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Bolton Wanderers

Why Hodgson Should Start David N’Gog


Watching Bolton Wanderers against Liverpool on Sunday, the Reds seemed to do everything right except in the last third of the pitch where Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both were completely off form. It was almost as if the two had never played together. The players, again and again, failed to link up with each other. Their passing was sloppy. Their aim and decision making in front of goal were abysmal.

Gerrard, in particular, was woeful in the first half. It was by far one of the most ineffective performances I’ve seen from the Liverpool captain. Torres also was a shadow of himself. Even though both of these footballers are world-class, you would hardly know it by watching their performances Sunday.

That is, until Torres produced one flash of brilliance with a back heel that put the ball into Maxi Rodriguez’s path for him to score the solitary goal of the match.

The margin between success and disaster in soccer is so thin. If Torres’s back heel hadn’t worked so well, the game could have easily ended up nil-nil or Bolton could have snatched a victory. If that had happened, you can guarantee that the pressure on Hodgson would be immense. Instead, thanks to Rodriguez’s goal, Liverpool walked off the pitch heroes and you could see what it meant to both the players and Liverpool supporters as both were ecstatic and beaming at winning the three points.

The person I feel sorry for is Hodgson. It doesn’t matter how good or bad your team selection or tactics are, if your two top players such as Torres and Gerrard are playing so poorly, there is not much you can do to achieve success other than hoping they’ll get better, put other players in their places, or hope that someone else steps up to carry the weight of the team. And that’s part of the issue. Both Gerrard and Torres have carried Liverpool, at different times, for years.

This leads me to the question in this article. Should Hodgson consider dropping Torres and/or Gerrard? Practically every time David N’Gog steps on to the pitch as a substitute, he instantly transforms the team by adding more pace and a better understanding between him, Torres and Gerrard. Joe Cole, despite his skill, plays a different style and often seems to slow down the  pace of the game and doesn’t link up as well. At the same time, it’s difficult to find adequate replacements for Torres and Gerrard because the Reds don’t have that proven depth. The best route would be to start N’Gog and drop Cole until either the former Chelsea’s players form improves significantly or if N’Gog is unable to keep performing as well as he has.

The poor form of Gerrard and Torres must be worrisome for many Liverpool supporters. I believe the best way to move forward to get the best out of them is to start N’Gog and play a more attacking formation. Liverpool has the perfect chance to do this on Sunday since Joe Cole is out injured after suffering a hamstring injury against Bolton, which opens up the possibility of starting N’Gog. It’s a bold move, but what has Liverpool got to lose? Everyone expects them to lose against Chelsea, so why not give the Blues a run for their money?

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  1. brn442

    November 1, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Ngog, is Liverpool’s top scorer but unfortunately Hodgson doesn’t have the option of dropping Torres, unless he wants the Spaniard to hand in a transfer request come January.

    I believe in the gospel of playing two strikers but as the others have said – Torres and Ngog don’t seem to link up well when they have started together, although – that may chance with enough matches under their belt. Maybe Ngog can play deeper or out wider, maybe come on after 55 minutes if the offence is misfiring. Regardless, he needs and deserves more playing time.

  2. dominjon

    November 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Liverool played the same players in the same positions against both Blackburn and Bolton. Yet they looked totally different. Why? Because of the instructions Hodgson gave them. Gerrard played much deeper because he was told to. He was as often playing just in front of Lucas and Merlies as he was just behind Torres. Against Blackburn, Carragher bombed forward as often as his tired old legs would manage. Against Bolton he didn’t at all.
    I know it is somehow become fashionable to think managers don’t matter because somebody put up some stats, but managers do matter. That team was sent out to win against Blackburn. That team was sent out to not conceed and hope to somehow grab a winner against Bolton. That was a team that was playing with 0-0 in mind. Hodgson was lucky that one piece of class from Torres was enough and that the Ref wasn’t in the mood to give half-a-shout penalties.
    With 6 points in the bag, Hodgson will probably play more attacking against Chelsea, knowing a loss (as long as it isn’t a thumping) won’t threaten his position the way it might have before back-to-back wins.

  3. Kev

    November 1, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    the club is not bigger then gerrard.. gerrard is liverpool

    • soonerscotty

      November 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Then based on Stevie’s attitude we’re in worse trouble than I thought.

  4. SantaClaus

    November 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Based on performances this season N’Gog has been better than Torres and so I wouldn’t mind if Torres were dropped. He looked uninterested yesterday against Bolton. Yes, he did provide the backheel pass to maxi forthe goal but other than that he was woeful. He hasn’t played well all season long. Reports suggest he is unhappy at the club but that is no excuse for playing so poorly and without passion.

    Gerard, on the other hand, hasn’t played poorly all season long. He had a woeful game yesterday but hasn’t been as poor as Torres. So I would not drop him yet. But if he has more poor performances then I think it would not be bad idea to drop him.

    The club is bigger than any one player.

  5. Tyler

    November 1, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Frankly he will always be David N’ot good enough

  6. Marcus

    November 1, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I will have to disagree with you about Gerrard. He was woeful yesterday, but for most of the season he has been very good. Last year he is woeful the whole season.

  7. Clampdown

    November 1, 2010 at 10:32 am

    You had me until you suggested dropping Gerrard or Torres. No way. true, they did look like strangers on the pitch yesterday. It was weird. I’d rather see Maxi dropped. despite the goal yesterday and bicycle kick, he’s still pretty poor.

    However, with the exception of the City match, in which the whole squad was woeful, Liverpool have played much better with N’Gog pairing Torres up top, a strategy Hodgson usually employs far too late in the match. LFC, as currently constituted, cannot succeed while employing Torres as a lone striker. While playing two up top will open up the field a bit for the opposition, then so be it. I’d rather lose while trying to win, then sitting back and hoping get a late winner or worse, playing for one point.

    Right now, N’Gog is the best option to pair Torres. If that changes in January, then fine. But it’s what the team has right now.

    • The Gaffer

      November 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

      Clampdown, I raised the question of dropping Torres and Gerrard but in the same article said that it would be better to play N’Gog instead in order to get the best out of Torres and Gerrard.

      The Gaffer

      • Clampdown

        November 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm

        Yes, Gaffer. I saw that you did, and we are largely in agreement. I’m just surprised the question would even be asked. I honestly don’t recall a Liverpool team with such mediocrity spread throughout and think it is sometimes unfair for everyone to expect Gerrard and Torres to just “turn it on” and beat the opposition on their own.

  8. Aol

    November 1, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Yes! Two straight Liverpool-related articles. Never before has a midtable team generated so much interest.

  9. none

    November 1, 2010 at 7:38 am

    How does Joe Cole slow down the pace of the game? If anything he is the only one who consistently plays the old Liverpool way: ‘pass and move’.

  10. john sexton

    November 1, 2010 at 6:39 am

    no, but we should have another player partnering torres up there against the likes of bolton blackpool and blackburn etc. and have steven gerrard in the midfield. ngog is just not good enough.

  11. soonerscotty

    November 1, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Hodgson should do a lot of things…especially pick up is P45.

    Hodgson for England!!

  12. Darren

    November 1, 2010 at 5:54 am

    have you forgotten the terrible performance against Man City when we started with both Ngog and Torres??!

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