A few short weeks ago when we lost 4-0 to Chelski, Tim Sherwood all too publicly criticised his players for showing a lack of character. I, on the other hand, chose to defend them.
On that occasion we went down to ten men – to a penalty and red card decision later overruled by the FA – and two nil down to the then Premier League leaders and favourites. We held out with players like Vertonghen, Sandro and Walker being forced to play, on Sherwood´s instructions, in unaccustomed positions but we conceded two very late unfortunate goals.
I thought we did reasonably well, under the circumstances.
Today we lost to the new Premier League leaders by that same margin but the manner of that defeat leads me to wonder what Sherwood would have said in private – it cannot have been pretty. What he thought from his position high in the stands where he could not influence matters on the pitch is anyone´s guess.
Today we were pathetic, apathetic and showed a total lack of control, of the ball as well as of composure.
We have seen numerous poor results this season, quite a few poor performances (even if we won) but today has quite simply got to be the worst. Not just of this season but of any season I can remember.
The only crumb of comfort is that we only conceded four goals, we were so bad it could and should have been far more. Liverpool were so much better than us in every department that they really should have scored 6, 7 or even more.
When Liverpool beat us at the Lane in December, they simply tore us apart. All their goals came from fantastic attacking play, but today it was so different.
Individual errors have cost us dearly far too frequently this season and today was no different.
Eriksen cannot defend – we all know that – so why does Sherwood insist on playing him wide left where he has responsibility for assisting the full back. Yet again he was caught napping as Johnson came on the overlap, outmuscled him and with Vertonghen missing the opportunity to clear, Kaboul could only prod the ball into the net and the match was not even two minutes old.
Within seconds of coming on to replace Vertonghen – who looked seriously disinterested from the start – Dawson played a poor ball down the line to Naughton who, again outmuscled, could only steer the ball forward where it was cleared by the Liverpool defence. Instead of hoofing the ball forward and out of danger Dawson chose, without looking, to play it infield where Kaboul miscontrolled and allowed Suarez – Suarez of all people – the chance to run at goal and we all know what that normally means.
That we were not punished more heavily as we allowed Liverpool time and space is the only positive to come from this appalling display.
We have now conceded 44 goals this season, that is more than teams such as West Ham, Hull and even Crystal Palace, but of those 20 have come in just four games, the four games home and away against Citeh and Liverpool.
Add the 4 goals at Chelski means 24 from 5 or put another way we have conceded just 20 goals from the other 27 games – including home and away to Le Arse and Manure.
It is our abject failure to compete against the very best teams in the League that have lead us to the position we now find ourselves in – sixth – and with very little hope of ending any higher even though we only have teams way below us to play against.
It is abject failure at every level. No-one can be excused. And by that I mean from Levy, Baldini and Sherwood downwards.
But my thoughts on that will have to wait for another day.