Alan Green: Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has luck on his side but it will run out eventually
No doubt Roy Hodgson will feel a good deal easier about meeting up with John W. Henry this week after that Liverpool win at Bolton . . . but that should be only marginally so because neither the manager nor his woefully under-performing players are off the hook yet.
Hodgson said no-one should judge him until at least ten league games had been played. They have and he has a shocking record.
Aside from the opening day match against Arsenal; have Liverpool played well this season? Yes, sporadically, in Europa League games and against Blackburn, there were some encouraging signs. But they were simply awful, AGAIN, on Sunday.
The only players I’d excuse were the goalkeeper, the two central defenders and Lucas Leiva. I name him because I have been amongst his fiercest critics but the Brazilian was, by a distance, the best player on the field at the Reebok. Perhaps it’s time to warm to him?
But, before getting to some players in more detail, Hodgson . . . and his tactical set-up. He is negative and appallingly so away from home.
You’d have thought the win against Blackburn might have inspired a more imaginative, attack-minded approach, an attempt to ‘kick on’ . . . but no. Fernando Torres was left ridiculously isolated.
There’s no question the Spaniard’s form is very poor at the moment and his body language is shocking but he hardly gets any service. N’Gog only came on because Cole got injured and it wasn’t until then that Torres got some assistance. That’s down to the manager who, in charge of Blackburn, Fulham and now Liverpool, has cajoled just SEVEN away wins in the Premier League. That statistic doesn’t lie.
Of course, if his approach isn’t helping the players they certainly aren’t helping him. It’s unfair, I know, to pick on Steven Gerrard. His standards are far higher than most around him. Yet, he was terrible at Bolton, as guilty as anyone in terms of casual flicks and dummies that didn’t come off and generally lamentable distribution. Surely he, too, can’t be afflicted by a loss of confidence?
Maxi Rodriguez scored a very important goal but did next to nothing beside that. If you put his best bits together with those of the benched Jovanovic, you wouldn’t come close to the quality we’re seeing from, say, Matt Jarvis at Wolves. And what money are the two players on?
Arguably, Hodgson isn’t responsible for their presence at Anfield but he is the manager that bought the still-to-produce Cole and the utterly woeful Konchesky. Can someone explain to me how he is considered better than what was already there in terms of left backs? Aurelio? Insua?
The mood has lifted but only a little. If Liverpool play as they did at Bolton, I can’t see them troubling Chelsea next Sunday.
I still believe Hodgson is fortunate that the new owners are likely to err on the side of caution rather than dismiss their manager at this time, particularly so in a league where a few wins can see a dramatic rise up the table. Despite my criticism, given their form, Liverpool are only three points off the top six!