Club Focus – Liverpool – Merseyside derby defeat leaves Hodgson and Reds struggling

Roy Hodgson recently pleaded with Liverpool’s new owners to spare him the sack, despite the Reds embarrassing and humiliating start to the campaign under his guidance. But the former Fulham manager is slowly but surely losing the goodwill of the Anfield faithful. His days appear to be numbered.

Defeat to bitter rivals Everton left Hodgson’s side 19th in the Premier League, having secured a miserable six points from a possible 24. Liverpool are spared the shame of being at the very foot of the table thanks only to West Ham’s worse goal difference.

Following a turbulent week which saw everything from Liverpool being threatened with administration to Tom Hicks’ attempts to block the sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures, the Anfield outfit were eventually snapped up by John W Henry. Fans were delighted to see the back of Hicks and Gillett and hoped a change in ownership would provide a timely boost ahead of the Merseyside derby.

But even Henry’s presence at Goodison Park could not encourage a revival. Liverpool were without the injured Glen Johnson, whilst the absence of Christian Poulsen allowed Lucas Leiva back into the starting line-up. Carragher deputised at right-back and Paul Konchesky returned on the left side of defence. Joe Cole and Maxi Rodriguez were to provide the width whilst Fernando Torres also managed to regain fitness in time for the match.

Liverpool’s star striker was starved of any quality or creativity from midfield. The Spaniard is understandably lacking confidence and is cutting a frustrated figure. Skipper Steven Gerrard was not at his best and big summer signing Joe Cole failed to impress, just as he has done since his move to Anfield. In contrast, the Blues were functional and effective. Everton’s midfield were imaginative, the hosts were defensively sound and young full-back Seamus Coleman gave the opposition much to think about with his swift surges forward.

Everton scored before and after the break and then hung on to secure a significant and well-deserved victory. Roy Hodgson may point to his side’s improved performance in the second period – and it is true that the Reds did show some signs of getting back into the game after half-time – however in reality Liverpool did not deserve the point(s) they craved.

Surprisingly, the manager saw things differently. He also dismissed any question of there being a crisis at the club, despite leading the Reds to their worst start to a season in 57 years. “I don’t feel it to be a crisis because the way we have played today I don’t think anyone would believe that is the type of football of a team in the bottom three. I think we can consider ourselves unlucky,” he said.

One key problem is the fact that Hodgson is unwilling to admit how poorly his side are playing. Not only is he fooling himself, but he is also alienating those who have sympathy for him. Are the players at fault? Well, the squad Roy Hodgson inherited contained more players that went to the World Cup than any other English side.

Liverpool only managed a disappointing 7th place finish in the Premiership last season and now they find themselves 19th. Many believe that Roy Hodgson is out of his depth. Will the new owners come to the same conclusion?

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