The last word on Roy Hodgson’s reign at Liverpool…

By on January 11, 2011 - 16 views

Our resident Liverpool correspondent – Editor of live4liverpool.com – pens the final chapter on Roy Hodgson’s reign…

Former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson was certainly not everyone’s first choice when he was appointed manager of the club back in July. It is fair to say that some were against the appointment from the off, but I feel the majority of Reds fans were at least willing to give the former Fulham boss a chance to prove himself. Even when some were questioning his credentials even just after his appointment, I felt it was necessary to back the manager and offer some evidence that he could well succeed at Anfield given the time. On the opening day of the season, a 1-1 draw against Arsenal with ten men indicated there were signs of promise, but from that very moment, Roy made backward step after backward step.

His signings in the summer were much criticised. The loaning out of players such as Alberto Aquilani and Emiliano Insua, and the signings of Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen, became sticks to beat the new manager with, and it didn’t help when Aqua began to play well for Juve and both Poulsen and Konckesky started their Anfield careers very poorly. The many poor away defeats that followed also began to irritate me and many other Reds fans, but the real bone of contention, came in Roy’s pre and post match press conferences. For a man who has had 35 years in the game, and managed a team like Inter Milan, his comments appeared ill-informed or completely out of step of the mentality of Liverpool Football Club. His words were the biggest contributing factor to many Liverpool fans believing that he just didn’t get the club.

A perception that Roy had a “small club mentality” increased in popularity and it became all too apparent in his post match comments. The fact that he was willing to settle for mediocrity rather than reach for the stars and build the club up like the great Bill Shankly once did, was the main area of annoyance. His “famous victory” quote after the Bolton win irked many, but it was his comments after the Merseyside Derby defeat to Everton that bemused and infuriated me and many others. He seemed to be watching a different game and the standards he expected of his players were way below those expected by the fans. From this point on, my opinion of Roy became more and more negative.

His failure to defend his own players such as when Torres was accused of cheating by Alex Ferguson, his attack on Benitez in an argument he could never win in the fan’s eyes, blaming the size of his squad for being too big or small rather than blaming himself for the poor performances as well as criticising Glen Johnson in public, which is not the done thing by a Liverpool manager. All of these issues, convinced those who were undecided on his appointment in the summer to turn against him and side with those who were not happy with his appointment in the first place. Many were unhappy with the influence of “Championship Manager” Christian Purslow who had removed Benitez and appointed Hodgson. Roy would later reveal that Purslow had given him a list of players he would liked to be sold, but Hodgson turned down his recommendation.

On top of these off the field issues, it compounded problems on the pitch where’s Roy’s initial extolling of the “pass & move” philosophy of the great Liverpool sides of the 70s and 80s, seemed to be totally bogus. A defensive mind set, with no pressing and a rigid 4-4-2 with your best signing (Meireles) playing out of position on the right, characterised Liverpool’s playing philosophy. This style contributed largely to 10,000 people staying away on New Years Day. Such tactics don’t make Roy Hodgson a bad manager, but he was certainly not the right manager for Liverpool FC. A Stand off, covering space, and counter attack strategy was never going to win hearts and minds from a support that was not totally convinced by you in the first place. If the Reds had came out all guns blazing under Roy this season, I would have bet that Hodgson would still be in place now.

That is however not the sort of manager that Roy Hodgson is. I wish him good luck at any other managerial role. People such as Ferguson, Wenger (who said Roy was a “great manager”) and Ancelotti (who learned training techniques from Roy in the early 90s) are not bad judges of character, and they all believe he is a talented coach. His training techniques and tactics are said to have not changed in 35 years in management according to some critics but this is a fallacy in my opinion. I have read and listened to Roy talk many times about tactics and training and he seemed always open to new ideas.

His philosophy just wasn’t working at a club which really needed a man manager rather than another coach. I have no doubt that Roy’s regimented training techniques would have contributed to the general lack of confidence and malaise in the team. The problems at the moment are not entirely technical, but mental, and Kenny is the ideal man to get them out of a rut. I would also never condone some of the personal attacks made on Roy because I believe that fundamentally he was a good man. Kenny Dalglish, a close friend of Roy, said this on his appointment as manager on Saturday: “It’s a great honour to be asked to come back but a man of great dignity and integrity has lost his job.”

And there I think I shall leave it, close the chapter on Roy’s reign, and look forward to the future under Kenny.

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