The Cracks Aren't Getting Smaller

Clive Brunskill - Getty Images

Liverpool toss away three or even one point

I got carried away a bit. I think all of us did. There was a lot going on the portended to good things happening in the future, and we want that future here so quickly. But the club isn't going to be a fine oiled machine in the blink of an eye. There will be nights they just don't put 90 minutes together. Or they just turn off for 10-15 minutes, make a couple mistakes and that costs them the game when there's a predatory striker on the other side. The squad is still thin, and when the bottom of it is out there it's going to get exposed at times.

All of that happened today as Liverpool took a match they were controlling and chucked it into the River Mersey. After 45 minutes, they were up 1-0 and had 78% of the possession. But with one astute substitution from the...well, not the real Bianca bianconeri but the junior version, and just seven minutes of goofiness, Liverpool's Europa League campaign has been turned upside down. And that's going to happen with this team right now. I'd forgotten that. How I know it now.

Bullets:

-You can't help but watch Antonio Di Natale and wonder what Liverpool could do with a striker that assured, no matter how old. He only needed barely a chance to score, and set up the winner beautifully with touch and control that Fabio Borini needs a golden lamp for. And he's been doing it for years. We feared that Carragher wouldn't be able to control him. Sadly we were proved right.

-Speaking of which, I'm going to try this season to make sure to not get upset at Carra as much as I can. I was harsh on him last year. In the past he hasn't hesitated to flex his muscles due to his stature at the club. But this year he really seems to have accepted his role, is trying to do his best to adapt to Rodgers's style and probably use it when he becomes a manager. And he is what he is, an aging, slow central defender whose margin of error was never large enough to make up for his limits. So when he gets clowned by Di Natale, we kind of just have to deal with that. He should be better protected by his teammates, who should know that you can't give the ball away cheaply because Carra just won't have the recovery ability he once did. Looking at you, Stevie G.

-Glen Johnson had better have been drunk. Otherwise his lack of positioning all night is disappointing.

-Coates was unlucky to have to be saddled with the own goal, because Carragher left him with two guys to mark. And the rest of his match was fine, despite the three shipped goals.

-It's not good when a 17-year old is the most impressive in your back line.

-There's a small part of Ossuama Assaidi's game that's going to need improvement if he's going to be a great player. Just one tiny thing. And that's the desire to attempt a pass to a teammate. If he could discover the ability to look and even maybe try a pass, the sky's the limit.

-Fabio Borini's running is just what you'd want. He finds space and occupies defenders for others. Anything to do with the ball however...

-Udinese's second came as a result of a killer counter that wouldn't have been a problem if Liverpool's midfield hadn't been so over-exuberant. This continues to be a problem without Lucas and asking Allen to be the sole shield.

-There was plenty of good. Henderson was excellent in the first half and ok in the second after he had more opponents to deal with. Stewart Downing actually had an assist. Jonjo Shelvey continues to flourish in the attacking role. Pepe Reina actually made some big saves.

So now Liverpool are going to have to get a result in either Russia or Italy while not slipping up at home again. Whatever else I might say on either side of the judgement ledger, the defending has to be better. Liverpool haven't kept a clean sheet since the league campaign started, and that's just not going to do. And until they do, any ambition about this season will be blunted.

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