Didn’t football used to be about scoring goals?

February 5, 2009

For all its great crowd noise, emotion and late drama, Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay between Everton and Liverpool was an shocking indictment of modern football, where stopping the other side scoring has become so important that teams have almost forgotten that there is another, more decisive and infinitely more entertaining way to achieve success.

Throughout the TV commentary there were references to the 4-4 draw when the teams met in the the competition in 1991, and Liverpool’s 3-2 aet final win 20 years ago, but we were never going to get a repeat after an excruciating first hour where both penalty areas might as well have been sealed off with barbed wire.

Everton, at least, have a bit of an excuse in that just about all their strikers are out injured, and the one that wasn’t, Victor Anichebe, seemingly talked himself out of the squad by rowing with manager David Moyes.

In their absence, midfielders Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini have toiled manfully and productively upfront in recent weeks but it was tough on Wednesday for Everton to break out of the midfield mire.

Liverpool and coach Rafa Benitez again lacked ideas. They did not manage a single worthwhile effort on goal in two hours. After all Benitez’s talk of rotation and squad resources since he arrived, he has played Steven Gerrard and an unfit Fernando Torres into the ground this season, while allowing others to sit in the stands.

With Gerrard off early with a hamstring strain and the exhausted Torres eventually substituted, Liverpool brought on winger Ryan Babel to lead the line, with predictable results. What Robbie Keane must have made of it all is anyone’s guess.

Everton boss Moyes hasn’t been fooled. “The way you (the media) build that side up, I bet you’re completely stunned tonight,” he said after the game.

And the final insult to the millions watching on TV, or at least those still awake for the closing moments? ITV cut to an unscheduled ad break, returning to show a bundle of celebrating Evertonians, having missed the only goal of the game.

PHOTO: In case you missed it, here’s a photo of Everton’s Dan Gosling shooting past Liverpool’s Jose Reina during their FA Cup fourth round replay, Feb. 4, 2009. REUTERS/Phil Noble

10 comments

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If Gerrard is out for a while and Torres gets another knock then Liverpool are in serious trouble

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Those were the days: 4-4 was all too much for dalglish but I bet most fans were ahppier with the style of football being played then.

And that ad break was utterly bizarre. What were they thinking?

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Although last night’s game lacked the skill, finesse and goal mouth action of many games there will always be tight games with few chances, this was just as true 20 years ago as it is today. I think it is blinkered to expect both teams to take the ‘we’ll score more than you’ stratergy. Despite the lack of clear chances I found the game quite compelling, sometimes the feeling of not knowing which team will break the deadlock is just as exciting as a game with lots of goals.

Posted by Steven | Report as abusive

I have to disagree with you on this one Mitch. While Rafa’s Liverpool play a sleep inducing style of football it is completely untrue that teams don’t try and score goals in the “naughties”. To compare this to 20 years ago is misjudged to say the least. Stick on a videotape of a 1989 Liverpool side, pre back pass rule, and you watch Alan Hansen and Bruce Grobbelaar passing it back and forth to eachother for an hour, while their biggest rivals were Arsenal (boring, boring Arsenal that is.)

Posted by Joe Brock | Report as abusive

All about scoring goals? Not if you were Arsenal under George Graham it wasn’t! LOL

ouch…There’s no LFC without Stevie G.!!!

Posted by sgfan-E | Report as abusive

i hope the biggest midfielder of the world gets well soon

Posted by sgfan-E | Report as abusive

The Pool have shot themselves in the foot this season, Keano deserved a better chance.

Hopefully Torres is not injured , 3 weeks without stevie G and Torres the title challenge may be over.

Bring on pompey

http://www.footballnewscentre.com

What is so surprising about this? All these years the top English teams when they meet each other always follow the same game plan. Arsenal was the only exception. Just watch any Manu vs chelsea match, or liverpool vs manu or Liverpool vs chelsea, it is more boring than this one.