Paul Parker

What a load of rubbish

Paul Parker

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My weekend was ruined by commentating on Liverpool's rotten goalless draw with Birmingham.

I'd had a couple of entertaining evenings with friends and family, and a good game of football with a local veterans team where I live in Singapore, but I just can't get that dire performance out of my head.

I was saying previously that I thought Torres was getting back to his best but looking at this performance I wasn't sure if he even wanted to be there.

You don't become a bad player overnight, particularly if you were world class the day before. At the moment he doesn't look like he's enjoying himself, he seems like he wants to be somewhere else.

Did he only say he was happy to stay because there was nowhere else to go at that moment?

Compared to the dullness of Liverpool, Birmingham were a joy to watch and deserved three points, which they'd have got had Pepe Reina not been in inspired form.

Liverpool didn't even try to play football and they didn't look like they knew how to.

At Fulham Roy Hodgson made average players look good but I don't think these 'established' players at Liverpool can give him that.

Liverpool fans were spoilt with wonderful football for 30-40 years but the last eight years or so have not seen the right players at the club, not for the style they deserve.

Excluding Joe Cole, who was suspended, Hodgson only has two players who can turn a game and one of those doesn't seem to care.

Lucas was awful and Christian Poulsen very bland and I can only assume Raul Meireles wasn't considered to be ready: he may well help over the season.

Glen Johnson is a real worry for me too as he appears to have no awareness of how to defend, as if he was born without those capabilities and is constantly having to remind himself of them.

Quite important if you play at right-back...

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Manchester United threw away two injury-time goals to slump to a 3-3 draw at Everton.

Wayne Rooney or no Wayne Rooney, they're not killing teams off at the moment.

Do they have enough legs in the team, and in midfield in particular? They're running out of steam late in games, which is not typical Manchester United - they did exactly the same against Fulham.

In the 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage we saw Fulham able to largely contain United in the second half, before pushing for a late goal: Everton did likewise, although later in the game and with more spectacular consequences.

Beforehand I did have this game down as a draw, but once United were 3-1 up I expected them to close it out.

I have a horrible feeling that the Rooney thing - and I mean the hype and his frame of mind, not his reported behaviour, which I couldn't care less about - has caused a problem. It seems to have unsettled things, which is worrying.

In the past Sir Alex Ferguson has made David Beckham, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona play in games when they've been expected to get horrendous abuse following some incident or other.

In Rooney's case it's a personal matter, but it's worrying that he saw fit not only to drop the player but change the team in other positions.

For example, he selected Gary Neville at right-back and John O'Shea in midfield, one assumes because they are experienced, steady heads who would be able to deal with the cauldron-like atmosphere.

But Neville's hardly played recently and was surely not ready for such a game, while O'Shea is a full-back and was asked to play out of position against one of the better midfields in the league: I'm sure United would like to have one or two of Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini in their squad.

This was exactly the kind of result Everton needed though. Again they've started the season poorly, thanks in part to injury problems and some sluggish early performances.
This fightback showed what they are all about and I expect them to build on it.

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Ian Holloway must have aimed to get points from the teams that came up with him.

But to go to Wigan and win so convincingly, before getting a draw against Fulham in a match they feel they should have won, that would have been more than Ollie expected.

Still, a 2-0 win at Newcastle is highly impressive, given how they hammered Villa for six.

Again Toon have shown their mental frailty under expectation - Graeme Souness called it a 'goldfish bowl' and they need to learn to cope with that pressure at St James' Park.

I think Blackpool will go down though. Given their commitment to attacking football, I expect the bubble to burst and - once they get found out - a horrible run of form will follow that drags them right down.

The only way I can see them staying up is if they 'do a Hull' and somehow survive on the last day thanks to the poor form of other teams as, sooner or later, I can see them getting opened up and pulled to pieces.

The reality is that Ollie has a Championship squad, that was recently a League One squad, and playing with freedom is not going to work in the long term.

I really hope I'm left with egg on my face though - it would be a remarkable story if they stay up in their first season in the top flight in god knows how may years.

Come on Blackpool, prove me wrong.

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