Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland

Chris Brunskill

The festive program came to an end with a meek surrender to Liverpool at Anfield. It wasn't pretty. Readers of a nervous disposition should probably look away now.

What The Gaffer Said

O'Neill wasn't especially talkative, which we have noticed tends to be a sign of a bit of frustration and possibly even some anger bubbling away beneath the surface.

Liverpool were too strong for us and deserved to win the game.

It looked as though we ran out of steam out there tonight.

We started off very brightly indeed and we had Liverpool on the back-foot, but once they got their goal they opened us up and exploited us.

Luis Suarez is a top quality footballer and he was a handful tonight.

Perhaps it was a case of a bridge too far, we've played four games in 12 days and we've got one of the smallest squads in the Premier League.

We've had some big games as of late and maybe in terms of recovery we just haven't got that ability to switch things around as we would like to.

As always we'll dust ourselves off and get ready to go again on Saturday as we've got a big game at Bolton in the FA Cup.

Not much to add really, although if he knows our squad is struggling for freshness, you have to wonder why he isn't making the few changes that are available to him and using the likes of Vaughan and Wickham.

Frank At It Again

In the last Quick Kicks we compared Matt Kilgallon, or, to use his full name, 'never puts a foot wrong' Kilgallon, to the lovably hapless TV Character Frank Spencer. Well this week he didn't do much to make us eat out words.

Daryl Murphy being out-jumped by Shaun Wright-Phillips is a moment that still lives in infamy amongst fans but Kilgallon losing the header to Raheem Sterling was just as bad, and it came neatly sandwiched between being eased off the ball far too easily for the opener and stopping to watch Luis Suarez add the second.

All in all, one of the more slapstick episodes of Some Matthews Do 'Ave 'Em. One of those that strays a little too far into cringe territory, if we're honest.

Plenty Of Shame To Go Around

Although Kilgallon's performance was worthy of mention, it wouldn't be fair to lay this one entirely at his door.

All three Liverpool goals were created from inside their own half with absolutely zero pressure on the ball. It was enough to make your skin crawl.

There should, and probably will, be a messy inquest after this one, because it appears certain individuals need a stark reminder of their responsibilities.

Fast Track To Misery

For all the defending was appalling, it was compounded by a general inability from the side as a whole to take chances at the other end.

Three big chances were missed in front of The Kop in the first half alone and you simply can't afford to be so profligate. I am not sure how many more good chances you can be expected to create away from home in the Premier League.

At the end of the day, failing to take your own chances whilst being a soft touch at the back is a path that will lead you to nowhere fun.

No Internal Solution

Football supporters tend to have a habit of declaring the solution to just about anything to be found in the transfer market, and it isn't always the case.

On this occasion, however, there is no internal solution to Sunderland's problems. Better quality players, particularly in the core areas of central midfield and central defence, are required with some urgency. There is no other way of fixing it.

O'Neill has, for my money, been incredibly fair in giving the squad he inherited a chance to show they can be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem. They have been here a year and had the opportunity to stake a claim.

Now it is the time to be a little ruthless and start to hack away the diseased flesh that is clinging onto the club and dragging it down.

At Least McClean Turned Up

I never feel duty-bound to find a positive in this feature just for the sake of it, and that applies to this one more than ever.

That said, James McClean deserves a mention for perhaps being the one Sunderland player to turn up and put in a genuine shift. You can accuse him of anything you want, but he will never hide like many others.

He missed a big chance, granted, but his work rate and attitude, were faultless and he had a decent enough game on the ball too. You just wonder if O'Neill sees a bit of a budget James Milner in there, as the habit he has of shifting him into central midfield is very reminiscent of what he did with the Manchester City man at Aston Villa.

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