Monday, May 04, 2009

Liverpool Surge past Abysmal Magpies

Liverpool 3 (Benayoun 22, Kuyt 28, Lucas 87)
Newcastle 0

After a troubled season of managerial changes, uncertainties and squad full of uncommitted players, Tyneside’s worse fear was soon realised yesterday at Anfield and that their Premiership status might be stripped away. Relegation for Alan Shearer’s men beckon.

Even the former Magpie hero could do nothing with the absolutely abhorring performance marred with countless of defensive mistakes, tactical naivety and terrible discispline.

Faced with heaps of expectation and pressure for survival, Shearer might now see it as a bridge too far for Newcastle as Liverpool comfortable swatted aside any hopes of them defeating the rampant home side.

Liverpool totally deserved the 3 goals and as Rafa Benitez noted after the game, it should’ve been more. Newcastle can count themselves fortunate that Anfield’s goal frames were on top of their form, stopping 3 clear goals from Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso, twice.

Aside from that, Joey Barton did what he does best and a two-footed studs up challenge on Alonso means that he’ll play no part in Newcastle’s relegation challenge, a particularly selfish act.

At such desperate moment where Newcastle needs all hands on deck, he threw in the towel. And from yesterday’s display, he doesn’t seem to be the only one.

Obafemi Martins, too, showed a total lack of commitment and couldn’t give two hoots about his team or their relegation fight. The most convicting and purposeful contribution he made all afternoon was when his name was finally on the 4th official’s board.

Defensively, Newcastle were not aggressive enough and gave Liverpool far too much space in midfield. Steven Gerrard could’ve gotten himself the match ball if only he had his shooting boots on and some match fitness with him.

The Liverpool midfield were handed the initiative as they were able to control the tempo at ease and firing pot shots at Steve Harper’s goal without much resistance. This was particularly depressing sight for Alan Shearer.

The most unforgiving part about Newcastle is their set piece defending and the Reds totally punished them for that.

Two out of three goals conceded at Anfield were down to appalling man-marking and lack of concentration. The number of players left ball-watching for Lucas’ headed goal was unbelievable.

It was the first Premiership goal for the Brazilian midfielder and he must’ve thought it could not have come any easier for him.

But ultimately, the game was tilted in Liverpool’s way as a controversial decision gave the home side the much-needed first goal.

Yossi Benayoun kneed in a Dirk Kuyt cross and replays showed that the Israeli midfielder was a yard offside before tapping the ball into the empty net.

But Liverpool’s superiority and dominance were apparent throughout and the scoreline was definitely no fluke. They hardly had to shift out of first gear and looked like they enjoyed the afternoon walk in the park.

For the supporters from Tyneside, it’s definitely heartbreaking to see the team disintegrate into such mess over such short period of time. Although they have yet to be relegated, based on their performance yesterday, they don’t deserve to stay up. No chance.

Day by day, it looks more like a modern day football tragedy as they slip out of the top flight and a slight chance of them disappearing into oblivion.

With a squad full of totally uncommitted have-beens and have-nots, it might just be a blessing in disguise, the thing which Newcastle needs to most now. A clear-out of deadwood players.

Whoever the next Newcastle manager may be (as Shearer said that he will not manage them past this season), he will be integral in Newcastle’s future and Mike Ashley can no longer make the same mistakes that he had made all these while. A right man must be picked for this transition period.

Or risk doing a Leeds United or Southampton, as the sun sets on these former top-flight mainstays. A fall from glory is quicker than most thought. Don’t be too surprised.

For Liverpool, they continue their good form but is it a little too late? With Man Utd only needing another 4 points to reclaim the title, even winning the rest of the games might not bring the elusive title back to Anfield.

It also, could be a bridge too far.

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