Liverpool rid itself of unpopular owners but not relegation form
as local rival Everton inflicted a 2-0 loss on the side in front of
new owner John Henry on Sunday.
Goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta either side of the break
left Liverpool off the bottom of the Premier League standings only
on goal difference after eight matches.
Liverpool looked devoid of guile and attacking threat at
Goodison Park, quickly banishing hopes that ousting Tom Hicks and
George Gillett Jr. in favor of the owners of baseball’s Boston Red
Sox would solve their troubles.
”It’s unfortunate for such a good game of football that
everything revolves around the fact Liverpool didn’t win it – this
was always going to be a difficult game to win,” Liverpool manager
Roy Hodgson said. ”This would have been the ideal opportunity to
really turn things around on the back of the positive entry of the
new owners. To win the game would have been utopia.
”There’s no point attempting to analyze dreams. We had to play
a game of football.”
While Liverpool’s legal team won a week of court battles to oust
the previous owners, the players couldn’t replicate their success
on the pitch.
And the extent of Liverpool’s worst start for more than 50 years
was all too apparent to the watching Henry and New England Sports
Ventures chairman Tom Werner.
They saw a side contained inside its own half from the outset as
Everton confidently piled on the pressure.
The home side squandered the best of its early chances when Phil
Jagielka shot over after Arteta’s free kick came off the wall.
”We suffered at the hand of an early onslaught, which you
invariably do here at Goodison,” Hodgson said.
Managing his first Merseyside derby was becoming an
uncomfortable experience for manager Roy Hodgson as he berated
sloppy Liverpool play from the sidelines. Werner had earlier said
that Hodgson’s job was safe.
It took almost 25 minutes for Liverpool to get sight of goal,
with struggling striker Fernando Torres flicking in a header that
was turned over by United States goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Henry had his head in his hands and the joy from completing the
takeover on Friday was fast diminishing when in the 34th minute
Cahill broke the deadlock.
Pepe Reina’s low diving save had thwarted a Yakubu Ayegbeni
shot, but he couldn’t stop Cahill from lashing the ball inside the
Seamus Coleman did all the hard work, forcing his way down the
left flank to the byline and then cutting the ball back for
Liverpool was unable to penetrate Everton and the deficit was
doubled after the break when Arteta picked up Leighton Baines’
corner on the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a fierce
volley past Reina.
”I refuse to accept we were in any way outplayed or in any way
inferior,” Hodgson said. ”In the second half that’s as good as I
have seen a Liverpool team under my management. I thought we caused
them plenty of problems.”
While the second goal did rouse Liverpool into a more assertive
approach, its attacks fizzled out.
Torres lashed over after latching onto Maxi Rodriguez’s
throughball, with the Spain striker looking a shadow of the player
who netted 34 goals in 2007-08.
”Fernando is going through a bad time, he needs a goal, his
confidence is low,” Hodgson said. ”He got battered during the
World Cup and mentally he is probably a bit low.”
While Everton moved up to 11th, Liverpool remains in the bottom
three with just one win from eight matches,
”We’re not trying to disguise the fact this is a predicament,”
Hodgson said. ”For any team to take six points from eight games
from the start of a season, is a predicament.”
Hodgson, though, still believes that a top-four finish – and
lucrative Champions League qualification – should not be ruled
”Thirty games to go, 90 points to play for, we’d have to do
something a bit special I suppose,” Hodgson said. ”I thought
there were signs that the quality of football is there.
”We think there’s a lot of things that still need sorting out
in the club. When it comes to playing, we’ve got the squad of
players we’ve got, we will have to keep working with them.”