I wrote an article a recently (“Lack of Firepower Afraid So)” which questioned whether we really had the type of forwards you need to get you into the Top 4. I said at the time we didn't and we saw clearly after last night's performance that we do not have them and unfortunately Liverpool do.

They are the type of forwards who when you throw the ball up to them can fashion a goal out of nothing. We all know who they are and know that they cost megabucks.

What is more worrying besides our injury list is the type of teams who we struggle against and whether our weakness has been sussed. To me it's becoming clear that we struggle to cope with teams who sit back and invite us onto them , then counter with pace and also teams which push right onto us and deny us any chance of building from the back.

It's no coincidence that our better performances have been against United, Arsenal, Newcastle, Stoke (!) and Liverpool at Goodison, all teams who at the time took us on head to head, allowed us to play, didn't play defensively and we played really well. To be honest, City and Chelsea just were better teams and deserved to win, even though Chelsea didn't.

I thought we struggled against Liverpool and Aston Villa away where they counter attacked with real pace, for those who don't remember Villa had a host of chances early in the game and we only got over the line with two late-ish goals. Against Hull, Southampton, both really pushed up high against us and again we just sneaked through.

As Brenda just said last night, they knew we would push high up, with our full backs way forward. All they had to do was defend deep in numbers around the box and then use their pace on the counter attack it worked a treat. We had 20 attempts but only 4 on target, they had 18 attempts, 9 on target and a missed penalty.

Roberto's style is possession – push high up, including the full backs, as Stones found out to his cost with the second goal last night, keep them pinned in and try to create an opening. But whilst it is great to watch, it really is just too slow if teams defend in numbers against us. Barcelona have won for years with the style but had a Messi, and Inestia, but a few teams could open up their poor, slow defence.

Over the last 2 years they have been caught out with Bayern's more direct and quicker pace football and Barcelona are changing their ways. You need pace and directness and real creativity.

I do think we have the players who can open up with direct pacy football in Mirallas, Deulofeu and Barkley but we do take far too long a time to get them the ball. It’s normally after Jags, Distin, Barry and McCarthy have exchanged the ball 3 or 4 times before we give them the ball 25-30 yds from goal, completely surrounded by gorillas.

Obviously depends on the game at the time and if we are struggling change the tactics and get the pacy lads a bit deeper, give them the ball earlier, but expect them at times to lose it, So, don't let your full backs bomb ahead of them, keep Barry and McCarthy centrally behind them. We rely far too much on build-up through our Centre Halves and Central Midfielders. We need our creative players to get the ball in space and use it quickly.

Last point: I'm not knocking Roberto, it's been a pleasure watching them all year but we do need another option, a Plan B. Even though I could fully understand Roberto's reasons to sell Heitinga and Jelavic, I suspect with our injury jinx we may regret it.

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Dave Lynch
1 Posted 29/01/2014 at 15:48:25
Can't argue with any of that...
Patrick Murphy
2 Posted 29/01/2014 at 15:34:27
So what is this mysterious plan B? Five at the back and hope to pinch one on the break? We have no pace in the team and no real height - so the only way we can play is the way that we have been playing.

The brutal truth of the matter is that we dont have enough outstanding players - when the likes of Naismith and Osman who are both honest enough triers are in and around the first team then we will not be at the level required to achieve our aims, moreover when the squad is stretched as it is at the moment we see in full view the lack of depth. Some players will improve and some due to age will decline - but without the necessary proper investment in the squad we will continue to struggle to do ourselves justice.

Matthew Williams
3 Posted 29/01/2014 at 15:53:13
More worrying for us is Aston Villa play a similar system and tend to play better away from home, Saturday will be a tricky game on the back of this heavy defeat.
Jamie Crowley
4 Posted 29/01/2014 at 15:52:34
Patrick -

How about something simple like a flat back 4 lying much deeper to prevent lightning counters when we look susceptible?

Is it really rocket science? Plan B sorted. Dont compress the pitch, and use the possession game to effect by holding the ball and minimizing the opponents chances if they can hurt us.

Hindsight is a glorious thing admittedly....

Patrick Murphy
5 Posted 29/01/2014 at 15:59:26
I'm still not convinced that the players were playing to Roberto's orders last night - the last time I remember us playing that way was at Old Trafford last season when RVP was given all the space in the world and we eventually paid for it, I blamed Philip Neville for that, but as he's no longer with us I was wrong. But I do agree with your premise when playing teams with real pace.
Rob Dolby
6 Posted 29/01/2014 at 16:02:13
Now that Lukaku is out for a month and Crouchies bigger brother was already injured then we do need a Plan B.

As we do play open football at some point we will get ripped apart and unfortunately for us it was last night. Stones had an awful game getting exposed for poor positioning for 2 of the goals. Jags gave the ball to the rat and then should have fouled him 40 yards out. Barry lost his man for the 1st goal and injured our only striker in the process.

It will be interesting to see how we react over the next few weeks hopefully Barkley and Deulofeu will make a big difference. I dont want to see too much of a change when we have the ball. When we havent got the ball I want to see more closing down and urgency last night was the worst we have played off the ball all season.

Harold Matthews
7 Posted 29/01/2014 at 16:06:17
Patrick. You blamed Neville. I blamed Jags for pushing the line too high and Gibson for not getting hold of Rooney but it was certainly a similar situation. We're just not very good at defending the 30/40 yards of empty space behind the back four, especially without Distin.

Mike. Dead right. Our deep slow build-up allowed 7 red shirts to pack their box throughout the game.

Phil Walling
8 Posted 29/01/2014 at 16:36:38
Manager out-manoeuvered. Players outplayed. Board out of cash.

Everton out of the hunt.

Raymond Fox
9 Posted 29/01/2014 at 16:46:21
Phil, I think you've got it right this time mate, were not quite out of the hunt yet though, but I admit we've all on.
Shane Corcoran
10 Posted 29/01/2014 at 17:02:06
I agree with all that's been said and well done to everyone who put it across so well.

I guess RM would argue that he's aware of this and that given time he'll get the right players in and get them doing the things they're not doing in time.

We were all surprised at how well we've done so far and so a slump (?) was always going to look worse than it really is.

Sean McKenna
11 Posted 29/01/2014 at 17:31:54
The coment about no urgency off the ball was spot on. Last night, ,Saurez Coutinho seemed to have all the time in the world, yet when Barkley Mirallas had it, they were surrounded by a gang of wolfs!!

The thing is we didn't play that bad!! The defense was shocking fair enough it happens, But the most concerning thing for me was that despite dominating the whole of the second we never carved open a single chance of note.

For me we need a proper number 10, someone who can play that killer pass when defenses sit back. But all is not lost, few players back and hopefully we can push on.

Jamie Crowley
12 Posted 29/01/2014 at 17:53:49
Phil (602) -

I say this with caution - as an outsider as I can not begin to relate to the atmosphere in and around the city of Liverpool... someone mentioned on another thread to not say this but...

It’s one game. I know it’s that game. But "out of the hunt" is just a bit too drastic for me at this point. There’s still a third of the season to play.

The manager was out-maneuvered. I personally love RM. But fair is fair and I think he was as shocked as the rest of us.

It’s the injuries and squad depth that will hurt us moving forward. RM will get it right, but the quality and bodies are dropping like flies.

All that being said I don’t believe we are out of the hunt yet.

The sun shines brightest after the rain. Let’s just hope it’s a quick shower and not a storm.

Philip Bunting
13 Posted 29/01/2014 at 17:21:16
Rob Dolby 589 - Just regarding the lack of running of the ball last night. Does anyone think this has anything to do with lack of fitness?...and its starting to show through fatigue, noticeable also against West Brom. A lot of Martinez work is done with the ball as we all know, Moyes would have trained them more like a pub team and ran them ragged...Just a thought but will certainly be paying more attention to this over the next few games.
Si Cooper
14 Posted 29/01/2014 at 18:24:54
Rob Dolby (589) - "Jags gave the ball to the rat and then should have fouled him 40 yards out."

We would still have been 3-0 down and then had to play over a third of the game down to 10 men whilst chasing the game. Would have ended up being 5 or 6 at least, with a suspension to boot.

I thought Stones was horribly out of position for Sturridge's first, but not sure which other you think he could/ should have prevented.

Rob Dolby
15 Posted 29/01/2014 at 18:49:23
Stones was nowhere to be seen for the 3rd even though the ball was hoofed in between the right sided center mid and right back slot. I don't think Howard covered himself in glory either as he should never have rushed out.

The game was over at 3-0 but if you are going to commit a professional foul it would be better 40 yards out with your fellow centre half alongside saving the straight red rather than letting a player have a free run at goal.

Fatigue and lack of match fitness was almost certainly a factor in us not closing them down but I am not sure who else he could have selected looking at the bench.

Lets see how we react on Saturday

Danny Broderick
16 Posted 29/01/2014 at 21:06:06
I wouldn't rush to condemn our tactics, which have served us well for most of the season, on the back of last night's game. We were under strength, and even our key players who played were carrying knocks - like Jags and Barkley.

Last night was a write-off, but judge us when we are full strength.

Darren Robinson-Cooke
17 Posted 29/01/2014 at 21:56:17
I see Villa came back from 2-0 down tonight. Another team with pace that like to hit you on the break and will be full of confidence after their result tonight.I don't see Saturdays game as a cut and dried easy 3 pointer for us either with the current state of play. Roberto needs to address the striker situation before the window closes more than ever or we will be out of the CL and the Europa League places and could realistically end up finishing outside the top six...
Paul Mackie
18 Posted 29/01/2014 at 22:57:03
We were never going to win last night when we had our slowest central defensive pairing up against possibly the fastest forward line in the league.

The players have to take some blame but Martinez should have adjusted the tactics accordingly.

Patrick Murphy
19 Posted 29/01/2014 at 23:03:10
Whatever they are they are not the fastest forward line in the country - look at Manchester City who in the first 20 minutes at WHL were unbelievably quick and incisive. If they don't win the league I'll be more than amazed.
Sixty eight goals in 23 Premier League games
Paul Smith
20 Posted 29/01/2014 at 23:05:36
My sentiments exactly - the game's moved towards fast no-nonsense ruthless, counter attacking football, rather, than the - "ole" type stuff of the recent past.

You can see it at The Bridge. Jose, is trying to emulate this style - no more flying wing backs and untold passing. It's all quite direct and pacey, but not hoofball.

This takes quick, skillfull, smart thinking players, with an eye for a good pass.

Maybe football's moving on already, and we're still wearing flares ?

Dick Fearon
21 Posted 29/01/2014 at 22:40:12
We may as well hold our hands up and admit we were taken to the cleaners. As for tactics it was quite clear that Rodgers was the daddy. Martinez in typical Moyes fashion found an excuse that absolved himself. This fiasco he said resulted from pushing too far forward and leaving ourselves exposed at the back.

In frequent camera shots he could be seen urging our players to drive ever more forward a point picked up on by the match commentators.

In the matter of captaincy it was equally clear that Gerrard had full control of himself and total command of his team mates. Jags could barely do his own job let alone influence his team mates or the game.

We had 61% possession of the ball but most of it was brain dead unmarked completely pointless rubbish against a side that had little or no intention from the start of competing in the midfield.

Effective passing and control is good to see yet infuriatingly boring when it is for no reason.

Until Martinez discovers a way, plan B or call it what you will, that prevails over a retreating defence I cannot see us finishing higher than 8th.

Patrick Murphy
22 Posted 30/01/2014 at 00:19:14
If as reported Man City's wage bill runs at 639k per day which works out at 4.473m per week that is the equivalent of having 60 Leighton Baineses on your payroll - just saying like.
Steavey Buckley
23 Posted 30/01/2014 at 00:34:43
Everton played last night as if it was a training match as there was a lack of urgency and tempo to their game.

I do believe they were playing to the manager's instructions of not getting stuck on a greasy pitch in case they were easily booked and sent off.

When playing against Liverpool these days, they are drilled to go down as soon as they are touched. Under those circumstances, who would like to be a defender against those type of players?

Against Villa, Everton will be more like themselves, with not having to worry too much with a home crowd on their side (unlike the cauldron of hate shown by Liverpool fans on Tuesday night) about being booked because the opposition are feining fouls.

Norman Merrill
24 Posted 30/01/2014 at 10:54:21
After watching the way we defended the other night, I just hope Roberto has them planning some improvement, because Villa will come at us, as they did at Anfield Jan 18th.

They are fast on the break, something that caught us out, too often on Tuesday, So it's going to be a nail chewer, unless we have learnt from our mistakes, & show much more bite up front,

Kieran Fitzgerald
25 Posted 30/01/2014 at 12:16:36
Villa are starting to score goals for fun at the moment. We are catching them at the wrong time.

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