I think Liverpool have found the answer to their chronic inconsistency – sack Brendan Rodgers and replace him with Colin Pascoe.
The Reds’ assistant manager stood in for the stricken boss for Liverpool’s match against QPR after a sickness virus engulfed the camp at the weekend. The resultant 3-0 victory at Loftus Road was the perfect tonic to the ill Rodgers, not to mention the rest of the club, after the dismal display when losing at Stoke City on Boxing Day.
OK, so getting rid of Rodgers and putting Pascoe in his place is a daft idea, but if anything perfectly summed up the problem for Rodgers, Pascoe and everybody at Liverpool it has been the Christmas period.
The record over the last four games reads won two, lost two and the up-and-down nature of the performances is maddening for everybody at the club. The two games won – at QPR and a win at Anfield over Fulham – were won by an aggregate of 7-0 and were achieved playing some very decent football, with Luis Suarez inevitably at the heart of nearly everything good that Liverpool did.
But either side of those wins have been utterly dreadful results and even worse performances. Two 3-1 reverses – that defeat at the Britannia as well as a home loss to Aston Villa – have been as bad as anything Liverpool have served up over the last few years of upper mid-table mediocrity.
Many teams come a cropper at Stoke, but the way in which Liverpool were outplayed as well was outthought was unacceptable, while you only have to look at what has happened to Aston Villa since winning at Anfield to see what a pathetic effort that was.
Although maybe another answer to the inconsistency would be to play QPR every week, because as well as Liverpool played in the first half – and especially the first half hour when they went three goals to the good – Harry Redknapp’s men were so poor I think a Dog and Duck XI managed by yours truly would have seen off Rangers, and it is worth remembering that when Sunderland head to Anfield.
Liverpool are 33/100 to beat the Wearsiders and when you don’t know what type of team is going to turn up you can’t be having that price: much more tempting are the 15/4 on the draw and the 33/4 on an away win.
Or more specifically, a combination of the two at 11/5. I know Sunderland aren’t great, and they have spent much of the season toiling away looking like a poor side with very little going for them (apart from Steven Fletcher) but if you are looking to oppose Liverpool, which you should be at that price, there are enough reasons to believe Sunderland can get a result at Anfield.
They don’t score many, but they have only let in 26 goals, a record which only seven teams can beat, and the Black Cats have kept seven clean sheets – only Stoke and Chelsea have kept more.
And with Liverpool struggling for goals and performances when you least expect it, there has to be value in that 11/5 that Sunderland avoid defeat. Martin O’Neill will set his side up to defend deep and we all know Rodgers’ side find that a difficult scenario to deal with.
An early goal for Liverpool and it could end up a good night for the Reds, but if Sunderland can negotiate the first 20 minutes – and even nick one themselves – they will find that Liverpool will run out of ideas and with the home side so up and down, they still aren’t to be trusted. The value, therefore, lies with the Black Cats to avoid defeat at 11/5.