Absolutely dreadful today. Dreadful.
That was the worst domestic performance under Brendan Rodgers, and I see no point in sugar-coating that or pretending otherwise.
Today we simply did not show up and they did.
They fought for every fifty-fifty ball.
They were combative, determined, hungrier to get something.
I said in an article the other day that wanting it more does not give you an edge, except that it makes you fight harder. That only matters over class when the opposition doesn’t report for duty, and today that was us in spades, and so it was enough for them.
Let’s be clear, there is no over-reaction to this.
This wasn’t a disaster. It was a bad day, but the manner of it is infuriating. They were stronger. They were first to every ball. We backed off them and let them play. We refused to challenge them when we should have. We barely tested their keeper and what makes that especially bad is that we know how and have the players to do it. This was a collective failure and only by acknowledging and accepting it can we react properly to it.
We have two more games against this lot this season. Unless Caixinha is a complete moron he will double down on the tactics we saw today. This is how they will play against us in the two games that are left, including at Hampden.
Credit to their team today. Credit to Graeme Murty, who has been treated abysmally by the club in how they’ve handled his situation. He and his advisor – and how good did we make him look? – knew exactly how to approach this game.
We played into that, by the way.
The manager doesn’t escape scrutiny.
We’ve played them three times this season with an identical set-up.
Even the densest manager in the world would have learned from that and adapted. Brendan is not tactically inflexible, but there might have been some complacency in his decision not to throw a curve ball at them.
They knew Dembele would play up front on his own and they marked him accordingly.
They knew how we would try to get the ball to him, and they closed those angles off. They knew how. They’ve watched us extensively and so have other clubs. We’ve been creeping towards this lately when we’ve fallen asleep in major matches, and last week is a case in point.
We are awfully lucky we didn’t pay a higher price for that. We better learn. We better adapt. Because if we play like that in the semi-final we kiss the treble bye-bye and we’ll hand Caixinha the start of his dreams.
This was a warning shot.
Every bad day can be made better by learning lessons from it and we have two choices; we can heed it and be ready for next time or we can ignore it and walk into a hail of bullets, and spend the summer wondering what in God’s name happened. Those are the options.
Sevco fans are going to celebrate this one.
A draw with another last minute goal. But they are fully entitled to because this was a match in which not a single one of us gave them a prayer and maybe that was part of the problem and maybe it wasn’t, but that does not detract from their display or that they gave everything.
And the refereeing doesn’t come into it either.
Did decisions go against us? One or two, but if we try to hide behind them we’re kidding ourselves on. Madden had a pretty decent game overall; he’s not responsible for our inability to make simple passes or close down the opposition or fight harder for the win. We did that to ourselves. This is a self-inflicted wound.
But it’s not a serious one, far less a fatal one.
Sevco fans can have their day – it’s just a day, and a moral victory, rather than a real one. They look better in the here and now than they do in the history books where they are not much more than a single candle burning on an otherwise dark landscape.
Nothing changed today. Our club is still strong, theirs is still weak. They roused themselves for a day when our players were a yard short and well off form. The fundamentals haven’t altered, but they will be a hell of a lot happier with it than we are.
But things do need to change, in our approach and in our attitude, before we play this lot again. Because if not we’re going to pay a high price for what will be the height of complacency. They will fancy their chances and we will need to be well up for it to win.
This is what happens when you try to cruise through a game when the other side has turned up for a battle.
It was a shocker of a display.