There is change in the air at Liverpool. Rafa Benitez is out; Roy His in.
And there is palpable expectation that the first Englishman at Liverpool’s helm in over a decade will turn things around for one of the best EPL teams ever.
.The former Fulham manager has already earned his stripes by getting Gerrard and Torres to stay on at Merseyside, in the upcoming season – something that appeared unlikely as recently as three months ago, after Liverpool finished 7th, on the League table.
Hodgson has rekindled the spark, by contracting Joe Cole to play for the club. Full back Aurelia has come back to Liverpool, only adding to the excited anticipation.
Change in ownership also looks imminent, with George Gillett and Tom Hicks looking to sell the club off to one of the bidders from China, India and Syria.
Apart from Joe Cole, from Chelsea, and Fabio Aurelia, currently without a club, coming in as free agents, Danny Wilson from free Rangers for £2 mn, and Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton for £1.75 mn, and Milan Jovanovic from Standard Liege are other sign ups Hodgson has already achieved in his short tenure.
The changes at Merseyside also include the exit of Yossi Benayoun to Chelsea, and Albert Riera to Olimpiakos, both for undisclosed sums, while Philippe Degen has been loaned out to Stuttgart.
Although cash-strapped, at least until the next owner(s) take over, Hodgson is aiming to get midfielder Christian Poulsen of Juventus for a rumoured £6 mn sign up. Meanwhile, Anfield will see the back of Javier Mascherano, snared by the departing Benitez for Inter Milan, for a reported £20 mn.
Liverpool will be served in the upcoming season by some men who did World Cup duty for their national teams, earlier this year.
Fernando Torres and goalkeeper Jose Reina of Spain, Netherlands’ Ryan Babel, Denmark’s Daniel Agger, Slovakia’s Martin Skrtel, Serbia’s Jovanovic, Greece’s Sotiros Kyrgiakos, and Argentina’s Mascherano are among them.
So are England’s Steven Gerrard, Jamie Gallagher and Glen Johnson, who will be hoping to put memories of a miserable World Cup behind them.
Liverpool have an area of strength, in goalkeeper Reina, considered one of Europe’s best, with Arsenal’s Wenger trying to snare the Spaniard who has spent five seasons at Merseyside.
Reina is backed up by Brazilian, Diego Cavalieri; meanwhile Hodgson is also trying to sign up Middlesbrough’s Brad Jones.
In defence, Brazilian Aurelio’s return is good news, although his recurring injury concerns will cause worry. Johnson should stay as right-back through the upcoming season, while the other two spots will have four quality options in Carragher, Skrtel, Agger and Kirgiakos.
The real weakness is in defensive midfield, where Mascherano’s loss will not be completely offset, by Cole’s arrival added to the weaker credentials of Lucas and Babel.
The attack will remain in good hands with Torres deciding to stay on. Jovanovic is untested in the League, Kuyt lacks Torres’s consistency, and Ngog has some distance to cover before comparisons can be made with te likes of Torres.
Reactions to Hodgson’s arrival at Anfield are mixed. Some feel he is not big enough to handle a club that has a record 18 League titles (technically, Liverpool has never won the Premier League — the reference here is to the English Football Championship, which was called the Football League First Division from 1892-1992) added to 5 European Championship wins. But this much is certain — Hodgson won’t fail for want of trying.
Liverpool’s immediate goal this season should be to get back into contention for the European championship. As for “Reclaiming the Kop”, it is likely to remain a dream, for some time to come.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.