Liverpool's kids come up short in Moscow
Ok, so it wasn't easy on the eye. In fact, it wasn't even hard on the eye. It was sore. Boring. Painful at times. Why anyone would have expected much else is beyond me. Sure, it's one thing when all the kids can show up and play some attractive stuff in the League Cup against a less than full strength West Brom. But against a genuine quality European side (not great but certainly quality) away from home, I'm not sure where the negativity is coming from that I've seen since the match ended.
No, Liverpool's kids didn't create much. Yes, they looked nervy and times and Anzhi kind of conceded possession to them a lot of the time. They were looking to hit on the counter, where they looked dangerous in the first encounter. But Liverpool did keep things contained. They did keep the ball. They rarely gave it away in a silly or dangerous fashion, other than a Wisdom giveaway on the touch line. They controlled things, and were only opened up consistently when they really had to chase things.
A perfectly acceptable, if not pulsating, 0-0 draw was right there for the taking. It took one massive cock-up to ruin that plan. And that's the shame. But it's hardly catastrophic. This was always a candy match. Not needed nutrition. Thanks to Young Boys beating Udinese, all Liverpool have to do is beat the Swiss side at home next matchday and have Anzhi rack up another home win over Udinese to progress. You should win at home. Pretty simple. And some kids got valuable experience, and some may have even earned future looks.
-Let's start with the cock-up, and actually the author of almost all the cock-ups, Sebastien Coates. He was straight up awful. He's never had pace, but that looks way worse when his positioning and anticipation is so off. Maybe playing with Carragher and the knowledge that he can't clean up the way he used to makes the Uruguayan jittery. Because he didn't quite look like this against City when paired with Skrtel. Maybe it's just lack of games. Whatever it is, the lack of progress is a bit worrying. He also wasn't helped on the goal by Brad Jones coming when he didn't need to. Carragher was at least going to force a shot from distance on the cover, but Jones left open an easy chip. Maybe his starting position was too far forward, because he didn't anticipate that Coates would whiff so heavily. Whatever, it was dumb all around.
-On the other side of the ledger, I thought John Flanagan was excellent. A threat when he got forward, fearless to do so, and none of the danger came from his side. Sure has some endurance does the kid. Sadly, there are already a lot of options at fullback. But he's probably earned himself another start in this competition.
-Conor Coady made his debut, and he did all the simple things well. More of a holder than anything that's available at the moment, he didn't get adventurous but was where he needed to be. Isn't going to solve that problem before Lucas is fit again, but also probably earned himself another start against Young Boys.
-Adam Morgan...he was there. He's not pacey or is he big so he's got to provide everything by being smart. Which is hard to do at 18. Showed potential of that with the clever run and pass to send Henderson away. Eh.
-Joe Cole literally didn't kill a cat. That's progress.
-While I applaud Rodgers's change of system for this, his second half subs bushed both Henderson and Shelvey deeper. The main attraction of both is that they get in the box. It was hard for them to do that from where they were.
-Suso was fantastic in his cameo and it came from the middle. Is there any way we can get him more time there?
Only slightly disappointing, but not much more than that. On to more important matters at the weekend.