Disappointing. Frustrating. Lacklustre. These just are some of the terms that sum up our season until now. Apart from the opening day fixture vs Arsenal at home we’ve been poor, especially on the road, the most disappointing came about a month ago at a half-empty Anfield where Liverpool were knocked out of the Carling Cup by League Two side Northampton Town. Ten days later we suffered our first home league defeat at the hands of Blackpool with the Kop reverberating to chants of “Dalglish, Dalglish” at the final whistle. With Roy’s job now quite under pressure, the “must win” Merseyside derby at Goodison was one fixture which could have been the little bright spark in what was turning out to be a disastrous season however that wasn’t to be. We were awful and if I was to be totally and brutally honest what was even more awful and alarming were Roy’s post-match comments which seemed to suggest that he was happy with the way we played in the second half, deeming it “the best he’s seen Liverpool play under his tenure”. In September Daniel Agger one of the more technically accomplished players in the squad claimed that his tendency to look to contribute to the attack from his defensive position and reluctance to clear the ball differed from Hodgson’s tactics and that Roy was omitting him from the team for this reason. Add to this, Pepe Reina’s recent disclosure that he was having to adapt to an “English” style of goalkeeping is also bewildering.
I’ll stick to my initial opinion : Roy was never the right man for the job. I am not saying that he’s a bad manager, not at all, he’s a good manager however some managers are just not suited for a particular club, and this club is Liverpool FC. The manager of a club like Liverpool is expected to be accustomed to the fact that we never accept second best. Considering this season where we’ve had to lower our expectations Roy has come in and downed our expectations to such lows that even victories against West Brom at home (bare in mind it was a poor performance) need to be remembered time and again. Another thing that didn’t go down too well with the Anfield faithful was Roy’s response to United bidding for Torres. Personally, I was disappointed with his comments; we all know he’s an old chum of Fergie but if comments such as his are repeated I’m afraid he’s going to lose a lot more fans added to the constantly depleting fan base. The fact is that Hodgson was a slightly underwhelming appointment of a club of Liverpool’s stature. We were expecting the appointment of a manager which “made a statement”, so to speak but then again we had to settle for mediocrity (no offence Mr Roy). If I do somehow manage to eke out a few positives they’ve got to be convincing Stevie and Nando to stay and signing Joe Cole. Besides these and a couple of good performances (including the Europa League) so far, I can’t seem to find anymore.
Coming to a few positive things now :-), we witnessed a vast improvement from Roy’s men against Blackburn at home. Gerry Mardsen’s rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before the game seemed to have inspired the players and fans in this must-win game for Roy. There was no Poulsen to slow the game down, there was more pressing and there was a higher defensive line. Meireles had a good game, he was deployed in central midfield unlike the right side of midfield in a couple of previous matches which clearly did not work. We started off really well and should have scored but Paul Robinson was good in goal. The big Greek finally broke the deadlock in the 48th minute with a towering header in what was a magnificent Man of the Match performance. I have to say Lucas and Maxi were exceptional too throughout the match. With Kuyt having been unlucky with injuries with season, Maxi has had a lot of chances to play his way into the side but has failed to do so, however his performance against Blackburn was probably his best in a red shirt. History has it that he’s always been an inconsistent player for Atleti and Argentina despite his good goal scoring record. And how relieving it was to Torres back on the scoresheet? Finally, eh! all in all, a good performance and a match which should’ve ended at least 3-1 or 4-1 but I dont think anyone cares about that much now. Our next 3 fixtures are: 31st Bolton away, 4th Napoli home and 7th Chelsea home. It’s going to be extremely tough, I’m already dreading it (excuse my negativity please). Let’s wait and see if the win against Blackburn can finally springboard our season after exactly a quarter of the season.
Here is an analysis of how some players have been affected under Roy :
Pepe : Barring his catastrophe against Arsenal on opening day, he’s been consistent until now, putting in a MOTM performance against Brum at St Andrew’s. Having been told to adopt a more “English style of goalkeeping” and several rumours suggesting he’s a target for a host of top European clubs, he’s said that this season “is the worst he’s ever endured in his career.”
Glen Johnson : He’s always been a threat attacking-wise but I have to say his defending capabilities have alarmingly deteriorated. Not being allowed as much license to go forward as under Rafa, he’s put in a bag of mixed performances. In all fairness to him Roy’s tactics do not suit his game.
Soto : The big Greek has been exceptional whenever he’s played. The towering header against Blackburn was similar to the one he scored against Blackpool which unfortunately ended in defeat. His aerial ability is an asset defensively as well as a threat attacking wise.
Agger : He’s had a tough time this season. Forced out of matches with niggling injuries and illnesses it seems as if Roy isn’t a big fan of Daniel. his style of play obviously doesn’t go well with Roy’s philosophy and I’ll admit I was a little worried when Roy claimed that “he was sick and had ruled himself out of the Napoli game.” he’s probably our best defender and technically very sound, I’d hate to see him go.
Konchesky : He arrived for £5m with 2 promising youngsters heading the other way. Not the best left back there is, he has plenty of Premier League experience on his side. I’d like to see Fabio start ahead of Konchesky. when fit, a far better footballer.
Poulsen : £4m pounds looks like a huge amount now doesn’t it? Poulsen has been pretty poor ever since he arrived from Juventus. The guy is 30 and probably in the final stages of his career. 2-3 years ago he was very good however now he is too slow for the Premier League as was evident with his absence against Blackburn.
Lucas : Been out of favor under Roy as he seems to prefer playing Poulsen. A brilliant performance against Blackburn, I’m hoping Roy takes the hint, would hate to see him leave.
Meireles : Hasn’t had the best of starts when deployed on the right side of midfield, had a good game against Blackburn as he played central midfield. The guy has huge potential and I’m looking forward to seeing him play during the course of the season.
Jovanovic : Started the season OK however has found himself on the bench for the last few matches. He’s got plenty of pace and a trick or two up his sleeve and seems to understand the meaning of wearing the red shirt.
Cole : Describing his current form as the worst he’s endured throughout his entire career, Joe Cole looks a shadow of himself this season. in all fairness to Joe, he’s not a left winger! He’s most effective down the middle. Although he claimed his first goal against Bucaresti and an assist to Torres against Blackburn, his best is yet to come.
I’m not saying that Roy should be shown the door, although he shouldn’t take it too lightly either. A couple of other bad performances/results could result in him getting the sack, but let’s hope that the Blackburn game was a much needed confidence booster and we can finally get over our crapfest of a season and start doing things The Liverpool Way. A few more performances as our last match could finally see Hodgson win over his critics. Better late than never, don’t you think?
on Twitter @Jaidev1507