Eyewitness Liverpool 0-0 Stoke City

Posted by Hinesy on October 7, 2012, 10:15:26 PM

Its good to see there's irony in the pottery. When Stoke fans sang "You're a load of cheating bastards" one could only smile at the utter hypocrisy bypass they must have been suffering from after their team elbowed their way through 94 minutes of non football.

A pal said to me "Stoke are that classic no-nonsense kind of team" and although I initially agreed, I realised actually its the opposite. What they did today was complete nonsense. They played nonsense football: There's a big difference between hard tackling, 'honest' grinding football and having one idea, (kick to Crouch, nod it down and see what happens) and when not on the ball, foul the nearest player to you.

I've not been to a game for a while. Its a 12 hour round trip including the match, and I looked forward on a decent autumn day to a game that I imagined would end up probably 2-1 to us, or 1-1, 1-0 thereabouts.

I expected us to score. I expected them to score because most teams do these days, and I expected Stoke to have changed from their old hoof it up to Abi's wallet manner given the noises emanating from Mr Pulis.

I didn't expect to write the eyewitness report as if a witness to a crime, that of attrition, lack of ambition and a manager on the sidelines looking like an old age pensioner who'd just missed his Wallace Arnold Coach to Morcambe for the day.. gesticulating in a baseball hat railing against the temerity of other teams' desire to pass the ball and play.

Ah though, pass and move.... one of the slight problems with a lot of short passing is that you eventually run out of people to pass it to, if the others don't MOVE for the ball... That was my frustration for much of the game. The early 2nd half aside, we struggled to work out how to move around 10 men behind the ball Stoke, even though surely no-one was surprised at their likely tactic.

So my random witness thoughts that you may not have been able to glean from tv highlights are these:

I hadn't seen the big red circular hankie in the middle of the pitch before kick off before. And I marvelled at the elegant way 2 lads walked all over it as they folded it up like it was a dead body in a bag before unceremoniously chucking it into a big canvas shopping bag that two other lads traipsed on with.

Gerrard looked knackered. Or old, or at times a little injured. I'm not sure what's up with him, his early first half shot, the first to trouble their goalie was 26 mins in. Maybe he's getting frustrated with things, but whilst the flesh was willing at times, the spirit latterly looked weak.

Luis: pack that in. The belly flop was an embarrassment. You're better than that, and the Kop were right to shout at you to get the fuck up, mainly because the ball was coming back into their box.

Teams know that Brendan likes to pass it out of defence so will press high and hard when we do so. Again early doors, we  offered Stoke a Christmas present of a pass and Pepe averted what we thought in the Kop was a certain goal. There are times to pass and times to get.fucking.rid. Later on in the 2nd half, Reina booted it up field to warm applause from us.

It was nice to see Wisdom play at right back. Jamie must know for sure by now that if a 12 year old is preferred to re jigging the back line and playing him, his days are done. His testimonial, richly deserved, can only be a matter of time. Meanwhile AW played a good game, he looks solid and quickish and I hope he gets a lot more games so that we have a defence that settles in. Kelly will be his main rival I guess.

The pitch looked immaculate today and was watered regularly, so given that happens a lot at Anfield, might be worth some our players GETTING SOME STUDS that work. Just saying like..

Now I've not been for a while, but I'm sure last time I was there, when the teams were announced, it wasn't done using a microphone set at such a distorted volume with such a manic voice that I wasn't sure if we'd tuned into some Hitler Youth Rally... we know to cheer our own team when they're announced, you don't need a WWF introduction on speed to coax us.

The atmosphere was, as ever at home, dictated by the play. We will sing for the players early doors but we need encouraging. Luckily the ref's appalling ignorance of the rules was a good motivator. Stoke fans asked where the famous Anfield wit was. We should have responded that only proper clubs are worthy of it, but instead we consoled ourselves, albeit quietly, that they could fuck off.*

*not that witty I know but its late

There seems to be a general lack of what to do with the ball if we're not to cross it into the box for no-one over 5' to head it. We get the outside of the box happily and often speedily, but then when teams like Stoke park their entire bus fleet across the back, we get stuck. Someone needs to have a word and a think.

Final thoughts: the zonal raking section were out in force prodding at invisible divots that didn't exist but there seemed more of them. The rakers that is, not the non existant holes in the pitch. The gourmet chicken burger is quite nice but one salt pot per food bar is fucking looney. What happened to the sachets and whoever thought that the kid sat in front of me's Simon Cowell cut out face mask was a good thing to bring to a match needs to have a few words with themselves. Seriously, an 8 yr old with that on his head? You trying to traumatise him before he reaches double figures?

Oh and Suarez should've scored goal of the season, oh so close. It was always going to be that kind of day.

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