The bad thing about writing columns right after a defeat is to succumb to frustration and anger which would hardly make for good writing. It is then important to hold on for a day or two and reflect on the events of the previous game. One could hardly not predict the backlash by fans after Saturday’s horrendously unacceptable performance – it now has become common place. Calls for Hodgson to resign and for King Kenny to takeover echoed throughout the Internet, although I have to re-iterate that some of the vocabulary used is, without any doubt, offensive, poor, pigeon-like and is disrespectful towards a person – Roy Hodgson – who was chosen for the pressure-cooker job and prestigious position. So it is with utter sadness – and shame as a Liverpool fan – to continuously witness denigration, use of foul language towards the manager of Liverpool F.C. Such comments should be banned outright. The Liverpool brotherhood is renowned for sticking together, rallying behind the team and manager. It is easy to judge from the comfort of a sitting room armchair. I’ve read scores of comments wanting Hodgson out but few fans – if any – have put forward solutions, suggestions apart from the usual “let’s have King Kenny for the interim”.
I am not hailing Roy Hodgson as a victim or suggesting he is not to blame for the team’s precarious present status and will reaffirm that the ship needs to be stabilized by January. Failure to do so should lead to serious scrutiny of what’s available on the management front. The continuous spiteful attacks on Hodgson will only result in further destabilization and expose us further as a laughing stock not only on the pitch but also from a fan-base perspective. I can imagine some readers stating that “R/Woy has turned us into a laughing stock” and will probably get lambasted for appearing to jump to the defense of the ex-Fulham boss. Never-mind and I will repeat that it is disgraceful to have fans who resort to writing garbage; a case in point is the disgusting use of the word Woy rather than Mr Hodgson’s name Roy. This is utter disrespect and character assassination. Again, such comments should be trashed.
Onto the game on Saturday and with City drawing and Spurs emphatically winning, Gareth Bale on the score sheet, it was imperative to secure the three points at The Brittania. Playing Stoke away has never been easy and in Tony Pulis, Stoke City have a manager who is tremendously analytical and prepares for games meticulously. Martin Skrytel was questioned on how to defend Delap throw-ins and came back stating that the team was prepared to counter this particularly potent asset. Delap must have had over ten chances throughout the game and the opener was a result of one such opportunity. Liverpool’s defense managed to repel the danger many times but it was always a difficult situation to handle. Too many throw-ins were conceded. It is best not to give Delap the chance to put in dangerous balls rather than attempt at defending the threat. One must counter at source. This leads to the reason why Liverpool were, time and time again, pinned back having to defend in numbers. The ball was continuously played out of defense cheaply often ending up back at a Stoke midfielder or worse still out for a throw-in. We missed a defender, Hyypia-style, capable of calming matters and getting us out of a defensive position without giving the ball away. This is where Daniel Agger is direly missed. Ball retention was a key ingredient missing on Saturday. The back four were panic-stricken and opted for the easy but disastrous option of getting rid of the ball, handing it back to Stoke and having to defend another determined attack.
The weakness on Saturday was definitely Konchesky. I still have to be convinced he is the right man to shoulder left-back responsibilities and after Saturday’s performance I am inclined to believe he is not. Whether or not the decision to get rid of the ball, sweep-it-clean style was a direct Hodgson order is anyone’s guess but it certainly looked as if the game plan revolved around this flawed concept. A determined attack can only be stopped in midfield, so inviting pressure, defending deep and handing back possession played into Stoke’s policy.
The game ended in Lucas being sent off right at the death. Fans were offered little spectacle and the boring sight of a young aid handing over a blue towel to Delap countless times made for even worse viewing. The match has to be flushed out of the system as fast as is possible and focus turned to a must win, at home versus West Ham. Rumours circulating that Agger and now Johnson are at loggerheads with Roy over the style of play need to be addressed by the man in charge. The feel good factor has been short-lived but as I highlighted a few weeks ago, that is part and parcel of a stabilization process. I had warned to expect one or two more draws and possibly defeats and this is exactly what we’ve experienced. The team has been dealt another blow which requires a determined response. The team is not yet strong enough – mentally – to avoid capitulation as was the case against an average Stoke City side. The onus is now on the players to stand up firmly in the face of pressure. We’re managing to see off a siege at Anfield but we’re still not capable of repeating this away. This area needs rectification. Throwing in the towel away from home is presently an addiction which needs to be eradicated; the sooner the better.
See you next time.