Questions were asked to Liverpool forum ‘This is Anfield’, here: http://forums.thisisanfield.com/index.php?/topic/15881-talking-to-the-opposition/
How have you fared this season compared to your start of season expectations?
Spitfire: I think we are about where we should expect. While we have had some inconsistent performances – by and large we have played some very good football. As others have said this was a rebuilding year, and I think we have made some great steps in some areas of the pitch. We are still at least 2 seasons away from pushing that top 3 but we are heading in the right direction.
indianscouser: Satisfied. Every manager needs time. Evidently our first half of the season was poor, that’s the reason we don’t have a chance to make it in the top 5.We Would have loved a good run in Europe and another visit to Wembley.
liverpool_singh: Before the season started I was hoping we could at least challenge for 4th place but that never really materialised at any point. So with that in mind I would say we didn’t do too well at all.
There is always one player that gets a lot of the team’s media praise and of course this season it has been Luis Suarez. Just how do you rate him among the top players in the world?
norwegian wood: There’s Messi and Ronaldo, and a step below those two there’s a pile of world class players (Ibra, Iniesta, Özil, Xavi, Van Persie, Yaya, Agüero, Cavani, Falcao etc.). Suarez belongs in that group for me, and I think I can say that without getting accused for being biased. The man is pure class.
showmethemoney: Very easy this one: Top three behind only Leo Messi & Ronaldo. Take the petulance & idiocy out of his game, he will be even better.
RedLaw: From our point of view he’s the third best player in the world. Others might say we’re biased, but because we see him week in week out and every minute of every game, we never miss a moment of his undoubted world class brilliance. The guy was put on this earth to play football and this season he’s got even better. Playing on the edge and with his emotions near the surface does mean that sometimes his finishing can be a bit erratic. Having said that he’s progressed significantly from last year and will finish the season with thirty goals in all competitions. If he can finally start to learn from his mistakes and can retain some semblance of composure with his fellow professionals then his goal tally and all-round game could become even better. For opposition fans he’s undoubtedly the player you love to hate. For us, we just love to love him.
Are there any players that haven’t been getting the praise they deserve from the media and even your own fan base this season?
Zoky: It’s different from the media and our own fan base I feel, but at both it’s probably Henderson. Did some hard work for the team playing in almost any of the 2-3 central midfield roles from a more defensive one to almost a second striker, on the left & right side and even covering at right back for a game or two. His attitude’s been excellent, played like he has nothing to lose to prove himself and with less fear. Still quite a distance from being an important XI player for us, but more importantly for Rodgers, he’s slowly developing on the ball and tactically, adding more assists/goals to his game.
Mascot 88: Downing has improved massively, but I’m still not sure he’s at the level we need. Henderson is finding his way to some form and confidence after being clearly affected by the level of vitriol directed at him in out first year, similar to Lucas suffered.
The one player who doesn’t get enough praise is Glen Johnson – he is absolutely brilliant. He still suffers from the perception that he can’t defend (which isn’t true) and this season, playing almost as a winger, he has been fantastic, until tiredness has taken it’s toll in the last few matched.
Hope in your heart: Henderson. Luckily, BR is trusting him now, and he’s repaying that faith with good performances.
RMP: Glen Johnson. He’s slotted in Rodgers’ system perfectly.
Someone on our forum just pointed out that you’re very much in the running for Europa league qualification through the Fair Play League. Do you believe you might take it slightly easy on Sunday, in regards to tackles and passion/fight?
WrinkledMind: I doubt that. And even if they did, Everton wont. And when one tackles flies in the other team starts countering it with harder tackles. It will be a fast paced, physical match–as always.
Zinedine Biscan: No, particularly because it’s far from a given that the English fair play spot will result in a European place. If it happens, it happens, but no-one from the club will be counting on it.
No Men in the Box Redux: No one wants to enter the Europa league through “fair play.” That’s about as ugly as the ugly sister of the princess gets. It’s a derby, I expect nothing less than complete passion and commitment. I don’t want to see stupid tackles but I don’t want us to focus on a hypothetical EL qualification instead of doing everything we can to finish above you lot.
TassieRed: In the Derby? Are you for real? I think it will be a pretty full blooded affair. Especially after we were ripped off in the first derby of this season by having our last gasp winner disallowed.
What do you make of your manager Brendan Rodgers?
TFC: I think he’s done a good job so far. His summer recruitment was very poor, but the recent January window showed significant improvement. I think tactically he does well, but he needs to improve his coaching staff – namely in defense. Our set pieces have been terrible in defense and offense. Its easy to see what he’s trying to develop, and its very exciting, but its still too early to really figure out if he really is the right man for the job. Has us scoring in bundles, but has created plenty of defensive issues and he hasn’t been able to fix our consistency issues yet either – but it does appear like he is working hard and is willing to try new things.
SUPER PORK CHOP: We have a manager who talks a lot, promises a lot but has yet to achieve very much.
Matt: Jury is still out but (cliche alert) he needs time. He also could do with not talking so much, and showing more flexibility at times
dxb_red: He seems to be a good man manager, and the vast majority of our squad, (suarez, henderson, downing, sturridge and even gerrard) have improved under his management, but i think the jury is still out. he has also made a couple of very good signings in coutinho and sturridge. I think he did himself no favors with the Being Liverpool show though, he came across very David Brent like and i think that made a lot of fans quite nervous.
Moving on to Everton…
How do you think we have fared this season?
norwegian wood: A few months ago: Much better than expected. As things stand right now: Still better than expected. I thought you had a team capable of challenging for the Europa League spot, but I didn’t think you would be as close to 4th spot as you were for a long time. That’s why I was surprised Moyes didn’t get any shopping money in January; it almost felt like a now or never type of moment, and I thought one or two signings there could have pushed you over the finish line. Still, it’s impressive to be up there for so long with so little spending power, and being as little as five points behind Arsenal in 4th at this stage of the season is nothing short of – if I may repeat myself – impressive.
Joshing aside, it never fails to amaze me just how well David Moyes does. He is Mr. Consistent. Everton are very lucky to have him. We all bang on about ‘Arry Redknapp being the expert wheeler & dealer, but for my money David Moyes easily surpasses him. Again his consistency & skills are there for all to see. As a couple of others have said, maybe sometimes times he gets his tactics a bit wrong, but hey, he’s not Jesus. He’s still a human learning his trade.
The thing for you guys is, you need to hold on to him. Without him & his acumen, I would worry for Everton.
Mascott 88: Better than you’ve got any right to expect. Kenwright still doesn’t have a pot to piss in, but Moyes has the ability to spin gold from straw. You’d be lost without him. Outstanding manager.
The big difference for you this season is that you had a good start. Normally you don’t get going until Christmas.
Hope in your heart: Very well. You are solid and even though it seems to have run out of steam lately, your attack is good as well. Midfield is strong and you can beat any team on your day.
Who do you think will be the biggest threat to your Liverpool side in the upcoming game?
RedLaw: We seem to have a problem with tall, physical players so the name that jumps out at me is Marouane Fellani. Assuming we can keep him quiet I’d say we’ve got a good chance of beating you.
dxb_red: Fellaini is always a threat. On his day he can control a game and he always seems to play well against us.
No Men in the Box Redux: Fellaini. Maybe Mirallas if he is fit.
RMP: Mirallas. Would have been a decent shout for signing of the season.
If you could take one Everton player (Try and put hated feelings apart and imagine they played for someone else if you need) for the rest of this season and going into next season, who would it be and why?
Matt: Baines. Please.
TFC: Toss up between Baines and Fellaini. Enrique has improved in the final third this season, but Baines would still be an upgrade. Fellaini would add some size to our midfield and plays a position that we could use a quality player in. I really would love to have either.
TassieRed: Leighton Baines. Solid defender and awesome going into attack. His 70’s haircut needs to go though.
Spitfire: Jagielka, or Baines.
indian_scouser: That very simple. Fellaini. Every team would love to have him in their team. An absolute monster.
Zinedine Biscan: I’d say Leighton Baines as he’s an excellent player, plus getting your best player might mean finishing above you!
What is your opinion of David Moyes and what do you make of the job he has done for Everton?
WrinkledMind: He has done a very good job with the resources that he has had.He is not tactically that great and his record in Europe is there to see, where he was consistently found out.But if he leaves Everton after the end of the season, then he could and should be bloody proud of the work he did there.
RedLaw: Once again Moyes has maximized your side to within every drop of blood, sweat and tears it has left. He’s definitely become a victim of his own success as everyone now expects Everton to finish high in the table as though it’s almost a given. Whether he stays or goes in the summer I won’t be expecting Everton to falter any time soon due to the solid foundations he’s laid there alongside your great chairman Bill Kenwright. The fact is you should be very proud of the team Moyes has assembled and the job he’s done over the past eleven years
Hope in your heart: I’m an admirer of Moyes. He’s one of the three best gaffers in the league imo. How he has managed to assemble your current squad on a shoestring budget deserves full and unrestrained praise. Your current team is probably the best since moving to the PL era, and this has everything to do with Moyes doing a great job, and the board letting him do his job and sticking with him even during more difficult times.
Zoky: Done a very good job for you considering the material he has to work with in the transfer windows. Not sure about some of his approach in key moments/games in terms of tactics, but overall is doing a very good job on and off the pitch.
Where do you think us Blues will finish come the end of the season?
showmethemoney: Above us & sadly that’s all that matters to me!!
Probably Everton 6th and Liverpool 7th.
norwegian wood: It could be 5th or it could be 7th. I think much depends on what happens Sunday, and also the game between Chelsea and Spurs. If you win the derby and Chelsea beat Spurs I think you have a good chance of getting the Europa League spot. Conversely, if we beat you I think you’ll end up below us. It could also depend on how much Chelsea have to play for the final game against you guys.
Zoky: 7th, I think we’ll just about sneak it above you, maybe on goal difference!
Mascott 88: Sixth and Seventh will be occupied by the Merseyside clubs, but I can’t say which way round yet – it should be clearer after Sunday.
liverpool_singh: If you win or draw the derby = 6th. If you lose = 7th.
Spitfire: 6/7th the Derby will go a long way to determining who ends where.
SUPER PORK CHOP: I think they will qualify ahead of Liverpool for the europa spot because they are on good form.
Finally, predictions for the game (other than a red card for Everton, of course)?
SUPER PORK CHOP: Liverpool to draw 1-1 with Everton next week.
TFC: 2-1 LFC. Fellaini is going to give us a ton of trouble but we’ll manage to get back the win we should have had the first time we played this season.
TassieRed: 2-1 LFC victory. At least one red card (with a bit of luck Fellaini – f*ck I hate that guy). Sturridge and Coutinho to score
RMP: We’ll either run riot or it will end in a disappointing draw so either 4-0 or 1-1.
No Men in the Box Redux: 3-2 to us.
dxb_red: I think it’ll be a tough game, as always, but i cant see it ending any way other than a liverpool win this time. 3-1 to the pool with sturridge, gerrard and downing scoring and mirallas scoring for everton.
indianscouser: Will be a close one. I think we will nick it considering its at anfield. 2-1. With fellaini scoring for the blues, coutinho and sturridge scoring for us!
Zinedine Biscan: I’ll be optimistic and go for 3-1.
WrinkledMind: 2-1 to us.
RedLaw: I’ve been predicting a lot of draws this season so I won’t abandon that principle now and will go for a feisty 2-2.
Hope in your heart: You have been solid at the back lately, so I can’t see us scoring many goals, despite of our mauling of Newcastle last week-end. We have improved lately on our defensive part of the game, and are shipping less stupid and unnecessary goals than before, but are still a somewhat frail lot. When we score an early goal, we usually go on to win the match convincingly, but if the contrary happens, we look terrible sometimes. Contrarily to you this season, we are mentally weak.
I’ll go with a 1-1, but of course, it could swing between 5-0 for us and 0-3 for you. A derby is unpredictable by definition.
liverpool_singh: If we score first I can see us winning by a decent margin. If you score first all I can see is a draw at best. I will go with 2-1.
Mascott 88: These games have a habit of blowing themselves out into draws. I just hope you get a blatently onside last minute goal ruled out.
showmethemoney: 4-0 Liverpool.
Seriously? A draw. 1-1 or 2-2.
norwegian wood: Since a draw would be no good for any of us – and also a hideously boring and diplomatic prediction – I’ll have to go with a nice little Liverpool win. 2-1. Goalscorers: Sturridge, Gerrard and Fellaini.