As Roy Hodgson’s appointment as Liverpool manager looks to be increasingly likely, I thought it might be time to look ahead towards the decisions on player personnel any new manager may face. It is somewhat unfair to say that they were Rafa’s favourites, as sometimes circumstances led to some of these players having extended runs in the team, but it is fair to say that Rafa did give them all a good share of game time.
Dirk Kuyt – A player with tremendous drive and prepared to put in the hard yards, Rafa appreciated the Dutch striker’s industry. Chipping in with a few goals too, Kuyt was a useful player to have in the starting eleven, although he is not blessed with a tremendous amount of skill. Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk has also identified this willingness to work for the team in the Dutch forward and he gets a starting berth for his country as a consequence. If Roy was to take charge, he could identify with Kuyt’s work ethic, but I doubt he would see the Dutchman as a winger, like his predecessor. Kuyt has also mentioned he is uncertain of his future on Merseyside.
Lucas Leiva – Pilloried by sections of Reds fans for his poor displays, Lucas has had to put up with a fair amount of stick during Rafa’s tenure. Some of it was certainly deserved as playing as a replacement in Xabi Alonso’s holding midfield role, he neither had the ability to play long raking diagonal balls like the Spaniard or tackle with the same ferocity as his midfield team-mate Javier Mascherano. In my opinion though, Lucas has been played out of position throughout his time at Anfield. Bought from Gremio as an attacking midfield player, he is not an expert tackler or a fantastic long range passer. What can he do then, you may ask? Similar to other Brazilians, Lucas likes to play near the opposition penalty box, playing neat one-twos with fellow attackers and making late runs into the box similar to Paul Scholes. For Gremio and Brazil U-20s, he scored on a regular basis for this reason and whether the new manager will identify this in Lucas, we will have to wait and see. As he maybe behind both Aquilani and Gerrard in his attacking ability, the new manager may look to move the player on.
David Ngog – The French striker was kind of a victim of circumstance really. The lack of strikers meant he was thrown into the first team mix before he was properly prepared for the Premier League. With all the criticism levelled at him, I still go back to the fact that you shouldn’t expect great things from a player who cost £1.5m. Ngog still scored some goals for the Reds though and in my opinion should be used as a fourth choice striker if the new manager has any new money to spend to bring in reinforcements up front.
Emiliano Insua – With the constant injuries to Fabio Aurelio and the departure of Andrea Dossena back in January, the young Argentine had to shoulder the heavy burden of the left back position all by himself. Certainly in the attacking third he has a good deal of ability and can cross expertly with his left foot, but his inexperience at the back did tell, and for a player who doesn’t have a great deal of pace, he was caught out of position way too many times during the campaign. Could be used a second choice full back by the new manager, but he is not a player who should be relied upon to play all 38 games of the league season. A new left back should be a priority this summer.
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