Hodgson Must Go

by Ashley Escobar

Football has always been, to coin a famous phrase, “a simple game complicated by fools”. When we watch video’s of managers in changing rooms explaining tactics to their players, using chalk boards and other gadgets, we find ourselves also doing the same when trying to explain why our team did or did not perform in a certain match. Tactics, I would argue, are usually 35 to 40% the reason why a team performs well or badly in any given match (the other 60 to 65% being player ability and that unexplainable thing in football; team spirit) and watching Liverpool over recent months, I find myself cringing every time I hear someone on a television show or radio lambaste the players and defend the manager after bad performances.

It’s very easy to see the problems in the Liverpool squad; Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole are the only real creative players in the squad (and Joe Cole is yet to reach full fitness or find his form) and there is a lack of pace in the wide areas. But this can not serve as an excuse for some of the turgid football that has been on display so far this season. When you watch a Liverpool football match, the first thing that strikes you is how little control over game the team exerts; in the last 3 games against Wigan, Chelsea and Napoli, Liverpool have averaged 44% possession. That means that, for 56% of the time, the teams Liverpool have faced have had the ball and as Barcelona have shown us, that can be a very dangerous thing.

Roy Hodgson has also had the team defending really deep. Now, when playing counter-attacking football, defending deep is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem arises however, when you’re a team expected to win a match but spend most of it in your own half, keeping your “shape” and allowing the opposition to constantly probe your defence.  This has been the story of Liverpool matches so far this season. Whilst fans of a club like Fulham are willing to accept counter-attacking football as they’re team is not expected to win most of the matches it plays, Liverpool are traditionally one of the big teams in England and are expected to win a lot more matches than they loose over the course of a season.

My biggest issue with the deep defence is the problem it has created for Fernando Torres in particular. Many have commented on the lack of service to him as he usually finds himself isolated up the pitch. This causes Torres to have to drop deeper in order to receive the ball, leaving him now surrounded by not only defenders, but any deep-lying opposition midfield player. As we witnessed against Chelsea, Torres is at his best when he is able to isolate a defender, take him on and beat him for pace. When Torres is forced deep, he finds himself faced with two or more players, limiting what he is then able to do with the ball. Roy Hodgson’s insistence on a deep defence perhaps explains why Torres has constantly looked frustrated during matches as he finds himself being deployed as more of a target-man type striker which is a role he can play but doesn’t favour.

Hodgson also doesn’t like his team to play with much width. A feature of his Fulham team was inverted wingers, narrowing the field which allowed the “shape” of his team to remain very rigid. At Liverpool, I have found myself looking curiously at team sheets containing 4 or 5 central midfield players and wondering how Roy envisages his team breaking down deep, narrow defences. The Napoli match was a prime example of Roy’s insistence on a lack of width and how this has lead to Liverpool producing dire football; Napoli operate with a back three. The back three system is one that leaves itself open to good wing play but Hodgson picked a midfield composing of Poulsen, Spearing, Shelvey, Jovanovic and Meireles. Now, 4 of those 5 players are natural central midfield players. Whilst they are able to adapt to playing in other positions, by not being natural wingers, they were not able to take advantage of the open spaces the Napoli defence provided.

The fifth player in that midfield, Milan Jovanovic, is a player who is more used to playing out wide and showed this by getting behind the Napoli right back a few times in the first half and causing them some problems. Roy Hodgson’s response to this was to haul off Jovanovic at half time (because he dared to penetrate the oppositions defence and not keep the team “shape”) and replace him with another central midfield player in Steven Gerrard. Now whilst Gerrard went on to score a hat-trick and change the game, this was more player ability papering over the cracks of bad tactics.

Those who believe Hodgson will “eventually get it right” at Liverpool will still blame the squad and suggest that in the transfer window he will address the issues he needs to. In my opinion, the squad Hodgson inherited is far superior to what it is currently achieving and his track record shows that the displays are a result of his preference for certain tactical choices as opposed to the ability possessed by the players in his squad. Looking at how open this season has been, I believe that Liverpool have a chance to snatch fourth spot from a stumbling Spurs and rowing Man City but will be unable to do so until either their manager changes his approach (something he has already said he Is unwilling to do) or they change their manager.

With the news that a new CEO is soon to be appointed at the club by next year, we can assume Hodgson still has some time left with no one directly in place to make a decision on him. Let’s hope he takes this time to analyse his team and what has been happening and makes the adjustments needed or he will soon find himself walking away from his last chance to be considered a top manager.

39 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    To the idiots saying we are showing a lack of loyalty I would say my loyalty is to Liverpool Football Club, not any one person. If something is harming the club then surely doing nothing about it is being disloyal. Did anyone accuse us of being disloyal when we campaigned against the previous cancerous owners, did they say it’s not the Liverpool way to protest against the board? Why should Hodgson be treated any differently, he is damaging the club and my loyalty to that club means I need to speak out about the damage he is doing.

    As for the person shouting about Lucas and Kuyt, words fail me. Lucas was MOTM for many people against Chelsea and the general consensus among most sensible fans is that he is a young player who is starting to find his feet despite disgusting criticism of him by the media and his own fans.

    Kuyt has scored double figures every season, mostly from the right wing including many important goals and is a valuable player when a more defensive approach is needed also thanks to his tremendous workrate. True both of the players can be inconsistent but to lay the blame for this shit season at their feet smacks of someone getting their opinion from Sky Sports and The S*n rather than actually watching the team and forming their own opinion.

    Further to the loyalty thing, I wonder how many people preaching this were calling for the head of our previous manager, a man who earnt and deserved their loyalty thanks to Istanbul and five great years out of six.

  2. Lou says:

    I saw Barcelona play last night. Its not only the quality of players that is there to admire, its their positivite attitude to always go out and win a match. When they attack it is an all out attack. I made a point of counting how many players got into the opponents area. FIVE is not unusual with usually another two lurking outside the area. The players are always ready to play the ball out of defence. Carragher is just not capable of doing anything other than booting the ball forward, the same goes for the rest of the defence. Why is it that we are probably the worst team at signing players-look at what Spurs did with van de Vaart. We got Konchesky (everybody now attacks down our left flank) Poulsen (useless) and Merieles who cost more than Van De vart and constantly played out of position. If we wanted a right side midfielder why did we get him? I suppose I could go on and on But I agree with most of the sentiments here today. Hodgson is just too negative and there is simply no joy in our teams play. In fact I can safely say that watching Liverpool play has become painful and not enjoyable at all. Wholesale changes needed.
    PS how the hell did we beat Chelsea?

    1. Kenny says:

      They beat Chelsea, simple just because Chelsea did not want to win thise who did not see that are really blinds and dumbs!

      You know how much the bookmakers have won in this result….. they are really strong but wanted this time to lose the match and give the books some advantages…. if you believe in match arranging, then dont ask this strange question next time man

    2. Kenny says:

      They beat Chelsea, simple just because Chelsea did not want to win this match. and those who did not find this are really blinds and dumbs!

      Drogba playing 15 mins only, malouda playing back and no offensive game!!! cartoons………..

      You know how much the bookmakers have won in this result….. they are really strong but wanted this time to lose the match and give the books some advantages…. if you believe in match arranging, then dont ask this strange question next time man

  3. paul walmsley says:

    Roy doesnt have a clue about managing a top club or top players -nor will he attract anyone better than Poulsen or Konchesky- NVS should do the kind thing for him and the best think for the Club asap

  4. hadi eskander says:

    pleas MR ROY wrap up ur exprinces and ur player start drive to M62 let me know how many mails u can drive to fulham its no point to have ya in our LFC club drive drive fast

  5. js says:

    well written. Deep defending and carra hoofing it up all the time, and losing it every single time. Skyrtel is scary, but the defence is pressured by the deep setup.
    Woy is oblivious to the fact that he who controls midfield controls supply, pushes the opposition back and wins the game (I must be a genius!).
    His away record is appalling (1 win) and yet he thinks he’s setting up the team in the right way????????

    ‘pool couldn’t pass the ball against Wigan, like they were tired. but they were trying so can’t blame him totally, except he has to tell carra to stop hoofing it.

    I like NESV professional approach and pragmatism. Simple solutions – gives me great confidence in them that they’ll do the right thing sporting wise. This is a breath of fresh air. let me explain:

    - Woy is on a 3 yr contract and likely to then retire due to age and never having proved himself at any level, so NESV saw a player purchase problem going forward (if manager changes, then you start buying all over again).

    - NESV bought a young proven Comolli (good buying record) to oversee transfers. Woy can say he’s got the say on all team players all he likes, but basically nothings getting bought unless Comolli tells the board its ok. So no lemons will be purchased.
    Excellent setup and caters for any manager current or future.

    - Now NESV are once again pragmatic about Woy. Basically, they don’t have to make the decision, it will be made for them. If Woy goes for any reason, the player purchase side has continuity so that effort isnt wasted.

    - Woy will either take us into January with enough victories or he won’t (I predict a bad period up to Xmas against better sides, cos they’ll all play better than Chelsea with their non-existent midfield).

    - if we only win 1 or 2 games up to Jan 1st, then he may well have to be sacked but if thats the case its easy for NESV to do it.

    - Purchases will likely happen anyway in Jan (Comolli), and if he’s won say near half the games, by then, they’ll let him build with the new signings probably, again unless Comolli decides he’s a bit rubbish and tells the board in not so many words.

    - I reckon that it’ll be a mediocre season, missing out on europe under Woy. Mid table finish.

    - Summer in that case will lead to his replacement. But the danger then is that Torres will leave.

    - if its a good second half, then most people will be happy anyhow cos it will mean signs of progress. and if ‘pool do progress with a solid passing game, then they will excel quickly. Cant see it under roy.

    I happen to think SG should be sold for big money – no point in getting 2 years of Europa cup out of him and he retires.
    Get £40m for him, £50m for Torres (who must play at the highest level), Reina will go in that case – £20m.

    that’s a huge txfer kitty. And Comolli can go crazy.
    Remember, we have to learn to do without SG and need to start now. We also would benefit from learning to score without FT – noone else is stepping up to the plate.

  6. james says:

    we have no mid

    its been week since alonso whent

    and now masc has gone we r so lightwieght its embarasing.
    this is why we play deep in such games,
    i dont like it buti see why.
    rh and similar mangers play the way they do away from home.

    what makes me smile is raffa supporters put up with the same style yet now happily round on roy as its the trend!

    the win by the greeks at euro 2004 cast the mould for this style it wasnt nice but it can get results.

    we have what we have and we must work with it,
    the alternate is whimsical, no decent mangaer is commin a white horse ,

    emotion is getting the beter of peoples judgment, its way to early to lynch the man.

    im not happy with lots of things , pachencos lack of use,positional changes etc..
    fact is we are above average and missing the jumped up argie.

    we need to steady the ship.

    rounding on any playert or offical is shooting the whole team in the foot so to speak

    we must act rationally and ride out the bad time

    the aqua point is a non flyer the fella has ability but when hed rather be on his sick bed than puttin a shift in! hes no use in this league and 2 managers have have seen it.furthermore no othe PL mangaer was interseted, so end off.

    repel all borders
    unite as a collective fallout amognst each other will only cause more problems

    its not blind its life and its a comp[romise

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