Anfield boss living on borrowed time.
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The presure on Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has increased even more after another abysmal first half perfomance and disappointing result, which would have been much worse against Napoli if not for the rescue act of skipper Steven Gerrard from the bench saw questions about the 63yr old’s ability to succeed at Anfield yet further.
The dismal results, in particular the home defeats to Northampton & Blackpool and draws against Utrecht, Napoli (home) and Sunderland have grabbed the headlines, but the Anfield faithful have been even more angered by the disasterous perfomances in virtually every game since the early rounds of Europa qualification (where Liverpool faced some questionable opposition), even the 3 league wins, against West Brom, Blackburn & Bolton, all of which were undeserved, unconvincing and in terms of refereeing calls, lucky.
Worries about the body language and attitude of star man Fernando Torres have increased the case against the manager. Popular and highly rated central defender Daniel Agger has also voiced concerns that he does not fit into Mr Hodgson’s plans.
Those watching Thursday’s match at Anfield once again saw levels of squad rotation far above those which his predecessor was so often critised for, of course fans love to see the likes of Shelvey and Spearing getting real game time, but to face a top 6 Serie A side without Torres, Gerrard & last weekend’s matchwinner Maxi out of choice seems a little foolish.
Manager Hodgson will also face flack for the performances of his new signings, especially after openly critising popular ex-boss Rafa Benitez’ tranfer record. Raul Meireles has been very average since his £11m move from Porto this summer (Roy’s biggest spend) and the fans opinion will not have been helped by his 65th minute horror-miss… but worse-still has been the signing of Christian Poulsen from Juventus, where fans staged a party outside the stadium upon hearing that the Dane had been sold.
Christian Poulsen capped yet another woeful display by inexplicably running too far under a dropping ball and, under no immediate presure was thus unable to head the ball anywhere other than backwards, into the path of Edinson Cavani, who had a simple task to release the excellent Eziquiel Lavezzi to score.
Reds fans can expect tough years ahead, with new owners NESV apparantly stating that no significant money will be spent. Anfield new man Damien Comolli (who found Gareth Bale for Spurs) will have to find several Bale-level youngsters, similarly cheaply (Bale cost £5m from Southampton) before Liverpool fans will be smiling again.
A new Enforcer?
Liverpool fans will be hoping to see players like Saint Etienne skipper Blaise Matuidi, who has been speaking of his desire to play in the Premiership arrive, especially since Comolli’s arrival from the same club, Matuidi, a newly capped Frenchman, 23, is valued at £7-10m, likely to be the top-end of the reds spending power, but fans wont mind as much if signings of his calibre, potential and age are brought in, he in particular would also fill the void left by Javier Mascherano’s summer departure, and make the hapless Poulsen surplus to requirements.
Despite Roy’s criticism of Rafa, the wide problem remains un-fixed
Speak to anyone remotely aware of English football issues and you will hear how Liverpool have lacked top class players with flair and pace on the wings for years. Roy Hodgson inherited a done-deal for Milan Jovanovic, and signed Joe Cole, neither man making an impact at Anfield leading some to question whether Cole is a spent force and Jovanovic a player of a lesser national league. Liverpool could work under their financial constraints by moving for talented PSV right winger Ibrahim Affalay, 24, likely to move cheaply in January so that PSV avoild losing him to a bosman-free in July. The dutch star has stated a desire to play for Liverpool or rivals Man Utd. Reds fans would be less inspired to have seen Wigan’s volatile Charles N’Zogbia linked with a £9m move.
Still the most striking problem…
A lack of strikers! Fernando Torres has been a pale shaddow of the player we know he is, and until he publically states otherwise, fears about his long term intentions will continue. David Ngog has worked hard to deputise, and scored well against lesser opponants in early rounds but his overall game remains poor, against Napoli he missed two guild edged chances which you feel a more recognised, senior player would have taken at least one. Liverpool fans don’t believe a word of the fanciful newspaper stories linking them to the likes of Fernando Llorente or Thursday’s tormentor-in-cheif Lavezzi, but the often linked Swede Ola Toivonen or the young Hungarian Adam Szalai from Mainz would be far more welcome than Carlton Cole, the mediocre forward who is so strongly and often linked with the move that he seems odds-on to arrive.
Liverpool’s owners will have to balance their financial plans and hopeful youth policy with a need to bring in the sort of players that will keep their current stars happy and protect the clubs reputation and immediate league position… You would think that Fernando Torres mood seeing Carlton Cole arrive would be very different than if he were welcoming Juan Mata or Javi Martinez to the club.
NESV cheif John Henry this week attempted to soften the blow about his announcement of a less than impressive spending policy by hiding behind new financial fair play rules, and even claimed they begin earlier than they really do. The American’s claims of not spending heavily because you wont be allowed to in a year (even though it’s actually in 3) are bizarre, surely if you have a squad in dire need of rebuilding, and are facing new limits on spending in the future it makes the case for a quick big spend before the change of laws even more appealing. Are NESV financially weak? or is the statement an elaborate rouse to attempt to get one over on rivals? only time will tell.