Don't ever fucking do it again.
I don't know why I thought Liverpool could ease back into the Champions' League after a five-year absence with a comfortable home win that would ease our nerves after the weekend. It's clearly not their style nor has it been in years. Everything has to be breathless and frantic.
I really hate to compare games early this season to games very late last season, because obviously what's at stake is terribly different and the team is also different. But the same mistakes seem to keep getting made, and it's one of mentality which shouldn't have changed. Liverpool remain so naive.
While Gerrard's slip took all the attention in last spring's loss to Chelsea, it was Liverpool's impatient nature that was the real culprit. What were the centerbacks doing so far apart that close to halftime in a game they only needed to draw? They were beating their heads against the wall from the get-go. Same goes for the draw at Crystal Palace. Instead of seeing the match out to a safe point and then possibly going for goals, Liverpool went all Motorhead way too soon.
We saw miniature versions of both today. Brendan Rodgers clearly didn't want a repeat of Saturday's sluggish, sloppy loss and sent his team out to start quick, remain quick, and finish quick. But Liverpool were in far too much of a hurry too much of the time. It wasn't that they felt they had to score, THEY HAD TO SCORE NOW NOW NOW! Players occupied each other's space, forced through-balls were cut out because they weren't there to be made, long-distance shots fired into the stands.
You get it. This game, though being the first, was vital because if Liverpool are going to get out of this group, six points against Ludogorets are absolutely necessary. But you don't have to win it in the first 20 minutes. And if you don't, you shouldn't completely panic and look so apprehensive for the rest of the game.
When they did get their breakthrough, there they were pouring forward when they should have been comfortably seeing it out. Where are you going, Steven Gerrard? They thankfully got busted out of jail because of a keeper who had been on the other team for about seven minutes before entering Anfield. Liverpool remain the overanxious teenager on the Premier League and now European stage, not quite the careful and considerate lover they will one day be, though capable of creating ecstasy.
-Another thing that has worried me about Liverpool is this Stevie G as the deepest midfielder. While he wasn't solely to blame for Ludogorets's best three chances, he had a hand in them. When they hit the post, Sahko tried to control a long punt with his own balls, which doesn't tend to work. But that miscontrol spilled right to the man Gerrard should have been marking, who started the exchange that let them in. Gerrard again lost his man when a vital block from Moreno was needed to keep them at bay, and for their equalizer Gerrard was jogging upfield to support Sturridge when that was the last thing that was needed.
It worked last year in the diamond because Henderson and Allen are so mobile they can kind of be everywhere and do his running for him. In tonight's 4-1-4-1, he doesn't have the support he's going to need. I actually liked having Lucas sit next to him in a 4-2-3-1, but they scrapped that after one game. Someone is going to make LIverpool seriously play for this one day. And one day soon.
-While some lambasted Sterling's omission on Saturday, I got it. As I said, Rodgers almost certainly knows he had to win tonight, and though he could get away with it at the weekend without Raheem, It didn't work, and it barely worked tonight. The problems for the manager now is it might just be with Sterling's adaptation to the middle, can he and Coutinho exist on the field together? It didn't look like it tonight, nor has it all season.
-Balotelli's goal owed a lot to graft, but that touch to settle himself before shooting after winning the scramble is why you hope for so much. In fact, most of his night owed a lot to graft, but if the concern was that he wouldn't work hard here, we haven't seen that so far.
-The difference between this one and Saturday, at least attacking wise, was having Henderson farther forward, because his strength is his mobility and running into the box. At least Liverpool had more numbers there.
-Lovren's first half wasn't nearly as good as his second, but there are still hiccups. Still, it would look better if Mignolet hadn't come out in his Braveheart impression for the goal, perhaps in a nod to the big vote on Thursday. Suddenly those Victor Valdes rumors kinda make sense.
-The fullbacks were once again the best players for the men in red tonight. And combined they're only slightly older than me. I'll just jump out this window here.
-It's three points that Liverpool had to have. That's good. They've gotten the big return out of the way. That's good. They have a lot of room to grow and can. That's also good. Let's just worry about that.