Liverpool FC 2010/11 Premier League Analysis: Part 1

Liverpool FC 2010/11 Premier League Analysis: Part 1

After a disappointing 7th-place finish in 2009/10, Roy Hodgson was brought in as manager to ‘steady the ship’. The off-field troubles were getting worse as the days went by so Hodgson had a difficult task to keep the club together. In his first press conference he said that he was to “focus on football, not finances.”


The season started brightly with a solid 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal which could have been even better had Pepe Reina not dropped the ball into his own net. However, the cracks began to show as early as the second game as Liverpool were brushed aside 3-0 by Manchester City in a very disappointing night.


Players weren’t performing to the level expected of them and fears of a repeat of 2010/09 were growing. In the next two league games, the Reds beat West Brom 1-0 and drew 0-0 with Birmingham City. So four games into the season, Liverpool had scored two goals and were sitting on 5 points.


Roy Hodgson wasn’t delivering on his promise to ‘steady the ship’ as Liverpool were plummeting down the league table. After the 2-0 defeat to Everton in mid-October, Liverpool were lying in the relegation zone and the fans had to listen to claims that his team’s performance against the Toffees was “the best so far this season.” It outraged the fans and calls for the manager’s head were starting to spread. The Reds – after 10 games – were on 9 points, a dismal start to the season.


Some good news finally came in October when the club’s American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, left the club after John W. Henry and Tom Werner took control of the club. The fortunes of the club now looked a bit brighter with some financial stability in place.


The players weren’t playing well enough in the system Hodgson was using. Playing 4-4-1-1 and having two deep banks of four to soak up the pressure was simply not working. The defence was shaky at the best of times so there were a lot of errors. As a result of the defensive tactics, Fernando Torres was being isolated up front and had only managed to score five goals by December. The team were lacking goals but were conceding them at an alarming rate – conceding 23 goals by the end of December, two more than the team had scored.


After losing 1-0 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on the 29th of December, chants for Kenny Dalglish to return to the manager’s position were getting louder and louder. Liverpool went into the the new year 12th in the Premier League and right in the centre of a relegation fight.


Wednesday 5th January 2011 – Liverpool were torn apart by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park and Roy Hodgson had taken charge of his last game at the club. The match finished 3-1 to Blackburn with Steven Gerrard missing a late penalty but whatever the result, it was likely that Roy Hodgson was to lose his job.


Saturday 8th January 2011 – The return of the king had finally come. ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish was handed the reigns to try and steady the club until the end of the season when a new manager would be announced. Suddenly, the whole atmosphere around the club had lifted and the players were in high spirits. The team lost a controversial match against Manchester United a day later but the signs of improvement were evident.


The owners were fulfilling their promises as well, signing Uruguayan Luis Suarez for £22 million and Andy Carroll for £35 million. A total of £57m was spent, but with the £50m exit of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel leaving for £6m, it was some great business by the club, effectively, spending only £1m.


In his first 10 league games, Dalglish guided the club to six wins, scoring 17 goals in total and only conceding nine. Already, after 10 league games, Liverpool were a completely different side. Free-flowing, passing football had gained some excellent results; 2-0 away to Sunderland, 1-0 away to Chelsea, 3-0 away to Wolves and 3-1 at home to Manchester United were just some of the results. The club had crashed out of the Europa League against the eventual finalists Braga but their league form had moved them up to 6th in the final week of March.


The change of fortune for the team under Kenny Dalglish was huge. Under Hodgson, in 20 league games, the Reds had managed to score just 24 goals, conceding 27. Under the ‘King’, the team scored 35 goals and conceded just 17 – all in only 18 matches. Dalglish’s Liverpool also won 10 and lost five, compared to the 7 wins and 9 losses of Hodgson’s Liverpool. Eight of the 14 clean sheets that Pepe Reina kept during the season came in Kenny Dalglish’s time as manager as well. All of the statistics show just how much improvement there was within the squad when the ‘King’ returned.


Overall, Liverpool made 14, 037 successful passes, with 12, 906 coming from open play. Most of those passes came in Dalglish’s reign with his slick passing becoming very important to the way the team played. Kenny Dalglish also won more points in the league than Hodgson, winning 33 compared to Hodgson’s 25.


Liverpool very nearly finished in the European places but finished 6th in the league, just missing out with two defeats from the last two games against Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. Missing out on Europe must not be seen as too big a disappointment, though, as the club nearly went out of business at the start of the season. The signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll prove that the owners are willing to spend whatever it takes to move the club forward and with Kenny Dalglish in charge, anything can happen. If the statistics next season match the second half of 2010/11 then Liverpool Football Club may well be in for a great season in 2011/12.

Coming Soon:

Part 2 – Best and Worst 3 Performances
Part 3Defence, Midfield & Attack Comparison