More Reasons For Roy To Have A Headache
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
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