Hmm, i wonder if Mascherano has answered my voicemail...
It was always going to be a pretty tough fixture for Liverpool last night but i don't think many would have predicted such a one sided affair from the home team. Liverpool looked like a team still in pre-season with sloppiness and slow reactions, not to mention a shoddy section of defence. It was just an altogether unpleasant game of football to watch as a Liverpool fan.
Hodgson started Reina in goal with Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel and Agger across the back. Midfield was missing Javier Mascherano who had apparently said he no longer wished to play for Liverpool to Hodgson earlier in the day. It was Gerrard & Lucas then who made up the centre with Kuyt and Jovanovic on the wings. Ngog and Torres led the 4-4-2 formation.
At first glance i felt intrigued by this formation and was interested to see if it could work after so long going 4-5-1 but it didn't take long to start to see the flaws in this plan.
The first incident of note for Liverpool was strangely a booking for Martin Skrtel, this would later be an indicator for the defender who appeared to be having a poor game and was making the wrong decisions quite frequently.
Adam Johnson who the Slovakian tackled would prove to be a big problem for Liverpool too along with brand new signing James Milner.
City took just 12minutes to get on the score sheet, with a move consisting of Barry, Milner and Adam Johnson.
Johnson easily swept the ball through Jovanovic and Agger to Milner who then provided a cross for Barry to connect with and send the ball home. Barry was allowed into the area far too freely and Agger just looked lost on several occasions during the 90 minutes.
Usually even with a deficit Liverpool tend to manage to settle down quickly and re group then go at it again but this time it was different. City were pushing hard and Liverpool had no time to calm down and re-think. The speed and number of counter attacks coming at the Reds was not only worrying but becoming ridiculous. Possession lost by Liverpool must have been high, i do not recall much activity from the boys when they finally managed to get the ball into the final third as it was constantly being given away in midfield.
Fernando Torres was rather lively for Liverpool but i think it was quite clear to see that the Spaniard although he was trying was not fitting into the 4-4-2 system with David Ngog. Ngog too was clearly struggling although some more of his hold up play was valuable. I just feel that both Fernando and David thrive as the sole striker, Ngog hasn't coincidentally scored his four goals so far this season from being up front alone, and Torres's record in front of the net isn't coincidental either. I realise Torres can and will work in that formation, as he has done with Spain, but in a Liverpool shirt and with the players around him, he needs to go it alone i think.
It was hard to pick out other decent performances because to be honest Torres's display was alright but he had the excuse of match fitness being low, none of the other lads really had any reason to fall back on and apart from what i thought was an okay display from Glen Johnson and a passionate but not fruitful performance from the captain, i have to say the boys all had a bit of a terrible time out there against City.
City by now only 30minutes in were bombarding us, even the slight glimpses when we did manage to break it was prevented before we even reached the danger zone.
Micah Richards went close with a header in the remainder of the first half and Adam Johnson saw a great strike saved by Pepe Reina.
Mancini's boys didn't take long either to get stuck in second half. Just as i thought Liverpool were beginning to look a little more productive they struck again. Carlos Tevez managing to get the slightest of touches after a City corner was sent goal bound, the Argentine made sure it was a goal.
Now at 1-0 the prospect of a draw seems acceptable and achievable for Liverpool but at 2-0, it already felt like all hope was lost. Again Liverpool had no time to regroup, City just were going full force, they were filled with confidence now and fancied their chances for another goal against a slow paced and below par Liverpool side.
Liverpool's only real moment of threat was when Steven Gerrard smashed in a shot which hit the post. It then came out for David Ngog who saw his shot saved by Joe Hart, then amazingly Joe Hart managed to get another save in when the rebound came to Torres. I said in the match preview that Hart could have held the key to the result... Well he certainly helped. A Liverpool goal at that time may just have changed the game, all credit to the keeper.
Just before the 70minute mark things got worse for Hodgson's boys, Skrtel who as i said earlier was being a bit risky with his decisions and timing brought down Adam Johnson in the box. Perhaps through frustration but it was all already over for Liverpool anyway, we just didn't really need salt rubbing in the wounds.
Carlos Tevez stepped up to see City go to 3-0 with less than 20minutes left on the clock.
Fernando Torres was brought off towards the end of the game and replacement Ryan Babel couldn't do much to help the faltering Liverpool side. Youngster Pacheco was also given 5minutes by Roy Hodgson but it was too late for any impact from substitutions.
City played well and for a side i still think won't work well together did in all fairness appear to gel yesterday but i think unfortunately so, they were made to look a lot better by a poor Liverpool performance.
One thing i can't quite get my head around is why Roy chose to play Agger at left back? I realise he has played there before but this was only through no other choice. It's confusing because i thought Roy re-signed the Brazilian Fabio Aurelio to fill the hole at left back due to Insua supposedly being sold and Aurelio was sitting on the bench. So where is the reasoning in playing Agger over and established player in that position? Just baffled me and was rather annoying because Agger is a top defender and it was awful to see him struggle last night out of position.
If we play like this against Trabzonspor on Thursday we could well find ourselves out of Europe already, i don't mean to get all morbid and dreary on you lot but it's just a shocking reminder of what we could be expecting to see from this Liverpool side this season. Hopefully this isn't the case though and i still have confidence in Liverpool to seal the deal in Turkey.
To end on...
Doesn't it make you proud when the travelling fans of our Liverpool base still sing You'll Never Walk Alone at the end of a game, even after such a battering.
Best fans in the world.