Has Roy Hodgson let his talisman down?

How many excuses does Fernando Torres need this season. To start with, Roy Hodgson put his form down to the niggling hamstring injury he suffered in the World Cup Final in July. Then he moved on from this and excused Torres’ early season form by arguing the striker was suffering from a World Cup hangover. Now Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has waded in and blamed the service of the Liverpool players.

Is Fernando Torres being let down by his team mates or is he being let down by his managers outdated and defensive squad balance.

The Guardian on Tuesday, reported that Liverpool Goalkeeper, Pepe Reina has blamed Fernando Torres’ poor form on the lack of quality service the Liverpool team have offered him so far this term.

”I don’t think we have been assisting him like we should, particularly in the last few weeks. He has not been able to do anything at all. We know he is the type of player that can win a game just like that, but we can’t expect him to keep doing it on his own. We have to feed him in. That’s the point.” Said the Spanish goalkeeper.

In all fairness to Torres this has been a fair point. Liverpool have a lack of creativity in midfield and a lack of quality wide men. Christian Poulsen and Lucas Leiva have their role in the squad but moving the ball forward quickly, and supporting Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres isn’t their strength. If Torres is out of form he will obviously become an isolated figure up front. With this lack of service, the striker becomes frustrated – and this is what we have seen this season. If Liverpool had a better passer playing in centre midfield the ball would be released to Gerrard at better and more positive opportunities. Ever since the sale of Xabi Alonso, Liverpool have struggled in this side of of their game. Liverpool need to invest in more creative players or the problems we have seen at the start of the season will continue.
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Are Pepe Reina’s comments an indication that the squad want to be more creative and more positive. Against Blackburn they were and if it had not been for Paul Robinson it could have four or five in the first half. Liverpool played with the shackles off but will this be a flash in the pan. Is Torres’ poor form due to the way Hodgson has set his team up this season.

Liverpool are playing a new style, a style that doesn’t immediately suit Fernando Torres. Under Benitez Liverpool pressed higher up the pitch and attacking situations happened a lot closer to Torres. When Liverpool won 4-1 at Old Trafford this was the key to the victory. Pressing Michael Carrick and releasing Torres and Gerrard early, in far more favourable attacking situations. Under Hodgson Liverpool defend deeper, allowing teams to get men behind the ball when their attacks break down. The slow pace of Liverpool’s play so far this season is clearly affecting Torres’ game. Against Blackburn on Sunday, Torres looked sharper because the quality of  ball played to him was better and Liverpool got men around him early. If Liverpool can continue to do this, Torres’ form will pick up.

The reality is Hodgson will not change his tactics. The manager will continue to play without creative influence and devoid of pace and Torres will be left to feed on scraps. Liverpool fans have voiced their concerns on the way Torres has been utilised this season, and the lack of support for him. On his day he is one of the best strikers around but he needs support if he is going to get back on form. Fernando Torres has had a lot of excuses this season but if Hodgson gives Liverpool the freedom to get forward, Torres will not need such excuses.

The fear for Liverpool fans must be that if Roy Hodgson does not change his tactics to suit Fernando Torres, how long can the Spaniard last it out at Anfield. Hodgson needs to look at Sunday’s performance and realise this is the way Liverpool need to play. If he can change the balance of the team to suit this – Liverpool will no doubt be moving up the table in the near future.