An interesting scoreline. Following the public falling out between the Liverpool and England bosses, I fail to see how Roy Hodgson is doing anything other than scoring an own goal.
Brendan Rodgers and coach Mike Marsh have hit back at claims by Hodgson that Raheem Sterling is mistreated by the club and has apparently taken offense that the 19 year-old pleaded tiredness for England’s last two European Championship qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia.
I’m frankly at a loss as to what Hodgson is playing at. Well am I? The fact remains in my opinion that the ex-Liverpool boss is frankly bitter at his being found out and shown the door by the Merseyside club. One of the biggest in world football and one that he didn’t succeed at. The 67 year-old’s record at Liverpool (P31 W13 D8 L10) is the poorest of any single serving, full time first team manager since Don Welsh in the 1950s. And it seems, he knows it.
Some have called him a Scapegoat for the Gillet/Hicks era but I think he was simply the other cheek of the same backside. Poor owners, employing a poor manager. Simple. To replace Rafa Benitez with Hodgson was best described as a a folly. When one considers the success his predecessor had, it’s laughable to conceive Hodgson would be a suitable replacement. Stopgap, perhaps. Scapegoat, hardly.
Last year Hodgson said he wanted to “test” Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, by playing him when unfit. The result, the player was injured for the following two months with damaged ankle ligaments. This was not the last time either, as Sturridge is soon to return from a six-week lay off after another of Hodgson’s tests. This is nothing short of negligent. Why didn’t he test Tom Cleverley, Jack Wilshire or Wayne Rooney? None of that trio are exactly know for their injury-free record. The fact is that Sturridge was and is the player who’d be most missed of all of those. And by whom? The club that turned out to be more than he could handle.
Now he puts Sterling in front of the bus by revealing the youngster complained of being tired. For a man who’s been a manager for near-on 40 years, I’m staggered that he’s never heard a player complain of tiredness before. If he hasn’t, then I’d suggest none of his players prior were daft enough to trust him with that statement. That’s the only reason I can think of. If they did, then he didn’t tell the press about it. The man simply wants to be vindictive and cause Liverpool to lose the form of an important player.
Rodgers has handled Sterling correctly in ensuring the boy gets enough rest between games. He’s 19 for God’s sake, and the public and press who choose to criticise him for that are nothing but pathetic. Perhaps they should ask Michael Owen. A player who’s wish to “…rest when I’m 40…” when Gérard Houllier tried to take him out of the limelight, retired for the last year whilst his teammate of the same age Steven Gerrard plays on at the highest level. A statement that hasn’t gone forgotten by the ex-England striker.
Rodgers is proving to be a capable manager. Injuries to key players have robbed him thus far, of the chance to continue the work of last season in ernest up until now. His methods have proved to bring the best out of players such as Jordan Henderson and Sturridge who up until working with the 41 year-old Northern Irishman were considered to be wasted talents. The proof of the pudding is in the performances of both, let alone Sterling. Hodgson on the other hand is out of touch. Raymond Verheijen called him stupid recently in the press and the Dutch Fitness Coach couldn’t have been more right couldn’t have been more accurate in his description.
All that said, the weekend is soon upon us and no doubt Sterling will have had a good week’s rest in order to travel down to London to face Queens Park Rangers. Sturridge also could well be fit. That is, no thanks to England and their outmoded dinosaur of a manager.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
The Premier League is back after what seems like a month long International break. Liverpool travel down to London to face bottom of the league QPR and Paul is joined by Mike and the lads from the new Reds Room Podcast, Jay Riley and Graeme Kelly to bring you the completely Uncensored Match Build Up Show!
Jamie Carragher has tweeted a pic calling for people to “save the date” of the 10th anniversary of Liverpool’s famous Istanbul Champions League win, alongside #Istanbul10. What do YOU think/hope it means?
With QPR on the horizon shortly followed by Real Madrid in the Champion’s League, Chris gives you who he thinks Liverpool should play in the league and why.
Before the England match against Estonia Roy Hodgson spoke to ITV and basically hung Raheem Sterling out to dry by saying that the young Liverpool player complained of being tired and what ensued can only be described as a torrent of online abuse being hurled at the young star.
With the international break in full swing, I think it’s time to reflect on Liverpool’s season so far and where I see them going from hereon in this season.
It’s obvious the team hasn’t had the best of starts this season and now have an uphill struggle to rejoin the title race proper. The three losses to Manchester City, Aston Villa and West Ham have raised concerns among the Liverpool faithful. The focus of which has mainly been directed at Brendan Rodgers. Having taken time to reflect, without the immediate post-match emotion, I have to come to the conclusion that things aren’t actually that bad.
The Reds’ aren’t the only side struggling. Look at the table. Chelsea remain the only side with a 100% record which includes one draw. Man City have lost once. Beyond that, all the teams from third to sixth have already lost twice each. This time last year, all the top four sides had only lost one game each. Liverpool included who were in second. Thus it’s fair to assume that if things continue as they are, this may become a low-scoring season in terms of points. Historically the lowest points qualification for the Champions League was 60. Achieved by the Reds in the 2003/4 season. We all know what happened after that. With a fully fit squad, this represents an opportunity for Rodgers and his charges.
Injuries have affected Liverpool badly so far this season. Three of their bast players in Joe Allen, the promising Emre Can and of course, Daniel Sturridge have not played since August and this has been a big factor in the team’s apparent decline. Statistically and practically, the loss of Sturridge has probably been the most telling. Goals win games. Using the striker’s stats of last season, he scored 21 times in 29 games. That’s 1.4 goals a game by my dusty calculator. And say, six goals by my dusty brain, missed during the four games that he’s not played. With a goal difference of minus-one in the sequence, it’s not inconceivable that Liverpool could have won perhaps one and drawn another of the three games lost. Another four points would have put Liverpool in joint second place.
Now, you may say that’s all ‘if’s ‘but’s and ‘maybe’s. But without those little gems can’t be ignored. Otherwise, let’s send Sturridge on holiday for the rest of the season. If it doesn’t matter that much. The fact is, Liverpool are below strength. Joe Allen also has been missed. Probably as much as Sturridge. The midfield has missed his ability to find space and press opposition players out of possession. This has been key. If we look at last season, Allen won 55% of his duels compared to Philippe Coutinho who has played instead of the Welshman this season winning 51%. The former also had a higher passing accuracy at 87% compared to the Brazilian’s 81%.
These two elements have been missing without Allen. Granted, Coutinho created more chances last season. 64 – about 2 per game, compared to just 18 from Allen. However, it’s clear that this season the opposition has sussed this and his lacking of physical ability has been telling. His chances created this term has been less than one per game. Against Villa and West Ham, both his lack of physicality and inability to create chances when closely marshalled has been evident and both games were lost. For this reason, I for one will be happy to have Joe Allen back. Rodgers often describes Allen in terms of “Energy” and when one looks closely at what he brings to the team, a bit of physicality, an ability to retain possession, then it’s easy to see why.
Against West Brom Rodgers pushed Steven Gerrard into a forward position and put Lucas Leiva in the holding midfield position. Lucas, for some reason is a shadow of the player we saw a couple of seasons ago. The benefit of Lucas was that his passing was accurate. over the last couple of seasons he’s managed around 90% pass completion on average. However, his duels statistics are low and I think this is the reason he’s fallen out of favour at Liverpool. So far this season, he’s won only 27% of his duels whereas Emre Can has won 44%. Not a great stat from the latter either but when you consider playing time, it’s more impressive.
The German’s pass completion rate is also 96% so when he’s been called into action, he’s delivered. Lucas on the other hand has completed 86% of his passes. In times when opposition players are pressing hard, passes need to be completed. Can will provide a better alternative to Gerrard and allow the captain to advance upfield where he can do more damage.
Chances are these three will be back for the trip down to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers next Sunday and, for me, it won’t be a moment too soon. Whatever’s passed, we are where we are and as things stand, there’s a chance to improve and get amongst it. It’s still all to play for. Bring it on.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen