Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mark Lawrenson: Liverpool FC Running Scared Of Bottom Club Represents A New Low

There are many reasons why Liverpool’s defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday was the lowest point of a season with, let’s face it, quite a few contenders.

But the one that sticks out for me came before the game even kicked off – it was the way the team was set up.

I find it really worrying that we go to the team at the bottom of the table and turn up with seven defensive outfield players.

It’s almost as if Rafael Benitez needs to get some psychotherapy sessions booked in to change his mindset. This is a team struggling to score goals at the wrong end of the table and the manager makes his first priority to stop them from playing.

Given that we finished runners-up last year with 86 points and scored more goals in the Premier League than any other side, are we really not at the stage where we can go to somewhere like Fratton Park and take the game to the home team?

We should be going for the win and then, if we are winning, shore it up later on. Get the lead and then play it defensive. That’s fine.

Don’t take anything away form Portsmouth. They played well and scored two very good goals.

But they must have got a boost from the fact that the Liverpool side facing them had so few players capable of causing them problems in their own half.

With a back four, goalkeeper, two defensive midfielders and Dossena on the left of midfield, that’s three players you’re asking to go and win you the game.

And I don’t care how good Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are, that’s putting too much pressure on them

Those two and Dirk Kuyt must have been looking round the changing room before the game wondering who was going to help them in their efforts to create the chances and score the goals to win the match.

When confidence is low you need to pick an attacking team and tell them to go for it, and that’s how you get the best out of your top players.

That’s what some of the lower sides have done to the big boys and it’s made this season’s Premier League a completely open book.

Maybe that has played on Benitez’s mind and he is being extra cautious against teams like Portsmouth as a result.

Either that or he just doesn’t trust his back four.

But if that’s the case then keep the ball away from them by picking an attacking, threatening line-up.

The current slump is the type that would cost many managers their job – but it’s easy to sack a manager, much harder to replace him with a good one.

So it’s not the manager I would like to see change – it’s Benitez and his selection policy.

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