agger.
Goals: Torres 71.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Huth, Grounds, O’Neil, Boateng, Rochemback, Downing, Aliadiere (Hutchinson 73), Sanli.
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Riggott, Lee, Johnson.
Goals: Boateng 26.
Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).