Confounding all previous intimation that he was to send out a strong team to face FC Utrecht in a meaningless Europa League match in which he said there was, “nothing to lose”, Roy Hodgson chose to rest both Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina. Torres spent a dismal night sat on the bench, ruminating over a miserable Liverpool performance, whilst Reina was nowhere to be seen; Brad Jones taking his place in goal.
Liverpool’s innate caution was the most disappointing aspect of the goalless draw; the team’s lack of quality and invention in the final third all too apparent, with Joe Cole particularly poor. “We are all disappointed by the game,” said Hodgson. “I was hoping with so many here for the first time that we would produce a sparking performance,” Hodgson told The Guardian. “It wasn’t for the want of trying but we lacked technical quality in the final third.”
Roy Hodgson apologised to Liverpool fans for mistakenly intimating that Fernando Torres would start against FC Utrecht, only to leave the Spaniard on the substitutes’ bench for the full 90 minutes. The suspicion amongst Liverpool fans is that Hodgson’s decision was dictated to him by Liverpool’s head of medical science, Dr. Peter Brukner; a misapprehension that Hodgson was quick to challenge.
“When I got back to the club yesterday afternoon and we started talking about it, I sensed the potential disadvantages far outweighed any advantages,” Hodgson told the Daily Telegraph. The advantage is that there are no further injuries to the Liverpool squad ahead of the weekend’s fixture with Fulham: “By reneging on my first idea of playing Fernando, I’ve got a totally fresh team to play against Fulham on Saturday.”
Cole will improve.
Joe Cole’s profligacy in possession was one of the reasons Liverpool were so impotent as to only register two shots on target all night against FC Utrecht. With his form under scrutiny, Roy Hodgson moved to defend the England International, reassuring Liverpool fans that the playmaker will eventually recapture past performances.
“He sets himself high standards and he is an honest lad. He will have come off the field feeling that wasn’t the performance he wanted to give,” Hodgson told skysports.com. “It certainly wasn’t for want of trying or lack of effort or desire. It just didn’t go his way and I’m afraid that can happen in football.”