After an unconvincing start to the season many feel that Liverpool’s push to get into the top four is already over. I however beg to differ. Although I have been left utterly frustrated by some of the displays I’ve witnessed so far I do feel that we have a good enough squad to push for a top four place although the depth and quality in the squad is what worries me most.
The Reds would appear to be in a transitional period after appointing Roy Hodgson as Rafa Benitez’s replacement over the summer, with the new manager bringing in several new players before the transfer deadline. Uncertainty continues to surround the long-term ownership of the club and Hodgson does not believe Liverpool can start thinking about winning the title until this matter is resolved and I for one agree.
In the first game of the season the signs looked encouraging the team played well against an Arsenal side who dominated much of the 1st half but the 2nd half performance was much better and only an error by the normally faultless Reina stopped us from getting all three points. It was disappointing but encouraging nonetheless. The game against a strong Manchester City side well that looked as though we got outclassed by a team filled with superstars however to get beaten so badly was not on the agenda. The Mascherano scenario before the game could not have helped and the team didn’t play well. For Liverpool and new manager Roy Hodgson, this was a desperate night, but he has been around too long to be plunged into despair by one defeat. I did not dismiss Liverpool’s season on the strength of one defeat.
Now we are four games into the season and the manager must be given a chance to stamp his mark on the team and get players playing the way he sees fit. Still very early in his time as Liverpool manger Hodgson has a massive task of getting the players confident and finding a formation that works well with the players he has at his disposal. I personally am not a fan of two holding midfielders, while it worked for Benitez with some degree of success the only reason he made it work was down to having the availability of Alonso, it’s no secret that the team have struggled to find the front men with quality balls since he left. A few positives can be taken from Sunday’s game one being Meireles should he be given the chance to establish himself in Liverpool’s midfield he could be a pivotal figure as you could see the difference and the energy he brought to the team.
We must also remember Jovanovic is new and so is Poulsen it will take time for these players to gel and get into the team. I for one was very frustrated by the lack of creativity on Sunday and was not the only one, Torres looked a lonely figure upfront and had very poor service therefore he could not do much. He thrives on receiving balls into space and over the top of defences that utilise his blistering pace, and they were in very short supply from Liverpool at Birmingham.
I feel the return of Joe Cole for the clash at Manchester United will be a big boost as he has a level of unpredictability in the game and a switching Gerrard back to a central midfield role will give the creativity required in order to get the service to the front mean. I’m sure Vidic is starting to have some sleepless nights in regards to Torres and will remember the torrid time he has faced against him in recent seasons.
It’s not a quick fix and will take time for the club to challenging for top honours once again as finds simply are not there and although Hodgson feels there is plenty of attacking talent at the club I fell that the team will struggle without another recognised striker. The wait is on but patience is the key as the clubs owners aren’t putting big money into the team therefore making it difficult to compete.
As for rumours of Torres leaving well who knows every player wants to win trophies and I’m sure he would be happy doing that at Liverpool. Torres is an impact player so he may be quiet for majority of the game but all of a sudden can be a match winner he’s an impact player. Nothing to me suggest he wants to leave but the important thing is for him to play and get fitter as each game goes on.
Liverpool need to keep playing him so he gets fitter and Roy Hodgson’s side also needs to provide him with a better service to make use of his talents. Put all these things in place and you have one of the finest strikers in the world. Liverpool’s creativity improved when Steven Gerrard moved back to the centre, and a fit Torres getting the sort of service he needs will always get goals. Liverpool will look for something that will spark Torres into life – and it might just happen this Sunday when they play Manchester United at Old Trafford.
As someone with vast experience, Hodgson will know the obstacles that may hinder him at Anfield but his measured approach will suit the situation. Crucially in Liverpool’s financial state, Hodgson has shown a sure touch when working the markets without the aid of a plentiful budget and without complaint. He mastered the art of renewing careers at Fulham, with Murphy, Damien Duff, Zoltan Gera and Bobby Zamora prime examples. Hodgson’s eye for a bargain enabled him to sign Brede Hangeland relatively cheaply and turn him into one of the most coveted defenders in the Premier League. He could do the same for Liverpool.
It is going to take a while. The team have got to get used to the new players and then the system. There are many good teams and the target is to be up there but Liverpool have to be realistic. Is a Champions League spot realistic this season? I don’t know. We will find out at the end of the season what we can achieve. Of course, Liverpool have to challenge for being up there. Maybe it will take a while.