Roy Hodgson talked today about a “middle group” of players in the Liverpool squad that they were too old for the reserves but not really involved in first team action. He felt that this needed to be addressed during the transfer window this summer:
“We were unbelievably overstaffed when I came to the club and, if the truth be known, we still are overstaffed. It was just as big a job making sure some of the players who never feature for the first team move on and that we limit our squad to players who are either in the frame to play first-team football or who have a bright future who are still anxious to play academy and reserve team football. We don’t want that middle group who are too old for reserve football but are not serving any purpose for the first team because they never feature.”
Basically what Roy is describing here is a group of players who were tantamount to deadwood. Looking through the long list of departures this summer, it would be fair to say that the majority were but not all of them.
Nabil El Zhar – The 24 year old struggled in his four years at the club to breakthrough into the first team after his move from St Etienne. Injuries did play a part in this but it was clear he was never going to be a first team regular despite being used by Rafa Benitez as a substitute on occasion. He is now on loan at PAOK Salonika in view to a permanent move. Verdict – Deadwood
Damien Plessis – After a promising debut against Arsenal in 2008, Plessis never really found the form required to break into the side. Like El Zhar, he was a player playing in the reserves without any real prospect of first team action, and at 22, it was time to move on to pastures new. Looks certain to be the reserve to Gilberto Silva at Panathinaikos too. Verdict – Deadwood.
Lauri Dalla Valle – An exciting prospect from Finland, Dalla Valle really enthused many Reds fans with his natural goalscoring ability. Roy Hodgson however was indifferent to the abilities of the player and said when scouting the player at Fulham that he was undecided on whether he would make it as a top class player. Roy was therefore willing to let the 18 year old go as part of the deal for Paul Konchesky. Verdict – One that got away?
Emiliano Insua – Became first choice left back under Rafa Benitez last season but never convinced he had the capabilities to succeed in the position. Roy also wasn’t convinced and tried to sell the player to Fiorentina and Genoa. He eventually loaned out the player to Galatasaray in view to a permanent move. Verdict – Deadwood – He was never going to be involved in Roy’s first team plans this season.
Javier Mascherano – The want away Argentine got his wish with a move to Barcelona. Certainly not deadwood but would have been close to it if he was forced to stay.
Alberto Aquilani – A debatable one this. Aqua never really got the chance to show his abilities in a Liverpool shirt after an injury-plagued season last campaign. Roy must have felt however that the Italian was never going to be a first team regular and he was loaned out to Juve in view to a permanent move. Verdict – One that got away?
Diego Cavalieri – A good enough, solid back up keeper to Pepe Reina but it was clear that the lack of game time over such a long period would lead to him wanting away. On top of the fact he wasn’t homegrown, it made it an easy decision for Roy to replace him. Verdict – Deadwood – in the sense he was never going to play both because of the quality of Pepe Reina and the fact he wasn’t homegrown.
Philipp Degen – The former Swiss international did have problems with injuries during his stay at Anfield. When he did play though, his defensive abilities were questioned on a number of occasions. Good going forward but never reliable at the back, it was sensible by Roy to let him go out on loan, especially with Reds youngster Martin Kelly waiting in the wings. Verdict – Deadwood
Krisztian Nemeth – Certainly had talent but Roy decided that he had enough young forwards in his squad in David Ngog, Nathan Eccleston and Dani Pacheco who would get more game time than the Hungarian. Verdict – One that got away?
Albert Riera – His antics last season most probably led to his departure even under new manager Roy Hodgson. His professionalism was questionable and it was probably best for all parties that he departed for Olympiakos.
Yossi Benayoun – Already made up his mind to depart for Chelsea, nothing really Roy could have done if he wanted him to stay.
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