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Toothless Liverpool losing touch already
Liverpool’s current plight was laid bare on Monday when they were humbled 3-0 by Manchester City — a result which left Roy Hodgson’s side fourth bottom of the Premier League.
After just two games it would be churlish to suggest Liverpool will spend too long down in the bottom half of the table, but the feeling that the 18-times English champions are in danger of losing touch with the top four was inescapable.
A quick glance at the table shows Chelsea top, followed by Arsenal and Manchester United and then City — bookies would be offering short odds on that quartet still there in May.
Liverpool now have the admirable Hodgson in the hotseat at Anfield but the wily Englishman faces a tough task if his side are to challenge for one of the Champions League places.
Certainly the title looks well beyond them.
While City’s unlimited spending power means players are falling over themselves to go to Eastlands, Liverpool face a struggle to hold on to one of their best players.
Midfield engine Javier Mascherano was left out against City after Hodgson admitted the Argentine’s head had been turned by an offer to take him to Barcelona.
It left Liverpool toothless in midfield where they had no answer to the imposing Man City trio of Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Toure.
Steven Gerrard tried manfully to inspire something from the visitors while Fernando Torres again looked short of match fitness while new signing Milan Jovanovic flattered to deceive and Dirk Kuyt, linked with Inter Milan, offered little more than work rate.
Admittedly Liverpool were not helped by Joe Cole’s suspension but the squad looks short of quality and with just one week left before the transfer window closes, Hodgson will be scouring the market.
Quite what he has to spend though, is unclear.
With the club hundreds of millions of pounds in debt and American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett eager to sell, Hodgson is hardly likely to have a transfer kitty, unless Mascherano’s move to Barcelona goes through.
Last week’s news that Chinese businessman Kenny Huang had withdrawn his bid to take the club off the Americans’ hands means any hope for an injection of funds is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
In the mean time, Hodgson will simply have to employ the sensible, common-sense approach that worked so well at Fulham to keep Liverpool in touch with the top six, otherwise last season’s seventh-placed finish could become the norm rather than an exception for one of the aristocrats of the English game.