Red-faced Brendan Rodgers left livid by 'slow' Joe Cole as Liverpool lose to Swansea
Liverpool 1 Swansea City 3
Thursday 01 November 2012
Winning the League Cup did not save Kenny Dalglish and losing it will not doom Brendan Rodgers but this was another bitter Anfield night for the Liverpool manager.
By the end he had to listen to some especially ungrateful chants of "We don't need you anymore" from the Swansea fans who had once idolised him. His successor, Michael Laudrup, pointed out that most of the side that had taken Swansea to a League Cup quarter final for the first time had not played under Rodgers. Football was, somewhat cruelly, moving on.
However, Swansea's football philosophy remained the same, emphasised by the way first Nathan Dyer and then Jonathan de Guzman almost walked the ball into the net beneath the Kop to finish superbly judged counter-attacks Rodgers would have recognised.
There are some managers who would timidly have abandoned a run in the competition on the grounds that it might endanger their survival in the Premier League. Laudrup made the point that he was managing footballers unlikely ever to play in a European Cup final and this was "our chance to dream". It was, like Swansea's football, refreshing.
The several thousand who had travelled the miles of rain-slicked motorways that separate south Wales from Merseyside began their dreaming when the tie was 34 minutes old. The only oddity in a match between two sides bred on pure passing football was that it came from a headed corner.
The head belonged to Chico Flores, the defender who had played for Laudrup at Real Mallorca. Having out-jumped Sebastian Coates, Flores tried to celebrate with a cartwheel and fell flat on the floor. You assumed that at school in Cadiz he was better at football than PE.
Rodgers's team, by contrast, emphasised only that Liverpool have neither the depth nor the quality of squad to make wholesale changes. There was insurance on the bench in the shape of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard. It was a policy Rodgers needed to cash in at half time.
Each had a considerable impact. The Liverpool captain sent a trademark shot from outside the area thundering against a post, rebounding for Stewart Downing, who somehow failed to score. Gerrard's free-kick was then met by an impish header from Suarez and suddenly, briefly, the tie was alive.
It was killed off by Swansea's thunderous counter-attacks, which produced two goals. The first saw three white shirts streaming forward with nobody bar Brad Jones in front of them. Pablo Hernandez merely had to square the ball for Dyer and Liverpool's hold on the League Cup was all but severed.
The arrival of Gerrard and Suarez meant the end for Samed Yesil, a young footballer with his footballing future ahead of him and Joe Cole, who is paid £90,000 a week to sit on the sidelines.
Had he taken a pay cut and made his move to Lille permanent, the former England midfielder might have been preparing for a Champions League fixture at Bayern Munich next Wednesday. Instead, his choices have led him back to the shadows. Afterwards, Rodgers' assessment was damning, leaving Cole under no uncertain terms as to his manager's feelings. "I can't keep playing Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez while Joe Allen was virtually playing on his own in midfield," he said. "Joe Cole had an opportunity, the club has invested a astronomical sum of money on a talented player and he has to seize his opportunities.
"It was too slow, it just was not what I would expect from a team I had set up to be dynamic so I think it was a difficult night for him." It is likely to be his last in a Liverpool shirt.
Man of the match Chico.
Match rating 7/10.
Referee L Probert (Wilts).
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