I guess it’s ironic that Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge of Liverpool should take place in Switzerland?
Hodgson’s links with the country are well known. He managed the national team, taking them to Euro 96 and qualifying for the 1994 World Cup. Domestically he looked after Neuchatel Xamax and later in his career returned to manage our opponents in this match, Grasshoppers of Zurich.
Speaking to the Liverpool ECHO Hodgson was refreshingly candid about this time with Grasshoppers.
“It was a mistake to go to Grasshoppers. I don’t have good memories of it at all. It was one of the (few) mistakes I made in my career…..I don’t have any particularly good feeling for the club but I’m not blaming them totally for that. It was the wrong time for me to be there as well. Luckily it didn’t cost me too many months as I was able to abort it and move on”
They say footballers shouldn’t go back to an old club but perhaps it is stretching it too far to apply this to a country? Anyway that is in the past and Hodgson has returned again to face his old employers. Given the nature of the game I suspect Hodgson wasn’t too concerned about the result and more about checking out his squad in a “competitive” situation for the first time. Clearly the real test, and the first game ”proper”, will be Arsenal in August?.
I also suspect trying to progress the changes he wants to make to the squad takes greater priority. The singing of Joe Cole has been confirmed (he passed his medical) however, although his arrival is good news, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Said Hodgson
“I would never want to dupe the Liverpool public by telling them all is rosy now because Joe Cole has signed. There’s a lot more work to do, a lot more players are needed”
The latest news suggested that if the price is right David Ngog will be allowed to leave. I don’t know if this affected his performance last night but he certainly looked fairly lively. There is no doubt the player is still raw in places but on the whole I thought he did well last season and can only improve especially if he given more chances to build on what he has done so far. Personally I’d like to see us hanging onto him and trying to bring him through, even if means sending him out on loan for a while.
Elsewhere the last night’s result reflected the occasion and with the fact some of the first team are still behind in their training, or on a break, due to the World Cup
Fresh from reports that he was fully fit it took Alberto Aquilani, whose new haircut makes him look like a cross between a young Sly Stallone and the singer from Placebo, just six minutes to be felled by, to put it politely, an over exuberant Grasshopper! Thankfully he recovered to fire a free kick tamely into the keeper’s hands later in the game! The first chance of note was for Grasshoppers who were denied by Darby’s last ditch lunge. The Swiss team certainly looked intent on making a game of it and, as the challenge on Aquilani suggested, were arguably overly psychical in the first half. However, it soon settled into a typical pre season friendly pattern allowing everyone to have a good work out and Hodgson to make the changes to ensure everyone had a game. It’s very difficult to draw conclusions at this early stage however, their was a distinct lack of chances although we should take encouragement at the clean sheet from a young back four that did well to keep their shape against slightly harder opposition than perhaps Hodgson would have wished for at this stage of the season?
Finally Liverpool were wearing their newly issued third kit which is all black, save a rather lurid yellow Adidas trim. I notice that the official website is advertising it with Gerrard, Kuyt and Carragher and a model who looks like Fernando Torres! As if a: we’d be fooled or b: read anything into his absence! Clearly the team were wearing the kit last night because the “all red” first ensemble seriously clashed with the white and blue Grasshoppers were wearing! One wonders why they were told to wear it? Still at least unlike some clubs, they don’t have to go to Australia or the US to make some pre season money!