One step forward, two steps back. After the euphoria engendered amongst Liverpool fans by beating Chelsea last weekend, the team have now managed to take only one point from two games, away at Wigan and Stoke, respectively.
There is no doubt that feelings are running high at the moment, and there are several topics of discussion amongst those fans who can rouse themselves from their misery to discuss their club’s plight. Not least of the various talking points are two vital questions: 1. Is Roy Hodgson the right manager? 2. Is the poor season thus far down to poor performances by the players?
Worryingly, Hodgson’s Liverpool side is also exhibiting a trait common to his Fulham side, namely an inability to win away from home.
On balance, I think Liverpool’s average start to the season, may be down to a combination of some inadequate player performances and a new manager taking time to settle in. There are also some mitigating factors.
It has been obvious for several seasons that Liverpool desperately need at least one more quality striker to support Torres, and it is also obvious that, crucially, the lack of such a player was down to Benitez, not Hodgson.
Furthermore, Hodgson has not been helped by a number of injuries and illness which have restricted his options. For example, against Wigan on Wednesday night, he had to do without defenders Sotirios Krygiakos (tonsillitis), Daniel Agger (calf) and Glen Johnson (groin), and midfielders Joe Cole (hamstring) and Ryan Babel (ribs), then Raul Meireles retired sick at half time.
The good news is that Hodgson hopes to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window, and has outlined his target areas: “Where we are badly off is if something goes badly wrong at the back, where we don’t have a lot of players to cover. Up front if Fernando or Ngog are not able to play we don’t have options in terms of out-and-out centre-forwards.”
Until January comes, we just have to hope that somehow Liverpool can stop the rot. The players can do their bit by looking at Gerrard and Torres for inspiration, and raising their game accordingly. Maybe then the pressure will be eased on the manager, helping him to do a better job, and we may all even begin to enjoy what so far has been a torrid season.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.