Posts tagged: roy hodgson

The King Is Dead, Long Live The King

By , January 13, 2011 2:54 pm

The fortunes of Liverpool Football Club look to be much brighter after the return of one of their legends, Kenny Dalglish. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the club looks set to become successful once again.

Dalglish Returns To Liverpool

After what proved to be one of the worst periods in Liverpool Football Club’s history, the manager that oversaw it all is now gone. And while there are still some, mostly in the media it seems, that believe Roy Hodgson was not given a chance to shine, it was obvious to about 99% of Liverpool fans that his reign had become untenable.

When the news eventually came of his departure, along with the installment of one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players and managers, the future looked bright once again. King Kenny as he is affectionately called by the Liverpool faithful took time away from his vacation to swoop in at the first call from owner John Henry. It didn’t take much to persuade the 59-year-old to take charge of the club for the rest of the season. It is well known he continued to eat, sleep, and breathe Liverpool despite not having been a player or manager there in two decades.

Dalglish’s effect on Liverpool has already been immense. Having been there less than a week, the whole mood around the club has changed. The owners are behind him, the fans are behind him, and most importantly, he is behind the team and the players. What Hodgson lacked (and he lacked a lot), was the ability to unite the football club and the team behind him. His appointment wasn’t a popular one on Merseyside, and the fact that he managed a mid-table team to some mediocre success in the past did not allay any of the fans’ fears he wasn’t the man for the job. It took him six short months to prove this, and a devastating first half of the season is what he left as his legacy.

As a result, the team has been left low on confidence and with less talented players and more deadwood than was at the club last summer. That was not all down to Hodgson, but a lot of it was. He plunged Liverpool into believing it was no more than a mid-table team and expectations of anything grander would never be achieved with a squad like that. It was Hodgson’s belief that given the time and money to put his stamp on the side, he would bathe the team in glory once more. But what glory was he referring to? That of being safely mid-table? That of going into games desiring just not to lose? He proved with his signings, tactics, man-management, and team selection that he was out of his depth. I hate to say it, but I really can’t think of anything positive he left with the club, except his resignation.

The trouble now is that all the damage he did to the club will be difficult to undo before the season ends. If Hodgson thought it was difficult to take a team that previously finished second and seventh in their last two seasons to loftier heights, than the challenge on Dalglish’s shoulders must be far greater. The team currently languishes in 13th place, and if not for the unpredictable nature of the league this season, they may have been in a far worse position.

While I don’t pretend that Dalglish is the long-term answer for Liverpool, he certainly makes for a bright spark to come in and help arrest the club from plummeting further. As he has done through most of his career as a manager, he intends to win by playing football as he used to. I believe that most fans disliked Hodgson not just because he lost, but also because he refused to play in any kind of positive or attractive manner. Many of the players that Roy so rudely alluded to as not good enough and below par, are seasoned internationals and just 18 months earlier, part of a team that finished second in the league and gained one of their highest points totals ever. You don’t do that without footballing talent and skill. These players want to play football, they want to pass the ball from the back, they want to win the ball in the opposition half and attack, they want to move around the pitch with pace and purpose to win football matches.

This is where Dalglish comes in. Despite not having managed for a while, he is a footballing mastermind. Few have achieved what he has as a manager and there is no reason he can’t apply the same ideas he’s always had to a team begging to play attacking, creative football again.

The first two results of his reign have been unkind. What was always going to be a tough game against United at Old Trafford was compounded by the fact that United earned a ghost penalty in the first minute, and Liverpool had Gerrard sent off after only 30 minutes. This not only made the game more difficult, but also exhausted the players for their next match to be played three days later.

Some will be quick to point out that had Hodgson lost these two games, he would well and truly be crucified. But the fact remains that Liverpool fans saw a lot more in these two games than just two losses. The spirit was back, the passing was back, the disappearance of hit-and-hope long balls was back, and against Blackpool, Fernando Torres looked back. They may have lost these two games, but the wins will come if they continue to play in such a manner.

That’s not to say there aren’t criticisms to be made, and Dalglish is just as accountable as any other manager. I believed his team selection wasn’t the best against Blackpool, but then he is trying to discover just what his best team will be. He made substitutions far too late in the game, and that is something I couldn’t take with Hodgson or Benitez for that matter. And to be fair, the team started very well, but petered out in the second half. A lot of that had to do with the previous game at Old Trafford being played with ten men for 60 minutes. Even so, the defense was all over the place at times, and the passing left a lot to be desired.

The team has a lot of hard work ahead of them, and when I say the team, I refer to the players, Kenny Dalglish, Steve Clark, Damien Comolli, and John W. Henry. No one expects success overnight, and it may even be a season or two before Liverpool are back to their best. What’s important now is the progress the team makes from here until the end of the season when they will have time to further assess where the club is at on all fronts.

Unlike the previous manager, the belief that the future looks good for Liverpool is back. While they may be facing a difficult time in the here and now, and the media continues to be unsupportive of Liverpool, their fans, and their future, those that understand the club will know what lies ahead. So as one manager and era comes to an end, let the next begin with nothing but hope in our hearts and the king back on the throne.

You’ll Never Walk Alone, But It’s Time To Walk Away

By , January 6, 2011 6:39 pm

This article will also appear on Well Red Magazine

Where Did It All Go Wrong For Roy Hodgson?

There’s not much more that can be said in regard to Roy Hodgson and Liverpool. At least from the point of view of the fans and the writers that know and understand Liverpool Football Club well. For those outside of it, however, perhaps they need to hear it all again. It seems that in spite of facts, statistics, and obvious fan revolts, the media continue to believe in Roy Hodgson and feel, most of all, that he has been treated completely unfairly by those who love the club he is in charge of. What is unfair is the treatment those around the club have received and the constant notifications of how we don’t know what we are talking about. Oh that’s right, fans have only been eating, sleeping, and breathing the club since most were too young to even totally understand the game. But hell, what do they know?

It’s bad enough that the fans have had to live through the poor results, and even worse, the awful performances this season without being told how disastrous the squad is or that it’s really none of Hodgson’s fault that the club is in the mess it’s in. It’s Benitez’s fault of course. Why didn’t I think of that? It has to be Benitez. He’s the one that took Liverpool from an underachieving top four team to two Champion’s League finals (winning one), consistent top four finishes, and runners up just two years ago. It must have been all those dreadful players he bought and managed so atrociously to achieve those accomplishments, all of which weren’t good enough at the time, but Hodgson’s current record of seven wins in 20 games is of course by far the better record. I abhor using sarcasm to make a point, but it seems that the media has left us with little else since they refuse to look at the facts.

Here’s a fact for you, reported following what was another disastrous defeat to Blackburn. Kenny Dalglish has won more trophies than Hodgson has won away games in all his time managing English sides. While this kind of statement may be superfluous, it’s certainly a very glaring observation about the lack of success Hodgson has had, not just at Liverpool, but also anywhere in his career. The fact he hasn’t won any major trophies should be proof enough that he was never good enough for Liverpool. Whatever the media decide their opinion is about Benitez, one thing you can’t discount is the trophies he’s won, in a much shorter-lived career than Hodgson.

For those who tuned in to the Blackburn game yesterday, many of whom must have watched on TV because the traveling support barely attended (I wonder why?), they would have noticed two things. First, the staggeringly abominable performance churned out by the team on the pitch. Although, even before seeing that, some might have noticed that the lineup was altered quite a bit to the previous game against Bolton. To the nascent viewer (the English media in particular when it comes to Liverpool), this wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary, but to those who watched the much improved performance against Bolton, it begs the question of why mess with a system that worked quite well a few days earlier? That game involved one of the better performances of the season, and just happened to have Gerrard in the middle, and Agger at the back. The team pressed higher and Agger was in the opposition half attacking more often than not. Subsequently, he was once again left on the bench against Blackburn, perhaps he was deemed “too offensive.”

The second thing one may have noticed watching the dross against Blackburn was the vomit-inducing rhetoric spewed forth from the commentators. Throughout the match, as Liverpool played worse and worse, and Hodgson looked his usually clueless self on the sideline, they continued to back him. They believed it was all down to the disaster Benitez left in his wake over the summer, and that none of the current tactics, players, or system out on the pitch was at all because of Hodgson. And even more damaging was their refusal to point out his mistakes in the past, most notably with his time at Blackburn, where he did a Benitez by leaving the team in such poor shape that the following manager was left with a relegation battle. Only difference is, Hodgson isn’t blamed for that failure like Benitez is being blamed for Liverpool’s. All that was mentioned was that he led Blackburn to 6th place. What also wasn’t mentioned is the fact that Fulham are now in a terrible state since his departure. Surely it must be his fault, as Liverpool’s failings are Benitez’s? The media doesn’t seem to think so.

The British media have accepted Roy Hodgson’s dopey nice-guy act as genuine, and therefore he remains untouchable despite his obvious deficiencies as a football manager. The constant lowering of expectations hasn’t helped, and for some reason the media keep buying into it. After the Wolves defeat, he cynically said, “If fans are going to expect to [beat the bottom-of the league team] that’s very dangerous. If they’re going to do that they’re going to be in for a lot of disappointments.” Hodgson clearly lives his life in disappointment by never approaching anything with positive intentions and expectations. He may choose to live his life in this manner, but Liverpool fans want, and deserve, better.

For all the comments surrounding the current Liverpool manager, with many that could be construed as nasty or derisive, I don’t think anyone believes he’s an evil man. He’s just a man who blindly believes in himself, despite the outward results proving he’s not up to the position of manager at a club like Liverpool. At the end of the day, I hope he moves on from Liverpool with a deeper understanding of the game and takes the (harsh) lessons he’s had to learn in his short time in charge to better himself as a manager. For all the fans’ disappointment and anger vented toward Hodgson throughout the first half of the season, we can only wish the man well. And for all his obvious inadequacies as a manager, his glaring negativity and nigh on spiteful reactions to criticism and his own team’s fans, it’s only right to remind him that he’ll never walk alone, but perhaps now it’s time to just walk away.

The Blame Game

By , December 31, 2010 12:50 pm

Hodgson Can't Help But Blame Everyone Else For Liverpool's Woes

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.

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