If there is anything worse than being second at the wrong end of the Premier
League table, it’s… being at the end of that table. It is precisely the
humiliating situation that Liverpool Football Club, as an institution, face
on Sunday, as they set out to face Blackburn – a team which, incidentally,
proved in the past how Roy Hodgson is not up there with the greats.
If the previous board had gone on the Blackburn chapter of Roy’s career –
his club bottom of the Premier League, having taken just nine points from 14
games – maybe Liverpool would have been saved some blushes today. Instead,
they chose to see the glass as half full and went for the Fulham scenario.
What were they thinking.
So where did Roy Hodgson go wrong? Of course, there is no escaping the H&G
argument. Granted, he didn’t have much to work with from the start. But
then, was the situation that bad at Anfield? Roy Hodgson inherited a squad
which was one player short from the most represented club in the World Cup –
Barcelona – and had the most representation of the Premier League as from
This squad, even though it lacked strength and depth in some quarter to
compete at the top for a Champions League place, still had the skill and
talent to be around there. Definitely better than the likes of – with all
due respect – West Bromwich Albion, Bolton or Stoke City. Roy Hodgson was
brought in to elevate Liverpool F.C from 7th to 5th or 4th with limited
means and average players. But again, the question arises: where did Roy
Hodgson go wrong?
That’s the thing. Roy Hodgson did nothing wrong. He only did what he could
do and didn’t do what he couldn’t. He managed to convince the board –
through his previous experience at Fulham and maturity at media handling (as
compared to Rafa Benitez’s stone-cold approach) – that he was the man for
the job. He managed to convince Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay.
He managed to poach one once exciting Joe Cole to Anfield. He managed to
gather a new backroom staff – coaching and medical – when the previous one
left to follow Rafa Benitez. He managed to win over some parts of the media
within weeks of being appointed manager of this illustrious, despite the
team not having played one single game and spared the club some
psychological bashing before the league even started.
But then, there are things he couldn’t do. He couldn’t handle the Javier
Mascherano affair without it turning into some sour soap opera in the media
and costing Liverpool some feathers at Manchester City. He couldn’t put his
friendship – and respect – for Alex Ferguson (no Sir from me, sorry) aside
when quizzed about it by the media, with a Liverpool crest behind him. He
couldn’t chin up and face that same individual when the latter accused
Torres of being a cheat.
He couldn’t figure out a formation and a strategy that would be adapted for
this Liverpool squad with 12 World Cup players, other than the one he used
during his time with “lesser teams”. In front of a difficult and unforgiving
fixture list, he couldn’t figure out what to say to those players at Melwood
and boost them into creating something. He couldn’t do a lot of other
things. And today he can’t realise that last week’s performance against
Everton wasn’t good enough for Liverpool – players, fans, worldwide
institution. Neither was a draw against Napoli last night.
Today, with H&G gone, Roy Hodgson is the man with all the attention on.
Truth is, had the board been a little bit chauvinistic from the start, we
wouldn’t be where we are right now. Roy Hodgson’s C.V speaks for itself: he
was a successful manager abroad. Abroad is the key word here. If people
agree that the English Premier League is the most interesting, competitive,
physically demanding and exciting league in the world, that makes other
leagues – abroad – lesser ones. In that respect, Roy Hodgson, in my books,
never was better than a “lesser league” manager.
The aim was to do better than 7th, not go below. This complete
miscalculation from the former board today is the reason why Liverpool may
be starting Sunday’s game at the bottom of the league table – if West Ham
manage a win. But that doesn’t exempt Roy Hodgson from anything. His refusal
to admit that the job is too much for his shoulders and that he should stop
is the clearest indication that he is the wrong person at the wrong place.
Nothing personal Roy, it’s just a question of standard. You do not see
Anfield like we do. And for this, I, as a Liverpool supporter, have only
this to say: “Roy Hodgson should go”.