Carragher Kyrgiakos Skrtel Konchesky
Maxi Meireles Lucas Cole
Absolutely dreadful, utterly embarrassing, yet again. So much for any clouds being lifted. If Hodgson had any class, he'd resign right away. Somehow, I can't see that happening. Rome is burning, and the manager doesn't even know how to fiddle.
Liverpool invited Everton to attack from the opening whistle, and amazingly, Liverpool paid for it. I used to joke that I had a template for the bad games under Benitez, but almost every match review's been the same this season. The only difference is that Liverpool at least scored against United, Sunderland, and Blackpool. Otherwise, it's same old, same old yet again.
Gerrard may have been further forward and Meireles finally started in his preferred position, but once again, the away side perpetually had at least 9 men behind the ball. Everton attacked and attacked and attacked, while Liverpool didn't enter the opposition's final third until the 23rd minute. Torres immediately registered an attempt on target, heading Cole's cross on goal, but that was Liverpool's only chance of the half.
Meanwhile, they conceded in the usual manner. Cahill struck first after Hodgson's side was again beaten down its left, Coleman torching Konchesky before his deflected low cross found the Australian in space. Soon after the restart, despite the usual marginal improvement, Liverpool let in a second, from a set play. Man-marking somehow left Arteta in acres of space outside the box after Kyrgiakos' "clearing" header, with time to set himself, smoke a cigarette, and sip an espresso before lashing past Reina. Fun times.
Once again down by two, just like against Blackpool, Liverpool finally consistently sent men forward, but fumbled aimlessly in Everton's half. Torres almost always got the ball with his back to goal, which clearly isn't his preferred position. Despite an increasingly narrow Liverpool, with Maxi and Cole pushing forward in almost a 4-3-2-1, the away side continued to send in cross after cross which were easily headed away. Liverpool were limited to a spat of shots from distance, with few actually testing Howard.
And again, Hodgson delayed in making changes despite the deficit. Ngog replaced Lucas in the 71st. Babel came on for Cole in the 79th. Jovanovic for Maxi was the final substitution, six minutes before time. None helped, and all came too late. Babel was the brightest of the three, stinging Howard's palms with a blast reminiscent of his wonder goal against Lyon, but it was too little too late even if Mr Tourette's hadn't punched away.
Six points from eight games, out of a possible 24, is utterly unforgivable. I might be more inclined to hold fire if Liverpool demonstrated any signs of positivity before being down by two goals, simply due to the unworkable situation the previous owners put the manager in, but we haven't seen any. The tactics are prehistoric, unsuited to the personnel, and Hodgson has no Plan B when Plan A unsurprisingly fails. The deep backline continues to concede sloppy goals, and man-marking let in yet another set piece goal. The players seem even more jaded than during last season's terrors; the attitude is simply horrific, and that starts at the top. Liverpool stars – Gerrard and Torres – are being criminally misused, Torres especially.
I fear that the new owners will give Hodgson more time because of their newness. They'll be hesitant to rock the boat, unfamiliar with the set-up, sport, and country. But Liverpool can't afford that. We may only be eight games into the league, with 30 left to play, but there have been zero – ZERO ZERO ZERO ZERO – signs of improvement. Hodgson keeps traveling the same worn, muddy path to nowhere. This is where it's got us, and this is where we're going.
Liverpool's lost some good players over the last two years, but on paper, this side has no business being relegation contenders. Yet on the pitch, they're playing like relegation contenders. It's Groundhog Day all over again, especially when you look at how Hodgson began the '98-99 season with Blackburn before being sacked in December, with the team at the bottom of the table after finishing sixth the prior season. By December, it was too late, and they went down in 19th place. No matter how talented Liverpool's squad looks, that could absolutely happen here.