By Jamie Scott
Much has been made out of the squad Roy Hodgson has inherited from Rafa Benitez, and the emphasis seems to be on “Rafas” players, deflecting the real problem at Liverpool, the players Roy Hodgson has brought in.
I personally don’t think Rafa got the credit he deserved for his dealings in the transfer market, granted signings of Degen, Kromkamp, Dossenna and Voronin etc were hardly astute signings by the master tactician, but people seem to forget some of the players that are regarded as the best in the world were discovered by Rafa, Torres and Reina for example. Other he has brought in surely prove that his track record is not as bad as made out with the signings of, Alonso, Luis Garcia, Crouch, Alvaro Arbeloa, Daniel Agger, Martin Skertl, Glen Johnson, Momo Sissoko, Yossi Benayoun, Craig Bellamy and he even got the last legs out of God and most importantly made a profit on most of them!!. People forget that Rafa himself inherited a squad that was full of under achievers and some players who most certainly were not good enough to be Liverpool players but unlike the current crop, the likes of Traore, Biscan and Josemi were Champions League Winners!!.
Rafa could fashion a winning mentality out of players and was tactically astute where Roy is completely incompetent in all aspects. When Rafa left the club he left us with signings he brought in players like, Reina, Mascherano, Torres, Kuyt, Agger, Skertel, Johnson, Maxi and 2 of Houillers men Gerrard and Carragher im sure there’s not a manager that would not have wanted to inherit these players, 10 international players. Even some of the squad players left behind by Rafa should be good enough, the much maligned Lucas has shown glimpses of what he is capable of, Ryan Babel has potential but needs someone to get it out of him and David Ngog no matter what you think of him can score goals, and the big Greek is so passionate when he plays that you could never fault his drive and determination. Add to that some potentially quality youngsters in Kelly, Pacheco, Ince and Shelvey and you have the players to fashion a potentially good squad of players given the right players are brought in to play with them. Granted there was some dead wood that needed to be cleared out and too his credit Roy has done that but has he done the right thing. Emiliano Insua has been allowed to leave on loan as has Alberto Aquilani. Roy has harped on about not having enough depth in his squad and those 2 players would not struggle to get into the team we have now. Reira, our only naturally gifted wide man was also allowed to leave and should have been given the chance by Roy; at the very least he was a decent squad player.
Now lets look at Roy’s signings and I want to state a FACT here that, from all the signings Roy has made so far not one of them has hit the back of the net in the league and to top that our normal free scoring players have dried up in front of goal as was evident in Sundays clash with Spurs in fact in 15 league games we have only scored 19 goals, an absolutely poor return.
Joe Cole was brought in, and was regarded the coup of the summer, but injuries, suspensions and playing in a variety of positions has reminded me of Harry Kewell’s time at Liverpool. Its early days for Joe and I hope he starts to turn in the performances as by his own admissions he has not played well. He has quality and will be a good player for us but he needs to play where he is most dangerous, but Roy will probably persist with playing him wherever, perhaps Roy feels he might make a good goalkeeper. Christian Poulsen was brought in as a replacement for Mascherano no matter how much Roy tried to dress it up as they would both play in the same team. At least with Poulsen we knew he was once a good player and I just think that instead of Poulsen, Van der Vaart would have been money better spent as we would have had what we are lacking a player to play off Torres, but according to Roy “he was not the profile of player we were looking for”. That brings me to Paul Konchesky. He has got to be without a doubt the worst full back in the history of our club. At fault for the Spurs winner yesterday, he is constantly a liability at the back. The only thing he has done this season is do what Rafa and Wenger et al could not, make Jermaine Pennant look like a player. He claims he has raised his game since he has been here so I dread to think what his performances at Fulham were like. We sold 2 promising youngsters to get him in, what a waste especially when Danny Agger when fit could play there, Martin Kelly and Fabio Aurellio (when fit) could play there, Insua could have stayed or even Jack Robinson could play there and would enjoy more success than Konch who has never been a player. Raul Meireless has come in and is pretty much an enigma, but has had to contend with playing out wide??? Why??? Only Roy knows. He seems to have come into his own since Stevie got injured but only time will tell is he the new Alonso?? I very much doubt it. Would we have been better keeping Aquilani who had some experience in the league and given his form for Juve this season would have been better kept which would have saved us £12million, but out of all Roys signings Meireless looks like he may succeed with us and most importantly he has passion for the club. Danny Wilson has been brought in and has been given limited chances. Brad Jones was also brought in and again what a waste of money considering the goalkeepers we have. This will not be everyone’s favourite decision but Intandje, who for the record should have been sacked after the Hillsborough memorial, is still being paid a wage; Peter Gulacsi is around, Martin Hansen and Dean Bouzanis. That’s £2.5 million for a player that could have gone to where we needed to strengthen, up front. Fabio Aurellio was re signed but injuries have limited him. Rafas last 2 signings Jovanovic, who might be a headless chicken but he tries, has been phased out and Jonjo Shelvey looks like he will be a player. Roy has wasted far too much money on some of these players where we had players good enough to play in these positions and neglected where we needed to strengthen more, up front surely had to be the priority. The fact we were clambering round on deadline day looking for a new striker suggests Roy had his priorities all wrong.
The January window is approaching and last week alone we were linked wit no fewer that 18 players. Roy has admitted he is keen to strengthen, but has admitted he would like Carlton Cole?? I for one would rather have Carlton from the fresh prince. And some of the other names touted do not inspire me much. Some of Roy’s signings have seen us take a step back, which is evident with Poulsen, Konchesky and Jones. Yes Rafa made mistakes in the market but he did it over 5 years, Roy should have learnt from his mistakes and stuck by what he said he was going to and give youth a try. By the way has anyone seen Dani Pacheco lately, he is apparently not good enough in Roy’s eyes. I appreciate Roy’s signing need time to bed in and adapt but there are at least 2 of them that are just about good enough to play in the Championship. So when we criticise Rafa and the squad he left, look how Roy has added to it and ask ourselves the questions is it better than it was with Rafa? In short No its worse and judging by what Roy classes as a good player is not what any sane person would.