I have to say, that was the first Liverpool match since the opening day that didn't leave me wondering where I'd gone with my life and if significant changes were needed. After all, most games this season have left you wondering why you even bothered in the first place and what kind of man would waste his time with this? Thankfully, none of that yesterday.
Are the problems still there? Oh god yes. Do I think this signals a turnaround of epic proportions? No, I don't. But when you're starving you don't complain that the burger is overdone. You just eat the thing and be happy you had it.
I hate Maxi Rodriguez. Let me be clear on that. Since he arrived last January, I have no idea what his profession is. Instead of being the out-and-out winger he once was, he's been a Picasso interpretation of anarchy (and no, I didn't confuse his nationality to that of a Spaniard so I could make a Picasso reference. I know he's Argentinian, but Picasso fit the bill there for that metaphor). He couldn't cross, couldn't score, couldn't beat a man with paralysis, couldn't pass, couldn't....do. The amount of expletives I've thrown his way were worthy of the Dice Man. And yet there he was yesterday, being useful. Clever runs, clever passes, he was the exact opposite of whatever that is parading around as Joe Cole these days. And he was there to receive Fernano Torres's simply ridiculous, you're-not-serious pass to slot home (though honestly Maxi did just about his best to have it saved, but somehow Jaaskeleinen couldn't manage it).
Once again leaving me in shock was the performance of Lucas. Now, I got off the "Lucas is the cause of the recession and death" train a while ago. He's never been as bad as we'd all like to think, and was probably misused by Rafa Benitez (though he simply is the worst header of the ball I've ever seen. It's probably not in a holding midfielder's job description to be an excellent finisher with his head, but his box-to-box instincts kick in once a game and he gets a chance off a cross. And it invariably hits his shoulder. Or whiffs altogether). He ran the midfield yesterday.
But outside of that, I don't know where else I can lay accolades. Torres was pretty piss-poor all game, and I'm not even delving into the Seuss-silly discussion of his "body language". He gave the ball away a lot, and blew some chances of his own. Granted, he's being asked to hold up the ball a lot more than he should be, and that's not his game. But he has the ability, and has been playing as a lone striker for three seasons now, so it shouldn't be that foreign.
Steven Gerrard is needed too many places.
Paul Konchesky can't do anything. Sure, he gets forward, but a golden lab on quaaludes could probably get forward and provide a better cross, or any sort of action that furthers the cause more than Konchesky.
While Kyrgiakos and Skrtel were solid enough, they provide no touch or calm with the ball. Thus hacked clearance after hacked clearance. Oh, if only Daniel Agger weren't made of pixie dust and dreams.
Roy Hodgson continues to look and manage as if he just has, or is just about to shit himself. Sadly, his options on the bench yesterday weren't exactly enthralling. He had three central midfielders, Ngog, a young full back in Martin Kelly (who really should get more starts) a reserve keeper, and Milan Jovanovic -- who he clearly decided was responsible for his prostate swelling and chucked after a game or two. But when Cole went down -- his only contribution of note -- Hodgson once again opted for the only plan he knows, throwing Ngog on and hoping the midfield can make it up from there. Ngog and Torres have proven they can't really play together, despite them being on the pitch at the same time when Liverpool crashed in some desperation goals (mostly from Torres awakening). Jovanovic may be just Dirk Kuyt II (and my feeling on the faithful collie will be obvious soon), but at least he can be a winger and provide width.
Whatever. It's three points, right? Anyway, until Napoli on Thursday there will be more "This is where I stand posts" so everyone can get a good idea of where I'm coming from. And realize I know nothing.