LFC Talk


It’s time for Hodgson to go by lfctalk
October 17, 2010, 14:48
Filed under: Opinion

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Yep, I am already advocating that Roy Hodgson be sacked as Liverpool manager.

I was never confident by his appointment and am witnessing an even worse outcome from his appointment than I expected. I believed that we would struggle under his management, but I did not think we’d be nineteenth after eight games with just one scraped win.

That statistic says it all – one win in eight games for a team containing the likes of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and Pepe Reina. We should be doing better than that but the players just don’t look motivated – they look shockingly low on confidence. That is where Hodgson comes in. He should be building them up and getting them psychologically primed for matches – not that they should need much building up for a Merseyside derby.

The signings Hodgson made in the Summer have had practically zero impact on the side. Joe Cole looked a marquee signing, but he has been obsolete so far this season. Paul Konchesky is as out of his depth as his manager and Christian Poulsen looks every bit as inconsequential in midfield as Lucas. Raul Meireles has looked bright, at times, but at £11m you would expect at least that much.

Hodgson failed spectacularly by not signing another striker in the Summer. David N’Gog is simply not good enough to be regularly appearing for Liverpool. He’s barely up to being fourth choice for a club of this stature, and yet he is the only backup to an out of form and injury prone Torres. The shocking lack of quality is only further highlighted by N’Gog’s presence in the squad. Torres knows his place is under absolutely no threat, so he doesn’t have to play for his spot in the team, but he shouldn’t have one on this form. But who would put in N’Gog ahead of one of the best strikers in the world?

The defence looks atrocious this season. Jamie Carragher is on the downward spiral and is not being well supported by Martin Skrtel or Soitiros Kyrgiakos. Daniel Agger is a class act, but he has either been injured or overlooked for much of this season, strangely. The Dane is considerably more able a player than the aforementioned two, but Hodgson seems not to favour him. Glen Johnson has been woeful this season, but is another with no competition for his place. His counterpart on the left looks a signing made out of familiarity and a low budget by Hodgson, with Konchesky miles off the required standard.

While Hodgson hasn’t had much money to spend, having to sell to buy, he hasn’t looked like a manager with any burning passion or understanding of what this job entails. He is the physical embodiment of our current form – he looks beaten, worried and out of ideas on the touchline. He is not a character that inspires any kind of inspiration or confidence in me as a supporter and I am not surprised that he cannot get his players organised and motivated either.

Another worrying aspect of his arrival at the club is how much it cost us to sack Rafa Benitez and pay off Fulham – a staggering £11m in total. Just how is trading a Champions League winning manager for a journeyman veteran worthwhile – especially at that price? Could this club afford to make that move? No. But the clash of characters are disastrous slide to seventh last season meant that Benitez was a cert to go. But why go out and spend a further £3m on a risk like Hodgson when Kenny Dalglish was available for nothing?

The Scot understands that club and is a figure that would surely inspire even the lowest player in our squad. He is the greatest player, officially, to ever wear the Red shirt and should have been treated with more respect by the board when tendering his interest in the role that he left in 1991. He has unfinished business here and should be installed as boss at the first opportunity by the new owners.

Should NESV be willing to provide transfer funds of any considerable value in January, then Hodgson is not the man that should be handed that kitty. He looks woefully out of his depth at this level and clearly does not have the reputation or pull to bring in quality players to a club that has so clearly fallen from grace.

John Henry and his group will hopefully realise today that they have much work, and spending, to do to take this club back to anywhere near the level we were a few years ago – and the first bit of business should be to replace Roy Hodgson at the first opportunity.



Will Hodgson keep his job? by lfctalk
October 15, 2010, 23:10
Filed under: Opinion

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Roy Hodgson’s start to life as Liverpool boss has been rocky to say the least, and with NESV now the new owners of the club…will he keep his job?

Defeat in Sunday’s Merseyside derby would give John Henry and co the perfect early opportunity to dimiss the Englishman, should they wish to bring in their own man. Potentially, if the Reds are beaten at Goodison Park on Sunday they could find themselves rock bottom of the Premiership table.

That scenario would surely put massive pressure on the former Fulham boss and could see his reign at Anfield cut dramatically short.

But are NESV likely to act so quickly when they have been so non-committal in interviews so far?

If the new American owners do wish to bring in their own guy, they would surely see this as the ideal chance to dispose of Hodgson. He has suffered one of the worst starts to any Liverpool manager’s tenure at Anfield – with just one league win so far. That was a tight 1-0 win over ten man West Brom at home – the same home that Blackpool managed to take three points from. Credit must go to Ian Holloway for masterminding a fine performance – but the mentions of heavy defeats at Chelsea and Arsenal are not fair.

Liverpool are not in the same bracket as those clubs in terms of quality on the field at present. The club outstrips both in terms of support, passion, history and aura – but they aren’t in the relegation zone through misfortune.

Hodgson’s tactics have been even more drab and insipid than Benitez’s last season. There’s no pace, no creativity and idea from his team thus far this season. Ok, it can take a long time for a manager to bed in at a new club and impress his ideas on his players – but surely this squad hasn’t been depleted so much that it can drop from seventh best to relegation contenders so quickly? There must be an influence in there somewhere of Hodgson’s tactics and methods.

While NESV may take that view, they may also sympathise with a manager trying to bring new ideas and progress to a club that has been in the doldrums for the last eighteen months since finishing a close second in 2008/9.

The club’s financial uncertainty and ownership issues have walked hand in hand with the team’s disastrous form. The new owners may feel that Hodgson deserves time, and hopefully funds, to turn things around in more clement circumstances.

Hodgson would surely not preside over a relegated side were he to stay as boss for the foreseeable future, but how far can he go with what he currently has available to him?

The low ebb and poor form of Fernando Torres this season will worry even the hardiest of Reds. His mind seems to be elsewhere and Summer rumours of him pining for a move to Chelsea may seem to ring even truer given his body language. The likes of City and United have also recently been linked for moves for the World Cup winning striker, but the long-awaited takeover may see an upturn of form in the former Atletico Madrid man.

Nobody is performing to the best of his ability in a Red shirt this season though. Steven Gerrard is struggling to hit the back of the net again this term and even seems happier plying his trade in the white of England. Pepe Reina made an uncharacteristic error against Arsenal in the season opener and has voiced his concerns over the club’s plight.

The departure of Javier Mascherano came as no surprise to anyone, but the Argentine’s late withdrawal from the team to face Manchester City did not help the new manager. A 3-0 hiding from the rich kids from down the East Lancs Road may have been a hammer blow to a squad already suffering from low confidence – it could have set the tone for the last couple of months.

The latest chapter in Liverpool history begins today and the first opposition for the NESV-owned Liverpool is a massive away day at Everton on Sunday. How the blue half of Liverpool would have been enjoying the disastrous tenure of Hicks and Gillett. Disappointment must have set in with them after seeing Liverpool’s ownership change hands in a massive morale lift today.

But how long will Roy Hodgson be part of the “virtually debt-free” Reds?



Vote: Who is your favourite Reds striker? by lfctalk
July 6, 2009, 15:47
Filed under: Opinion

LFC Talk is looking to find out who the fans favourite ever Liverpool striker is.

We want you to vote for your number one Reds frontman of all time…SO CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW!!!



Idea for a banner when Owen comes back to Anfield… by lfctalk
July 6, 2009, 12:02
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How far are we from winning the title? by lfctalk
June 3, 2009, 11:35
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How far away are we from winning that elusive nineteenth title – and maiden Premiership crown?

Steven Gerrard has stated today that he believes we are very close and just need a couple more players to push us on to it.

I agree.

I believe that we need to pad out the squad with more talent, which would stop us relying too heavily on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Yossi Benayoun proved a reliable understudy to Gerrard in the latter stages of this past season, but we did not have anyone capable of stepping in for Torres when he was out injured. David N’Gog chipped in with a few goals, but he was never expected to be our number two striker. Robbie Keane’s failure to settle into the side and subsequent departure meant that the young Frenchman was thrust into that role sooner than expected.

If we cannot get Carlos Tevez, which is looking increasinly unlikely, then I would have to push aside the resentment for him and suggest we resign Michael Owen. He’d be ideal as backup to Torres and he plays that role naturally and understands how Gerrard ticks. He’s not reliable enough injury-wise to be a first-choice, but he’d play enough games to be second choice to Torres. And for free, it’d be a low risk move for all concerned. Obviously I’d prefer the Argentine, but he looks likely to go elsewhere – to whoever offers the most cash to his advisors most likely.

Albert Riera had an overall good debut season for us, but he certainly suffered a midseason lull where he looked out of sorts and didn’t make much impact. But nobody can be disappointed with his contribution. We can hope for more from him next season, however.

Dirk Kuyt had his best season yet at the club. He scored plenty of goals from his new position wide on the right and kept up his relentless workrate throughout. He can be frustrating with a lack of intelligence on the ball at times, but his effort and desire are second to none and his new contract is good news for everyone at the club.

Ryan Babel’s failure to turn potential into form has been a particular disappointment. Despite scoring an incredibly satisfying winner against United this past term, he’s just not shown enough to suggest that he is worth retaining for this coming season. There is likely to be a queue of clubs lining up to take a gamble on his potential and Rafa would be wise to cash in before it’s too late. He claims that he is a striker by nature, but when he’s played in that role he’s looked out of his depth and comfort zone. The left-wing position has looked his best position, but Riera and Benayoun have overtaken him in the race for that role.

I would like to see us sign David Silva. The guy is a matchwinner and could be one of the best players in the world with the right guidance and coaching. Valencia need the cash and a swap deal involving Andrei Voronin (plus cash) could be enough to see him arrive. Real Madrid could be a problem for us though, as if they fail to sign Ronaldo or Franck Ribery they are likely to swoop for Silva. The Spanish influence at the club would grow with his arrival and given their national ascendency that would be no bad thing.

The continuing saga of Xabi Alonso’s future needs a quick resolution. Now Gareth Barry has chosen money, sorry City, it means that our number one midfield target is gone – and hopefully that will end talk of Alonso heading out of Anfield. Like Kuyt, he’s had his best season at the club and is integral to our future plans. If he could just add a few more goals to his game he’d be even better. Hopefully Real Madrid and Arsenal will drop their interest and look elsewhere.

Javier Mascherano eventually found his form after a sketchy phase that followed his return from the Olympics. He’s just about the best defensive midfielder in the league, but unlike Michael Essien he doesn’t offer a lot going forward. You can’t take anything away from him for that though, simply because he is such a midfield powerhouse that never gives up. Real Madrid are said to be interested in him as well – which suggests they were very impressed by our midfield when we dispatched them twice in Europe!

Unfortunately for him, I just don’t see Lucas working out as a serious midfield proposition for us. He did feature in two of our biggest wins of the season at St James’s Park and Old Trafford, but he looks weak and is easily knocked off the ball. He seems to lack urgency and craft as well, which are traits we need in our midfield. Credit to him for his role in the win at Old Trafford, but he hasn’t been able to perform at that kind of level 95% of the time and I think a loan move would be his best bet. A club like Wigan or Blackburn may suit as it’s not far from Liverpool and they’d offer him plenty of Premiership experience. I don’t expect him to go anywhere, but I’d like to see that happen to allow Jay Spearing more opportunities in the side.

Our defence still looks strong despite the loss of Sami Hyypia this Summer. His experience and professionalism will be sorely missed, but it’s a fair call by him to go seeking more first-team football at his age. He will need replacing though and I don’t see anyone coming from the reserves to take his role. Names such as David Wheater and Michael Turner have been mentioned and it would be good to see a young English defender come into the club, but they would struggle for first-team opportunities and that may put them off. But the lure of Anfield should be enough and if they have ambition and confidence they should take up the challenge. Raul Albiol could be another potential arrival given Valencia’s financial crisis. Either way, we need the security and competition of a sound fourth choice defender.

The full-back positions could do with pepping-up, despite Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa having solid seasons. I thought Aurelio looked much better this year – and that’s no coincidence given how well he’s avoided injury. Arbeloa can look dodgy when he loses concentration, but he is a dependable option. That said, I would rather we sign Glen Johnson as first-choice right-back because he has finally started to realise his massive potential as a top-class defender.

Andrea Dossena is likely to be sold to bring in funds and with Aurelio supported by Emiliano Insua, I would say we have enough at left-back. Stephen Darby can be deployed on both sides also, which means we have a potentially solid option waiting in the wings.

José Reina has had a typically solid season between the posts as well, and with Diego Cavalieri likely to reject overtures from Benfica I think we should maintain a goalkeeping status quo. Charles Itandje should be sacked for gross misconduct after his Hillsborough disgrace. Dean Bouzanis, David Martin and Martin Hansen have enough between them to provide competition for third choice. Nikolay Mihaylov could always be bought back from Twente if need be, anyway.

Sammy Lee has proved to be an excellent choice as assistant to Benitez. All the players seem to respect and like him and he looks to have perfected the role as the ‘inbetween’ man to act as bridge between the squad and Rafa. I was pleased to see him hired at the time and am doubly pleased with the work he has done.

Most things are in place for another, hopefully successful, assault on the title – I just think we need a couple of ‘finishing touches’ to the squad. Hopefully Rafa can get those.

If I were him, I would be looking at making these deals:

OUT

Ryan Babel – £7m-£9m (Aston Villa, Tottenham, Ajax and Juventus reportedly interested)

Andrei Voronin – £4m-£6m (Valencia reportedly interested)

Lucas – £5m-£6m (Italian and Spanish clubs likely to be interested)

Andrea Dossena – £5m-£6m (Juventus and AC Milan reportedly interested)

IN

David Silva – £15m + Voronin

Raul Albiol – £8m (or Michael Turner or David Wheater – £6m if not)

Glen Johnson – £12m-£15m

Carlos Tevez – £25m-£30m (or Michael Owen £0 if not)



Squad assessment: 2008/9 by lfctalk
April 6, 2009, 15:33
Filed under: Opinion

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Diego Cavalieri

I think the Brazilian has done as well as expected. He came in with the remit to challenge Reina for the number one spot and show what he can do when called upon. Ok, so he hasn’t done the first part (how many would?), but he’s been sturdier than Charles Itandje when used.

Andrea Dossena

The Italian left-back has capped off an indifferent season with some nice goals against two of the biggest clubs in the world (Real Madrid and Manchester United). Looks likely to have failed in the battle for left-back with Fabio Aurelio and also appears to have fallen behind Emiliano Insua too. I think he may be making a quick return to Italy.

Sami Hyypia

The big defender has been as reliable as ever this season, despite constant concerns about his pace. His reading of the game is still excellent and he remains the best defender in the air, for me. I hope he gets a new one year deal.

Daniel Agger

Constantly linked with AC Milan and injured as often. He seems to be getting closer to the exit and I’m not worrying too much about that right now. Instead of fighting for his spot, he seems to be whining in the press
like he has a divine right to play when fit. He doesn’t and needs to learn that – if he is being quoted accurately. I expect that Benitez’s new deal has signalled his exit.

Steven Gerrard

Quite possibly the best player I have ever seen in a Red shirt. He’s a miserable sod, but he is truly a world-class talent in an age of hyperbole. Had he and Torres been available for more of the season, I think we’d be top and heading for number nineteen.

Fernando Torres

As with Gerrard, we have missed him a lot this season – which is an indication of a slight lack of depth in our squad. He is another world-class talent and one we need to keep fit and also some support for.

Albert Riera

I wasn’t expecting much of him, if I’m honest, but he’s turned out to be a genuine asset. I thought his formed dipped with the colder winter weather, but he’s chipping in with more goals than earlier this season and has given us genuine balance. I would swap him for David Silva though as I don’t think he has quite enough, but as a backup for his compatriot he would be be superb – and depth is what we need.

Fabio Aurelio

He must have thought his chances were getting slimmer with the signing of Dossena, but he’s really upped his game this season and also chipped in with some key strikes. I am happy with him as our number one left-back and am keen to see Insua push him harder next season.

Xabi Alonso

After a Summer of being linked with an exit, he’s returned to form to answer his critics. There’s no way I would swap him with Gareth Barry – he’s a league above the Englishman. His tempo control and passing game have been key this season and without him we look less shaped and short on ideas and space.

Yossi Benayoun

The Israeli overcame a desire to leave in January and has bounced back with some key performances in recent months. His goals against Real Madrid and Fulham are great examples of how important he has become in recent weeks.

Álvaro Arbeloa

Some lapses in concentration earlier this season have been eradicated and he looks a serious contender to be our right-back for years to come. No serious competition for his spot could’ve made him complacent, but he appears eager to improve. Rumoured homesickness appears to have subsided also.

Dirk Kuyt

A clear favourite of Benitez (as demonstrated by him waiting for Rafa to sign a new deal before he would) and rightly so. More adventurous managers may prefer a player like Benayoun, but Kuyt has weighed in with some key strikes and his constant positivity and workrate are blessings to our team spirit and prospects.

Ryan Babel

Tipped by Andy Gray to explode this season, but he’s been hit and miss (mostly miss). After failing to make the breakthrough in the first half of the season, he asked for a loan move back to Ajax – which doesn’t sound confident or determined. Has talent, but appears to lack awareness. Time is running out for him to make his mark.

Javier Mascherano

Missed out earlier on in the season after opting to feature in the Olympics and has failed to truly cement his place back in the side. As dogged and determined as ever, he has been boosted by becoming his nation’s captain. One of the top anchormen in the game.

Lucas

Has been unfairly targetted by the boo-boys – which is a species we have not had much of at Anfield. Appears a very limited player, despite a few encouraging moments against Newcastle. Proved himself a liability against Wigan by giving away a very costly penalty. Benitez seems to favour the Brazilian, so I doubt he’ll leave in the Summer.

Emiliano Insúa

He has made the breakthrough for real this season. After a few sporadic appearances in recent years, he has shown maturity sufficient to be considered a member of the first-team. He will look to push on and really challenge Aurelio next season and will probably be hoping that Dossena does leave.

Jamie Carragher

Still a vital cog in the defensive machine. He organises the backline very well and is one of the greatest defenders the club has had – probably the finest of the Premiership era.

David N’Gog

I was disappointed when we signed him and still can’t see the point after seeing him more. After seeing Nemeth in preseason, I thought the Hungarian would be getting more chances, but this signing stunted his shot at a place in the first-team, along with Keane coming in. A loan out of Anfield may do the French kid a lot of good.

Pepe Reina

Finest keeper in the league for me and he’s continuing to prove that despite van der Sar’s purple patch. Acts like a sweeper, which gives another dimension to our defence and he also has a couple of assists this season to boot.

Jay Spearing

Despite being much shorter than most players, especially in his position, his development at Anfield is continuing and a cameo against Real Madrid won’t have hurt that. One to keep an eye on.

Philipp Degen

I thought he was a pointless signing last Summer and I think so even more now. With Steve Finnan around, we didn’t need to go and waste time on this sicknote. We should see if someone else will make the same mistake come the Summer…somehow I doubt it.

Damien Plessis

Was progressing well in the 2007/8 season, but appears to have hit a wall. Was awful against Spurs in the Carling Cup, despite scoring, and hasn’t appeared since – which is little surprise. One that could be sent out on loan next season.

Krisztián Németh

A natural finisher and a player that looks like a cross between Fowler and Owen in style if not ability. I was hoping to see him make his first-team debut this season after a sound preseason, but injuries and David N’Gog have blocked that. A loan move to Blackpool was unfortunately cut short by injury. One to watch.

Charles Itandje

Wouldn’t leave for first-team football on less wages. Says it all about the guy. Waste of space in the squad.

Nabil El Zhar

At his age, I would’ve expected more from him considering usual development. I am unsure as to why he’s been given opportunities ahead of Babel, Keane and Pennant this season. He should never have been trusted against Villa (along with Babel) and doesn’t look capable of being anything more than he currently is in this squad.

Stephen Darby

Must’ve been disappointed to see Degen arrive. Looks more assured than the Swiss and also far more injury free. Has captained the reserves and youth sides and with the right development, he could be a squad member in the next couple of years.

Martin Škrtel

Appears to have moved quickly ahead of Agger in the pecking order of central defenders. A strong and determined character that has softened the blow of missing out on Nemanja Vidic. Has benefited from playing alongside Carragher.

Robbie Keane

Despite the rubbish the media levelled at Benitez, the guy just didn’t work out and it was the best move to sell him back to Spurs. His finishing was abysmal at times and he wasted some simple chances to win us games. It’s a shame for him on a personal level, but it’s a cut-throat business today.



Are youths given a chance? by lfctalk
March 5, 2009, 15:33
Filed under: Opinion

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In this age of modern football, it seems harder than ever for young players to make the breakthrough into first-team football.

Manchester City were being commended for their attitude towards youngsters, but now they’ve got megabucks it appears unlikely that many more like Richards, Sturridge, Hart, Onuoha etc will appear at Eastlands while they are the richest club in the game.

Middlesbrough have had a thriving youth conveyor belt for a few years now, which has seen some good youngsters come through – Cattermole, Wheater, Johnson, Downing etc – but they are now in a relegation battle and it indicates that youngsters cannot be too heavily relied upon.

Here at Anfield, we’ve not seen a young player make a proper step up to the first-team since Steven Gerrard, over ten years ago. The likes of Stephen Warnock and Stephen Wright have flirted with being first-team regulars in that time, but we’ve not seen anyone really grab the bull by the horns – but are they actually being given a chance?

Of our current younger players sniffing around the first-team, there are David N’Gog, Emiliano Insua, Nabil El Zhar, Ryan Babel and Damien Plessis. Not one of those is a genuine, bona fide product of our youth system. Each was bought through the ranks at another club and then plucked by our scouts. Of those, I can only see Insua making any lengthy impact at the club anyway.

In our current youth/reserve sides, there are plenty of youngsters that look capable of making an impact on the first-team, one way or another, but the majority of those are foreigners that have spent the majority of their development elsewhere – a la Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Denilson and all the other ‘gems’ Arsene Wenger receives praise for developing…hmm

The local lads of note, are Stephen Darby, Adam Hammill and Jay Spearing. But can anyone honestly imagine that either of those will get much of a chance? Is it because they are not good enough? Is it because the risk cannot be taken at this level?

With seven substitutes now on offer each week, would it not make wonderful sense to put one or two on the bench each week and give them ten or fifteen minutes if the game is in the bag?