Henry walks into the storm
New owner witnesses depth of malaise as inept Reds torn apart by Everton
Published 18/10/2010 | 05:00
At the end of a week of legal victories, Liverpool lost in the people's court. As Goodison Park bayed with delight, Liverpool discovered to their horror that they had left all their silk in the English High Court.
The finest QCs in England couldn't overturn a result greeted with a verdict often heard in court. "Going down,'' chanted the ecstatic members of David Moyes' People's Club.
In football's jungle, there is no law that states such an august institution as Liverpool are exempt from the threat of relegation. They are in a dogfight and must start scrapping for their lives. Quickly. Up next are Blackburn, Bolton, Chelsea and Stoke.
The January transfer-window cavalry is a long way off but Liverpool must start planning. Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres need proper support. At least four of Roy Hodgson's starting XI, Paul Konchesky, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Lucas and Maxi simply don't deserve to wear the famous shirt.
Liverpool's new owner, John W Henry, once spent $50m on a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and he needs to lavish a similar sum on a striker, a winger, a holding midfielder and a left-back. For starters. Otherwise his investment will atrophy.
Henry met with Hodgson after the match and the manager's position remains safe, although comments such as "I refuse to accept we were outplayed or in any way inferior'' are insulting to the eyesight of his new employer and to the Liverpool fans forced to endure this derby humiliation.
What yesterday really highlighted is that Henry must rebuild the squad before even considering rebuilding Anfield or constructing a new stadium.
On buying a property, it's always polite to pop across to see the neighbours and Henry was royally entertained by Everton's chairman, Bill Kenwright. That was as far as the hosts' largesse extended. Do have some tea, seemed the gist of Everton's welcome, while we have the points.
Welcome to Merseyside, welcome to the Premier League and welcome to Liverpool's myriad problems. Henry stood in the directors' box at half-time, surveying one of the grand old stages of English footballing theatre, home to some of the quickest wits in sport.
"John, John,'' shouted an Everton fan from the cheap seats.
Henry turned and waved politely. "You bought the wrong club, John!'' came the reply to general merriment. At the final whistle, Everton fans unfurled a banner that read 'God Bless America', chorused "going down'' at the vanquished and serenaded Hodgson with "you're getting sacked in the morning''.
Unlikely. He has meetings planned with Henry to discuss what the team needs. It won't be a short meeting.
Henry, who sounds sensible, has promised no knee-jerk reactions but he must have been horrified by this supine display and thoroughly deserved defeat. Liverpool lacked all the adrenalin and passion patently coursing through their opponents' veins.
Everton's spine was strong and unbreakable. Sylvain Distin was immense at centre-half, a mobile road-block in Torres' way.
Tim Cahill was everywhere, scoring Everton's first and selflessly dropping back from his role in the hole to assist midfield and defence. Yakubu, resembling a swarm of particularly muscular bees, was outstanding up front, constantly embarrassing Kyrgiakos and Martin Skrtel.
Powerful through the centre, Everton also impressed out wide. Seamus Coleman was terrific driving down right midfield, creating Cahill's goal, while Leighton Baines was tireless on the left, tackling and creating.
If Moyes engendered a far more competitive mood in his charges than Hodgson achieved with his, Everton's manager also comprehensively out-thought his Liverpool counterpart.
Gerrard had no room to move such was the pressing of Cahill and company. When Liverpool finally awoke with 20 minutes remaining, Moyes simply sent on Jermaine Beckford to make a nuisance of himself, harrying Liverpool.
If Henry wanted to observe the depth of the Premier League drama, as well as the breadth of Liverpool's problems, he succeeded. The floodlights were on at lunch-time on a sunny day, ladies in historic costumes threw confectionery into the crowd and the sound of 'Z Cars' filled the air, closely followed by caustic ditties about certain stars. Welcome to English football, John.
And then the match started, the tone set after 11 seconds when Yakubu flattened Kyrgiakos. The whole sturm und drang of the English game was on parade. Carragher and Torres exchanged angry words as Liverpool came under immediate pressure. Raul Meireles was racing around, putting out fires, putting in important tackles. Still Everton dominated, Phil Jagielka and Yakubu going close.
Uncertainty coloured Liverpool's actions. Gerrard caught Mikel Arteta and was fortunate to escape a caution, fortunate that Howard Webb sought to manage the passion play with a mixture of understanding and authority.
When Maxi dived in on Baines midway through the half, Webb reminded the players of the presence of his yellow card. Overall, Webb handled a traditionally tricky fixture well.
For a brief period, Liverpool seemed to have walked through the storm.
Gerrard released Joe Cole, who delivered his one decent ball, lifting in a cross that Torres met with a flicked header only to be denied by Tim Howard.
But the force remained with Everton.
Their industry was rewarded when Coleman embarked on a marvellous run, eluding the hapless Lucas and then Konchesky.
Coleman's cutback was met perfectly by Cahill, whose shot flew into the roof of the net, lifting the roof off Gwladys Street. In derby collisions, the very least fans expect is commitment. Hodgson is a good manager but he singularly failed to motivate his men at the break.
Instead, Everton extended their lead. When Diniyar Bilyaletdinov swung over a corner, Kyrgiakos headed out but Liverpool were too slow to deal with the continuing threat.
As Meireles and Carragher dived in vainfully, Arteta neatly controlled the dropping ball and then sent it flying past Reina. Mikel the Merciless.
Hodgson could point to absent friends, notably Dirk Kuyt and Glen Johnson, but Moyes could simply list the names of Jack Rodwell, Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar and Louis Saha.
The emotion Everton stir in everyone from players to chairman to supporters was embodied as the injured Fellaini headed to the exit, hugging stewards and fans after a famous victory.
As Everton climb the table, Liverpool have some work to do -- a lot of work -- to stop the rot. (© Daily Telegraph, London)