I'll admit to being a little worried over what Hodgson might come out with in his press conference last night, but in the end it was largely innocuous. A small miracle, then. It still showed signs that he didn't really understand the failings of the first sixty minutes, or the changing dynamic of added width and a tiring opponent growing more defensive that played a large role in the eventual reversal, but that's two press conferences in a row for Roy where he's managed to hit borderline acceptability. Baby steps towards glory, then?
"Certainly in the second half [Gerrard's] entry onto the field was a catalyst. It galvanised the crowd and the team. The way he scored the first goal epitomises the energy and spirit the team showed in the second half.
"I'm delighted we got a reward for it but we do owe a big debt of gratitude to him. But I'm sure he'd be the first to join me in saying that it was a good team
performance in the second half as well."
As touched on last night, that's only half the truth. Gerrard coming on saw the side given a slight boost in energy, though it never seemed any more likely to result in a goal until Eccleston was introduced to bring some semblance of width back to the side. And to be honest, it wasn't really about Eccleston's performance, which though nothing to complain about was also nothing to get especially excited about. It was about unpacking a midfield that Roy had made unnecessarily compact by taking off Jovanovic for Gerrard rather than subbing off one of the central mids. If the sub had been more tactically aware, one imagines that the more incisive Liverpool seen from the 60th minute on could have been on display from the start of the second.
At least he got it right in the end, I suppose, and praised Gerrard and the other players out there for it rather than looking to talk himself up.
He also said, "But Steven likes to play. He's like Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina--they want to play. They don't seek rest periods. They understand what I'm trying to do but they don't seek it themselves." Which is all well and good except that it implies he's rested Carragher for significant periods. Aside from the second half against Napoli on the road, I really don't think that has been the case, and Roy would buy a little more slack in my book at least if what he was trying to do involved giving the vice-captain more time to recuperate and showing a bit of faith in the Dane with short hair and large quantities of ink.
It's always awkward to discuss a player with a legacy like Carragher's, but with his refusal to keep the ball moving, to make the easy pass and utilize the midfielders right in front of him to retain possession, he is currently a liability. This isn't even about legs or age or the way he can berate those around them when they've done little wrong. It's about his seeming desire to play Hollywood balls that sees him hold onto the football for ages looking for a killer pass before becoming frustrated, saying fuck it, and launching it hopelessly up the pitch while two or three open players stand ten or fifteen yards off looking puzzled.
But enough of those happy thoughts, let's get on with a few links to wrap up the work week...
* In the comments to the last post, lfc4eternity alerted me to the rather amusing story about Dirk Kuyt having his car sat on by a police horse during last night's match. The actual body of the article makes it hard to tell if the police horse simply backed into his mirror, knocking it off, or if it really did sit on the hood of his car. I choose to believe the latter, because it's a much better image.
* Goal Exclusive? I didn't know they did any actual reporting, but they're the only place the quotes are turning up so maybe they didn't simply transcribe it off the telly. Maybe. Anyhow, said Lucas after the match:
“I'm really pleased with my form at the moment for Liverpool and Brazil, and I'm improving as I get older and gain more experience.
“Am I appreciated more? By the media, I don't know. By the fans, definitely. Everyone can see when you are doing well on the pitch."
It's good to hear that a growing acceptance--and appreciation, even--of his game is taking place amongst supporters, even if it still seems that daily a wheezing "take a shot at Lucas" line appears in some media hack or other's article while the talking heads on Sky continue to chuckle about how terrible a player they think he is, in the end only managing to show what horrible commentators they are.
* And though most of the rumours of the past 48 hours were nothing more than rehashing the original talk of it being "immanent" on Wednesday, it actually is official now: Manuel Pellegrini is the manager of Malaga. To my mind, this really cuts down on the likelihood of a new appointment before next summer, but we're still in that window where Hodgson can be sent packing for a knock-down rate, so who knows.
Well, on that exceptionally uplifting note, enjoy the rest of your Friday and have a good weekend. And for those of you just a little too excited by Mrs. Pizzuti's presence in the stands last night, all I can say is down boy, down...