I think a lot of Liverpool supporters went to sleep following the abhorrent loss to Wolves at home with one phrase swimming through their confused heads; “He must go now, surely.”
‘He’ refers to Liverpool’s morose and often oblivious manager, Roy Hodgson, a man that came to Liverpool on the back of some decent results for a mid table team. Did the fans want him? Not really. Did the fans force themselves to continue to support their club despite a defective ownership regime and a new manager they didn’t particularly prefer? Yes, absolutely.
But rather than wake up to A) a resounding resignation from Hodgson following his abject failure at the helm of Liverpool Football Club or B) A resolution from the club’s new owners, NESV, to rid the club of its poor performing manager in time to salvage what’s left of the season, fans awoke to finger pointing. And this wasn’t just any old finger pointing that Hodgson has done in the past, like calling out the poor performances of players, blaming his predecessor for all the players at his disposal (blaming his predecessor for pretty much everything that’s gone wrong since he took over, come to that), or blaming the owners for not providing him enough funds to buy useful players. No. This blame was now being shifted to the fans.
In his own misdirected hostility, Hodgson now finds that the source of his managerial ineptitude lies at the feet of the people that pay their hard earned money to watch the team they love. What Liverpool may have lacked for a number of years on the pitch in terms of trophies, they have never lacked in the all out support that the fans give them. While other clubs bay for blood as early as a few games into the season, Liverpool fans have patiently watched their team get worse with each game and yet still not call for the manager’s head wholly and completely. Until now that is.
“Ever since I came here the famous Anfield support hasn’t really been there,” Hodgson noted after the loss to Wolves. Since the fans never wanted him in the first place, and Hodgson has now secured this to be Liverpool’s worst start to the season since they were relegated in 1954, it’s hard to understand why he feels he hasn’t seen enough support. The fundamental point he’s missing is that respect and support is earned, not just given because you show up and claim to be a successful manager. So far as I’ve seen from his past, he has had no real success when it comes to managing at the highest level and winning a number of trophies. No offense to the Swedish league and the Swiss national team, but managing there is not what I consider great achievements in the world of football, and I think Liverpool fans agree.
Many in the media, as well as Hodgson, have constantly used the lack of quality in the side as an excuse for the poor performances, mainly blaming Benitez for below par buys. While this reason can’t be completely discarded, it’s hard to believe that a majority of the players that played in the season securing second place with only two losses is not capable of playing any better than they are currently this season. Although a few of those quality players have left (Alonso, Mascherano), Hodgson deemed it appropriate to bring in players he felt suitable for the club, while also discarding some valuable players at his disposable (Insua, Aquilani). With the exception of Meireles, the dross he’s brought in has only added to the shortcomings Liverpool needed to address, not make worse. There is no doubt the team needed rebuilding after a 7th placed finish, but to get rid of quality players and bring in aging ones was not the way to go. Those decisions must solely rest on Hodgson’s shoulders, despite how much blame he wants to lay on Benitez and even Christian Purslow.
The players most definitely have some responsibility in the way the current season has unraveled, but it’s not the players who make the team selection, or decide the tactics. Both of these football fundamentals have been so abstract and lacking any kind of masterful thought, that it’s a wonder the team’s done as well as they have. Playing Kuyt on the left, Meireles on the right, with no thought for pace or wide play was not the way to win at home against Wolves. Leaving out an improved Maxi and a fit-again Agger only compounded the bizarre team selection. Hodgson is not lacking enough quality to be consistently dropping points the way he has. But even putting results to one side, this system is not how Liverpool play. Deep, long balls searching for one of the best strikers in the world, and, as Hodgson seems to have forgotten, works magic with the ball at his feet, is never going to score you goals. The woeful tactics Hodgson has imposed must be something he can take blame for, if nothing else.
Oh how I wished that Hodgson would stop singing the song of blame about everyone else being responsible for Liverpool’s shambolic state. Instead, I dreamt of him belting out Led Zeppelin’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” before signing his resignation with immediate effect. But alas, it was only a dream and reality wreaked its ugly head in my face as I awoke to the news that he was not only still in charge, but chastising the fans for their lack of support. Face it Roy, it is nobody’s fault but yours that Liverpool are where they are, and the sooner you face that reality and move on from the club, the sooner you might just gain the support of its fans.