Was Liverpool’s Recent Successful Run of Games a result of not using Glen Johnson?

17/11/2010 § Leave a comment

The sad thing about supporting Liverpool Football Club is that just before you can put an applauding article in about our performance, something or the other does go wrong. Four wins on the trot – starring the win at Chelsea of course – and before I even got round to praising that run of performances, bang! Draw at Wigan and defeat at Stoke. Well, you know what they say: it was good while it lasted.

Now while Roy Hodgson tries assiduously to alienate some of the purchases made in the Benitez era – Pacheco, Jovanovic, Babel and Co – one such alienation sticks out like a sore thumb in the Roy Hodgson module of recurring tactical errors – leaving out one Glen Johnson. Now don’t get me wrong, the guy is a real star when he goes on those amazing optimistic forays into the attacking positions. And while in the beginning we went agog with his enterprise and his slightly uncharacteristic attacking manner – wherein we sometimes, almost too positively, hoped that we too may have a Sergio Ramos or a Maicon in our midst – Liverpool fans very well know now how exactly it’s going to go down at some point. Because Glen Johnson for all his superior attacking thrust, is a terrible defender. He does not track back or tackle well enough, and God forbid when does, he gives away a free kick in a peach of a position to the opposition. It’s almost like the Premier League teams know his infatuation with bombing forward and invite him on, leaving his position uncovered and Carragher’s eternally furrowed brow to pick up the pieces. No exaggerations here. Because if you saw the defeat at Manchester City early on in the season, that’s exactly what they did.

But in a landmark judgement on the part of Roy Hodgson’s preposterously defensive mind, slow as it was and forced by the circumstances of the injury of the said player, has left out expensive right back, right back on the bench. Why? Because his overall approach demands more solidarity than enterprise. And so enter Carragher, a thou shalt defend and defend alone right back, or even the young Martin Kelly who is simply happy being in the team at his tender age on account of his unwillingness to go forward. So that means that now when Premier League teams come to Liverpool, they can no longer rely on the immaturity that Glen Johnson displays generously through the course of the game, but have to contend with a right back who actually knows his job. Of course, this blunts out attack and flair to a large extent, but we are a simple club who doesn’t mind a bunch of silly goalless draws and a mid-table finish.

No, seriously? I’m happy Johnson is not playing. And I thoroughly enjoy the rumour that he might be sold as soon as January. And that he does what every half-pissed Liverpool player has done in the past couple of years – blame the coach and in the process bite the hand that feeds him. The only thing that I’m not happy about is that we might not recover anything more than half the amount Benitez generously showered upon Portsmouth, a team which seemed genuinely happy underselling their players. Because no one, not even Juventus or Real Madrid who have claimed to be in the fray for Glen Johnson, will pay more than 12mil for a right back. Especially when Real Madrid already have the best right back in the world on their books.

But I’m happy to watch the progress of Martin Kelly. He’s solid as a rock. He’s tall and hence he wins the headers. And he can tackle which is obviously worth the few points he wins over Johnson. And he has a strong father-figure behind him to cover up should he make an error in judgement – Jamie Carragher. Wouldn’t I love it for him to become the next big home-grown thing to happen to Liverpool Football Club since Steven Gerrard? I sure would.

I mean he was against Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda out there against Chelsea and his defensive performance there was nothing short of praiseworthy. The uncompromising lad had his feet and head stamp out most of the attacks that came from the left. And if he couldn’t, Carragher was at least in the position to clear up after him and not simply left alone in the wilderness cursing himself when Johnson gave the ball away after the opposition left back booed at him.

But these two instances of dropped points aside, I believe there really is a season, and a pretty good one at that, if Roy Hodgson looks beyond Glen Johnson. I’m not saying sell him or anything. We have been a bit reckless with selling players who seem to let their guard down awhile, only to wonder later what it would have been like to still have Craig Bellamy or Peter Crouch r Robbie Keane…. Man this could take a while…

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