Overall Roy Hodgson seemed to get a good press after Thursdays draw in Naples.
The reports suggested that, despite what people have said about the strength in depth of the squad, there were grounds for some optimism. The “second string” side was certainly good enough to get a result and contribute to the overall team effort by enabling key players to rest for today’s game against “Real Blackburn”. The league is where the real
priority lies, look at the table.
Nonetheless some have been less than charitable suggesting that HRH “got away with it” by gambling with his selection or was even about to resign. I don’t agree. From the first UEFA Cup game HRH has been very clear about his selection policy, using the tournament to blood newer players, build up their experience whilst resting first teamers. It is to his credit that he had the courage of his convictions despite the criticism which might have tempted him to field a stronger side to ensure the result. However, this is all well and good, the trick of course is to make sure that this pays dividends with our league results. So far it hasn’t.
Which brings us nicely onto today. I have to say that after the court and takeover shenanigans it’s good to get back to writing about games. No doubt things will be revisited soon with the departure of Christina Purlsow etc. However that is for another post, on to the visit of “Real Blackburn”.
At present I don’t think there is anyone in English football more miserable and more irritating than Sam Allardyce. If moral high horses were tangible beasts he would have a stable full. However he is indulged, as opposed to equally forthright but more flamboyant managers, because he is “Big Sam” and has the look and demeanour of someone who has been hewn from an old of chuck quick set cement and dines on gravel!
It seems that Allardyce is always happy to comment on others. His continued berating of Rafa over the years for comments made years and years ago was small minded and despicable, not to mention slightly paranoid. Yet he then complains that Rafa won’t give him the time of day! Try to square this with his recent insistence that Danny Murphy should apologise for his comments about Blackburn and other clubs deliberately going out to knobble players. Leaving aside whether or no you agree with Murphy why should he dance to Allardyce’s moans? “Big Sam” was never “big” enough to apologise to Rafa for cowardly slagging him of in public so should not expect others to do so to him? It seems it’s alright for Allardyce to unprofessionally belittle his fellow footballing colleagues left right and centre however, when the tables are turned it is an entirely different matter?
And on it goes with his comments leading up to this match. Liverpool are a team “in decline” etc? So presumably it will be a doddle for his side when they turn up today just as it has been since 1993 when Blackburn last won at Anfield! No doubt “Big Sam” will continue his “impressive” record of taking his sides to Anfield and getting results even though he likes to paint himself as some kind of maverick scourge of the so called big clubs.
However, I’m going on and on and giving Sam the attention is ego demands so back to us. Team wise I assume Gerrard and Torres will return and it is also rumoured that Agger and Johnson will have recovered from injuries. To be honest I would be tempted not to bring Johnson back into the team. Johnson was capable for at least one, if not two I’m being cruel, of the Blackpool goals and also didn’t exactly over himself in glory in the last England game. These errors were the latest to add to a growing list since he joined us and I am getting rather exasperated of seeing him off the player he is supposed to be marking at vital times, though poor positioning, failing to read the game or just being slow in getting back from his many trips up the pitch to play at being centre forward. At present we are not in the position to afford such luxuries and need to get back to basics which means good old fashioned defending and keeping a clean sheet. Hopefully we will also see Gerrard and Torres demonstrate the benefit of their midweek rest?
Prediction? Clearly a win is paramount even though without playing yesterday we moved up one pace in the league! I just hope the HRH actually fields a midfield and strike force designed to go for it this time rather erring on the side of caution, perhaps he will be motivated to do so as Blackburn sacked him back in the 1990s? Hopefully after Thursday this will be the game were we finally start moving forward instead continuing our downward spiral. I’ll take us to do this with a 3-1 win and Torres bursting back into life!
By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of previous games, against Blackburn since this date click here.