A familiar scoreline at Anfield – at least at half-time, eh? Pre-season has been one of the most eventful in recent years with 11 new players, 16 departures, essentially a new management team and plenty of positive signs on and off the field. But surely this and the Everton games go down as the best games we’ve seen since the Ian Holloway era? 15 goals in 180 minutes – all for the cost of £12! Unfortunately, six of them came against us in the second half at Anfield. Here at utmp, we’ve dissected the Liverpool game and determined the five key positives and negatives to take.
- CJ’s pace
Hamilton was a menace in the first half against James Milner, who simply couldn’t cope with his speed. He found plenty of joy down Pool’s right-hand side, which has happened in each of his appearances during pre-season. He looks like our key man at the moment and will surely tear teams apart when in form.
2. Maxwell’s saves
Every good side needs a good goalkeeper, someone who the back line can feel confident in. Paul Rachubka and Matt Gilks contributed hugely to our promotion winning squads of yesteryear and Maxwell looks to be that kind of figure for us this time around. It split opinion when Jak Alnwick wasn’t signed permanently and Chris Maxwell was offered a contract, but based on that performance it was definitely the right decision.
3. Nottingham’s blocks and interceptions
The Sheriff was the forgotten man at the start of the summer and everyone had assumed he’d be off to Crewe permanently after his successful loan spell there. He came back to a shortage of centre halves, which was an opportunity he grasped with both hands and has become a mainstay in our back four. There are still question marks over our defending at times, but Nottingham looks really composed in possession and made a number of important blocks and interceptions against the best side in the country. He also helps with our organisation and discipline.
4. Ethan Robson
A new signing who is going under the radar a little given the excitement about Hamilton, Jerry Yates and Keshi Anderson, but Robson was one of our best performers against Liverpool. He’s willing to take the ball off the defence and look to play forwards, and has a wide array of passing. He did well against Everton, and at Anfield he was excellent, helping the Tangerines tick. Surely one of the first names on the teamsheet.
5. Jerry’s penalty
What can you say about Jerry Yates? He’s a firm fan favourite and he hasn’t even scored a competitive goal yet! His constant harrying and pressing is exactly what this team needs, and he could’ve scored if CJ’s ball into him was on the ground rather than into his midrift. When he got his chance from the penalty spot, he finished with pinpoint accuracy – Alisson went the right way but got nowhere near it as it nestled right into the corner of the goal. Impressive.
- That second half
It must surely go down as a positive afternoon for the Seasiders overall, despite the scoreline. We’ve got our club back, but not only that, we’ve got a team capable of taking the game to top-class opponents and giving them a real run for their money. We look like we’ll blow some teams away this year if everyone is on song. That said, when the changes came in, we didn’t look like we’d played together before – because most of them haven’t! Three debutants came on at half-time, and Critchley needs to drill in our style of play to them. This is just the start, and with Critch’s coaching we should start to see improvements. We need to remain patient with this new group.
2. Our defensive organisation
Yes, it was against top quality opposition and we’d made four changes at half time, but Liverpool’s goals in the second half were largely of our own doing. We need to eradicate the defensive mistakes and become much more organised if we’re to have a real go this year.
3. The three debutants
Unfortunately there weren’t many positive things for Bez Lubala, Dan Kemp or MJ Williams to take from the afternoon. They barely got hold of the ball and the game was taken away from them through Liverpool’s attacks which came wave-after-wave. Dan Kemp did have one moment where he slid in Yates, who could’ve had a penalty at 3-2, but didn’t get on the ball much.
4. CJ’s end product at times
When trying to compare Hamilton to another footballer, Adama Traore comes to mind. Traore was relegated with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, lacking any kind of end product, before signing for Wolves and becoming one of the Premier League’s most exciting attacking talents. Comparisons can be drawn with CJ – he had a good season for Mansfield in 2018-19, bagging 14 goals and helping them to the play-offs and drawing interest from the Championship, but last year only scored three in what was a disappointing season for him and the club. Hence why he’s ended up with us rather than going higher. The talent is clear to see, and if Critchley can be the one to unlock it, then he will surely go on to play at a higher level – hopefully with us!
5. Jack Sims’ confidence
It can’t be easy for Sims who came on at half-time and shipped six goals at Anfield. Let’s remember that he’s only 21 and shouldn’t be too downbeat by his performance. He wasn’t helped by the more senior pros in front of him, and couldn’t do much about any of their goals. He’s clearly a strong young keeper and Critch looks to prefer him over new signing Alex Fojtíček, so Sims should be encouraged.
Enjoying our content? Make sure you check out our latest podcasts too!
Don’t forget to turn on notifications on Twitter and Instagram to see our latest content first. Please help us out by commenting, liking and retweeting our posts to spread the word across the Blackpool fans. Up the mighty Pool.