Gary McAllister believes Liverpool’s start to the season has been decent but admits the team’s defending as a whole needs to improve after recent poor showings against Manchester City and Sevilla.
The Reds lie three points behind leaders Manchester United after four games in the Premier League but last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City has taken the gloss off a positive beginning to the campaign.
Indeed, further sloppy defending against La Liga outfit Sevilla in Wednesday night’s opening Champions League draw has seen the topic of Liverpool’s defensive frailties rear its head again.
Speaking at the DSA Open event at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai on Thursday, in which the ex-Kop ace is supporting, McAllister told Sport360° there shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction to the all-too-easy goals the Merseysiders are conceding.
He said: “Obviously the last two results have been negative. The game against Manchester City hinged on the sending off of Mane. City took advantage with an extra man brilliantly, but it was disappointing in Europe.
“We looked fragile at the back, that’s something the guys will be working on. I’m not one to jump on saying it’s a back four problem. I just think the team as a whole need to improve in defending their own goal.”
Although there may be problems at the back, manager Jurgen Klopp has other selection headaches in his squad, with seven options to fill his preferred three-man midfield formation.
The late summer transfer window addition of former Arsenal star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added more competition to an already congested area of the pitch.
— Sport360° (@Sport360) September 14, 2017
McAllister, who starred in the famous 2001 treble-winning team under Gerard Houllier, added: “That’s the skill of managing. You need a big squad as we’re fighting on all four fronts this season, three cup competitions and the league. Keeping all of the players happy is not an easy job.”
One of the transfer stories of the summer was the £34 million acquisition of Mohamed Salah from Roma and the Egyptian star has been in sparkling form since his arrival.
And with Red Bull Leipzig star Naby Keita also set to join the club at the end of next summer, the Reds are in a comfortable place to challenge for silverware, according to the 52-year-old.
“Salah has started brilliantly. I like the look of Dominic Solanke too, but the one for me is Andrew Robertson, a young Scotsman whose pathway is another great example of Scotland players getting to England… I think he’ll play a big part this season.”
Liverpool’s resolve was tested right up until the August 31st deadline with three failed bids for star man Philippe Coutinho, who handed in a transfer request in a bid to force a move to Barcelona.
However, the Kop side held firm and rebuffed all offers to keep the 25-year-old, who only signed a new five-year deal in January.
“I praise the owners for keeping him. The owners said under no circumstances was he going to be for sale, they stayed strong and they’ve managed to keep him. Now the job is to get his mindset, get him focused again and what a great player,” he added.
Roy Hodgson has been appointed the new manager of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club announced Tuesday.
The 70-year-old former England manager has replaced Frank de Boer after the Dutchman was sacked following just four league games in charge of the south London club.
“Former England manager Roy Hodgson has been appointed as the new manager of Crystal Palace FC, on a two-year contract,” said a club statement.
For Hodgson, born in the south London suburb of Croydon, managing Palace means the Englishman is now in charge of his boyhood side after a managerial career spanning five decades and 15 clubs in eight countries, as well as spells in charge of four national teams.
“This is very much the club of my boyhood and I remember in my youth watching the club from the terraces at the Holmesdale Road end which gave me such fond memories,” he told Palace’s website.
“It is very rewarding to find myself here now, in different times, as the Palace manager at a club that I have always loved and admired with a huge potential.”
Dutchman De Boer was sacked after Sunday’s 1-0 loss away to Burnley meant Palace were the first team in England’s top flight to lose their opening four games without scoring a goal since Preston North End 93 years ago.
But Hodgson, the oldest manager appointed to a Premier League position, insisted the Eagles could bounce back from their woeful start to the season and remain in the Premier League.
“I don’t honestly believe that there is necessarily a lot that needs to be done,” he told Palace TV.
“You can always get off to a bad start, (but) what we’ve got to remember is our fate will be decided after 38 games, not four.
“We’ve got to work hard to get back on track but I know that my attitude is shared by the players and it is my job to let them know what I want from them.”
Ray Lewington, Hodgson’s deputy with England, will also be his assistant at Selhurst Park having had two spells as the club’s caretaker manager.
Hodgson’s managerial honours include seven Swedish league titles, two Swedish Cup wins, one Swiss title and one Danish title, while he has also been in charge of four Premier League clubs — Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion.
But his time in charge of England ended with a shock defeat by outsiders Iceland that saw the team knocked out of Euro 2016.
This is his first coaching post since that humiliating loss but, speaking to Sky Sports earlier on Tuesday, Hodgson said there were no scars from his time with England.
“I didn’t want to end it (my career) on a bad result but I think the 56 (England) games and the seven defeats is not so bad,” he explained.
“I think we changed the (England) team around and the young, exciting team you see today is the team I was putting together.
“We lost a knockout game and I was very sad about that. I can’t put that right but I’m very pleased to be back at the highest level with a good football club.”
Hodgson will lead training on Wednesday and be in charge for Palace’s league match against Southampton at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane had his three-match suspension for a red card received for a high challenge on Manchester City’s Ederson upheld on Tuesday, after the football Association rejected his claim of excessive punishment.
Senegal winger Mane was sent off after catching goalkeeper Ederson in the face during City’s 5-0 win in the Premier League at Eastlands on Saturday.
Ederson had raced out of his area to head clear a high bouncing ball when he was knocked to the ground.
He was carried off on a stretcher after receiving treatment on the field for around eight minutes.
“Sadio Mane’s three-match suspension, which was effective immediately, remains in place after his claim of excessive punishment was rejected following an Independent regulatory commission hearing,” said a statement issued by the FA.
“The Liverpool forward was dismissed for serious foul play during the game against Manchester City on Saturday.”
After the match, Mane apologised to Ederson via Facebook, saying: “I hope and wish Ederson a quick recovery. I am so sorry he was hurt during our accidental collision on the pitch and am sorry for him that he could not complete the match because of it.
“I pray he heals fast and is back playing very soon!”
Former Benfica keeper Ederson was examined further by City’s medical staff but did not suffer concussion and returned to the bench, wearing a dressing, before the end of the game.
The Brazilian later tweeted: “Hi, everyone – I am well. What a fright!
“It was an important win for us. We are strong. Thanks for all your messages of support.”