Monday, May 18, 2009

How Liverpool Let The Title Slip

We have read during the course of this season about how Liverpool had let the title slip. We saw the frustration spill over when Jamie Carragher was involved in a push-and-shove with Alvaro Arbeloa in the weekend's match against West Brom. All that commitment turned out to be futile. If only Liverpool had been this good and focussed throughout the season rather than during the last third of the season, things may have been different.

But what do we know...Rafa probably prepared his team in the best possible way, shuffled his pack to suit the opposition's formation and won himself a new contract by politicking in a way a Spaniard would. There are a few schools of thought as to the real reason for Liverpool's failure to pip Manchester United to the title.

1. Lack of Depth
United's substitutes can come on 60 minutes into the game and make instant impact, changing the match. Tevez, Anderson and even Kiko Macheda have all contributed so much to this season's title tilt. Liverpool, on the other hand rely on Nabir El Zhar, Ryan Babel and David Ngog. Not the same impact, huh? If Steven Gerrard and Nando Torres could have stayed injury-free the whole season, who knows the difference that would have made...

2. Form at Home
Liverpool's draws against the lesser sides at home, have been well-documented. It is true that the inability to beat the likes of Fulham, West Ham and Stoke City at home costed Liverpool valuable points. The title challenge could have taken a different turn if all those draws were wins - Manchester United would have been the pursuer rather than the pursued.

The second reason is more plausible. Comparing against Manchester United, the Red Devils have been awesomely prolific against the Wigans and the Boltons of the Premier League. They registered a whopping 84% in wins statistic against these teams which is the highest among the Big 4. Of the 31 matches currently concluded, United have won 26 of those, drawn only four and suffered only one defeat at Fulham.

On the other hand, Liverpool could only win 20 matches, drew nine and lost two against teams outside of the Big 4. This puts them at 65% wins statistic. An inferior wins record compared to the newly crowned champions is essentially what cost Liverpool the title. The fact that Manchester United always come up victors against teams outside the Big 4 brought the title back to the Theatre of Dreams.

So what if Liverpool did the double over Manchester United? Under Benitez, they still have that cup-side feel about them. And to win the league, one has to beat the teams which are below them. The loss to Boro (when they were bottom of the league) and Spurs (also when they were bottom of the league) came at a time when Boro and Spurs were languishing at the foot of the table. Another six valuable points dropped - in the end, they all add up.

Nevertheless, this season is Liverpool's best season yet since the Premier League began. There has been progress made this season....the last 10 games where Liverpool enchanted us with fantasy-style football really made this season come alive for all of us. But the key to the league title is consistency which means to win matches against lesser oppositions while at the same time, perform and outlast the title challengers. Liverpool have done the latter this season, now they have to add the former into their repertiore.

Until that happens, Liverpool's proud record (now shared!) 18 League titles could be surpassed next season by this excellent Manchester United side.


11 comments:

陈桂生 said...

A Liverpool without either Gerard or Torres is not liverpool anymore. This is the reason why Liverpool still hunting for the title for the first time since EPL is established.

Man Utd plays as a team rather individual game though superstar like Ronaldo does make huge impact to it's success. Tactical wise, red devil has more options than liverpool. They can play lone striker, normal 442, diamond formation. Rooney and Ronaldo or Giggs can switch position during the game. Berbatov can attract opposite defenders to create space for others and tevez can provide killer instinct touch on the front line. This formation flexibility can never be duplicated in Liverpool due to the quality of their players.

On the transfer market, Man Utd buys cautiously. They seldom buy but are willingly to pay astronomical price to world class player and unlike liverpool who always pay significant price to get an average players. Players like Bellamy, Morientes, Ciise, Babel all are expensive but under performed.

Liverpool needs a new manager like mourinho who know how to win games to really challenge EPL seriously.

Last but not least, pls try harder in coming season.

KYH said...

liv plays too much or beautiful football... for that they will walk alone, trophyless.

Anonymous said...
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FanZine said...

In case you hadnt noticed, Liverpool did the double against Man U. It's games with the lesser teams which the Reds need to win.

Melvin said...

too many draws cost liverpool the title, Kwai Sang is correct, liverpool is liverfool if Torres/Gerrard is injured, that's when they have lots of draws, and gave MU the title. On the other hand, credit should be given to MU as well, we can say they are lucky, but they manage to win all critical matches even with very slight GD. Nice blog btw, boss :p
Greetings from BKK :D

FanZine said...

Happy that you agree, Melvin. Although it is not about Torres and Gerrard all the time, might I remind you that Man Utd were made to look like novices without Torres and/or Gerrard.

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