Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
The Liverpool owners’ decision to use this weekend’s break for the FA Cup as a chance to sit back and ponder the club’s future under Roy Hodgson is a rare patient act in the hasty world of soccer but it might not end up doing the manager any favours.
The Anfield club, just four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone, face rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the Cup on Sunday after another week of speculation and supporter unrest surrounding Hodgson’s future.
Even with the ‘magic’ of the FA Cup, a win against league leaders United seems unlikely on current form, and a defeat to their bitter rivals who could field a slightly weakened side, would only rub salt into already very sore wounds on Merseyside.
A defeat to United does not go down well even when Liverpool are fighting for the title or Champions League places, but when they are faltering in mid-table, a loss would add further ammunition to the club’s unhappy fans.
Buying Liverpool may prove the easy part for new owners who will be expected to spend freely to rescue the five times European champions from their worst start to a season in more than 50 years.
What John W Henry really needs is for Fernando Torres to recapture the form that made him the most feared striker in the Premier League.
It is 50 years this week since Bill Shankly first arrived at Anfield, when Liverpool were languishing in the second division, writes Martin Roberts.
The Scotsman soon turned them into a team feared across Europe, and set up a managerial system with enough momentum to carry on after his shock 1974 resignation and make the club the most successful in English footballing history.
It seems almost beyond dispute, though, that whenever the Spaniard is unavailable Liverpool look ill equipped to challenge for the title, a situation hardly helped by the sales of Xabi Alonso, Robbie Keane and Alvaro Arbeloa in the past year.
Liverpool’s run of four straight defeats has generated a lot of discussion about what has gone wrong, but precious little about how to put it right, aside from the suggestion that it might be nice to see Kenny Dalglish back in the dugout.
So let’s leave aside for a moment Rafa’s handling of big players and whether he should have kept hold of Sami Hyypia and Xabi Alonso, and consider what the club’s next moves should be.
Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium gleamed in the sunshine on Saturday as the north London side produced an exhilarating display to beat Portsmouth 4-1 in the Premier League.
The impressive structure, wedged into a densely populated part of the capital, is one of England’s finest club grounds but many of the 60,000 fans sat on their comfy plastic seats would have pined for the old Highbury ground just across the road.
It may well be, then, that the signing of the impressive, energetic Glen Johnson at full-back turns out to be a more significant bit of transfer business than the much criticised decision to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid.
I had heard a great deal about the fabled Anfield atmosphere on European nights but nothing quite prepared me for my first visit.
Quite a night I chose as well. The 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in what was the first meeting on Merseyside between the two European powerhouses will sit high on anybody’s list of magnificent Anfield occasions.
Owen Wyatt has invested in new 3-D technology to provide a fresh look at Real Madrid chances of knocking Liverpool out of the Champions League.
Click on the video above to hear our views on the key battles at Anfield, and a look at what the Spanish papers and Real Madrid players are saying ahead of the match.
Robbie Keane’s arrival at Liverpool and the long pursuit of Gareth Barry suggest Rafa Benitez is looking more at British Isles players than in the past.
Vlogonthepitch host Owen Wyatt went to his local pub to canvass the opinions of two Liverpool fans.