The weakest link
MAY 8 — For Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso, read Jay Spearing and Jordan Henderson and therein unfolds the saga of Liverpool Football Club.
Most coaches do not list stubbornness as a character flaw but unfortunately it has become a must on the CV of Liverpool managers.
While Gerard Houllier persisted with Momo Sissoko and Rafa Benitez insisted that Fernando Torres could not play two full games in a row according to his “numbers”, King Kenny sees something in the Spearing-Henderson pairing that no one else does.
This pair in central midfield “killed” Steven Gerard! The Liverpool captain was deployed behind Luis Suarez in a free role but the service was non-existent and after making some customary runs forward, Gerard stopped bothering.
Every run expands energy that Gerard needs to conserve these days but to see Spearing and Henderson play the ball square and lack the vision to spot a run made for an easy afternoon for Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
The change came not with Andy Carroll coming on for Spearing but Steven Gerard dropping into a holding midfield role and finally Liverpool having a driver to steer them.
And when the much-celebrated Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon posed the question, “How many teams would Spearing and Henderson get into?”, it certainly was the ugly truth that many Liverpool fans otherwise deny.
Kenny Dalglish should stop denying it himself. But then again, does it also show the lack of depth in his squad?
After spending £30 million (RM148 million) on a half-season wonder in January last year, maybe he could have better spread that newfound American wealth around.
To reflect on Macca’s question above, the Spearing and Henderson pairing could perhaps get into the Wolves team and get relegated. They certainly are no better than Steven Nzonzi and Jason Lowe at Blackburn Rovers, too.
Could Spearing and Henderson have done any better than Nigel Reo-Coker and Mark Davies for Bolton?
Will Roberto Martinez be willing to exchange James McArthur and James McCarthy for Spearing and Henderson? He would have to be mad to even think about it!
Over at the other big match of the weekend — fifth-placed Newcastle United vs leaders Manchester City at the former St James Park — even the reserve bench showed what the once-mighty Liverpool lacked.
When City needed to deploy the physical strength of Yaya Toure further up the pitch, Roberto Mancini brought on Dutch international hardman Nigel de Jong to partner Gareth Barry in the middle.
Why, even Michael Carrick and the creaking Paul Scholes are better than the Spearing and Henderson pairing!
But Dalglish defers. Dalglish intends to build his team around the Spearing and Henderson partnership. So be it!
And by the way, Charlie Adam was not uprooting too many trees either before his injury. So, Kopites should not get their hopes too high wondering what could have been had Adam been playing instead.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.