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Liverpool Q&A

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Rory and Gene got some questions together for our resident Liverpool supporter, Bromantic, before tomorrow's FA Cup tie between Manchester United and Liverpool. Adam was kind enough to provide us with some in-depth responses. I get the impression he likes us much more than his Liverpool brethren so feel free to post any further questions for him in the comments.

* How important is reaching the Carling Cup final for you and other supporters? Is there more significance to it since Liverpool has not won a trophy since 2006 (I think) and also because this would be your 1st appearance at the new Wembley?
I think the idea of silverware is very enticing for the supporters after what is a long drought. I think just getting something, if we get past Cardiff City, will be a huge boost to a frustrated squad and fanbase who have endured a few years of turmoil. It will be the first sign that there might be a little stability at Anfield. Very few of the current players have won a trophy for Liverpool; that includes the likes of Dirk Kuyt and it feels like he has been here forever. It is indeed our first appearance at the new Wembley, but people forget we also closed out the Millenium Stadium's stint as host while Wembley was finishing construction with the "Stevie G Final" in 2006. It was just an amazing goal he had past Shaka Hislop and overall an emotional rollercoaster ride of a final. So from that perspective being back at Wembley is purely sentimental for me so I really couldn't care less. Then again, I'm not English so that might be part of it as well.

* Can you briefly describe Liverpool's recent tactics? Can Charlie Adam and Steven Gerrard coexist in a two-man midfield? -- they seemed to be overrun by Bolton's midfield. If not, does Adam need to be dropped or should Kenny Dalglish simply turn to a three-man central midfield? What do you believe are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the squad?
Liverpool's recent tactics have been simply to put one striker up top, recently Carroll for obvious reasons, and hoof the ball to him. It usually plays out in a 4-5-1 kind of formation. The problem is Carroll just can't hack it up there alone, neither the work rate nor ability is there. As for Gerrard and Adam, I think they can co-exist, but it will take time. They both had superb games against City to reach the Carling Cup finals. I think it is partly a product of them not having played together due to Stevie's groin which is clearlt made of wet cardboard and apparently he also has a compromised immune system. They were definitely overrun by Bolton, but I think throughout the game they seemed to be occupying each other's space which has happened a number of games this season with Henderson and Adam as well. Carroll's inability to hold up the ball certainly doesn't help the situation. I would rather see the 4-2-2-2 that worked well towards the beginning of the season as well. I should also make mention of Kenny's recent use of the 6-3-1 at City in the first leg of the Carling Cup. That is how you park a bus in front of net; an Airbus, A380.
As for the biggest strengths, that has to be Stevie G. He is Liverpool through and through and that has been evident by the performances he has put in since his return. There is just something about his presence on the pitch the lifts his teammates. He also has fantastic vision and ability and it has been a real help to the team in stretching the field and link up play that was lacking early on. After the performance against City, I would like to see him play in the hole behind Bellamy just as he did with Torres in one of his more successful campaigns in the past. In addition, our back four have been fantastic. It would only take a few more goals or a little more luck off the woodwork (which Liverpool have struck I believe 19 times this season) to be in third right now.

* Andy Carroll has obviously been a massive disappointment while Craig Bellamy has been a pleasant surprise. Do you have a further opinion on these two players? -- more than has been typically covered by the general media? What other players have disappointed or pleased you this season in relation to their expectations at season's beginning?
I don't know what to say about Carroll other than I have given up on him. Even Pepe Reina didn't hesitate to name Carroll when asked who the worst trainer on the team was in a media interview. It says a lot to me about a man when he is out of form and is a lazy trainer. For me it definitely shows on the pitch which is why I thrown in the towel on him. I get a lot of stick from some people about that opinion, but I think even those people are coming around.
As for Bellamy, I can't argue with the numbers. For a free transfer, he couldn't be doing better. I was very hesitent and I feel like he was the recent my favorite ginger, John Arne Riise, was shown the door by Rafa. Bellamy showed he still has a lot left to give during the second leg of the Carling Cup semi final. He ran his arse off and constantly harrassed the City backline. This caused them to make a number of errors. It is sad when a little neck-less hobbit can hold the front line alone better than a giant like Carroll.
As for players who have pleased or disappointed, Enrique has clearly been the buy of the season. He had one off game this season where he was poor and that was the recent defeat at Bolton which shall not be mentioned again. Other than that blip, I would say he has been the most consistent performer on the the team. Downing has definitely disappointing. I had high hopes for him because he started the season very well. However, part of that I blame on King Kenny for playing him on the right. He has much better games when he is employed out wide on the left flank. It is almost night and day, the difference.
The other big surprise has been that the back four have played so well together that Jaime Carragher can't get a sniff of action. I thought that wouldn't happen for a few more years, but at least Kenny isn't trying to fix something that is clearly working.

* What do you believe to be the goals for Liverpool Football Club this season? While the general media seem to be critical of Liverpool because of their current standing in the table, are supporters actually fine with the results and the more pleasing to the eye football Dalglish brings in comparison to 'Woy Hodgson? Was a Top 4 finish a necessity in the fan's eyes or would a Top 6 finish be acceptable again for this current season?
The goal is clearly a top four finish. Anything else will be a let down. I think supporters are frustrated by the draws which have really been the hallmark of Liverpool Football Club for the past five years and have actually cost us the title. In the year we finished four points back, I think we lost twice but drew 11 times to United's 5 or 6. Even though United lost twice as many games, we still lost the title due to all of those draws, seven of which were at home. For some reason, that curse hasn't gone away. Drawing to every lowly side at home is extraordinarily frustrating. This team haven't yet learned the art of eeking out a win or winning games they don't deserve like United clearly have. I think everyone is happy that "Woy' is gone, but to answer the last question, I don't think top 6 is good enough. Liverpool expect to be challenging for the title next year and for that to happen we must have Champions League football. The reason I say that is we all know these days it is essential to have Champions League football to attract the top talent that Liverpool need to finally round out their squad.

*Thoughts on Henderson's season so far? And also Stewart Downing. To me the England winger always seems invloved in some good build up play, but fails with either shooting or crossing accuratly. Is your patience wearing thin?

Oh boy, good question. I am not as down on Downing (took me 45 minutes to come up with that) as a lot of people. As I said in a previous question, I think a lot of it has been the way in which he has been employed. Kenny has been playing him on the right and it just doesn't work for Downing. He usually has a decent game when he plays on the left. He started the season looking like he was worth every cent that was paid, but that didn't last long. However, he did have a solid performance at City. A lot has been made of his lack of crosses connecting with Carroll, but Liverpool have been poor at getting numbers in the box for crosses so I don't blame him entirely. In addition, Carroll seems to have trouble judging crosses and his runs are very ordinary, meaning he always is blanketed. Again, not Downing's fault.
Henderson has stunk. However, he is getting better every game so I am really hoping that he will grow like Lucas did. The main difference between Henderson and Carroll iss that every game I see a little more improvement which gives me hope for the future. I definitely do not see anything like that with Carroll. Henderson is far from the finished product, so time will tell. I'm not sure he'll ever be worth 20m though.

* Prediction? I feel we may have too much for you, if not tomorow, certainly in a replay (I don't think we will lose). I also believe that the winner of this tie will win the cup. Do you share my confidence in both are teams ability to succeed in the FA Cup?
My heart says 2-1 to the Reds (not the Red Devils, the real Reds), but my head tells me 2-0 to you guys. The team put forth a ton of effort just three days ago, and if Bellamy can't play due to his knees, then I don't like our chances since I just don't see where the goals would come from. I also wouldn't have a ton of confidence in Liverpool for a replay. It is now or never for us, and yes, it would be a fairly easy road the rest of the way for whom ever won. But, we all know these games against bitter rivals can go either way so it should be a great game. I am just hoping that both sets of fans behave and like Stevie G said, the game is remembered for being a cracking game and not for any extracurricular stuff.

Thanks to Adam for taking the time to get back to us and feel free to comment on his responses.