Liverpool 6-1 Hull City

Last updated : 27 September 2009 By Rick Skelton

The Tigers were humbled at Anfield, in no small part due to a world class performance by Spanish striker Fernando Torres. City competed well for the most part, caused Liverpool a headache by equalising in the first half and looked in good shape at half time. However, Torres prowess, a strike by Steven Gerrard that was either out of this world or a fluke and a late collapse by a tiring City outfit made the score line an embarrassing one.

The Gaffer

Browny sensibly reverted to the 4-5-1 system and restored Myhill, McShane, Sonko, Hunt, Dawson, Geo & Ghilas to the starting line-up. Kilbane was chosen ahead of Marney and Olofinjana to partner Boateng in midfield. The big surprise was the inclusion of young Liam Cooper at centre half. It looked a massive risk but despite the scoreline, it worked out fine. Judging by the efforts against Spurs and Sunderland this season, I don't believe Turner or Zayatte would have made any difference.

Where I might criticise Brown is in the subs department again. He was unlucky in his first change, as Tony Warner was just calling in Marney and Cousin when Gerrard scored their fourth from a ridiculous angle. However, with the score at 4-1 and the City following relatively happy with the Tigers performance, he removed Geo and sent on Altidore. Lord knows what he expected Jozy to do at this point but we spent the last 10 minutes plus injury time getting absolutely murdered down our left because we were so stretched and for some reason, we had three strikers on the pitch. It's a ridiculous mentality to keep chasing a game when you are 4-1 down with 10 minutes left but he keeps doing it and it's just getting us a good hiding more often than not. He should've sent on Olofinjana, packed the middle of the pitch and allowed Hunt to protect Dawson, as he'd done very well up to that point.

The fans were very subdued before the game. Last time we went to Anfield, it was party time, there was a buzz on the concourse and the City fans drowned out "You'll never walk alone" before kick-off. Today, there was an air of inevitability about the whole thing and far more dissent towards PB than I've heard at other games. The City fans did, for the most part, give the players a good ovation for their effort at the end.

The Defence

When they are in that sort of mood, Liverpool are unplayable. Our back four were under constant threat and barely had a minute to rest. The movement of Kuyt and Torres was superb. Benayoun and Reira caused real problems with their pace and trickery and then Johnson and Insua backed them up, Insua being particularly impressive, up all over the place and occupying one of our midfield shields, allowing Reira to get at McShane. On the left, Hunt did a good job of tracking Johnson, who I've seen several times recently on the telly, for Liverpool and England, and he generally causes far more trouble than he did today, when he was well marshaled.

We didn't see a repeat of the recent defensive errors, the four made their tackles, won headers and kept a decent line. The were undone by the pace and movement and by Torres ability to find space anywhere in the penalty area. He scored three times from about four shots. Most strikers wouldn't have taken two of the chances, his second in particular being a superb piece of control and skill in a tight situation. Liverpool broke through our midfield at will and the defence was over-worked but coped quite well for the most part. Liam Cooper has being a part of defences that have let in ten goals in two games but has come through it remarkably well. Some of his headers and sweeping challenges were almost Turner-esque. He was quick to react to some situations and has a decent knack for recognising where danger might come from around the penalty area. If his confidence isn't totally shattered, he'll be a player. Sonko is looking commanding in the air and he's starting to get on the end of some set peices. He had a powerful header blocked from a Hunt corner. When the ball is slid in behind, he's a little slow to react. McShane made some good defensive challenges but was useless in possession, especially once he'd been booked (and then nearly sent off). Evey time he touched the ball, he was booed heavily and then inevitably generated massive cheers by giving the ball away. Dawson was well covered in the first half but in the second, he was ripped to shreds. Lord knows where he was in the last 10 minutes when Kuyt had free reign to destroy us down their right. He often provides good cover, sweeping up behind the centre-backs but more often is undone by his lack of pace and his liking for tucking in close to centre back's leaving acres of space. McShane does at least go out to engage the winger in a deul where Dawson never seems too. He just never gets forward either and you can count the number of times he's gone beyond Hunt this season on one hand, it's probably fewer than the number of times McShane got forward in this one game alone.

The Middle

Midfield is a massive worry. We've been banking on the return of Bullard but even with him, we are so poor without the ball that it's hard to see him making a difference, except that we'll stop giving the ball away so easily. Boateng has the brain to play defensive midfield, his positioning is good and he knows when to come out and close the ball down but he's too slow and in possession he was absolutely abysmal. He just gifted them possession time after time after time. Kilbane is just useless. He actually made a couple of decent interceptions early on and I thought he might do OK but he soon reverted to type. He doesn't make tackles, he doesn't have a clue how to play the position, he never closes them down. When we were under the cosh, he spent most of his time standing between Cooper and Sonko doing nothing. When he has the ball, he wants to get rid of it straight away, regardless of whether that means passing it to a red shirt. Although I like Phil Brown, I find it impossible to defend a guy who willingly chooses this moron ahead of Oily or Marney. Hunt and Ghilas had decent games. Hunt was more effective as defensive cover while Ghilas was better going forward. He's got great movement and work rate and he's good in possession and we were at our best in the first half whenever he and Geo exchanged passes and created space to get in on the right. Marney gave us a decent option when he came on, he carried the ball more, kept it better and got forward. As soon as Boateng tired, any attacking threat from central midfield was lost.

The Geo

Not really a midfielder or a striker, but an enigma who plays whereever takes his fancy. It's a good use of his talents and he had a decent outing, carrying the ball well and linking up nicely with Ghilas. I'd quite like to see Ghilas playing centrally off the front man with Geo in behind, they'd cause some trouble. Geo took his goal well but faded in the second half.

The Front Line

JVoH lead the line again and struggled again to make anything of the aimless clearances he had to chase. He worked hard and held the ball up well a couple of times but struggled to ever make an impression. His header down for Geo's goal was a fine one though. He was replaced by Dan Cousin, who immediately showed why he's technically the best striker we have, controlling the balls up, using his strength to hold off defenders and bringing Marney into the game. It's only a willingness to work this hard for 90 minutes in every game that holds him back. He didn't have the opportunity to threaten the goal as we didn't really create the chances. Altidore had a ten minute cameo but watching Babel score twice was all he got up to.

The score line was disappointing, especially as it didn't really reflect our effort. However, there were enough positives to take into the next game to give some cause for hope. However, we are in danger of getting cut adrift if we don't start picking up some points and quickly. Despite the words of Mr Duffen, I do genuinely think Phil Brown is under pressure and in dangerous territory. What happens next is up to him. Hopefully, he'll come out fighting. I don't want to see him standing with his arms folded on the touchline. I don't want to see him standing looking depressed with his clipboard. I don't want prickly post match interviews. I want to see the brash, confident, arrogant, fluorescent, all-action, nonsense-taking, cliche-abusing, pro-zone-loving man we'd come to know and love. I want him to march into the dressing room on Monday morning, point out the positives, let the players know he believes in them and get them to enjoy playing football again. There are plenty of teams around us who are only going to win once every four games. We've got to make that we are one of them and that when we get crucial "six-pointers"; we compete and win more than we lose.

Oh, and stop playing Kilbane in midfield.