Performances Over Results For a While Yet
Author: ExWHUEmployee. Published: 13 August 2018 at 4:07pm
Written by benfleet_hammer
There can be no doubt that the 4-0 defeat at Anfield on Sunday was a disappointment. Although even the most ardent fan would have to admit that we could only have hoped for a win or a draw against arguably the second best team in Europe, I think we all expected a better performance.
Unfortunately, Liverpool are very good at stopping other teams from playing. They really are the worst possible opponents (barring Man City, potentially) for a team to come up against when they are in the transition period we are currently in. Add to that the key moments in the game – Mane’s goal before half time and the offside decision that wasn’t shortly after the break – and we never really got going. Never really had an opportunity to put into practice Pellegrini’s ideals for the way we will play this season, certainly in terms of our attacking play.
That brings me nicely on to my main point. I have seen some people suggest that a) our season starts properly against Bournemouth, b) it will be a far better indicator of how we will fare this season, and c) it is a game where anything but a win would be unacceptable. I agree whole-heartedly with a and b, but I think the most important thing we need to see in the next game is progress and desire.
Against Bournemouth, the players will likely have far more of an opportunity to put into practice Pellegrini’s vision for this squad. What we absolutely must see from each and every player on that pitch is a willingness and eagerness to take on board Pellegrini’s instructions. We need to see every single player busting a gut to get themselves into the right positions to receive passes. We need to see every single player tracking their runners appropriately, pressing when necessary and communicating with each other properly.
We must also see progress from the aimlessness and the laziness of last season. Particularly under Bilic towards the end of his tenure, but also at times under Moyes, we saw a lack of coherence in our team. None of the players ever seemed certain about how we intended to create chances and score goals. Similarly, nobody seemed sure about how we were supposed to defend and prevent goals. Players looked like they hadn’t bought into whatever messages were transmitted in training (e.g. Kouyate ambling back to track a midfield runner and long balls being pumped into Hernandez). On Saturday, we must see a team who 99% of the time look like they know what they are supposed to be doing.
It may well be that the execution of Pellegrini’s style doesn’t come off on Saturday. It may well be that we draw or lose the game, but I believe that’s not important at this stage of the season. We need to see a team united behind the new manager and working hard to produce what he has asked of them. We need to see a performance moving in the right direction, which shows us where we could be under this manager. I, for one, have faith that if we can do that, the results will come sooner rather than later.