Liverpool’s reserve keeper Scott Carson says he’s disappointed that Tuesday night’s Carling Cup defeat means he’ll be forced to wait longer for his next first team appearance. Carson did make some early Champions League appearances in the qualifying stages, but he’s unlikely to appear again in that competition except through injury or suspension for Jose Reina. Carson also needs to look over his shoulder again after the return to reserve action for Istanbul legend Jerzy Dudek.
Speaking about the defeat on Tuesday, Carson says: "It’s disappointing for the younger players, because we have been given a chance and we will not be able to get any more chances in this competition now. We knew it would be difficult, but we have had a few chances and it was just unfortunate that they have put there two chances away. In the first half, we passed the ball superbly, got it wide and got in a few crosses – but we could only put one of them in."
Scott is confident that this phase is not as bad as it seems to be on the face of it, and that the side’s fortunes will change: "We won the Champions League last year and that is always going to be a heavy burden to carry on our shoulders, but we will keep working hard and I think things will change around very soon. The mood is still very positive – a couple of bad results are not going to let it drop and I think we will soon be back up there."
Confidence is certainly something that Liverpool seem to be short on at the moment. A side going into a match with confidence always has a good chance of getting a result, but Liverpool just seem to be playing without any. Peter Crouch seems like a player that will get a hat-trick once he’s got that first Liverpool goal out of the way, and Morientes seems to lack any belief in himself finding the back of the net since his most recent injury. Harry Kewell has been plagued by injuries since his signing for Liverpool, on Tuesday night he looked set to start producing some of the form that made him sought after by many other clubs when Liverpool got him. Unfortunately it was a bad pass of his that gave possession away and led to the first Palace goal. One mistake, pounced upon by many who say they support Liverpool but are too quick to get on the phone-ins and forums to rip into players at the first sign of trouble.
Last night saw the exits of local rivals Everton and also Chelsea. Mourinho said after the game that his team didn’t deserve to lose, and that in fact they didn’t lose, because it wasn’t decided after 90 minutes. He’s trying to keep the confidence of his players flowing, because a confident player will try things that a less confident player would avoid. Confidence brings success, and success brings confidence.
Some Liverpool players are playing without passion or desire, going through the motions and picking up their wages. It’s up to Rafa to work out which ones they are and do whatever he needs to get them out of Anfield. For the others it’s a case of accentuating the positives. A former Liverpool reserve, Wigan manager Paul Jewell spoke about confidence during a TV appearance at the weekend. Jewell – recently named manager of the month – was a Liverpool fan growing up and was disappointed to never quite get into Liverpool’s first team, which at the time was winning pretty much everything in site. What he said at the weekend was about how self-belief brings so much to a team. If Jewell had got his wish and made an appearance for the first team he’d have played in front of a different type of crowd to that which attends the match now. If he’d made a couple of dodgy passes or missed a chance on goal he’d have been applauded for trying. Nowaday’s he’d be more likely to hear groans for any mistake, and if he made enough mistakes, groans on every mention of his name or every time the ball went near him.
Where’s the confidence going to come from if a player’s own fans let everyone know they don’t rate him?
West Ham are Liverpool’s next opponents and again are a London club. If you think that statistics can make a difference to a game then Liverpool will do well to get a point. They never do well against London clubs these days do they? But why should that matter. For away trips you could argue that Liverpool should review their travel arrangements. Maybe swap the flights for a coach trip. Change hotels. Travel at a different time of day. Other than that their is no significance to their poor form against London teams, just a lot of coincidences. For Saturday’s game none of this matters anyway – West Ham are playing at Anfield.
Anfield used to be a "fortress", and it’s a long time since it has been. On European nights (when fans don’t necessarily get their "normal" seat) Anfield in many ways still is a fortress – certainly an intimidating arena. For league games though the season ticket holders sit in the same seats they have done for five or six years or more. The fact they are still sitting with the lads they were good mates with as students or apprentices – but who they no longer have much in common with – means they are less likely to join in the singing and the shouting. In Jewell’s day it would have been a standing Kop, and as people got new friends they could stand with new friends, keeping the atmosphere strong. Not just for "big" matches, like the Merseyside derby or the North West derby – for all games.
So for those who have been lucky enough to get tickets for Liverpool’s next game make sure you get behind the lads. A bit of extra self-belief for Crouch could see him get that hat-trick, which could be started off after a cross from a reborn Harry Kewell.