THEY say you should learn something new every day.
Last Saturday at Southampton Brendan Rodgers should have got a month’s worth of education in just one afternoon.
Here are just some of the things that should have sunk in during the course of the game, if they weren’t obvious already.
One: Joe Allen is not a holding midfield player. If Lucas isn’t fit to start, we should stick three in the middle so we make up in numbers what we lack in physical presence. Central midfield should not resemble the M6 at midnight for opposition forwards.
Two: If one of your players needs surgery, it’s best to crack on with it. It’s not as if Allen is crucial to our pattern at present and he’d have to be superhuman not to have the possibility of his arm dropping off preying on his mind.
Three: For all his attacking excellence this season, Glen Johnson’s lack of concentration is becoming alarming. A cross to the back post from the right wing is now the opposition’s tactic of choice; there’s a good chance Glen will be dozing. It may just be time to ‘do a Bale’ and shove him further forward, just to answer the question once and for all.
Four: We’re supposed to play all the football. On Saturday, Southampton were doing all the stuff we’re allegedly implementing, while we were knocking long balls up to Suarez and Sturridge which predictably skidded off the wet surface into the goalkeeper’s arms. What happened to keeping the ball and swift interplay around the opposition box?
Five: Three straight league wins does not entitle us to start talking like European Champions elect. We’ve taken enough pratfalls this season after a couple of good results to warn us off forecasting Champions League qualification or similar optimistic predictions. Can we please have an embargo on all coaching staff and players muttering any prophetic comments whatsoever?
Six: It is not an admission of weakness to use substitutes. Bringing on one replacement with ten minutes to go and leaving another on the bench when you’ve been trailing for virtually all the match is not good practice. It was clear that whatever we were supposed to be doing last Saturday wasn’t coming off, so we needed to try something, anything, to shake it up and present the opposition with a new problem. And it can’t exactly boost the confidence of those left cooling their heels in the dug-out.
I’m going to stop counting now, that’s probably enough lessons for one day. School’s out for a couple of weeks, before our next exam at Aston Villa. If we flunk that one, then both teacher and pupils can expect further critical scrutiny until the end of term.