Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers can have no excuses after Crystal Palace fiasco

By John Laverty

Liverpool have blown it – and they only have themselves to blame.

Last night at Selhurst Park summed up all that was right – and wrong – with Brendan Rodgers' men this season.

They raced into a 3-0 lead with the sort of free-flowing football that has been their trademark all through this campaign.

The SAS – Sturridge and Suarez – got on the scoresheet after Joe Allen's opener to bring the team's tally in the Premier League to 99.

I mean, how exciting is that?

One more goal, lads, and we bring up the ton; after all, the game is already won... isn't it?

Well, no – although it should have been.

It would have been, under a Mourinho or a Ferguson. Rule number one – secure the points.

But was Rodgers thinking that way? You have to think no. As the Anfield men bombed forward after Suarez made it 3-0 – the point at which most football matches are considered won – the discipline went out the window.

Suddenly this had nothing to do with winning a game; suddenly this had everything to do with wiping out Manchester City's goal difference advantage.

Suddenly, Liverpool fans of a certain age in the stands were starting to think of a certain game against Crystal Palace back in September 1989 – a game that ended 9-0 to the men in red, who ended that season as the last team from Anfield to win a top-flight title.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was one of the shell-shocked Palace players on Merseyside that day, and, as an interested spectator last night, he might well have been wondering if his former club were going to be on the end of another almighty hammering.

Mind you, as the minutes ticked away and Palace launched one of the best-ever Premier League comebacks, he may have permitted himself more pleasant memories of an FA Cup semi-final later on in that 1989-90 season – when Palace got sweet revenge by beating Liverpool 4-3 and an 'A Pardew' got the winning goal in extra time.

Liverpool were already shot when Palace's Dwight Gayle scored to pull it back to 3-2; the nervousness and fragility displayed – and got away with – at Norwich recently was again eating away at the visitors.

Further Reading

Liverpool's dreams tossed and blown by Gayle: players distraught on the pitch after letting slip three-goal lead over Crystal Palace

Tottenham apologise for tweet mocking Liverpool's draw with Crystal Palace claiming account was hacked 

It was sensational – but no surprise – when Gayle scored again to condemn Pool to another barren season that had promised so much.

They were naive against Chelsea – did someone forget to tell them they didn't actually need to win? – and they didn't learn from that mistake last night.

Instead, it's Manchester City who will be crowned champions for the second time in three seasons come Sunday.

And, ironically, they won't need goal difference this time because that was all their opponents could think about last night.

No, it's not often a team goes 3-0 up and fails to win. It shouldn't happen.

It only happens when a team collectively believes the job is already done at one end, while carelessly leaving the door open at the other.

It happened in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul. Did Stevie G and Co momentarily forget that?

You do have to feel for Gerrard, though. Nobody on the Kop will be saying it today but, when the dust has settled, Liverpool's failure to end the long drought will be ultimately pinned on that fatal slip against Chelsea.

They think it's fall over? It is now.

Belfast Telegraph


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