Sunday, 24 October 2010

Fernando Torres taps into spirit of Anfield as Roy Hodgson faces talk of dressing room revolt



At last: Fernando Torres' second goal of the season gave Liverpool a second win

Whether Liverpool wheeled out Gerry Marsden for a rousing rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone in honour of the club’s new owners or in aid of Roy Hodgson is anyone’s guess, but it certainly set the tone at Anfield yesterday.

It was a show of unity in difficult times, demonstrating to the men from New England Sports Ventures what the Kop sounds like in full cry.

A show of support for the boss might be pushing it too far, given that Hodgson might well have been walking alone had the debacle at home to Blackpool and Merseyside derby defeat at Everton been followed by another disappointment against Blackburn.

But Hodgson’s second Premier League win, thanks to a second goal of the season from a revitalised Fernando Torres in a frantic five minutes after half-time, took some pressure off the Liverpool manager even if it was not enough to lift his side out of the relegation zone.

His fist-pumping celebration of Torres’s strike and relieved demeanour afterwards were understandable.

He had gone into the game amid speculation that Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were battling to keep the dressing room behind him, and the new American owners had given him two games to turn things around after the club’s worst start to a top-flight campaign for more than half a century.

We're watching you: Roy Hodgson went into the game with talk of a dressing room revolt hanging over him

NESV co-owner Tom Werner was joined in the directors’ box by new board members David Ginsberg and Michael Gordon for the first home game since their takeover, although a sick John W Henry had to watch from home in Boston.

He will have been heartened by this display but Hodgson, sacked by Blackburn before the midway point of the season 12 years ago, acknowledged that one win is not enough.
‘We’ve got ourselves in a perilous position,’ he said.

On target: Joe Cole was denied by a fine save from Paul Robinson

‘One victory is going to help but it’s going to take time until we can see daylight.
‘We don’t know what the owners are thinking. There is media talk of “lose two games and sack the coach” but I’m not sure the owners have that mindset. I divorce myself from all of that.

‘It’s all very well having must-win games but there’s an opponent out there trying to stop you, and you can’t get out of your mind how bad it’s going to be if you make a mistake.’

Old red: El-Hadji Diouf's shot led to Jamie Carragher's own goal

For all Liverpool’s enterprise yesterday and the chances they created in the first half, feelings of unease looked close to the surface.

It might have been different if they had secured the lead they thoroughly deserved before half-time, and for that they could blame Paul Robinson whose superb saves denied Joe Cole, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and, in particular, Steven Gerrard.

The irony will not have been lost on many at Anfield that Sam Allardyce’s side were bullied in the air throughout.

Without regular centre backs Chris Samba and Ryan Nelsen, and with Steven Nzonzi limping off before half-time, a team who base their attack on high balls and set-pieces were exposed to the barrelling runs and aerial dominance of Kyrgiakos.

It was certainly no surprise when the big Greek made the breakthough three minutes after half-time.

Gerrard sent over a corner from the left and Phil Jones lost track of the excellent Kyrgiakos, who rose unmarked to power a header past Robinson — helped on its way by Michel Salgado.

‘I felt there was huge relief around the whole ground when they scored,’ said Allardyce.

There was. The last thing Liverpool expected was a Blackburn equaliser within three minutes, when substitute Benjani crossed from the right and ex-Liverpool man El-Hadji Diouf gave Martin Skrtel the slip and fired low towards the far post.

It's a start: Hodgson hopes Torres, celebrating here with Martin Skrtel, can rediscover his form and desire

Paul Konchesky tried to clear but hacked the ball into the back of the unfortunate Carragher, who deflected it over the line.

‘When it’s in the back of the net you think, “How on earth did that get there?”,’ sighed Hodgson, adding it was not the first soft goal his side had conceded this season.

Carragher has now scored seven own goals in the Premier League for Liverpool — three more than he has managed at the other end. Only Aston Villa’s Richard Dunne has more, scoring an eighth this weekend.

Luckily for Carragher and Konchesky, Liverpool were back in front within two minutes.

Again, they exposed the weakness of Blackburn’s defence, Cole crossing to the edge of the six-yard box for an unmarked Torres to side-foot past Robinson.
It was a confident goal, Torres’s first since Liverpool’s only other league win, over West Bromwich in August.

Hodgson is hoping the player can revive the team.
He said: ‘Torres was very down when he came back from the World Cup. People get down when they’re criticised left, right and centre.

'Maybe he’s just beginning to come out of that and find the joy of playing again. You can’t infuse that into a player.

'You can ask him for it but he’s the one who has to find it in himself.
‘That was his best performance this season. But we need him to score many goals if we’re going to move into the place in the table where we want to be.’

source: dailymail

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