There are many ‘fan-groups’ that state as their aim that they want to run the club. It is days like today that makes me pray to God that that will never happen because the club will further descend in to sensationalist, knee-jerk decision making and hypocritical double standards.
Today, Roy Hodgson left the club by mutual consent. Kenny Dalglish has been put in charge until the end of the season. This is an appointment which seems to have no basis other t.han sentimentality. Fans are hoping that a man who has been out of management for over 12 years possesses the magic wand that Liverpool fans seemingly expected Roy Hodgson to have.
The treatment of Roy Hodgson by the majority of Liverpool fans has been disgusting. From day one he was subjected to disrespect, personal and professional denigration. Ever since his reign has begun there has been a huge groundswell of lies, negativity and misinformation made by some of the deliberately destructive elements around the club.
The problem now is Liverpool, like most clubs have fans with an extremely short-termist ‘I want it now’ attitude. This means that long-term thinking, which is what’s required to have any real and lasting effect, isn’t an option anymore. Quick fixes are the order of the day.
So with Hodgson gone, let’s look at some of the criticisms of his reign.
Too Old: This is a good example of some of the double-standards I’m talking about. Hodgson was 62 when he was appointed. So, he’s no spring chicken. The fans said he was too old for the job. I’ve not met one Liverpool fan who wouldn’t want Guus Hiddink as manager. Hiddink is older than Hodgson. So if Hiddink’s not too old for most fans, how can Hodgson be? Also, Kenny Dalglish turns 60 soon so he’s not exactly youthful either.
Post-Match interviews: This is a source of contention for many Liverpool fans. Hodgson is not a man who criticises his team or players publicly. He’s just not that kind of man.
I remember a comment on one of my posts earlier this season about Hodgson was a criticism that he didn't attack Man United over the Wayne Rooney saga. The comment seemed to suggest that taking pot-shots at rival teams was part of Hodgsons job. I totally disagree.
Maybe his biggest failing was that he didn’t pander to the more tribalistic fans. This is something that Alex Ferguson does very well, ditto Wenger and Mourinho. Benitez did it too. One man who doesn’t do it is Kenny Dalglish, so it will be interesting to see if any of the same criticisms come his way.
Performances on the pitch: This season has been poor undoubtedly. Hodgson has made mistakes too. However, most fans seem to forget that we were atrocious last season too. Poor performances are not just limited to this season.
Hodgson took over a team where morale was through the floor. By all accounts some of the club’s major stars were a factor in the dismissal of Benitez as it was a ‘he goes or we go’ situation. Hodgson hasn’t been able to lift the team who look like they’re going through the motions at present, and have been out-battled far too many times this season.
Torres has looked badly off-form and unfit, but due to there being no viable alternative to him, he has had to play through it. Gerrard’s body language on the pitch has been terrible all season and Pepe Reina, who only signed a contract last summer, has been making noises about leaving all season.
The defence: In recent games the defence has been shambolic. In the Blackburn game, I only counted one chance Blackburn had that didn’t come from one or more of our defenders failing to execute a basic skill.
Glen Johnson cost the club £18m and is reportedly on a £120k-per-week contract. He also cannot tackle, head the ball, mark an attacker or read the game as he is constantly caught out of position. He was responsible for two of the Blackburn goals and had a part in the third.
Similarly, Martin Skrtel, another experienced international, has been abysmal recently. He was atrocious against Newcastle and poor again against Blackburn. Add to that his own goal versus Tottenham and you have yet another player badly out of form.
Kyrgiakos for the first time in weeks has competition for a first team place from the now-fit Daniel Agger. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this would spur him on and he would be going all out to try to ensure that he doesn’t lose his place in the team. That’s not happened. Instead he’s been making elementary mistakes that have cost the team goals. Blackburn’s first goal came as a result of him mistiming a leap for what would have been an unmarked header from a corner and Blackburn broke down the field and scored. The second goal came when decided he was involved in a Greco-Roman wrestling match rather than football as he was so intent on trying to outmuscle Benjani that he wasn’t even looking at the ball up to the point that it hit the net.
The vast majority of the goals Liverpool have conceded recently have come from schoolboy errors from experienced players. They are not as a result of tactics or the way the team was set up. I don’t see how it is fair to blame Hodgson for experienced international players defending like players who’ve never played football before
Another worrying thing is the amount of aimless long-balls that Liverpool play from the back. I doubt this was an instruction from Hodgson as the team isn’t set up to deal with them, i.e. we don’t have a target man to win long balls, so it just becomes another way to waste possession. The headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow is probably better in the air than N’Gog so hoofing long balls to him is pointless.
Away Form: Yes, this seasons away form has been appalling, with only win so far. However, last season Liverpool only managed 5 wins on the road, scoring only 18 goals and 4 of those came against a Burnley team with nothing to play for. So Liverpool’s poor away record isn’t just limited to this season.
Signings: Hodgson was pilloried by fans for his signings. It cannot be iterated enough that Hodgson had his hands tied in the transfer market from when he came to the club. He arrived after the summer transfer window was open and a lot of deals were already done. There was little to no money available for him to spend initially on bringing in players, and it was only when Mascherano forced his way out of the club that Hodgson had some money to play with and even then, as it was at the end of the window, it was a case of having to get who was available rather than being able to pick and choose.
As for his signings, Raul Meireles looks to be a really good player so far. The big problem is that Gerrard and Lucas seem to be the preferred partnership in the middle so Meireles has had to play out of position a lot.
Paul Konchesky is what he is, a solid, if unspectacular left-back. His signing, right at the end of the transfer window, was received with derision but fans are forgetting two important points about his transfer. Firstly, Liverpool needed a left-back. Emiliano Insua, who had struggled badly the previous season, had been almost air-brushed out of the club’s history; he didn’t appear on any of the squad lists and he didn’t even have a squad number. Daniel Agger had filled in at the start of the season, but a proper full-back was required. Secondly, Liverpool needed home-grown players to fulfil the Premier League squad rules; otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to name a full squad. This was why Brad Jones was signed.
So Liverpool needed a home-grown, Premier-League ready left-back that was available on the last day of the transfer window. My question to the Konchesky haters is, who else was available that met those criteria and could slot immediately into the team and wouldn’t cost the earth?
Similarly, Christian Poulsen has been vilified from the beginning. He’s not Mascherano, so it isn’t realistic, or fair, to compare the two. As with all foreign signings, he needs time to adjust and adapt to the Premier League. Liverpool’s record with and without him in the team is surprisingly in Poulsen’s favour.
I will be posting something soon to demonstrate why I believe that Liverpool fans have got Christian Poulsen all wrong.
The other reason why these signings have not been well received is that they are Hodgson’s signings, because Benitez never put a foot wrong in the transfer market did he?
Attacking play: Hodgson was criticised for not being attacking enough at the start of the season and it was a fair criticism, he got it wrong. He listened however, and switched to a more attacking formation and the team had far more shots since this change and had far more possession in recent away games.
Lack of width: This is something that Hodgson has been criticised for but this is down to the paucity of options in the squad. The usual options are Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez, both of whom haven’t any pace to beat defenders and both of whom are playing badly. Kuyt’s form has been terrible all season and Maxi seems to have gone into hibernation, putting zero effort into recent performances. Other than those two, there’s Joe Cole, who’s not a natural wide player and is only tentatively getting his form back, Milan Jovanovic, who is collecting a lot of money to do nothing and Ryan Babel, a man who is completely unreliable. That’s about it. Other players have been tried there but with little success. In fairness, the formation that Benitez liked to use had no real use for wingers, so it isn’t a surprise that the squad wasn’t exactly full of them
He wasn’t Benitez : There was a real split in the fanbase at the end of last season between those fans who thought it was right that Benitez should go and those who still believe the sun shines out of his arse and won’t hear a word against him. That meant that there were a lot of fans who would have been against whoever came in as manager.
While as the manager, Hodgson has to take overall responsibility for the bad results this season, very few of them have directly been his fault. Events on and off the pitch have conspired against him from day one and he has not had the support of the fans or of the players.
I sincerely hope that it works out for Kenny Dalglish as manager. The consequences of it not working are too terrible to think of. Being Dalglish he should enjoy the total support of the fans, something Hodgson didn’t, and I can only hope he gets the time and opportunity to succeed that Hodgson didn’t.
However, if King Kenny fails, who will the fans blame then? Will they accept if the team doesn’t improve that it wasn’t down to Hodgson? That maybe their lord and master Benitez didn’t leave them with the outstanding squad that they believe he did?
Often in life the difficult thing to do is often the right thing to do. It was easy to remove Roy Hodgson, difficult to accept that this is a transitional period and that the squad needs to be revamped from being awash with overpaid mediocrities to a team hungry for success and willing to work for it.
Only time will tell if this was the right decision. I for one, think this is a sad day for Liverpool.