From My Seat: Liverpool (H)

"How could we play like that second half?" was going around my head. But, as a long standing attendee of Goodison derbies, it certainly isn’t my first. These are games like no other but I just wish we could have a few where we are the ones scraping the win, regardless of how the teams play.

Ken Buckley 20/12/2016 26comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 1 Liverpool
Here we go: derby day again, home first again and for all the bravado talked in the room of nonsense each one of us had that now familiar feeling and secret thought of ‘How can we cock this one up?’ Well, after a rumbustious night we managed it – again.

The pub was full, the roads on the walk up were full, Goodison Road was heaving as people walked in all directions to get to their respective turnstiles after the half-hour wait at the oversubscribed greasy spoons. The atmosphere could be cut as the sheer numbers make it a night first-timers attending a derby will never forget along with us long-time attendees who always marvel at it all.

The first strains of Z-Cars and the roar is ground moving and will be heard in L1. The whistle to start sets both players and fans into a state of frenzy as the rollercoaster begins. This electric atmosphere not only galvanises the commitment and effort of fans and players but is also well capable of addling brains both on and off the field and this game was no exception. The kopites whished us a happy 21st (the number of years since our last trophy) so we wished them all the worst.

On the field, within two minutes, the number 8 was hanging limp off Ross’s back by an action that our Ref Mr Dean missed. A fan near us was heard loudly proclaiming that the Refs Wirral family were all rabid and devoted followers of the team in red shirts. His refusal to offer Lovren a second yellow for laying hands on Coleman in the second half had him shouting louder and I think a few of us just wondered a little considering he booked Coleman for the self-same thing in the same incident.

There was no doubt that we started the half full of venom and were causing concern to Klopp’s men. Like men on a mission we attacked well with both Baines and Coleman driving on. Crosses were either over-hit or misdirected and the visitors who looked to break were thwarted by some committed defensive activity with McCarthy and Gana breaking up anything Liverpool had and the midfield was mostly ours.

Yet despite all our aggression, pressing and verve we had failed to have an effort on target. Valencia was full of running and Barkley was the one striving to be full of cunning and at last we had a move that cut through them and forced a corner. Barkley took it and coming in at the back post was Funes Mori who had a free header that alas went wide – the best chance of the half by either side.

With McCarthy and Gana running the midfield, I started to think a goal would surly come but, despite shots going wide and curling headers floating over, that decisive finish was lacking. With about ten minutes or so from half time I noted McCarthy laying down on the pitch but after treatment he re-joined the fray but without looking like he was in full working order. We were not to know it but that for me was the turning point of the game. He didn’t return for the second half and was replaced by Barry. On paper a strong move considering Barry’s offerings in most of our games so far but for whatever reason he looked a pale imitation of himself in that second half.

No longer did we have the legs of them in mid-field and you could see clearly Liverpool sensing this and gaining the upper hand in mid-field. This gave them some openings and we were soon too deep and getting unnecessarily hemmed in. It got worse when again the visitors cut through us and a last ditch sliding attempt to clear by Baines saw him plough into the fast advancing Stekelenburg the upshot being after lengthy treatment he attempted to soldier on but was soon sat down again and Robles took over. Stek to that point had a fine game and made a few good saves one at full stretch caught the eye.

What went wrong in that second half I don’t know; it was hard to believe it was the same players minus McCarthy on the pitch. We made wild clearances or played ourselves into danger by overplaying in our box and after every near thing and blind clearance the ball just kept coming back at us. Brave blocks, last ditch sprawls and good old hoof kept the score to 0-0 — just.

Amid all this nonsense, Koeman needed to look to his bench but with the injuries already accounting for two enforced subs, he was left with one to play with and when it came it was not the experienced Mirallas to replace the worn out Valencia but our young acquisition from Sheffield Utd who took to the field and went to right midfield. It was a tough time for him to come on as the senior pro’s who should look to mentor him were showing alarming signs of frustration. On 70 mins, this boiled over when a Barkley, who after a good first half, could not do right for achieving wrong and flew into a wild sliding tackle and caught Henderson on the ankle. Looked like a red to me but Dean gave yellow. Lovran confronted him then Coleman went to Ross’s aid and they pushed one another in identical fashion and the upshot was yellow for Coleman nothing for Lovran, Dean knew he had already been booked. Bias or a ref wanting to keep eleven men each on the field? I think the latter as really Barkley should have gone.

Before the 90 mins, Firmino had two good efforts that brought a good sprawling save from Robles and the other a block from Coleman. 8 mins extra went up. The crowd tried to roar that one last effort out of us but we looked shot at and I admit to praying for a point if only for the fact it is a hell of a lot better than losing to them. But wouldn’t you just know it, half way through the allotted time added Sturridge shot, not particularly hard and looked saveable but Robles seemed slow in going down and the ball hit the post and rebounded across the six-yard box and in a three way race to the ball Baines and Robles were a fraction late and Mane slotted.

Cue a mass exodus from the old lady. Liverpool fans hurled the pyro, smoke bombs and a brilliant red flare that required sunglasses for comfortable viewing. It seemed an eternity until police and stewards regained order and the final couple of minutes were played out before those of us who had stayed. On the final whistle I let out a word used by a mate of mine when he is totally disappointed and frustrated. Imagine the mouth action when you spit then spit out the word ‘Bastard’ very quickly. Silly maybe... but, at that moment, that was me. >MotM: Stekelenburg

The walk back was mostly quiet and brooding with the words ‘Second Half’ the most I heard. "How could we play like that second half?" was going around my head. But, as a long standing attender of Goodison derbies, it certainly isn’t my first. These are games like no other but I just wish we could have a few where we are the ones scraping the win, regardless of how the teams play.

Still plenty to play for. Let us hope we can put this behind us and start getting points and putting two halves together of sufficient quality. January transfer market is almost upon us. I hope they get a couple or more targets in in the first couple of days and not the last half hour of 3ist January. I don’t know who they can get but I hope whoever is in charge of recruitment gets it right. The outgoings could be interesting too.

All the best to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year. Health and Happiness.


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Reader Comments (26)

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Peter Mills
1 Posted 20/12/2016 at 20:25:35
"Bastard". Sums it up.

Good to have you back Ken, peace and enlightenment to you and yours too.

Bill Gall
2 Posted 20/12/2016 at 20:31:13
Great write-up again, Ken. Amazing nobody seen Barkley get his shirt ripped as it must have taken a strong handful of his shirt to practically rip off the number.

Rest of the article describes how poor we are in squad size, when loosing one player can make such a big difference.

Paul Tran
3 Posted 20/12/2016 at 20:37:13
Ken, I hope you're well. Missed your report from last week.

I thought McCarthy coming off, together with them having an inevitable good spell, turned the game. They turned up the pace, we couldn't live with it. We stepped back and the gap between our midfield and attack was too big. So we retreated more and hoofed it to a striker who can't hold to anything.

Big issue was that when we were on top in the first half, we didn't create anything. What told in the end was they were fitter than us and had forward players with physicality and purpose. Until we get the same we'll struggle.

Thanks for all your reports Ken. I hope you have a healthy and happy Christmas and we can read more of your reports in 2017. For us exiles you're the closest to a match-going experience we get.

All the best, my friend.

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:00:06
As usual Ken spot on with how you saw the game, we had a good go, couldn't be faulted for effort, but effort on it's own is not enough.

Liverpool deserved to win, we were unfortunate in having to make two substitutions that forced upon us and the last one was a poor one by Koeman. We were fighting a rearguard action and another defender should have come on, Holgate with Coleman further up the line.

We can all make changes in hindsight but we can't change the result, mores the pity.

Like a few more on here I'm glad you are okay, you have been missed.

Michael Winstanley
5 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:12:14
Many thanks Ken, merry Christmas to you and yours.
Steavey Buckley
6 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:21:03
The moment Barry came on for McCarthy, Everton went down to 10 men. That's how bad it is having a player who just patrols a certain area as the opposition go past as though he does not exist.

If McCarthy is not fit for the next game, it would be footballing suicide to play Barry instead of Tom Davies, who has the energy, skill and youth to get into the faces of the opposition. And not stand back like Barry, whose legs have gone, except for giving away stupid free kicks, then getting booked.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:38:30
Agree that the enforced substitution of McCarthy, changed the focus of the game, but probably left Goodison, more frustrated with Lukaku, Barkley, and Koeman, than the actual result.

Lukaku, for playing like a kid. I know he was getting more and more isolated, as the game wore on, but how he couldn't just get his body in, and control the ball, and buy his under pressure team, a bit of respite, by buying a few fouls was both bemusing and very frustrating.

Barkley tried, but I thought a lot of his running was silly, and he kept getting caught on the wrong side, because he was either too impetuous, or he just doesn't know the pitch. It's hard if you don't have many players to play with, but you make it a lot harder for yourself, when you shit out of a 50/50, like he did last night.

Finally Koeman, for his subs. I know he doesn't have much to play with at the minute, but playing Barry, and continuing to ignore Tom Davies, is such a contradiction, when he talks about wanting his team's to play a high pressing game?

I look forward to watching Everton, if Ronald, can achieve his goal though, because I felt there was a lot to enjoy in the first half last night, and look forward to watching an Everton team play like the game really means something to them once again.

Finally thanks for your report Ken, written by a true match going fan, who obviously knows his footy. Next time I hope the flares will be blue, rather than the mood, and hope you have a very good Christmas, and our team can pick up in the new year!

Mike Oates
8 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:42:04
You just cant operate at manic levels for 90 minutes, its impossible. We needed to score probably 2 when we had them on the back foot for the first 25 minutes, but we don't have the quality to create clear openings. Barkley isn't rising to the demands being placed on him, we need another creator and some real pace through midfield and out wide.

I'm unsure whether Koeman is a one trick pony and his only tactic is to have big physical, pacey players as he doesn't seem to be able to develop a method of playing which suits the current squad. Or is it just the fact that he's inherited an ageing, crock ridden squad.

Barry Pearce
9 Posted 20/12/2016 at 22:22:17
Love your reports ken, glad your back. Merry Xmas.
Andy McNabb
11 Posted 20/12/2016 at 23:31:43
Thanks Ken - have missed you, mate. No 'live' EPL over here, so have read yours, Paul Trail's Lyndon's and Michael's review, trying to get some understanding as to how we can change this malaise.

Maybe an indicator of the different attitudes is that I have heard from a number of kopite friends who were almost all disappointed at the match. We would have loved a scrappy 1-0 win but they thought the footy was awful (not too many comments on the result). They want to win with style, such is their confidence re this fixture. We would accept any sort of win.

Christopher Timmins
12 Posted 21/12/2016 at 06:52:29
Ken, great to have you back in action. You saw it as most of us did, not rocket science really. We are where we are and it is going to take time given the extent of the changes needed to bring about the improvements needed.

I am already looking forward to your reports in 2017.

Happy Christmas and a prosperous new year to you!

Tony Abrahams
13 Posted 21/12/2016 at 08:58:26
Andy, your mates might be genuine, but I think it's an easy thing to say that, when you have just won. I thought it was a throwback until Barkley, jumped out of the tackle with Klavan, but maybe you are right about attitudes?

I remember the last time we beat Liverpool, which seems a very long time ago now, and I left Goodison, absolutely livid. I had to bite my tongue with more than a few very happy Evertonians, because I was disgusted with our performance once we took a two goal lead that day.

It's a Derby match for godsake, and we should have really went for the jugular that day, and absolutely pulverised the horrible baskets. I suppose we all feel different at times though, and I could understand why everyone was happy, even if it's just 3 points at the end of the day.

IF IM TO GET MY DYING WISH THOUGH, ITS GOT TO BE A LAST MINUTE WINNER IN A CUP FINAL AGAINST THEM... sometimes I think it's that thought that keeps me going!

Mike Doyle
14 Posted 21/12/2016 at 09:46:03
Ken, always look forward to your reports – which transport me back to when I was a Goodison regular rather than a South East-based armchair regular.

Like a few other posters you have found a (small) element of positivity in Ross's first half performance.

However, and to endorse Micheal Ball's piece in the Echo, I thought he was – as usual – largely anonymous. I wonder if those watching live are witnessing things the TV viewer is missing?

Brian Garside
15 Posted 21/12/2016 at 10:10:18
I can do no more than agree with the above. I do wish that the slating Koeman receives stops. We are all aware of the opinions voiced about the strength of the squad, but remember he inherited it from a manager who had dragged us down and removed all zest and urgency from our play. (Read Osman's comments). I believe that Koeman will sort out the mess after Martinez, but it shall take time.

Many talk about a clear out regarding the squad. Agreed. Takes time,requires patience. So, my fellow blues, I call for an end to the mindless slagging off of all and sundry when things don´t go as planned. It is not his squad but Matrinez's. It needs a major operation to improve it.

Apparently we have a very talented group of U23s. Give them a try before spending on short term fixes. We have at east two, Davis & Dowell, who could replace Barry. Give them 3 or 4 games each to prove themselves.

Alas, Barry is finished. It doesn't matter how clever,smart or experienced one is, if your legs won´t carry you the team suffers. We saw how deep we played 2nd half on Monday. Even Cruyff and Pele had to give it up.
Thanks, Ken. Always a pleasure to read your stuff. As others have stated, we who live abroad really get it.

Sam Barrett
16 Posted 21/12/2016 at 10:14:42
Tony @13 your dying wish is way too lenient on the feckers, mine involves them as well but is much much darker!!
Tony Dove
17 Posted 21/12/2016 at 10:24:48
Young Tom Davies must have crossed Koeman big time. It's ludicrous he is not even on the bench. Bringing on the other young lad was an awful decision.

I worry about Koeman generally but at least he has shown a bit of passion since Christmas-tree-gate .Have a great Christmas, Ken.

John G Davies
18 Posted 21/12/2016 at 10:48:00
Tony #17

Is that the 18-year-old Tom Davies?

He's a kid full of potential but, the way some talk about it, Tom would be the answer to our problems. No pressure there then.

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 21/12/2016 at 11:27:29
I've had the thoughts Sam, but maybe we shouldn't be joking after what has just happened in Berlin!
Andy Meighan
21 Posted 21/12/2016 at 15:07:23
Superb as usual, Kenneth. But I really think I'm never going to get to see us win another derby as long as I live. If that would have been any other side in the world that hits the post and goes out.

But no... not our loveable neighbours – it just had to go to one of their players, didn't it. Mind you, Williams hardly covered himself in glory reacting slowly at that.

And Tony (#13) don't wish a cup final on us against them because we all know what happens, don't we? It's certainly not us getting a last-minute winner. But hey, it's nice to dream...

Happy Xmas everyone – especially you, Ken, and keep 'em coming!

Tony Heron
22 Posted 21/12/2016 at 16:00:52
Thanks for your report, Ken. Informative, entertaining and interesting as usual. Sad to say that, these days, it's about the only thing I look forward to now when we play.

Just speechless in terms of commenting on the teams performance and "style" of play. As for the verdict by Koeman that we were "outstanding", that's an insult to the club of Ball, Labone, Dean, Kendall, Harvey, Southall and Young.

Jon Withey
23 Posted 22/12/2016 at 13:07:55
Derbies are difficult to look forward to, the bookies had it spot on being either a draw or a win for the Reds.

So this time it is two major injuries and a loss. I was also wondering whether Barkley might get a retrospective red.

Sorry to hear Barry had a bad game, just after we extended his contract !

I'm content that the team are showing a bit more fight now but what happened to the football? The second-half just passed us by without us showing much threat at all.

Jay Harris
24 Posted 22/12/2016 at 16:40:36
Many thanks for very enjoyable reporting, Ken.

May I wish you, your family and all Evertonians a very Happy Xmas and a healthy and prosperous New year.

Pete Anthony
25 Posted 22/12/2016 at 17:56:35
A huge thanks to you Ken, your reports are the creme de la creme. Appreciated greatly by those of a blue hue, the world over. Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year too.
David Price
26 Posted 23/12/2016 at 07:17:38
Thanks Ken, glad you're back.

Have a great Christmas and New Year I look forward to reading many more of your reports over the remainder of the season.
Bob Parrington
27 Posted 23/12/2016 at 11:18:16
Hi Ken,

Thanks for the usual quality of report, even in the lousy background of yet another loss to the Red Shite!

One of these days and I don't feel its too far away, we will just have some luck against them! And I will say Hallelujah! it is now our time! It is that day that drives me on.

Supporting since 1953, great times, good times but recently poor times. Time to get back on top!

Dan Egerton
28 Posted 30/12/2016 at 08:46:40
We were better than the shite in the first half. We lose Macca to an injury and he's unavailable in the 2nd half. His pressing ability is what made us the better side. Without him Liverpool are able to mount some decent attacks.

Valencia's energy also helped keep Liverpool at bay. So what does Koeman do? He removes the effective Valencia and brings on a youngster.

If anyone had to be removed it was Lukaku. I think that decision cost us the game. A pressing Valencia alongside a spritely youngster could have won us the day.,,

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