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More Reasons For Roy To Have A Headache

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Roy Hodgson went into Monday night’s game against Aston Villa without Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Jamie Carragher; three of the minority of players Rafael Benitez left to him that could attract interest from the top clubs, whilst the rest of the squad are considered to be ‘flops’ left by Benitez, merely there to make up the numbers before NESV’s Anfield revolution is in full swing. Even by Hodgson’s own admission, the squad he was left to work with contained ‘too many expensive failures’.  Quite who these ‘expensive failures’ are, most Liverpool fans are trying to work out.

Something positive that has come to light this season is a realisation that Benitez left a lot more than just the handful of world class players that is suggested, and Liverpool’s squad, although admittedly far too small, is much better than it is given credit for. Hodgson, it appears, has been another victim of the Benitez myths circulated by the national media, after openly admitting it took him up until recently to appreciate the side’s strengths.

For instance, four of Liverpool’s best performers this season have been Lucas, Maxi, Ngog and Kyriagos, costing the club a total of around £9m. It is these types of signings that, even if the they don’t impress the media, will impress NESV. Particularly, in the cases of Lucas and Ngog; cheap youngsters with potentially large re-sale values. NESV however, won’t take great confidence in the £10m Hodgson invested in two aging and distinctly average players in Konchesky and Poulsen. Damien Comoli’s appointment as director of football strategy implies Liverpool will continue down the Benitez way of thinking in investing in young , up and coming prospects when possible.

What might concern Hodgson more than his transfer record is his team selection when the aforementioned Torres, Carragher and Gerrard are once again available, in particular the latter two. The individual performances of the so called lesser players (although Fleet Street will put it down Hodgson maintaining his reputation as a manager capable of getting the best out of lesser players) have left him with some difficult decisions to make. Torres would very obviously walk into any team in the world, but that is when fit. Although David Ngog is a long way off the finished article, he is growing in stature with every game and looks capable of taking some of that lofty burden of the Spaniard’s shoulders when needed.

Earlier in the season meanwhile, many thought Carragher didn’t deserve to be slotted back in at centre-half in place of Kyriagos, after covering at full back for the injured Glen Johnson. Given the Greek’s dominating performances throughout this period many would agree Carragher hadn’t earned his place back. And now Carragher faces such a lengthy spell on the sidelines he may not the ‘undroppable’ force he once was, especially when considering the emergence of Martin Kelly has coincided with Anfield hero’s recent decline. Not to mention the imminent return of Kop favourite Daniel Agger who, when fit, is regarded as the best ball playing centre back in the league.

Hodgson’s real cause for concern, however, is Steven Gerrard. Not whether he can get back in the side, but where. There seems to be a reluctant acceptance that his best position is no longer playing behind Torres, and although still very effective in that role, the departures of Mascherano and Alonso and the resulting loss of shape in that formation changed Gerrard’s role for the worse. For Hodgson to drop Gerrard back into centre mid would mean breaking up the partnership of Lucas and Raul Meireles, who though admittedly haven’t played against formidable opposition together, seem to be forging an impressive understanding together.

However much better a partnership of Gerrard and Meireles/Lucas may be, a void must be filled on the right side of midfield; a void that Steven Gerrard has filled superbly before. As much as Gerrard may not want to play what he sees as out of position, it may beneficial for the team if he were to play a similar role as he did 2005/06 whilst allowing Lucas and Meireles to continue blossoming in central midfield.

So it seems, to a certain extent, Roy is spoilt for choice. Perhaps it was a good job he got rid of Aquilani.

Submitted by Some Team Up North

7 Comments

7 Comments

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  2. Ferentia

    December 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

    A good job he got rid of Aquilani? This is so far out of logical orbit, I’m tempted to believe that it is an attempt at jest. The man’s out of his depth, relying on outdated tactics in a rapidly evolving footballing climate. As has been repeated ad-nauseum elsewhere, we (the fans) are realistic enough to accept that anything above a top four position is unachievable this season. What cannot be tolerated are his rantings in the media, excuses for lacklustre and unambitious away displays, and patently poor tactical decision making. If the scribes at Fleet Street are calling for more time, perhaps it should be on the national teams watch – certainly not ours!

  3. redmatt

    December 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Roys come in t steady the club until a suitable manager that can help achieve what the fans the club and hopefully the owners expect. Roy should stay till end of season at least. I think we should play mereiles and lucas in th middle and gerrard on th right. Also think cara wen fit should start on th bench. He has been an amazing and solid defender in th past. But seems t b gettin slower an slower every other game. Weve got plenty CB’s at moment. Will be sad to see him not playin week in week out. But i think it will be best 4 th club in th long run. Can see cara becomin our manager in few years time. I think he has th qualitys t become one of our gr8 leaders. We will finish 4th. I know we will. YNWA

  4. Jay Wright

    December 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    It’s not a headache at all as far as I’m concerned – Lucas and Meireles have forged the best central midfield partnership that we’ve seen so far and so should continue together. I’m sure that Gerrard prefers winning games in a team performing well, to him playing in a particular position in a team being outplayed every single week, so he has to do what is best for the team, and in this case that involves him taking up a role out wide

    Taking on a wide role from Kuyt or Maxi doesn’t force him to stay wide anyway – we’ve pretty much switched to a 4222 like the Brazil of a few years ago, so Gerrard could just reprise the Kaka role and drift about behind the two main strikers in the current system. I’d prefer Babel to also come in and ensure that the team gets some width in the final third though, with both Kuyt & Maxi dropping out of the starting 11

  5. Sinbad

    December 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I’m an Arsenal fan but have a lot of time for Liverpool considering I live here.

    Every Liverpool fan i speak to says exactly what Ferentia said – that Hodgson has a small club mentality and can’t get out of the Fulham mindset. He plays for draws away from home and he doesn’t talk Liverpool up much in the press.

    As for Gerrard, his best position is in the middle. Her’s been playing there for years for LIverpool and has been outsanding. Compare that to when he plays for England out wide usually and you lose some of his game.

    As for Cara, I agree with redmatt – was a great player but age is catching up with him.

    Just out of interest, do any Liverpool fans think you’ll better last season’s finish?

  6. pabs

    December 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I am a Liverpool fan and i do not think that the midfield duo Lucas Meirelles are blossoming together as the writer suggests. i would agree that Meireles has a lot of quality in his game but for Lucas i would very doubt that. The defensive skills of Lucas playing as the Defensive Midfielder to be honest don’t come even close to those of prevevious mascerano. Furthermore neither the organisation skills of Lucas can match those of Gerrard and Gerrard is no way a winger. Also Meireles is not a second attacker which he has played a few games this year. Having this in mind the correct response for the team is to try a more aggresive midgfield with Gerrard and Meireless, which i believe will also have better defencive effectiveness than a Lucas Meireless. More quality means you are able to hold the ball more and create better and even more attacks which eventually means that you defend less. For the second attacker position i believe that belongs to Kuyt. And for the right side one of the two Cole or Babel which are players that have the pace and technique to take on opponents.

  7. Avwerosuo ohwaruah

    December 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Liverpool have been doing great despite their poor start,and i belive that they shall bounce back in style.

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