Thursday, December 30, 2010

Liverpool's Slump: Who is to blame? Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Rafael Benitez or Roy Hodgson?

Liverpool supporters had to endure another poor performance from the Reds who lost to relegation candidates Wolves by one goal to nil at Anfield. The Reds have now lost to Newcastle, Blackpool and Wolves all of whom could be fighting against relegation in May. They showed very little fight and it was not a surprise that they could earn nothing from the encounter.

With Liverpool supporters firmly in favour of sacking Roy Hodgson, the new owners will have a decision to make. They have already made steps in the right direction by entrusting the transfer negotiations with Damien Comolli and they will have to get to the bottom of the reason as to why this Liverpool team is woefully under-performing as they find themselves going into 2011 sitting in the bottom half of the table.

Fernando Torres

The Spanish striker is considered a modern day legend by man y Liverpool supporters and he has undoubtedly been an integral member of the team since he joined the Reds from Atletico Madrid. His quality is undoubted but he has looked a pale shadow of himself as he has not been up to his high standards.

He had a poor World Cup and his form has not been good this season as well. However even in this season, he showed his class on some occasions like the game against Chelsea where he ruthlessly scored a brace. He has been very frustrated by the lack of service and also, he has not developed proper understanding with any other striker. He looks troubled at times and he has had to feed on scraps and too much is expected of the Spaniard.

Steven Gerrard

The Liverpool captain has been one to stand behind his manager despite criticism from various quarters which has made it harder for John W. Henry to sack Hodgson which would mean going against the Captain's wishes. Gerrard has tried to inspire the Reds on his own but he has not been helped by the lack of quality in the team.

He cannot be blamed for the slump for sure but the problem is that he cannot seem to inspire the Reds to be determined to win. He seems to be a man fighting a lost cause and his performances though excellent at times have not been enough to salvage a good position in the league. He needs to play behind Torres in the attacking midfield role but often he has played deeper which means there is hardly any creativity in midfield to create chances for the strikers.

Rafael Benitez

It may seem absurd to blame a manager who left the club before the season started for the predicament that Liverpool find themselves in. But in reality, Benitez had made too many signings who were not good enough for a club like Liverpool. He built a large squad but one which was largely dependent on the performances of three or four individuals.

However he could still bring out the best from his team on a number of occasions and last season was his worst season which was due to the ineffectiveness of Alberto Aquilani and Lucas who were supposed to replace the outgoing Xabi Alonso, which was Benitez' biggest mistake in his Liverpool tenure. Also he was not helped by injuries to his best striker Fernando Torres, inconsistency of Steven Gerrard and the boardroom politics.

He is to blame in some ways but to say that he is the cause for this predicament is absurd. That is precisely the reason why Rafa Benitez still commands respect amongst the Liverpool supporters who are fully in favour of sacking Hodgson for Kenny Dalglish.

Roy Hodgson

The English manager had an excellent time with Fulham but managing Liverpool is a different proposition and he has learned it the hard way. He has more or less lost the support of the Anfield faithful and with his latest outburst at the supporters, it is hard to see how he can win them over. He has been trusted by the new owners but he has failed to deliver and after such horrible results, it is time the new owners take a decision on the future of Liverpool.

He brought in a number of players like Joe Cole, Raul Meireles, Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen but as a team they have not delivered. Cole and Meireles are talented players and when they settle into the team or capture their form, they can be good for Liverpool in the future. As far as Konchesky and Poulsen are concerned, they have no future at Liverpool and it has been a waste of around 8 million to sign the duo.

Though it is clear that Torres has not found any understanding with David Ngog, the manager has persisted with the same formation and the result has been that Torres has not been close to his best and Liverpool are lying in the bottom half of the table. Meireles is clearly a talented central midfielder and pushing him to the wing makes no sense. Maxi Rodriguez has been at his best under Hodgson for Liverpool but benching him to accommodate a central midfielder on the flanks does not make a lot of sense.

Also, he has not made himself popular by criticizing players like Joe Cole and Glen Johnson in public which will only bring down their confidence in the manager. There has been too much tinkering with the team with hardly anyone being settled in the team. He has clearly struggled to cope with the pressure and before he drags the Reds further, the new owners must swiftly end his managerial tenure with Liverpool.

If the support of the crowd is not there for the manager, that means that the club is on its way down and the new owners still have the opportunity to save the club. It is inevitable that they will lose their best players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres if they continue to persist with Hodgson.

He has not added a lot of quality to the squad and though he has got the best out of some players like Lucas and Maxi, there has also been some more addition of deadwood. Hodgson seems to have run out of ideas and it has reached a point where he cannot save Liverpool's season for sure.

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