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Article - Hodgson


charlie clown

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Reading comments from certain quarters of the media you could be forgiven for thinking that currently, Liverpool Football Club might be thinking the unthinkable – sacking its newly-appointed manager after just eight league games in charge. Typically the arguments will be presented along the lines of ‘This is not the Liverpool way’, ‘for the sake of stability all managers need time to really bed in their methods and tactics and a club like Liverpool has made a virtue of that more than almost any other English club over the last five decades’.... the reasons why it is unthinkable will be paraded across the back pages, the phone-ins, the pundit shows and the post-match analyses. And they would be right, it is not the Liverpool way to sack the manager this early into his tenure. Unthinkable indeed.

 

However there is a more than reasonable case to argue that ‘the Liverpool way’ does not apply here. Roy Hodgson was appointed by a regime that any fan or observer of the club would simply not recognise as a custodian of that proud tradition. The Hicks and Gillett stewardship has been one characterised by lies, deceit, broken-promises, in-fighting, undermining of the manager, and insulting and misleading communications with the fans. The Liverpool way – as nebulous a concept as that might be – no longer holds sway, it was ejected from the club at the moment Hicks and Gillett arrived in town. The signs were all there that the club was not being prepared for ongoing success, the decision to not build the new stadium, the continued under-investment in the playing squad and the concurrent ongoing decline in available transfer funds, the increasing reliance on fan loyalty and spending power, rather than achievement on the pitch to guarantee the club’s future all pointed to one think... here was a club that was heading for the position of also-ran, another Newcastle United – big name, big fan base, revolving door managerial policy and little or no success on the pitch. Despite the protestations from the previous owners, the signs were there for all to see, the club under their ownership was being steered away from success in order to make it a ‘franchise’ that ticked over nicely creating a steady and respectable revenue stream – just another business venture, not a hallowed sporting institution with a glorious past and future.

 

No, in short the Liverpool way, was a concept and a way of running the club that no longer applied. Stability and development driven by success on the pitch was no longer an option. Which brings us neatly back to the present incumbent in the manager’s post, Roy Hodgson. Is it right for Liverpool fans to be demanding that he should be sacked? Is it right for the board to be contemplating sacking him? Is it right that certain columnists, pundits and ex-players should be arguing that it is a slur on the club to be even discussing it this early in the season? I think the simple answer is that Roy Hodgson was not brought in to the club under ‘Liverpool way’ conditions, he was a symptom of the old-regime and should be swept out with it. But of course it’s not enough to say ‘Hicks and Gillett brought him so he should leave with them as well’. There will, of course, be many other appointees from that period who have come in and done a sterling job who have every right to remain – at the discretion of the new owners of course.

 

So why does Hodgson need to go? It would of course be easy to point and laugh at his mediocre record in his long career – a trophy or two in Scandinavia, a number of high-profile failures (Internazionale, Blackburn Rovers) and a lot of very mediocre seasons with very mediocre teams containing mediocre players, playing with uninspired, utilitarian tactics. But that is not enough, that is the sort of thing that one would have hoped might have been looked at and noted during the recruitment process (and just in case Roy is removed I would at this point like to say that when I wrote that last couple of sentences, the name ‘Martin O’Neill’ inexplicably leaped into my mind – another one with no credentials for a job like this one – but more on that later). It needs more than a look at Roy’s dull as ditchwater career record. What is it that is making the fans so incensed? Here is a short investigation into the paucity of the excuses he and his supporters use, a look at his failure to represent the club and its fans in an appropriate manner, a brief view of his tactical and team-related failures. Look away now if you are of a sensitive nature . Nine reasons why Roy Hodgson needs to go and go soon:

 

1. The squad. Many of the pundits that are currently making excuses for Roy Hodgson are fixated on one particular aspect of the circumstances in which he is having to work i.e. this is Rafa Benitez’s squad, not Roy’s. The argument goes that it is unfair to criticise Roy when the resources at his disposal are of such poor quality, when his squad is so depleted, when Benitez, Roy’s predecessor, spent so profligately with so few obvious results or benefits. The first thing to say is that, yes, Benitez spent a lot of money. It is difficult to argue otherwise but what is overlooked so often is that most of that money was spent in the first couple of years of his reign, more recently it seems that there has been a ‘sell to buy’ policy which has continuously undermined squad depth and stability. It is also difficult to use the level of spending as an excuse to either support Hodgson or attack Benitez – despite Tom Hick’s post-exit claims that net spending for Rafa was around £150m in total in the three years i.e. in the region of £35m per each of the four seasons he was in charge (the actual net total is around £25m over all of the Hicks years – i.e. around £6m per season – according to detailed research from the Daily Mirror). That amounts to maybe one world class player per season, a few cheap youngsters with potential or bargain basement third choice options because the other players that were at the top of the shopping list were out of reach with budget available. I do not want to turn this into a justification of Rafa Benitez’s record in the transfer market but it does need to be recognised that the squad that Rafa left behind was not necessarily the one Rafa wanted – it was the one he was able to assemble on the (at times very limited) money made available to him. But more importantly, that whole argument makes it sound as if Benitez’s legacy was one of second-rate players with limited ability, no will to win and no long-term future, that Liverpool are a one- (Steven Gerrard) or two- (if he is in form and fitness, Fernando Torres) team. Is this really true? Simply, no, in addition to Gerrad and Torres there is Pepe Reina, a genuine world-class goalkeeper, and then there is a number of players who, if not world class, could in no way be described as ordinary – the tireless Dirk Kuyt was playing in the World Cup Final three months ago, there is Joe Cole, as naturally-talented a footballer as this country has produced in the last couple of decades, Daniel Agger, that priceless rarity – a genuine footballing centre half (significantly, a player more or less sidelined by RH)... the list could go on. This is not a squad lacking in depth or quality (a significant chunk of it formed the core of the team that was runner-up in the Premiership just eighteen months ago), but it is a squad lacking in proper investment from the board. But both the media and Roy Hodgson seem happy to dump that particular problem firmly at Benitez’s door.

 

2. Selection. And here it gets interesting. It is really a continuation of the previous point but needs to be stated separately for a specific reason. I’d like to discuss one particular game. But it’s not the only one where this criticism is appropriate. I just offer it as an example. Cast your mind back a few weeks and you will remember that Premier League Liverpool were beaten in the League Cup by League Two’s Northampton Town, the first time in living memory that Liverpool, whilst in English football’s top flight, have been beaten by a team from the lowest, fourth flight. Accusations and excuses flew, Roy was apoplectic with rage, famously standing in the bucketing Anfield rain forlorn and defeated. One of the many criticisms of the squad selection that night was that it was another indication of the supposed paucity of Benitez’s squad. Go back to that night and remember what the starting eleven was, and then who was on the bench. Gerrard? No. Torres? Nowhere to be seen. Stalwart Jamie Carragher? Nope. Dirk Kuyt then? Or Joe Cole? Pepe Reina maybe? No, no and no. Hodgson’s plan was to start with a second string eleven and then, if that didn’t work, fall back on a handful of inexperienced kids. Hodgson reacted angrily to the defeat. Ranted at his team. Pundits said look what he has to work with! Wasn’t Rafa terrible! I thought differently: what sort of clueless idiot puts out a second string team with no firepower on the bench to rescue the situation if it all goes horribly wrong. Let’s be clear: Benitez wasn’t the one to pick a group of inexperienced and youthful substitutes. Benitez wasn’t the one that gave his true match winners a night off whilst his team suffered the ignominy of defeat to such lowly opponents. Benitez wasn’t the one that left Hodgson with no get of jail card. Those decisions were made by one man and one man only.

 

3. Time. OK – so the next excuse that we get is that Roy is new to the role, new to the club, new to the players, his tactics will need time to bed in, he will need time to build the squad in his own way. The man needs patience! Get off his back! I am now in my fifth decade of watching Liverpool. In that time managers have arrived and left on a regular basis. In each and every occasion there has been an expectation (carried through to fulfilment in more or less every case) that any new arrival in the post would hit the ground running, start as they mean to go on. There has been a lot of media coverage about how this has been the club’s worst start to a season for x (insert your own number here – it seems to change with each passing result) years but one thing is clear, Hodgson’s has been a terrible start, a league table of the first eight games by each of the last eight managers suggests that his is by a long way, the worst.

 

Manager Won Drawn Lost Points

Bob Paisley 6 1 1 19

Kenny Dalglish 4 3 1 15

Joe Fagan 4 2 2 14

Rafa Benitez 4 1 3 13

Graham Souness 4 1 3 13

Gerard Houllier 3 3 2 12

Roy Evans 3 1 4 10

Ronnie Moran 3 1 4 10

Roy Hodgson 1 3 4 6

 

Yes. Look again at that table. One win only. Six points in total. Has he taken over in difficult circumstances? Tell that to Ronnie Moran who took over in the aftermath of Hillsborough. Has he taken on a squad suffering from a record of poor form? Compare that with Roy Evans picking up the pieces from the end of Graham Souness’s disastrous reign. But whatever the circumstances, these managers, for all their faults and foibles, knew how to start winning games. It could be argued that some of the older managers benefited from being part of the continuity of the old ‘boot room’ culture but that excuse was not availability to Houllier and Benitez and their starts were nowhere near as poor. Looking back at Hodgson’s record at his other clubs his is a history of poor starts. The problem is that unlike the other members of the mini-league shown above his tenures have rarely if ever lead to success in the longer term. A slow start in Hodgson’s case seems to be an indicator of ongoing underachievement, a method of lowering expectations, rather than an unsettled bedding-in period which eventually produces fruit.

 

4. Player acquisitions. So how has Roy gone about his start? How is he building for the future? The early acquisition of Joe Cole was generally greeted positively by Liverpool fans. His injury record is not great and the noises about wanting to play centrally rather than on the left where he had spent most of the last few years may have raised slight concerns, but there was a largely positive reception to the news that he had signed for the club. And then came Christian Poulsen. He had played for Hodgson before for Copenhagen in the 2000/01 season. Undoubtedly his form was impressive then, and his career has taken him to some of Europe’s more glamorous clubs – Sevilla and Juventus amongst them. The problem is that for most of the past few years his form and fitness have been questioned at length. His appearances in the Liverpool shirt (as well as his disastrous cameo for Denmark in the recent European Championship qualifying game against Portugal) have spoken eloquently of a player way past his prime. Hodgson seems to have paid for the player he knew a decade ago rather than one failing to do his job in the here and now. Then there is Paul Konchesky (or PFK as he has quickly become known – I’m sure you can work out what the letters stand for without my help). There was genuine concern amongst fans when Roy Hodgson took over the manager’s position at Liverpool that the team would be flooded by his favourites from his previous club Fulham – a squad largely made up of journeymen professionals and not-quite good enough for the top teams hoofers. OK – so the floodgates of that particular tide of mediocrity never swamped us as we feared it might (or at least not yet), but, just to give us an agonising hint of what Roy might be planning for when he gets some real money to spend, we have PFK. To be fair to him, he is OK. To be unfair to him, he should be nowhere near Liverpool’s first team. But this is the standard we all fear we will have to get used to. ‘Adequate cloggers’ I think might best sum up the players we appear to be aiming for. But then. But then. But then he does something extraordinary by buying in Raul Miereles. A proper, top-quality, genuinely talented, skilful footballing player who is at or close to his peak. What happened there? Oh, I see, Roy bought him to play him out of position. To make sure he didn’t use any of that talent, skill or peak fitness. And there’s the policy in a nutshell: buy embarrassing has-beens or adequate cloggers because that’s the level we are now aspiring to, or buy quality but make it look rubbish. I shudder to think what’ll happen if he is ever offered a significant transfer budget to fritter and waste.

 

5. Tactics. Which brings us to the tactics of the man who boasts thirty-five years experience. A walking encyclopaedia of football lore, coaching expertise and knowledge of the game. Or so you would hope. It transpires that what those thirty-five years boil down to is learning how to make do with limited resources. Take a team of limited ability and instil the best method of weathering whatever footballing storms superior opposition might throw at it, hit them on the break and maybe snatch a draw instead of the expected defeat or a win when a draw looked more likely every now and again. But that’s about it. We’re not that great so let’s set our stall out accordingly. Now I am no tactical genius, but even to my limited knowledge it seems that using that same tried and tested formula used to maintain mid-table anonymity or as a tool to help relegation fodder to survive isn’t quite the same one you need to use when you have some of the world’s best footballing talent at your disposal. You might just need to tailor your approach a little differently. It seems that Hodgson has taken almost the inverse approach to his usual one but ended up with much the same results. Where normally he sends out his teams of limited footballing and attacking ability to sit deep and absorb pressure and maybe snatch the odd goal, now he takes a team of obvious attacking ability and well, asks them to sit deep and maybe snatch the odd goal. Different set of criteria, same result. If I was being cruel I would say that he has spent so much of his career having to merely survive with modest means at his disposal that now he has genuine talent at his disposal he is so set in his ways, he has no idea what to do with it. Actually, that’s not cruel, it’s just blatantly obvious.

 

 

6. Englishness. So if all of this is true then why is he still getting a relatively easy ride from the media? This one isn’t quite so difficult to fathom out. Roy is English. Roy is not Spanish. Nor French. He is English. A proper English footballing success story. He guided Fulham, a plucky little English club side to a European final you know. He may not be as lovably roguish as every pundits’ favourite home-grown rent-a-quote dodgy dealer ‘Arry Redknapp, but he garners almost as much unmerited media attention. After the appalling treatment that was dished out to Rafa Benitez about his funny ways of doing things (zonal marking, substitutions timed almost to the (65th) minute, winning the European Champions League, that sort of thing) by Andy Gray and his snivelling cohorts at Sky, it was inevitable that the chance to champion an English manager into the vacant spot was too much for the tabloid mentality to resist. That he has proved subsequently to be completely out of his depth is hardly relevant. He’s ENGLISH! And that’s all that matters! I only hope to God that they (both the media and the club) will have learned their lesson – Roy’s replacement shouldn’t be another domestic dullard with limited experience outside of the foothills of early failure in the UEFA cup and the occasional visit to the exotic climes of Darlington or Mansfield on a domestic cup away day. In short the likes of Hodgson, Martin O’Neill and their ‘over-hyped for no other reason than their ownership of a British passport’ bandwagon is not a strong enough qualification enough for this job.

 

7. Nice bloke. And the other great factor quoted in his favour, and one that up until recently I always thought was true (to my shame) was that Roy is a very nice chap. I/We looked upon him not just as Roy but Uncle Roy. With his avuncular and pleasant tones, the fact that likes to read a book, that he is great friends with almost every other manager and referee. That he helps old ladies across the road. That he rescues baby kittens from trees. That he... forget all this. Read the next couple of points and then we’ll see how exactly ‘nice’ he is.

 

8. Confidence. One of the excuses currently being trundled out to excuse defeat and poor performances is that the team has no confidence. And it is probably true. Take Glenn Johnson, who normally attacks at will and no more than two or three months ago was scoring a glorious goal in an England shirt with an aggressive burst down the right, cutting infield to unleash a long-range shot that curled up into the top corner of Mexico’s net, currently looks like he is afraid of grass. The defence that for the last 7 or 8 seasons has been consistently amongst the two or three most parsimonious in the league now looks like it is offering SOGOF deals. Fernando Torres one of the two or three most feared strikers in world football looks like he has forgotten what a football looks like. So where has this all stemmed from? Defeats. Obviously. But look back at the mini-league table discussed earlier. The other managers all suffered defeats. But there was confidence to win there as well. Even his nearest rival at the bottom end of the table, Ronnie Moran had great wins in there – a 3-0 defeat of Manchester City and a 7-1 trouncing of Derby County. It suggests a belief and a confidence to play open, attacking football even if not everything else was going according to plan. Moran has gone on record as saying of that period "We started to get a few bad results and really we all had to share the blame.” Contrast that with Roy’s supposed outburst after the Northampton Town defeat where the starting eleven were told that they had all lost their places for the next game (subtext – you useless bunch are taking the fall for this one), or the aftermath of other recent games where he has been keen to push the blame almost anywhere than towards himself and his tactics. So it’s no wonder that the team appears to lack confidence, where once a siege mentality took hold at Anfield whenever there was a crisis now it seems the players are on their own because their manager is only wanting to save his own neck and doesn’t care who gets in the way. Which leads us neatly on to....

 

 

9. Representation. And this is perhaps the one area where Liverpool fans are really, really angry. All the other criticisms could possibly be put right given time, patience, honesty, investment and so on. But this is the one where Hodgson is beginning to place unnecessary pressure on the players, to undermine their confidence and, perhaps worst of all damage the reputation of the club itself. The evidence? Fernando Torres gets criticised by Sir Alex Ferguson for a supposed dive to win a penalty in the recent match at Old Trafford. Does Hodgson leap to his star striker’s defence and counter with a diatribe about the ridiculous and repeated theatrics of United’s Nani in the same game? No. He agrees with Sir Alex. And we wonder why El Nino looks short of confidence. The young, inexperienced and new to the club Jonjo Shelvey plays as a late substitute in the Northampton Town game and makes a positive and telling contribution, even if it ultimately doesn’t change the course of the game. Offered an opportunity in the post-match interview to say a good word about the lad who was making his competitive debut, Roy declines – it wouldn’t be appropriate apparently – Roy would much rather slag off the team that praise a youngster who played superbly. The choice: give the youngster a boost or tar him with the same brush as the rest of the shocking display? It’s the tar brush every time for Roy. And even where it doesn’t come down to specific players, the interviews and press conferences seem to be more about respect for the opposition and praise for great performances from the teams that we play against. What is going on? How is a team suffering from a crisis of confidence ever going to feel good about itself if every time the manager opens his mouth we hear nothing but how great the rest of the league is. It’s that cuddly Uncle Roy magic at work again. But over the last few days the whole thing has shifted and taken on a more sinister shift. His inexcusable attack on a Norwegian journalist this weekend was crass in the extreme – alienating not the just the journalist but worded in such a way that he managed to insult two whole countries into the bargain. And moreover, countries where Liverpool have a significant and loyal fan base.... one wonders for how much longer that will be the case with Hodgson’s insensitivity and defensive-aggressive bluster in play. His increasingly bizarre and peevish declamations do this club no justice and make both him and, by association, us, look ridiculous.

 

 

And that’s it really. Liverpool fans don’t expect the earth from their managers. Sure we had fantastic success under Shanks, and Sir Bob, and Joe and King Kenny, we had Houllier’s annus mirabilis and Rafa’s Istanbul game of a lifetime, but we know, we know very well, that these are not the things that count. Not really. For fans of Liverpool Football Club it’s the pride and the defiance, the buying into a mind-set and attitude that says ‘us against the world’, it’s about a legacy, it’s about having an awareness of your history and a hope for the future. Too much has happened to this club for it to ever be about just the winning or just the trophies. Roy Hodgson, in a very short space of time has taken almost all of that away. I am not just arguing that he needs to go because he isn’t doing a good job (but I’ll happily do so), or that I’m worried about where we might end up under his stewardship, it’s more this: he clearly just does not understand what it is to be involved in this club. He doesn’t get Liverpool. And because of that he will never connect with the fans, will never gain any respect or support and may well undermine whatever good work the players or the new owners might do. Stop it before it’s too late. Again, I don’t want to draw a comparison with Benitez but the contrast could not be more stark – Rafa was utterly committed to Liverpool – the city and its people, the club and its fans. He said this was his home, he fought many battles, some of them may have been fought unwisely but he fought them for the club he believed in and the joy he knew he could bring the fans. Roy meanwhile bends over, hums and haas, mutters about respect and bumbles on to the next crisis whilst telling everyone what a great and formidable club Northampton Town is.

 

Get out. Please. Get out now before you cause us serious and lasting damage.

Edited by charlie clown
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Excellent read!

 

I am in exactly the same position that you want to forgive some of uncle roy's tactical and selection misgivings because "he is a nice bloke" and therefore feel he deserves more time to turn things around... however it's becoming more and more obvious that this slump isn't going to correct itself and unfortunately the finger can only be pointed at uncle woy. So I totally agree that Hodgson should not be the Liverpool manager, not because he lacks managerial experience or because I think he is rubbish, but simply because his experience just hasn't equipped him for what is needed as a Liverpool manager unfortunately.

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I know it is all hearsay but it is quite scary that some of ourplayers like Gerrard & Carragher seem to think it is ok and we should give him more time?? our playing style is awful, chances really limited and our mentality beoming that of a below mid table club - how can they honestly feel this acceptable? did they hate a foreign manager that much that they would rather have this rubbish? just wait for the "Gerrard wants to leave because he no longer belives Liverpool can meet his ambitions" stories!

 

I am a Rafa fan, i thought he should never have been sacked for non footballing reasons and the only possible justification was to bring in someone better and then back them in the transfer window. Neither happened. I didn't want Hodgson but hoped he could step up and re-invigorate the team as the media kept claiming he would. That hasn't happened either.

 

For me the main issue is the lack of connection with the club - and by that i mean fans/history/culture etc. to not defend us aaginst his LMA mates is unforgivable as is refusing to stamp on a torres to United question. i'm not sure if he is just too honest or stupid or thoughtless? i've been going for 20 years and never felt such a lack of connection with a manager. It is like he is someone else's manager masquerading as ours. Being a nice bloke that the media fawn over and an average manager for years is not what we should accept as Liverpool manager. I want someone who will kick back at other managers and the FA and the media if they have a go at our club/players/fans not someone who shrugs their shoulders or agrees. I want someone who gets the club and our history and has a winning mentality demanding nothing but the best from our players, working tirelessly to get us back to where we deserve/desire to be.

 

He is not good enough all round and needs to go before we get dragged even further down. there is managing expectations and just lowering them. If he continues with us i can see the media lauding him for narrowly saving us from relegation not highlighting the fact his mediocrity was the major factor getting us into trouble.

 

Regardless of the result tomorrow he needs to go and be replaced by someone who will fight tooth and nail to get us back to the top. Someone who gets the club and will drive us forward regardless of whether it offends the English sensibilities of some of our players.

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Really good. It amazes me that the media are only focussing on the results angle and saying he needs more time but failing to pick up, particularly, point 9 as perhaps the main reason for fans' unrest.

 

Agreed. His comments to the press have been what's pissed me off most. That and then the lack of tactical nous.

 

Doesn't understand the club or position he's in at all.

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that makes it so clear. get out now and take youe media whores with you. it shows the inbuilt jingoism of the media, that they are willing to accept him and still blame rafa for the results. go old man go

 

They've been campaigning for a homegrown manager to get a top job for years, now that Hodgsons here they're going to back him to the hilt and hope he proves their theories of "British managers are as good as any foreigner" correct. If Hodgson goes expect plenty of " he would have turned thing around, he just never got the chance" type articles.

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Remember those stories of Rafa sitting at home with Montse reading up about Shankly and watching DVD of our great 70's and 80's teams? I suspect Roy watches only highlights of his own with Malmo and Finland - a good 10 minutes wirth there, you know. Good post, sad that no member of the Fourth Estate is likely to be as perceptive any time soon.

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Cheers for the good feedback/comments guys - makes no difference if he is stil here though. Today's result makes it even more important that this message gets out there irrespective of the results. Feel free to use it, spread it, stick it out there.

 

You should it to The Echo.....after the next defeat of course ;)

Edited by Lee W
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