Mid table mindset, mid table position

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool , Premier League 28/11/2010 Liverpool Manager /Head Coach, Roy Hodgson slumps in his seat after his side slip to a 2-1 defeat Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

So, another away game, another defeat. It’s a familiar story for any supporter of a club managed by Roy Hodgson. As everyone knows, his away record as a top flight manager is nothing less than abysmal. Today we were ‘unlucky’ – just like we were ‘unlucky’ at Old Trafford. But then there’s also the Eastlands, Goodison and Brittania shockers to add to the list of away day defeats, where we were anything but unlucky. We were also outplayed by the mighty Wigan at fortress DW. The solitary away win at Bolton wasn’t exactly convincing either was it?

At home, it’s a somewhat different, but not unexpected, story. Blackburn and West Ham were played off the park. 10 men almost beat Arsenal, and we even outclassed Chelsea for 45 minutes. However, beaten and outplayed by Blackpool and a lucky win over West Brom were more in keeping with Roy’s Liverpool 2010.

If you remove the name ‘Liverpool’ from this article, this is exactly the kind of form you would expect from your average mid table team. Erm, like….Fulham, for example. In the 2009/10 season, they had 11 wins at home and 11 defeats away. Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool 2010/11? 5 wins at home, 5 defeats away. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Today’s ‘unlucky’ defeat was the first time this team has even looked like competing away from home. Well, for 45 minutes anyway. But like all mid-table clubs with no real belief that they really can compete, they backed off and backed off until the inevitable happened. The same can be said even at Anfield when, 2-0 up against Chelsea, we survived an onslaught and had Pepe to thank for preventing a capitulation.

There is absolutely nothing defensible about the Hodgson approach whatsoever. This is NOT a mid table squad! Roy, THIS IS NOT A MID-TABLE SQUAD!!! This is a club packed with Internationals, with one of the world’s best strikers, world’s best midfielders and world’s best goalkeepers. It has England’s right back, Portugal’s central midfielder and a plethora of other class players….. and we are level on points with 2 of last year’s promoted teams after almost half a season.

This has nothing to do with the long gone American idiots anymore. It has nothing to do with last year’s manager anymore. It has everything to do with a manager who does not have BELIEF. The first half display against Chelsea and the demolition of West Ham proves what this team is capable of when they are allowed to go for it. Sadly, under Roy, we will NEVER truly ‘go for it’ away from home. His extensive track record proves it. Even today, where we did ‘go for it’ until we took a deserved lead, the objective from the beginning of the second half was clearly to hang on to it. We didn’t, and it wasn’t a surprise. Spurs are an open book of a team. Vibrant and dangerous in attack and on the wings, somewhat weak in the centre of midfield, and most definitely weak at the back. This was the 14th successive league game where they have failed to keep a clean sheet. Only Man City on the opening day have failed to score against them. In their last 5 league games prior to today they’ve conceded 2 or more goals 4 times.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool , Premier League 28/11/2010  Aaron Lennon of Tottenham scores his sides second goal 2-1 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

So what do we do at 1-0 in the second half? Play EXACTLY how you DON’T play against Spurs and let them come at you. If you do, they WILL score…. and they did – twice. Even with Spurs visibly tiring late on after their European game, what did we do to try to win the game? We took a striker off and put a left back on playing out of position, that’s what. We failed to introduce the 3rd sub who could have instilled some life in to the team and actually tried to attack the tiring Spurs players. Yes folks, Ryan Babel made the 250 mile journey to yet again warm his arse on the bench for the entire 90 minutes. Meanwhile, the mid-table liability at left back did exactly what I knew he would do. He allowed a player to get behind him for the umpteenth time, and the game was lost. Paul Konchesky – a virtual ever present under Roy – gets laced more times than a pair of 1970s AirWair, yet he remains first choice. If one player embodies the mindset and limitations of his manger, it’s Konchesky.

Today was typical and predictable Liverpool 2010. A talented squad being undermined by an inexplicable lack of belief shown by a manager who will always do enough to secure a mid-table position for his team and has no clue what it takes to take a club any further than that. So were we really ‘unlucky’ today? No, we weren’t. We were unlucky we weren’t 2 goals up for sure. We were unlucky to concede a penalty from the manc-loving cheat Martin Atkinson. We were also unlucky not to get a penalty when Kuyt was bundled over. But in the end, we weren’t unlucky to lose because who dares wins and as the game wore on, it became the familiar story of not wanting to lose taking precedence over wanting to win. Until that changes, we are going nowhere, and I have no faith whatsoever that Hodgson is capable of changing it.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool , Premier League 28/11/2010 A dejected Fernando Torres of Liverpool on his knees Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

Player ratings:

Reina – 6 – didn’t look his usual confident self and was caught flapping a couple of times. No chance with the goals.

Johnson – 7 – did well shackling Bale for the most part. Decent game where he wasn’t allowed to get forward as often as he likes.

Konchesky – 3 – absolutely out of his depth at this level. I’ve never seen a Liverpool left back beaten for pace, guile and ability more than this player. A liability in every game as players go past him with ease. Hopelessly exposed for the Spurs winner.

Skrtel – 6 – an average display from an average central defender. Loads of heart but is he really what we need back there?

Carragher – 7 – you know what you’re gonna get from Jaime these days. Heart like a lion, multiple aimless punts to no-one in particular, one amazing block and the odd glaring error. This game was no different. We will, however, miss his passion for the next 6 weeks.

Maxi – 5 – I’m not at all sold on this player. Doesn’t really have one big weapon in his armoury, and his finishing is awful. Could have won us the game today but bottled it.

Meireles – 8 – had a tremendous impact during the time we were on top. Found lots of space and used the ball well. Almost scored with a corker of a shot. A bright light so far this season. And he IS NOT a right half!!

Lucas – 7 – typically neat and tidy and was given a lot of space. A player who polarises opinion and my opinion is that he’s not what we need to get back to where we need to be because he simply offers too little as either an attacking or a creative force.

Kuyt – 5 – there’s more to football than running around aimlessly for 90 minutes. There has to be an end product and you have to pass to a man in the same colour shirt.

Ngog – 4 – 6 foot 2 and barely wins a header, barely holds the ball up, barely shoots and has little effect on any game. Can someone explain why we have Ngog and Spurs have Crouch to me again please, because I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Torres – 4 – Fernando, if you can’t be arsed, please leave. A world-class player is one who not only has the skill, but also has the heart, the determination and who cares about the club whose shirt he wears and the supporters who sing his name.

Subs:

Aurelio always seems to add a little extra to our options when he’s playing and should be first choice ahead of Konchesky every day of the week.

The Mad Greek – will be disappointed in his part in the goal. Should have been more decisive on Crouch.