Roy Hodgson – The Realist’s Choice

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So after 4 weeks of searching and speculating Roy Hodgson has been selected as the man to succeed the outgoing Rafa Benitez in the Anfield hot seat.

A romantic return for Kenny Dalglish had long been touted as the answer to the clubs current tumultuous state. Although, upon unveiling Benitez’s successor, Chairman Martin Broughton suggested that the legendary Scot had never genuinely been in consideration for a return to the post. The likes of Martin O’Neil, Mark Hughes and big names such as Guus Hiddink and Louis Van Gaal were also linked.

But ultimately, after reportedly consulting people in the know both within and outside the club, it was the experience, know-how and calm persona of Mr Hodgson who won the vote of the board.

Roy Hodgson may have been amongst the favourites for the position from the off, following an excellent 2 and half years at Fulham. But some have greeted the arrival of the well-travelled and vastly experienced Hodgson as something of a meek statement of intent by the club. Or even an acceptance of fate during the difficult times which the club currently face.

However Hodgson possesses all the attributes to be an ideal candidate, both to steer the club through some extremely difficult times, and also potentially in the longer term.

A man walks past a Liverpool club crest on a gate outside the club's Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northern England April 16, 2010. Premier League club Liverpool went up for sale Friday after American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett appointed Barclays Capital to find a buyer. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT SOCCER)

Under the current constraints – most notably a lack of money, the current owners still in place and unfortunately not looking likely to be out of our hair anytime soon, and a lack of genuine options – reality had to be a key component of this search. Perhaps Dalglish could have been the solution to this dilemma. But his lack of front line involvement in football for the last decade or more really would have made that a risk.

Having paid just £2 million in compensation to Fulham, the Reds have got a man who can boast an understanding of the English game and awareness of the values and traditions of Liverpool Football Club. Combined with a wealth of experience, knowledge and tactical ability, gleaned from a footballing education across Europe.

Hodgson is a British manager but without the mentality and limitations of many others. Many have said that the former Inter Milan boss is far more continental in style. This should be well-suited to the football club and the type of player currently in the squad.

‘Journey-Man’ is a phrase often levelled at Hodgson. However, what his nomadic managerial (16 different clubs/countries) existence has given him is a vast experience and exposure to different clubs, players and working environments during 30-odd years in management.

Hodgson upon taking the job that he felt the time was right in his career to take a job like Liverpool. The time is also right for Liverpool to have a man like Hodgson in the hot seat. Stability is a feature which the football club is crying out for and the new manager’s calm, unflustered style and hardworking mentality epitomise it. He is not the sort to get caught up in off-field feuds or media hype and should create the environment for the players to produce their best.

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True, Hodgson’s career has not always been plain sailing. There have been low points, most notably a forgettable spell at Blackburn Rovers in the late 1990’s. Despite this though, the Croydon born man earned his chance at the top and proved at Fulham that he can be a success in the Premier League.

When Hodgson arrived at the West London club in the winter of the 2007-08 season they were in turmoil and seemed little more than relegation fodder. Nobody would have anticipated Fulham would miraculously stave relegation, earn and best-ever 7th place finish and reach an unprecedented European Final in little over 2 years.

It remains to be seen whether Hodgson can translate that formula for success at a higher level. But he has demonstrated that he can achieve relative success against the odds and of course on a limited financial budget. Finances are sure to be tight at Liverpool for the next season at least and so Hodgson’s shrewdness is likely to be another key factor.

Little is expected of the Reds during the coming campaign by most people. This should suit Roy Hodgson. If he can implement a measure of stability on the pitch and in the dressing room, hopefully the mess that is the ownership of the club can be solved in the meantime and stability can be brought to the boardroom as well.

There is little doubt that Roy Hodgson is joining the football club at a hugely difficult and important time. In the immediate aftermath of Hodgson’s arrival former Red John Aldridge claimed that Liverpool are facing their most significant period of transition since the great Bill Shankly took over at the club over 50 years ago. Hodgson is only the eighth man to have been granted the honour to lead the Reds since Shankly and, of course, only time will tell if he can make a success of it. But I believe that with Roy Hodgson in charge the club is in safe hands.

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