Reading 3 Liverpool 1

I went on my annual pilgrimage to see the local Premier side in action yesterday at the kind invitation of a constituent. As a circketer who likes most sports, I went with some trepidation and heavy heart, expecting to see a Liverpool masterclass in ball control, passing, and the occasional goal to give them victory over the home side. How wrong I was!

Instead I saw the multi millionaire multinational Liverpool side outplayed by Reading. They were not just outplayed, they were made to look ordinary. At times Liverpool looked like a school team with everyone chasing the ball, failing to stay in position, run into space and to play an open passing game. I saw tall talented Crouch lose balls in the air because the shorter Reading players jumped higher with more purpose. I saw great Liverpool players lose heart, or fail to show the energy and the skill you expect of such highly paid and highly rated players. I saw Reading players give time and again of their best, culminating in a magical free kick drifting into the Liverpool goal via a Reading head, and a breathtaking run by Harper to craft a goal out of very little by running round the goalkeeper. Hunt gave his best for 90 minutes, and was everywhere harrying the Liverpool team.

The extraordinary decision to call Gerrard off at 70 minutes when he was the main hope of Liverpool, playing with power, determination and skill made it look to us as if the manager had surrendered the tie with 24 minutes still to go. Liverpool lacked punch and the will to win once Gerrard had gone, and not had enough of it with him trying to rally them when he was on.

If I was a shareholder in Liverpool I would want to know why such a team performed so badly for so much money. As someone who believes in free markets I do not begrudge talented people the large sums the global market and global brands can bring. But if top players expect millionaire pay we should expect millionaire performance, and should expect a big element of the pay to be performance oriented. The Reading stars earned their bonus, more modest though it doubtless was.

It was a great day for Reading fans. I enjoyed it enormously, and thought it most amusing to see how little at times great football club owners buy for all their money! We English like the underdog. Yesterday the underdog was Cruft’s finest.

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3 Comments

  1. Tony Makara
    Posted December 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    As a Liverpool supporter I have learnt over the years to judge the success of the team over the course of the entire season, rather than on a match-by-match basis. Teams like Reading can certainly play well, on their day, but the difference between teams like Reading and Liverpool are shown over the course of many matches over many months. The top four clubs certainly have a far superior level of consistency. Reading were fortunate yesterday to get a penalty and Liverpool were unfortunate to suffer from poor refereeing when Torres was fouled at the other end. Gerrard was withdrawn for tactical reasons after having picked up a booking to ensure that he is available for the Manchester United and other vital games which he would have missed had he got a second yellow. As for Liverpool's motivation, well, I won't make excuses except to say that some of the refereeing decisions were bizarre enough to knock anyones confidence. Glad you enjoyed the game John, just wish I could say the same! Thats the joy of sport though, its unpredictability means it is always interesting.

  2. Letters From A Tory
    Posted December 10, 2007 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    It was a very lacklustre performance from Liverpool, despite their substantial talent. I wonder if Benitez will last to the end of the season, given that the title race is looking very tough and their Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread….
    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  3. Tony Makara
    Posted December 12, 2007 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Letters from a Tory, did you watch Liverpool against Marseille? Normal service was resumed, I'm pleased to say! Good look to Reading though for the rest of the season, they are a nice club and were unlucky to to be promoted to the top flight back in 1995 when they had a really good team.

    Reply: Yes, Liverpool were magnificent against Marseille. Well done to them. I was so disappointed to see the way they played at Reading, as I explained on the blog, but of course pleased with the result as a supporter of my local team!

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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