It looks like Liverpool fans can finally breath a sigh of relief as far as club ownership goes. Yet they won’t be ignorant to the fact that on-field the team have been nothing less than a shambles. Their £80million rated striker has failed to get into a stride, hiding behind niggling injuries and a lack of match fitness. There is no need to use Fernando Torres as a scapegoat though, with shaky performances flowing through the spine of the team, from Pepe Reina, to the whole of the back four, through to Steven Gerrard and whoever happens to be playing a long side him in midfield. Now that the Reds are out of the proverbial red, it’s about time they pushed out of the bottom three Premiership places.
The next six or seven fixtures could prove clinical for Roy Hodgson’s tenure on Merseyside. A tough away game at Goodison Park would provide the perfect platform on which to get what has been so far a lacklustre season back on track.
New owners may certainly give a much needed boost to morale at Anfield, however they will without doubt give added pressure to those who are responsible for the team’s league position. It hasn’t been easy for Hodgson, by any stretch of the imagination but simultaneously the former Fulham boss cannot escape blame. His negative tactics – reverting back to 4-4-2 (especially against Man City) and his starting line-ups (dropping Danial Agger, and trying to push the established centre half into a full-back role) are core to Liverpool’s lethargy.
Of course, the players too have much to answer for, however, there is a general feeling that they aren’t being properly accommodated for. Yes, Javier Mascherano left for the sunshine of Barcelona, but why else is this team doing so bad in comparison to a team that was seen as a failure for finishing seventh in the last campaign? Jamie Carragher has acknowledged that the time for excuses is fast coming to a close: “We have changed the manager, we have changed the board and if things don’t change now then the players will go too.”
The signings made by Roy Hodgson have marked a deterioration of a squad that was challenging for the title only two seasons ago, minus a couple of faces. Brad Jones was brought in as backup for Pepe Reina, but was this signing really essential? Going off the Australian’s performances for Middlesbrough, I’d be inclined to think that it wasn’t. Surely there were other keepers that could have been brought in at a cheaper price than £2million that could provide similar cover.
Said £2million could have been added to the £4.5million price tag that was paid for the unimpressive Christian Poulsen to secure the services of a central midfielder that is/was of Liverpool’s high standards. The necessity of signing Paul Konchesky should be questioned given the players age and restrained ability, with another £3-4million being withdrawn from the transfer kitty.
That’s not to say that Roy Hodgson has had the freedom to splash cash with ease during the transfer window, nor is it to say that Hodgson should simply replicate the tactics of former boss Rafa Benitez. Roy is his own man, that is understood. So far however, Hodgson’s impact as a manager has saw team performances slide at an alarming rate.
Under Benitez, fans would have seen the next three games as a sure 7 points; at least a point should be taken at Everton; though Blackburn have the tactical enigma that is Sam Allardyce at the helm, the Reds should comfortably take three points at home; Bolton away is tough, but another sure victory all the same. With the unpredictability of Hodgson’s side, it’ll be a tall order to get more than four points out of those three games.
The prospect of facing Chelsea will put fear into the hearts of the Kop faithful. The best team in the league, by some distance, have only lost once this season in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City; the same team that stunned Liverpool by demolishing them 3-0. Stoke and Wigan follow the Chelsea fixture, and if Liverpool fail to get at least 10 points out of those six fixtures, it could be the end of old Roy. Large parts of the English media constantly criticised Rafa Benitez’s reign as Liverpool manager; the same media that rejoiced at the appointment of an English manager and will no doubt stand by Hodgson to the end.
With a draw to Sunderland and defeat to Blackpool on home soil, the ‘lesser’ clubs no longer fear the mighty Reds. If Liverpool persist to under perform, other clubs will follow the example of Blackpool in taking much needed points away from one of England’s greatest clubs, but for how long the new board (whether this be lead by NESV or Peter Lim) will allow this this to continue is yet to be seen.
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