Paul Parker

Sunderland can add to Hodgson’s woes

Paul Parker

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Under pressure: Roy Hodgson - Liverpool v Sunderland

You look at this Liverpool side and they are very ordinary. Fernando Torres isn't firing while Steve Gerrard is having to do it all himself. They were fortunate to get a draw at Birmingham, while the 3-2 scoreline in losing at United flattered them. If Roy Hodgson thinks he can take anything positive from the defeat at Old Trafford, then I'm Polish.

He told the press he wanted to rest players for the game against Northampton. Didn't he realise his regular players are struggling in the Premier League? The second-string players are probably fed up, have no appetite and don't want to be there. The players who lost at Old Trafford should have played in the Cup match. It is as simple as that.

Liverpool are not good enough at the moment to rest players. They don't have a good enough first team to rest players, because every side believes they are beatable. There is a major lack of confidence among the players and a lack of confidence among the fans about their team and the manager. There is no cohesion to the team.

I'd be hoping in January that some money might be available by the sale of club and Hodgson can go and buy a bit of creativity and players who want to play for Liverpool. At the moment, there is more creativity in a needlework class. It is quite poor.

Is Joe Cole going to be able to do it for Liverpool? The answer to that question is no. It is as simple as that. It is just not going to happen.

Upset of the week: Liverpool v Sunderland

Continuing on the issue of the day in the Premier League, there is no reason why Sunderland can't get a positive result if they play well.

Sunderland will go very confident. During my time, the only game where you could keep the ball at Anfield was if you took it off the referee at the end of the game.

When you did get the ball, you needed to do something with it. That usually didn't happen because you were not allowed enough time on it. This is not the story now.

If I was Steve Bruce, I would be wanting to go to Anfield and get the first shot on target and first goal to really get the crowd on the back of the home players. He might have Darren Bent up there alone, but he will have a midfield that should fancy the task. They must believe they can score a goal.

Anfield used to be an immense place to go and play football 10 or 15 years ago, but now it is vulnerable. Northampton went there with confidence. They played well and won, because they were the better team.

This is a poor, poor Liverpool squad. It is ageing, ponderous at the back and is very, very poor in full-back areas.

There is nobody to create anything. Nobody is good enough to knock a ball forward to Torres for him to feed off, or nobody good enough to find Gerrard when he makes one of his runs into the box.

There is no real natural width. They rely on Glen Johnson to get to the byline to deliver crosses. They are looking to their full-back to come up with tricks and individual runs. That was never the Liverpool way. There has always been an established pattern to their play that seems to have gone.

Sunderland do not have to fear the trip, but should think only of what can be gained from it. 

Match of the weekend: Manchester City v Chelsea

I can only imagine a few of the home fans will be a bit nervous about this one. Their club has spent a lot of money, but not really seen anything that will give them a lot of confidence.

It is easy to see how a false sense of security may have crept in when City beat Liverpool 3-0. Going by results so far this season, that was no great feat.

They are worried at the moment. It is a big game simply because it is a team who have spent millions and millions coming up against a team who have been as consistent as any team in the history of the league.

I think Chelsea are probably physically too strong and are too clever in midfield, where I think City are quite poor. They don't really have a lot of creativity and I don't think they are too strong in defence.

The only worry for me about Chelsea is that I look at them defensively and they are not as reliable as before. Yet they are more expressive under Carlo Ancelotti so you are not always going to be 100 per cent at the back if you are throwing people forward. I'm a little bit worried about that.

John Terry doesn't give me great confidence. He has been found wanting for quite a while now, but I do believe Chelsea will have too much for Manchester City.

Player to watch: Mark Schwarzer - Fulham v Everton

It is very difficult as a player when you make your mind up that you want to leave a club, especially in today's climate. There are only a couple of windows to move and if you don't leave, you are stuck there. That is what has happened to Mark.

Whether or not a fee couldn't be agreed or whether Arsenal were really that keen on getting him before the window closed, I'm not sure.

Did they want to spend good money on a player of that age? Arsene Wenger does not like buying old players. He doesn't like having old players in his squad. He maybe changed his mind, and suddenly Mark is back in the line of fire at Fulham.

Fulham fans knew he wanted to leave and he wanted to go to another London club, which does not help. He will probably feel a little bit embarrassed by the scnenario and he has to prove himself again after being very much loved at Craven Cottage.

Goalkeepers are also fragile. We've seen Rob Green recently and he hasn't recovered from the World Cup, but a guy like Schwarzer should regain his form. Mark has spent a long time in the English game and someone like him should get over this very quickly.

All he has got to do is produce 70 per cent of what he came up with last season and there won't be a problem. The Fulham fans will fall back in love with him.

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