Buggeration – right loads.
Let’s get one thing clear; Portsmouth were absolutely there for the taking. So I reckon we should be a bit cross about not winning it. Unfortunate that a combination of tiredness, crucial injuries, poor tactics, negativity, naive refereeing, thuggish opponents, no communication, loss of concentration and woeful pissing marking have conspired against us. Even though they were useless, we just couldn’t take advantage.
You can’t say it was down to lack of effort, because there were some very committed performances out there. McPake was strong once again, Gunnarsson put himself about more and more as the game wore on, and Best gave them real problems until he came off.
My main concern was just how poor we were for much of the game though, footballing-wise. I’m having an argument about this as I write.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some good spells when we played well and showed class (Best’s goal was unbelievable). But I think all you have to do is compare our performance to that of Reading’s last night to get a little perspective. Liverpool were equally as poor as Portsmouth, but Reading absolutely deserved their win. And it wasn’t just down to old-fashioned grit and determination (although they had that too), it was because they simply outplayed Liverpool.
Contrary to what you might hear from some corners, we didn’t really outplay Portsmouth. I think we could have, but for some reason, it didn’t click for us. Sloppiness and an increasingly defensive attitude were probably the 2 most contributing factors.
I think it should be pretty clear, given how many times we’ve lost leads this season, that we can’t try and defend a 1 nil lead for the length of time we did. It wasn’t like we were up against Man Utd, Portsmouth were struggling to create their own chances – they needed our help to win.
But if you are going to try and defend a lead, you’ve got to at least concentrate until the bitter end. 2 lapses of concentration cost us, and in the end we just gave Portsmouth their goals. They didn’t have to work to create them. That’s the biggest frustration.
So rather than feeling sorry for ourselves again and thinking up excuses for why we’ll probably lose the next game (Coleman), let’s get a bit angry and work out what we can do next time to stop it from happening again.
Here’s a starter for 10.
1) If the ball is coming straight for your head and no opposition players are around, don’t let lunatic right-backs fly in front of you. Communicate.
2) If there are 10 seconds left in a game and you concede a corner, you mark a man. You mark a man as if your life depends on it.
3) When you’re the manager of a team that finds the winning habit hard to come by, don’t mess with the formula so you can get your favourite back in. It probably ain’t gonna do the in-form striker you drop much good.
4) Don’t play Jermaine Grandison up front. (Not knocking him at all, but have you ever seen anyone look so bewildered!?)
All this has got me thinking. Take a look at the video below. Yes, it’s that man Roy Keane again. It’s a very extreme example of him caring about footballing mistakes instead of feeling sorry for yourself, so take it with a pinch of salt, but I honestly reckon we could do with taking a leaf out of his book.
It’d be nice to see just a little bit more of it sometimes.