I said after the Chelsea game that the real test to see if we had turned a corner would be in the next two games against Stoke and Wigan. Both these games were noted as must win games if we were to prove we were making strides. Therefore, 1 point from a possible 6, paints a truly horrifying picture. Especially when the 1 point we managed to gain was itself undeserved.
If you would rather not have your dose of realism today, I’d advise you to read no further because it is about to get worse.
We have played Stoke, Wigan, Everton, Blackpool, Sunderland & Birmingham and gained only 3 points. In previous seasons, these games were seen as difficult yes, but winnable. This season we have approached these games with an attitude whereby we believe winning would be ‘utopia’!
We are now thirteen games into the season and we have a goal difference of -4. Not only did we start the season conceding too many, we’ve managed to consistently score very few. In fact we are averaging a goal per game – a truly ridiculous goal per game ratio considering we have one of the best strikers in the world in our forward line.
An increasing list of players are becoming disenchanted or have already become disenchanted with life under Hodgson citing reasons such as his old fashioned methods and poor man management skills.
Before his injury Daniel Agger was frozen out of the squad for seemingly not adapting to the English way of defending.
Glen Johnson was as recently as Friday, lambasted in public by Roy for not performing to his abilities. A newspaper report today printed an article claiming Glen Johnson is now seeking a move away from Liverpool.
Pepe Reina had to come out and quash persistent rumours claiming he is disillusioned with Roy’s training methods and tactics and is wanting out in January.
Of course we have the Newspaper reports linking Fernando Torres with a move away from Liverpool every time we fail to perform.
Alberto Aquilani was loaned out to Juventus where he is now thriving and has been rewarded with a call back into the National Team.
Insua, a technically gifted, young defender was loaned out to Galatasaray this Summer and as a replacement we brought in Paul Konchesky – a more robust, less technically gifted English style defender.
At the same time, with every game that has gone by our style of football has deteriorated more and more. We gained three points against Chelsea, not because we outplayed them but because we held onto our lead through grit and graft. So far this season we have only outplayed a Blackburn team deprived of their first choice centre backs. Our stats for possession in our games recently have been abysmal; we have barely reached 50%. Against Stoke yesterday, well known as a long ball team themselves – we had only 36% possession.
To clarify, I can not prove to you for sure that the reports linking these players with moves away are all true. Or that the players who are allegedly feeling alienated, really are being frozen out by Roy Hodgson. What I can say to you is that it is common knowledge amongst those closely related to LFC, that there is an ever growing list of players not happy with the direction the club is moving in.
Do you see the correlation between the deterioration of our style of play and the alienation and disenchantment of certain players?
The tactics being used by Roy Hodgson have not only served to label us as a team that plays anti-football, but have also made a lot of our players allegedly consider their future.
Liverpool FC are not a mid table side. Or at least we never used to be. At Anfield we are not accustomed to sitting back and watching teams attacking us whilst we wait for opportunities to counter attack. When we are at home, we expect the manager to prepare us tactically to take the game to the visiting opposition. We want to see sustained periods of possession and more than two passes being stringed together in our midfield.
It is obvious. When we invite teams to attack us our players become edgy and fans become jittery and it doesn’t create the best of atmospheres. That is when mistakes happen and we concede cheap goals.
All our attack minded players are being asked to compress their natural instincts and play this long ball game that is getting us nowhere fast.
Pepe Reina is being asked to hoof the ball upfield to Fernando Torres instead of moving the ball forwards from the back. He is not accustomed to this system and clearly it is not paying dividends. He was receiving plaudits last season and the season before for the number of assists he was making – this season he does not look happy.
Glen Johnson who is 1st choice in Capello’s England set up has not been good enough this season according to Roy Hodgson. Roy was insinuating that it is Glen’s poor attitude that is letting him down in his press conference – a common complaint made against Glen. But in this case I think Roy needs to assess if it is not Glen’s attitude but Roy’s tactics that are stifling England’s 1st choice right back. Glen’s attacking instinct is a key component of his game and by demanding he curtails this instinct Roy has left himself with the shell of the player Glen Johnson actually is.
Fernando Torres is bing deployed as a lone striker in a team that defends too deep. A tactic that is pushing him further backward to get a touch of the ball. When we do get the ball, our first instinct is to hoof it upfield to Fernando Torres. But Fernando Torres is not Bobby Zamora, he struggles every game to latch onto hopeful balls being skied upfield that in reality have no hope of reaching him. If Roy is adamant that this is the tactics he wants to play, he needs a target man to hold the ball for Torres. Until this happens, hoofing the ball upfield will be fruitless.
Fernando Torres scored a brace against Chelsea because in the build up to both those goals the ball was played on the decks not up in the air. Clearly that should be evidence enough to revert back to pass and move? Fernando Torres + ball = goal!
Finally, a dressing room that has banter and happiness creates a team that is full of confidence and good spirit. But what we have at LFC is a team of disenchanted disillusioned players with very little confidence. With every defeat and poor performance the atmosphere is only going to get worse. Roy Hodgson is running out of time now and it seems it is very quickly coming to a point where the decision needs to be made to back the manager or the players.
Effectively, by the end of this season we could be a team without Reina, Torres, Johnson, Agger, Aquilani, Pacheco and who knows how many more. Or we could hold onto all these players ….. and part ways with Roy.
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