THE JOL VERDICT
Martin Jol offers his considered view on the weekend draw against Liverpool at Anfield.
Martin Jol offers his considered view on the weekend draw against Liverpool at Anfield.OUR SUNDAY visit to Anfield resulted in a big disappointment for us when it could have been so different, and not for the first time.
Up at Sunderland on day one we lost a point in the 93rd minute, Fulham was the same story and at Liverpool it happened again. I can’t say that it wasn’t a good goal that levelled the score, but what I can say is that it was avoidable.
The first goal was of a similar nature to one conceded against Aston Villa and we’ve got to stop letting these sorts of goals in because it will cost us dearly. We should have at least six points more than we do and if we had them the story of our season so far would make more pleasant reading.
In the first half on Sunday I wasn’t happy at all because we were trying to play a sort of possession game for the sake of it instead of getting the ball forward a bit quicker before supporting and getting it out to the flanks.
In the second half we started winning the battles in midfield that we didn’t do in the first half. We were then able to get behind them in midfield and stretch their back four.
So there were a lot of positives to come out of it but, for me and I’m sure you too, it was a disappointment because I really thought it was going to be our day – three points on the board, climb the table and then move on.
Everyone can see that we are more than capable of giving any team a real contest, we possess the quality and we are not far off. It is about strength and steel though, and that is what we are working on.
I thought Younes Kaboul had his best game at Anfield and, along with Michael Dawson, they kept Voronin and Torres quiet for most of the game, although they still scored the goals.
They are both young central defenders who I wouldn’t swap for anyone in the country. It will be a great thing for them to grow up into leaders, that is the most important thing. All round we have such huge potential and all we have to do now is gain experience in every match and get better in the next one.
Liverpool had a period in the game after we started brightly but after Gerrard hit the post with his second free-kick it was all about us. We stood up and were strong in the second half – Jermaine Jenas, Didier Zokora, Teemu Tainio and Gareth Bale were in charge - and that is what we have to do from the off. When you do that you are able to play your football and that is always our strength.
I am pretty sure that the toughest phase of our season is now behind us, with trips to Old Trafford, the Reebok Stadium and Anfield completed. We should have gathered more points and not doing so has been down to minor details – like not picking up the runner after Gerrard’s first free-kick for Liverpool. These elements of football are so important and we have to learn quickly.
It was mentioned to me that our goals on Sunday were out of the old Wimbledon manual and, I have to admit, it is something I literally called for at half-time. The important thing at the time was for us to win our battles and get behind the back four so I said ‘let’s use the Wimbledon style occasionally!’
I like to have a build up, but on Sunday we were overplaying around our back four and in the middle of the park and we needed to get the ball to the strikers for them to use their quality. I think it is fair to say they did just that.
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