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Sunderland 1, Liverpool FC 0: Reds rolling towards crisis point
Published : 19 Oct 2009 01:00:00
FIRST, for those frantically looking for omens, the good news. In 1963, Liverpool lost four of their first nine games but still ended the season being crowned champions. Hopefully that has brought a smile of sorts to your face because there are very few crumbs of comfort in what is about to follow; Liverpool's campaign, you see, is careering towards crisis point. Inevitably, most post-match chatter centred around Darren Bent's farcical goal which sank Rafa Benitez's men and, in many ways, there was something symbolic about the incident now being labelled 'beach-ball gate'. That big red ball, after all, was deliberately tossed onto the pitch from the visiting section - as proven by television replays - and while it may have been done in jest, the action led to a calamity; no defeat hurts more than the kind that is self-inflicted. Fortunately nobody in the travelling party used the episode as an excuse for the defeat and the long, haunted looks on the faces of certain squad members as they boarded the team bus suggested they knew it had been a grim afternoon up north. This was the perfect opportunity to show that no Steven Gerrard and no Fernando Torres equalled no problem but, ultimately, a limp, error-strewn offering only succeeded in showing Liverpool's squad is nowhere near strong enough to cope with such absences. And we all know why. Rather than being forced to wheel and deal during the summer, Benitez should have been given the opportunity to seriously invest in a squad that had come closer than ever to ending its championship drought. Instead, Benitez finds himself in the position now where, on most weekends, Liverpool's manager will cast a glance to the opposition dugout and see that the man he is up against has more experienced options to change a game.