So the not so well kept secrect that Roy Hodgson is the man to replace Rafa Benitez as Liverpool’s manager is finally and officially out in the open, as the former Fulham man was unveiled to the press and public today, sat alongside temporary Chairman Martin Broughton.
Whether you were someone that wanted Hodgson from the moment Rafa started to clear his office, or whether you were someone more like myself, that certainly didn’t have Roy in the number one spot of my somewhat reasonable list of possible candidates, the waiting is over and the man is here. Like Liverpool fans are known throughout the game for doing, Im sure that regardless of your opinion as to whether he was the right candidate or not, your support will be there behind both him and the team as this new era at Anfield starts to evolve. In time I hope that level of support given develops into extensive respect for achievement seen and effort committed, made more special under a new ownership.
Hodgson for me carried himself very well under the first glare of the press in the Red of Liverpool, a man certainly media savvy and one with good intelligence used in everyday life as well as round the beautiful game. His answers given were nothing more than they were possibly expected to be but they were delivered in a way that presented a sign of hope and light moving forward, even if not the immediate change that we would all crave in an ideal world. It was complete desperation sat in front of us but a man sure in his own abilities.
Martin Broughton sang his praises in appropriate style and was quick to emphasise the length of the decision making process and the reasons behind it, as well as make it very clear that Kenny Dalglish wasn’t and was never going to be a consideration as a candidate for the job at hand but that he had thrown his name in the hat as commitment to the cause. That will sit well with some Reds but not with others.
The sale of the club was touched on in parts and the response from Broughton showed that there was some movement expected on the horizon but little to talk about at present, a sale prior to the end of the current transfer window being more of optimism and hope than calculated or expected conclusion. His comments did kindly dispel, whether to his knowledge or not, the recent exclusives on Kop Talk citing rejected offers and and tabled bids from Dubai and the Middle East, which is appreciated.
The questions will eventually fade in to the background regarding Hodgson’s appointment and whether it was the right one or not, for now anyway until results and performances start coming back from the pitch, which is primarily what any manager sinks or swims by. In the meantime, it will be all matters “transfer” that grab the headlines and whether Hodgson’s intelligence can be shown against a limited budget unless sales occurs, which would mean big name exits if the press are to be believed.
Before Roy had even been officially appointed, the speculation was surging in as to where his purchases were likely to come from, a mixture of new names and recently linked ones provided the headlines, along with a raid on his former club which he later dispelled as an option. It is fair to say that, that list of potentials is going to grow and change over the coming days as anyone of a level, thats not playing week in or week out is probably going to hear they could be off to the new regime at Anfield.
In reality the list of potentials is somewhat smaller and more precise, a much smaller few will fit the playing style of Liverpool unless it is to be drastically changed by Hodgson. Some sources associate Hodgson with a £15m kitty plus player sales, where as others are closer to player sales alone. Either way that reality will ensure that it is players with a point to prove in their careers for one reason or another that find their way to L4 as opposed to the likes of David Silva that the Manchester City’s of this world continue to court week in and week out and in abundance.
Liverpools problem positions are well documented and even more well exposed last season but I see the likes of Stephen Ireland, Scott Parker, Shaun Wright Phillips, Joe Cole and Wayne Bridge being more initial realistic targets on Hodgson’s radar than some of the up and coming stars of World Football, even if the likes of Milner, Ozil, Sanchez and Coentrao are more exciting prospects to the global audience that is our fan base. In reality some of these names are far more logical that they appear at first glance, players fallen from the top of the tree in some ways, or passed over, keen to be the household names again or for the first time, strengthen the existing squad they would and retain a british element to it which FIFA are just a little keen on.
Liverpool have not become a collection of bad players overnight, confidence has shattered them and left them disorganised and scared to make another mistake, we still boast a squad two thirds of the Premier League would like to boast in the majority, that was well presented at the World Cup and has the ability to go on to greater things again. Even a transfer kitty of £10m, plus a fee of around the £40m mark for alleged want away Mascherano and the fallen from grace Riera would give a platform to rebuild quickly and effectively from with seasoned professionals that are available on the market, increase that with a further £6m-£8m if Benayoun cannot be convinced to see how green the grass can be at Anfield. Hodgson is going to have options in that kind of scenario, its who he brings in that will be define some of his future. If the stars stay, then the tactics change.
Early conversations with the likes of Steven Gerrard and where he intends to lay his hat will continue to influence others already on the playing stuff and those considering joining it, reports grow that he and Torres are more and more likely to be going nowhere, at least for another season. A negative outcome in this area could see a whole different set of circumstances present themself with little time to remedy them before the gates are thrust open to welcome Arsenal on Day 1 . Hodgson may well even prove to have the personal skill sets to get the most out of the potential held within Aquilani and Babel to name but two, that was seen in no more than fleeting bursts at best under Rafa. Either way with the new man at the helm, Id be amazed if this pre-season friendly schedule delievered the same lifeless performances that set us up so badly last year, hopefully a side that was so evidently mourning the loss of Alonso this time last year does not have cause to do it all over again for someone else.
Hodgson has a far better situation, playing side of the club, than many outside of it care to credit but despite the positives that can be taken in many places before a ball is even kicked and the support that will be delivered by the clubs loyal fanbase, we have a long way to go before IRWT starts taking on an entire new meaning. A work in progress we continue to be.