Warning bells toiled just 8 days into the birth of a new season. Roy Hodgson flashed the first hint of unsuitability as several Liverpool forums went into meltdown. On the eve of a clash against Manchester City, he publicly stated, “I hope we don’t get beaten 6-0″.
A chin rubbing Hodgson, seemingly displaying tactical nous on the touch-line, later saw his charges comprehensively outclassed by a Tevez-inspired side to go down 3-0, in what was the biggest beating by City since 1937.
Renowned for taking Fulham from the brink of relegation to an inch away from lifting the Europa League trophy, Hodgson had much to prove at Anfield. This was arguably his biggest job in his 35 year distinguished career. However, his defiant insistence on using tactics central to mid-table clubs accelerated the club towards the foot of the Premier League table, with fans fearing the stark possibility of relegation.
Hodgson, still unrepentant, claimed, “Unbelievable. What do you mean by that? In 35 years, how many clubs have I had? What do you mean do my methods translate? They have translated from Halmstads to Malmo, to Orebo to Neuchatel Xamax, to the Swiss national team, so I find the question insulting. To suggest that because I have moved from one club to another, that the methods which have stood me in good stead for 35 years and made me one of the most respected coaches in Europe don’t suddenly work is very hard to believe.”
This was met with contempt from the supporters, with patience wearing thin as Hodgson continued his defeatist mentality and his reluctance to embrace ‘The Liverpool way’.
His remarks soon took the back-seat, as fans’ focus shifted onto an ongoing civil war brewing within the Anfield hierarchy. With a 3-2 majority, the English directors of Christian Purslow, Ian Ayre and Martin Broughton sought to sell the club into the hands of another pair of Americans.
Hicks and Gillett, still wrestling control for the club, sought to remove the directors who placed their ownership under threat. In a bizarre turn of events, Liverpool’s owners and directors found themselves at odds in a High Court in London, where the world’s media cast its eyes upon.
With the clock ticking against Liverpool, and running just 4 hours on the brink of administration, the door finally slammed on the former owners and welcomed the Fenway Sports Group, headed by John W. Henry, to the cheers and hurrahs of rejoiced fans from pole to pole.
There was initial fear and skepticism seeing that the club had traded like for like, but as weeks and months passed, these fears were eased as John W. Henry and FSG displayed touches of humility, warmth, and a sense of restoring the club to its rightful place – English and Europe’s best.
Hodgson, initially promised time to rectify the errors which had cost Liverpool dearly, knew he was on borrowed time. Though John Henry and FSG pledged their faith in the manager, it was clear they wanted their own man to herald a new era for Liverpool, seeing as Hodgson and Liverpool weren’t a match made in heaven.
Fans bombarded phone-ins and placed relentless pressure on the new owners to relieve Hodgson of his duties. Unfathomable results that showed no sign of consistency further acclerated the inevitability of his fate.
As new year ticked, his inenviable records included:
1) First loss to Stoke in 26 years
2) First loss to Blackpool since 1967
3) Second ever loss to Wolves at home in 60 years
4) Worst winning percentage for a Liverpool manager since 1959 at 41.38%
5) First ever loss in Liverpool’s 119 year history to fourth division opponent (Northampton Town)
The last straw came, as the owners’ patience snapped on January 6, 2011. Liverpool had just slumped to a 3-1 defeat away at Blackburn Rovers.
2 days later, and thousands of miles away, Kenny Dalglish was holidaying on a cruise with his wife in the Persian Gulf. It was a text message which had a plea to answer Liverpool’s emergency call.
And the rest was history…
This article was also published on my blog here.