Football: Woeful Reds So Lucky to Get Second Chance; Luton V Liverpool Analysis No Excuses for Lack of Effort, Desire and Commitment

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Byline: Tony Barrett at Kenilworth Road



FOR once the pre-match hype was spot on - Liverpool against Luton Town was indeed a meeting of the haves against the have nots.

Luton had all the effort, desire, commitment and will to win. Liverpool had none.

Rafa Benitez's legion of critics will no doubt today be trotting out the same old accusations of Liverpool being undermined by rotation and tinkering. But that is only part of the story.

Though deprived of Steven Gerrard through injury and Fernando Torres through apparent fatigue, the Reds still started the game with ten full internationals and another couple were introduced from the bench.

And yet they still conspired to produce a performance which was so sub-standard at times it made Luton look like world beaters, rather than the League One strugglers they are.

Cynics might even suggest that Luton only let them off the hook because they need the cash a lucrative replay will bring.

A draw was the least Luton deserved.

Yes, Liverpool again missed chances and yes, the goal the hosts scoredwas slightly fortuitous.

But they did something that Liverpool were unable to do on the day - make the absolute most of their talent.

As Everton had found out to their cost only the day before, the gap between League One and the Premier League is not quite as cavernous as might have been previously imagined.

But for the most part of this David versus Goliath clash Liverpool failed to heed the lesson of their neighbours as they allowed their less illustrious opponents to dictate play.

Luton did what all good underdogs will do - they scrapped and battled for every single ball and never allowed Liverpool's more talented players to settle.

They did what was expected of them but the same could not be said for Liverpool who did little more than go through the motions, presumably expecting their ability to shine through when it mattered most.

Football doesn't work like that, of course, and unless talent is allied with industry it is wasted and several Liverpool players need to have a long, hard look at themselves for not putting the required shift in.

Fired up by the hunger that going months without wages almost inevitably brings, Luton fought like their lives depended on it and made the fact that they are currently separated from Liverpool by 60 league places seem almost impossible to believe.

You can talk about the magic of the FA Cup and of matches being eleven against eleven but when Liverpool are not only failing to beat the likes of Luton Town, but are also not managing to look better than them, then you know something is badly wrong.

Motivation should not be an issue but Liverpool are currently a club where the manager's position is coming under almost daily scrutiny and maybe one or two players are guilty of believing they do not need to please Rafa Benitez as much as they used to because he is not likely to be at Anfield for too much longer.

The club is being undermined by a swathe of speculation which is doing no-one any favours and it wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility to believe that uncertainty in the boardroom is now transmitting itself onto the pitch. …