By Jamie Scott
“Judge me after 10 games” Roy Hodgson September 2010. 7 games into the league season and we find ourselves 3rd from bottom and after the events of Blackpool ,with fans calling for “Dalglish, Dalglish” im left judging him now and wondering where it is all going wrong for Roy in the league.
On July 1st 2010 Liverpool football club appointed Rafael Benitez’s successor Roy Hodgson. The 62-year-old former Fulham, Inter Milan and Switzerland manager had agreed terms with the club on a three-year contract and became the 18th manager in Liverpoo’ls history. Hodgson had been appointed ahead of Fan favourite Kenny Dalglish to take over at the helm and his appointment was greeted with optimism and a belief that he may be able to re build, what was believed to be a stale and frustrated squad. “In Roy we trust” fans openly stated, although many had reservations about a man who, at the age of 62 and with over 30 years managerial experience had never been manager of a top premier league club, this is the question that left us all wondering why he had been appointed. Players and pundits praised his appointment as promising but some of us still had reservations that we probably kept to ourselves, however in true Liverpool style fans got behind the man and gave him the support he would need.
Pre Season for the new gaffer proved to be a frustrating one on the pitch, with players futures in doubt, a friendly called off in July for a waterlogged pitch, players arriving a different times due to the world cup and of course the ongoing saga of running the club. Off the pitch I think Roy proved his worth at the time. He was able to secure the signing of Joe Cole, which was regarded as the coup of the summer, he managed to secure the commitment of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. However a certain Javier Mascherano delivered the first chink in Roys armour when he refused to return his calls, which Roy openly admitted, and subsequently handed in his transfer request. The fact that a senior player would not talk to a new manager and the desperation in Roy’s voice when he explained he had tried to contact one of our best players and he was not interested showed that perhaps Roy may have been perceived as a push over by some and did not demand the respect as a manager should.On the pitch pre-season was dull and frustrating as we failed to score a single goal in any friendly matches, although we advanced in Europe I began to wonder if this was a manager simply adapting to life at a new club and the players adapting to his style or was he already out of his depth?
Once our opening game came around our performance against Arsenal was OK it was nothing special though, although the players appetite seemed to have returned and the commitment was 100% especially when we were down to 10 men we seemed to lack a killer instinct and were too negative at times. Perhaps that was due to having 10 men. We were unfortunate to only get a draw and despite the fact our performance was not dazzling we were given reason to believe in Roy.
The week leading up to the Manchester City game we were hit with the headlines that Masch had refused to play for us again. This was the 2nd big chink in Roys armour. If the rumours are correct and I suggest they are judging by other players comments, Roy showed that he could be pushed around. He simply could have let him rot in the reserves and sent a clear message to the other players. Instead he left him out of the city game and allowed him to leave on the cheap. A player who a season ago had been the subject of a 30 million plus offer from Barcelona. Poor business. By allowing this to go on Roy sent a message to the players that they could basically do what they wanted and they would go unpunished, some much for contracts. Against City we simply did not turn up whether this was to do with the Masch situation is open to debate, I believe that tactically we were devoid of ideas and had no desire to perform. In short Roy had gone for a bore draw and it had backfired.
We then laboured to a victory over West Brom, where we looked nothing like the home team. We were sloppy and fortunate, Martin Skrtel was lucky not to conceded 2 penalties. However a win is a win and again we looked on with renewed optimism. That optimism was then turned into frustration again when we went to Birmingham and scraped a draw, for Roy to say we played well. Actually Roy Pepe played well and got us that point. If that was playing well I would hate to see what playing badly was. Roy was quickly and easily looking more out of his depth, tactically again we were devoid of ideas and were only looking for a draw. The trip to Old Trafford was up next, a game that should have had everyone up for it. Again we looked devoid of attacking ideas and despite getting back into the game, only Gerrard should take the plaudits for this, we looked happy to take the point and sit back only for united to take full advantage. In truth we sat back at 2-2 and Roy again would have settled for a draw. 7 days later and at home we were fortunate again to come away with a point. Away we looked worse than we have ever done and at home we had lost the invincibility we had created and this was echoed in the subdued atmospheres at Anfield on match days.
In between these games Roy has had time to bring in his own players. Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen have arrived and have shown nothing to prove that they will ever deliver for this team, Lucas Leiva has been bombed to the bench and could do a better job than Poulsen. Martin Kelly would be a better fit at left back. Roy could have saved some money on players that I doubt would be wanted anywhere else. Brad Jones has been brought in and the question to that is why?? Raul Meireless looks like he will be a player but needs to play in the centre, but Roy wants to play him out wide. Danny Wilson has been brought in but his chances have been limited to one league cup appearance at left back, he is a centre back Roy. What about a striker Roy. We were clambering around on transfer deadline day to buy a striker. Instead of wasting efforts on Konchesky, Jones and Poulsen, another striker should have been a priority. Hodgson had 3 months to bring in a striker, the money was clearly there we just wasted it on players that were not needed and good enough. Carlton Cole is not the answer in January either, we need quality and I do not think Roy will deliver. Roy’s blunders in the market have not ended with the incomings, Alberto Aquilani has been allowed to leave reducing our midfield options and you have to feel sorry for him he was never given a chance, Albert Riera, whatever you may think of him, was a wide left player had ability and could do a job, Emiliano Insua has gone too, id rather see him play instead of Konchesky, and a host of promising youngsters have gone too. Roy also said everyone would get a chance, we have had perfect opportunities to play the likes of Pacheco, Wilson, Babel even Jack Robinson but haven’t. Roy doesn’t seem to have faith in them but has faith in Poulsen etc.
That brings us to the debacle that was yesterday. You have to give credit to Blackpool and wish them well, they were very efficient as we were inefficient. We did not deserve to win, first half again we had no attacking idea, and were made to pay. To use losing Torres to injury is a disgrace on Roy’s part for even suggesting it had an impact. We simply were not good enough and tactically we were a shambles and the manager should take full responsibility for this. If only Roy and some of the team displayed the passion and heart as Soto did yesterday we may not be in this mess. Soto doesn’t have the ability as most but makes up for it with his heart and commitment. Roy should learn from this and drum this into the likes of Poulsen who already look like passengers in the team.
No longer can we use the club ownership as an excuse for our problems on the pitch. Although I like everyone else wants rid of the cowboys. We are devoid of initiative, tactics, motivation and belief. All of that is down to the manager. He and the players have called for patience but that is something we cannot have. We have had patience and now find ourselves in a relegation dog fight, with only 7 games gone and our next 4 games are not easy. Maybe im jumping the gun but we have to be realistic. Our league form is imperative modern day football dictates we need champions league football to compete, but first we need to get their with our league form. If I’m being honest Roy Hodgson is not up to the job of managing this great club, he does not seem to have the tactical ability, inspiration, transfer market knowledge and more importantly I don’t believe the players believe in him. Last time we were at the bottom of the league a certain Bill Shankly was in charge, sadly Roy is not Shanks. At Liverpool we say You’ll Never Walk Alone, I think Roy should do the honourable thing and walk away and admit hes not up to the job. If he doesn’t I fear like Greame Souness he will leave the club walking alone leaving the next manager to pick up the pieces.