Melbourne tells Liverpool
The only people who emerged from the Melbourne Victory Liverpool match with more plaudits than the Australian team’s young players were the 95,446 spectators at the MCG who produced a new record soccer match attendance in Australia.
Goals from the famed English club’s captain Steven Gerrard and Spanish recruit Iago Aspas, the latter with the last kick of the match, sealed a 2:0 victory for visiting team on Wednesday night against a Victory team with only four players older than 21. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was pleased with the result but insisted that was secondary to the significance of attracting such a huge crowd on the club’s first visit to Australia.
“It was a huge honour to be playing here at such an iconic stadium,” he said after the match. “I want to put on record a huge thank you to the people of Melbourne and Australia . . . they can be very, very proud of what they put on tonight because it was absolutely phenomenal. The You’ll Never Walk Alone at the beginning was a real tearjerker.”
Rodgers insisted the rapturous reception for Liverpool at the MCG had not surprised him, based on the way its players had been “mobbed” since flying into the city on Sunday night.
“How we’ve been received has been phenomenal. It’s a really humbling experience as a manager to feel that support,” he said.
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou said he successfully suppressed his devotion to Liverpool for almost all of the night. The exception was the pre match song the “only moment where I probably took my coach’s hat off”.95,446 soccer fans crammed into the packed MCG to unite and sing the Liverpool anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone. Photo: Pat Scala
The manner of Victory’s performance and the tactics and style taught by Postecoglou earned plaudits from Rodgers. Cheap Jerseys free shipping The Liverpool manager said it was clear the A League team was “very well coached”, and admitted his team’s 32 minute goal from Gerrard came “on the back of some really good play by Melbourne”.
Victory were first choice players such as Archie Thompson, Mark Milligan and Adama Traore, due to either Socceroos duty or injury. On Tuesday their coach said he was hopeful they could produce “moments” of superiority against Liverpool. After the match Postecoglou said they had “no doubt” achieved that.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys tonight. We had a really young team out there . . . and I was probably more frightened about it than they were. But we’ve invested in youth at this football club and worked really hard in the past 12 months and we really believe in the football we play, and I believe that was shown tonight.
“In front of such a crowd on such an occasion against a world class team it would have been very easy for the boys to go into their shells but it just shows they’ve got a real belief in what we do. Tonight they didn’t get the ultimate reward but they got real rewards for the way they played.
“I’m sure they’ll grow from tonight. They’ll take some real belief [from it]. That was out biggest mission tonight, to make sure our young players got self belief . . . I thought we got that in bucketloads.”
Postecoglou said he was particularly pleased with the run of play, alluded to by Rodgers, where the Victory maintained unbroken possession in their attacking half for at least a minute with a string of accurate passes just before Gerrard scored.
“It was good . . . but you want more. I would have loved a goal at the end of it, that’s what we strive for. You kind of appreciate we were able to do that but you kind of say ‘We should have had an end product’. Probably that’s the area we just lacked a little bit tonight,” he said.
“Connor (Pain) and Andrew (Nabbout) had some bright moments but we never really threatened the way I think we can. But there were two or three times where we kept the ball really well and I thought Liverpool actually tried to press us a couple of times and we didn’t flinch.”
Postecoglou praised the conduct of Liverpool’s coaches, players and officials during their stint in Melbourne. He predicted lasting effects for people who were not rusted on soccer supporters who attended the match.
“I just think it was a great night for this game tonight. I think anyone who turned up tonight and heard the song sung before the game and watched two teams try to play football [would be impressed]. If you weren’t in love with the game already I think you’ll be thinking about having an affair with it anyway.”
The match also marked the comeback for Luis Suarez, the skilful but volatile Uruguayan striker who was given an extended off season break, during which he made repeated references to wanting to leave the club. His substitute performance was not particularly notable, until he provided the cross for the club’s second goal, for Aspas.
Reports in England suggested Arsenal had lifted its offer for Suarez to 40 million ($A66.3 million), but that was given short shrift by Liverpool.
“What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?” Liverpool owner John W. Henry asked dismissively on Twitter, in reference to Arsenal (which is based at London’s Emirates Stadium).
Rodgers said on Monday he planned to speak to Suarez about his future. After the match he said he had begun doing so but that the situation had not changed.
“I’m having a few conversations with Luis so there’s nothing really new to report. Obviously he’s been surrounded by speculation but he’s here and welcome within the group,” he said. “There’s nothing new to report, he’s very much a Liverpool player. Over the course of the next number of weeks we’ve got to get him up to speed and have him fit and raring to go for the beginning of the season.”
Asked directly about the Arsenal bid, which technically was 1 more than 40 million in the hope of triggering a negotiation clause in the 26 year old’s contract, Rodgers replied: “I’ve got nothing to report on that. I haven’t heard anything from the club. The only talks have been between me and Luis.”
Rodgers believed Suarez would be influenced by the strong support he had received in the face of significant controversy he had endured during his time at Liverpool. He was suspended for being found guilty of racially vilifying an opposition player and is mid way through a suspension for biting an opponent late last season.
“I think the support he’s received from the supporters and the people of the city of Liverpool has been unrivaled. http://www.cheapnfljerseysonliney.top In the period of time [he has been at the club] he has missed a lot of games through various reasons, and the people have stood by him like a son and really looked after him,” Rodgers said. “I’m sure whatever happens in the coming weeks that will be in his mind, because it’s certainly something you can never forget.”