Well on Thursday evening one scenario was answered and we now know that there will be no European glory and one of our routes into the Champion's League next season has now been closed off.
Due to the 6pm kick off I missed the first half on TV and was reduced to following the game on my commute home via the Sky Sports app, and by the sounds of it I missed by far the best of the game from Liverpool's point of view. In the 2nd half we retreated further and further into our own half, looking to see out a nil nil draw and what could have been lauded as a 'typical' and brilliant European away defensive performance if things had turned out differently. Playing a back 5 for most of the 2nd half as opposed to a back 3, despite being camped in our own half, defensively we looked relatively comfortable. We reduced Besiktas to pot shots from range. However, the more and more pot shots a team has, the greater the risk that one will go in.
The bigger problem for us seemed to be the fact we were becoming increasingly overrun in midfield and seemed incapable of putting together any sort of threatening attack on the break. You can be as good defensively as you like... but eventually that sort of pressure and scenario will end badly. And so it did.
Considering our recent turnaround in form, it is hard to criticise Rodgers too heavily for his tactics, but in Europe he does seem to struggle more than domestically, it is almost the reverse of Benitez. It seemed glaringly obvious to everyone that a change needed to be made to get a better control of midfield and bringing Manquillo on for Ibe wasn't very effective. I should imagine that he felt that we needed a better defensive player for the remainder of the game on the right side than Ibe, but Ibe has done his defensive work very well recently. I would argue that when you are under the cosh like we were to have the attacking threat of Ibe was a greater defensive asset than Manquillo himself who hasn't had minutes on the pitch for some time.
Anyway... their goal came and then we saw the game out clearly hoping we'd win the penalty shoot out. The rest we know, and I'm not going to dwell on Lovren's miss. Everyone knows I have been a big critic of his, but he obvious had the balls to put his hand up for a pen and he can't be blamed for us losing a game in what we all know is a lottery when really we should have done a much better job of seeing the tie off in 90 minutes.
What I really want to comment on is the reaction of some Liverpool fans to our exit. The usual idiocy around Lovren's miss aside, there was a lot of talk from generally sensible headed Liverpool fans about the fact that going out was a "blessing in disguise" and that the Europa League is shit anyway. Granted it's not the European Competition that we all really want to be in, but this sort of attitude and reaction disappointed me.
I was even amazed to hear one of the Anfield Wrap lads, who are usually a bastion of sense, indicate that when Ba hit the bar he had almost wished it had gone in so we could have just got off and got home. I completely understand the worry around playing 120 minutes, in Turkey, when we have Man City at noon on Sunday, but I just simply cannot bring myself to 'not be arsed' when Liverpool go out of a competition in Europe. Especially when we are not that far off the final and by winning it we could qualify for the Champion's League. Liverpool FC are about winning games and winning trophies.
Would we all have been happy enough if Houllier and the lads had sacked of the UEFA Cup and League Cup in 2001 just to ensure we finished 4th? How much momentum did that treble winning season have because of the fact we kept on winning silverware.
To me it strikes me as a bit of the malaise of modern football that has crept in where it's not just about the game in front of you any more but it's about squads, stats, rotation, qualifying money, kick off times and whether one trophy is better than the other.
Whatever happened to wanting to win?