No joy for Roy as Ex Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson and his West Bromich Albion boys faced off against the Reds at the weekend. A fixture that the lovable uncle won last year as both the Liverpool and West Brom Manager. When at the helm of Liverpool, Roy cut a frustrated and often marooned character, given the short end of the stick in terms of transfer funds, and his ability to mold a team suffered from it. In his six months at Anfield Roy was un-successful in stamping his mark on the team, and a string of bad results frustrated the Liverpool faithful, when expectations where higher. Aging was sped up in those six month's, as his hair grayed in frustration and hits fits of writhing on the bench spoke volumes of the issues at the club, issues- that he couldn't not change. On the ESPN Soccernet website written under his profiles picture, the caption reads
"The much-travelled English coach Roy Hodgson has effected a change in philosophy wherever he goes."This was not true during his tenure on Merseyside, plain and simply put.
It didn't take long for his temples to smoke and the writhing fits to start on his return to Anfield, when right on cue, Luis Suarez and his slippery eel style was body checked in the box by West Brom's Jerome Thomas after he was nut-megged in the ninth minute. Seemingly soft, a penalty was awarded to the Red's aided slightly from the roar of the home support. The match commentator didn't seem convinced, and personally I thought the easy-over Suarez got a bit lucky, but to use an old cliche he does put himself about, and the tricky customer that he is paired with his Shakespearean dramatics makes it a job and a half to ref him.
With both Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher not playing, Charlie Adam stepped up to the spot to take the penalty, and finished in the composed Gerrard- manor, in leu of his captain's absence. On that note the camera pans started showing Roy on the West Brom bench tugging at his overcoat, flush in the face as though something crawled up in it.
The problem that Liverpool have on a consistent basis is the failure to get that all important goal against the weaker sides, but the penalty allowed the LFC boys to work the ball around, with Jose Enrique looking a peach on the left side, arriving in good areas on the wing. The balls launched up to Andy Carroll looked less an act of hope and desperation with the one goal cushion, and the interchange in the midfield was silky. The Liverpool manger Kenny Dalgelish commented after the game saying,
"I thought we played really well, we thoroughly deserved to win the game and some of the football we played was fantastic.”
Liverpool thoroughly outclassed West Brom and to add they looked to have the luck of the draw. The 50/50 tackles and referee decisions all seemed to go in favor of the Reds. The private battle of Andy Carroll against West Brom's center back Jonas Olsson, was one to relish, as both personified physicality.
It's has been a rare site this season to see Suarez start with Carroll up-top, and the hope of the deadly big man-small man attack has been anything but fruitful this season. Watching this game, I can see no reason why this partnership wouldn't work. Carroll and Suarez are the exact opposites of one another. Suarez operates from a bit deeper, linking midfield with attack, creating his goals and others. We all know what Carroll is there to do, but with restricted chances- from being unfit, and out of form- has made it hard for the Geordie striker to command a place. What the pair needs is time to cement a partner ship, which could be in the cards. The potential is there, Suarez looks deadly and Carroll is gathering steam, but the telepathy is not their yet.
Carroll is gathering steam having scored in the Merseyside Derby a few weeks back netting and for Liverpool's second goal against the weekend opponents. Carroll looked like a locomotive chugging as he barreled down the heart of the pitch to slot it home. The goal was created by a poor back pass from West Brom, in which some beautiful one touch passing from Lucas and Suarez, put Carroll in behind, to which in true nerve-racking style took a heavy touch , yet recovered quickly with a nifty toe poke past Ben Foster. The best part of that goal for me was when the camera cut to Dalgleish with a brimming smile so large and cheery he could have been an advertisement for trident. Most different from the sulking Hodgson down the touchline, the comparison of the managers couldn't be more apparent.
As the game progressed to its climax Liverpool looked to add onto their 2-0 lead with Suarez wriggling his way threw the shaky West Brom defense on multiple occasions. I would gather the Uruguayan is mother at Tetris, seemingly able to fit the ball and himself in the tightest angular spots, it's pure geometric brilliance!
Downing came the closest to making it 3 when he hit the post, which is the 10th time Liverpool has hit the post this season.
When the final whistle sounded, I felt a sense of comfort from the confidant win, extending Liverpool's unbeaten streak and squashing West Brom's. Liverpool sat in 5th place for the day until Spurs defeated Queens Park Rangers on Sunday seeing the merseyside club drop into 6th.
Liverpool face Swansea City at the weekend and I would expect that unbeaten run to continue against the newly promoted side. Captain Steven Gerrard will not be fit for the game at the weekend as he is undergoing treatment for an ankle infection. Having the constant injury problems that he does, would have proved a mammoth problem in years past, but Dalgleish has made the necessary moves to ensure that the Reds have not just back-up but quality back-up. Gerrard is not the player he was just a couple years ago, with his injuries progressing his decline, but when fit still is a top drawer player. The fact that he is out so often is less of a worry knowing that Lucas, Adam, Henderson and Suarez can step right in and do the job.