This week I spoke to Liverpool fan Dave Usher from The Liverpool Way fanzine and website (www.liverpoolway.co.uk) to answer a few questions ahead of Sunday’s match…
– The Reds have had a number of high-profile players moving in and out of Anfield over the summer. How do you rate Liverpool’s business in the transfer market?
Hit and miss so far. Alberto Moreno and Adam Lallana have definitely added something, Dejan Lovren and Mario Balotelli haven’t had the greatest of starts, while Lazar Markovic has really struggled. Javi Manquillo has been steady and a pleasant surprise and Emre Can looked promising before he got injured. It’s not gone well for Rickie Lambert though, he looks like a man who is trying too hard. He’s in desperate need of a goal to settle him down.
As with any transfer window though, it’s not until a year or sometimes even two that you can judge it with any degree of accuracy.
– Liverpool have clearly got off to a better start than QPR this term. What do fans think of how you’ve done in your opening games, both in the Premier League and in Europe? What do you think is achievable by the end of the season?
We’ve been mostly poor to be honest. We played very well at Spurs and we were ok in some other games, but generally it’s been disappointing. There are reasons for that of course. Losing Suarez was bad enough, but when Sturridge got ‘Hodged’ that really put us behind the 8-ball. Trying to bed in so many new players while having to cope without our two best players was always going to lead to some bumps on the road
We’ve not been good in Europe either, just scraping past Ludogorets and then being beaten by Basel after a really poor performance over there. Still, it’s only Real Madrid next so no cause for alarm
– Any thoughts on the reasons for QPR’s poor start?
Looking at it from the outside I just don’t think you’ve got enough fight in the team. On paper you’ve got a stronger squad than some of the sides down at the bottom but it just isn’t happening. Maybe players are a little too comfortable given the high wages you pay? I might be way off on that, I don’t know enough about it but it’s just an observation. It’s not as bad as the last time you were in the top flight, the players you had back then were largely a disgrace I thought.
– What are your views on Brendan Rodgers? Is he the man to bring the good times back to the Red half of Merseyside?
He’s done well and last season was great, but the test comes now that he’s got to show he can still produce great attacking football even without the man who was arguably the best player on the planet last season. Of even more significance is whether he can finally get the defence to be more secure, as the amount of goals we concede means we’ll never get to where we need to be. So far we look to be even worse than last year in that department, despite spending a fortune on centre backs in the last 12 months.
– How far is this Liverpool side off from being a title-winning side?
Pretty damn far I’d say. We were agonisingly close last year but there were a lot of things went in our favour for us to get there. We had the two top scorers in the country supplemented by Raheem Sterling who was every bit as good as Suarez and Sturridge in the second half of last season, and we had no midweek games to get in the way. We could focus on that one game a week and we got into a groove that almost took us to the title. We can’t do that this year and we no longer have Suarez. Add to that the spending power of Chelsea, City and even United and it’s difficult to see us going that close again any time soon.
– How do you think Rodgers will set up the Liverpool side on Sunday? Who is the Reds player to watch and why?
Well I would have said Sterling until a few weeks ago as he started the season brilliantly. He’s been over played though and has gone off the boil a little. He may not even start on Sunday, especially with Real Madrid coming to town next week. The man in form right now is Lallana, he’s been terrific in the last couple of games and he’s just a joy to watch, so silky and smooth, he just glides around the pitch. Hopefully we’ll have Sturridge back and if that’s the case then obviously he’ll be a big threat to you.
– Historically QPR have often been well-liked amongst opposition fans although this has changed in recent times with our perceived influx of spending power. How do you see the QPR of today?
I don’t have any dislike for the club or the fans and I feel a bit sorry for the owner really. The amount of money that’s been put in should have yielded much more reward than it has, but it just seems like you’ve paid stupid money to the wrong type of players and it’s backfired. It looks like you’ll have a job surviving again unless things improve significantly.
– One thing Liverpool and QPR have in common is a history of boardroom issues in the last decade or so. How does the current Fenway setup compare to the Hicks & Gillett era?
It doesn’t. Not at all. The only thing they have in common is nationality. FSG are running things like a business. They’re not perfect, and the constant hiking of ticket prices shows no sign of slowing down, but they aren’t spending money they don’t have and they aren’t siphoning cash out of the club for projects that never get off the ground (such as ¬£40m spent on ‘architects plans’ to a company that Tom Hicks’ mate owned!).
– Which current QPR player/s do you rate or admire, if any? What about QPR players of the past?
Isla has always looked very good any time I’ve seen him, and I thought Jordon Mutch was one of the most under-rated players in the league last year at Cardiff. He’s a very good player.
As for former players, I wouldn’t say I liked him as he always seemed to do well against us, but obviously Les Ferdinand was a player to be respected.
– What do you make of QPR manager Harry Redknapp? How is his style and approach to management seen by Liverpool fans?
He’s not particularly well liked as he’s seen as being a bit, well y’know, dodgy. I thought he did a good job at Spurs and his teams have always been good to watch, and I’m surprised he’s not done a better job with QPR. I expected you to run away with the Championship last year, so to only just scrape up via the playoffs was surprising.
– Balotelli – ‘legend in the making’ in your eyes?
I’d love to think so but sadly no. I think he’ll do ok, but ok is not enough when you’re replacing the man he has replaced. He’s working hard, which is more than many expected from him, but his style doesn’t seem suited to the role he’s been asked to play so far. His best hope is if he can form an effective partnership with Sturridge as that could help bring the best out of him. They linked up very well for an hour at Spurs but haven’t played together since, so I’m pinning my hopes on him clicking into gear when Sturridge returns.
– Which three teams do you tip for relegation this season?
Definitely Burnley, they can’t score goals and for all their work rate, endeavour and organisation I just don’t think they’ll have enough to survive. As for the other two, it could be any from about half a dozen but I think you may well be one of them, sorry! I’m not sure who the third will be, but I hope it’s Newcastle.
– Score and prediction for Sunday?
I think it will be a very close game as we’re just not playing well enough for me to have any degree of confidence against anybody. If Sturridge plays I think we’ll win, if he doesn’t then the best we’re getting is a point and I wouldn’t even say that with any degree of certainty. If I’m pushed to give a score, I’ll say 2-1 to us I guess.