After a terrific spell at Fulham, Roy Hodgson was appointed to manage Liverpool FC, a club supposedly in turmoil, no champion’s league football, in huge debts and rumours of a mass exodus of key players. However the signing of Joe Cole followed by the talisman and Captain Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres committing their futures to the club. The feel good factor was back at the club, optimism for the new season was high.
The season is barely two months old, but what can we make of Roy Hodgson’s tenure thus far, is he the man to take the club forward, what needs to change and more importantly will we finish in the coveted top four position?
It was clear from the onset that Roy Hodgson had very little funds to play with, the signing of Joe Cole was a huge coup and the addition of Meireles will add much needed guile to the midfield especially after Mascherano’s departure. Paul Koncheskey’s arrival has addressed a problem area in the Liverpool back four, however the failure to sign a pacey creative player and a back up striker may prove costly especially if Torres faces a lengthy spell on the side lines.
Hodgson has also gone about clearing the deadwood, However many fans were not happy about the loaning out of Aquilani, I felt like he offered something different to the team. A killer pass or some creativity to break down a stubborn defence.
Looking at the performances this season it seems Hodgson’s Liverpool are not too different from Benitez’s Liverpool. Both deploy two holding midfielders with Gerrard behind Torres. Hodgson did go for a bolder approach against Manchester City, which was refreshing at the time but back fired. He then reverted back to the 4-5-1 formation against Birmingham and if it wasn’t for Reina in inspired form the result could have been the same.
Clearly Hodgson will need time to experiment with the players and formation to find his best team as Benitez did when he first arrived, however Hodgson doesn’t have the luxury of time as the Premier League is a punishing division if you are not winning.
The Birmingham game has summed up Liverpool’s season so far, lack of creativity, Torres unfit and seemingly uninterested, Gerrard looking deflated. The pace of the game passed Lucas and Poulson by and Maxi Rodriguez’s insisted on drifting inside. The severe lack of pace and desire to get into the opposition box was there for everyone to see with the reds failing to creating any clear goal mouth action.
This has to be addressed, and what better place and opposition to do so against. Liverpool face Manchester united at noon kick off at Old Trafford, a point against one of its biggest rivals would be huge at this stage of the season and give the confidence to hopefully push on.
The season has been a mixed bag so far, if the reds are to challenge for that top four spot then they must be more ruthless and push for all three points especially when their rivals have dropped points. Fringe players such as Babel, Pacheco, Lucas and Ngog must prove they are worthy to wear the famous red shirt or be shipped off at the end of the season or earlier.
However one thing that does concern me more than anything is the lack of belief in the team. I’m not talking about the performances or the body languages of the players, it’s the noises coming out from key players and the manager. Either it’s some sort of ploy to take the pressure off the team and to go about their business quietly or they genuinely do not believe in the team
Its too early to write off our challenge for the top four. However with Man City, Arsenal, and Tottenham strengthening during the summer, I find it difficult to see Liverpool FC finishing in the top four. Naturally I hope the boys prove me wrong, but until we can sort the ownership issue out and invest in two or three top class players we will struggle.