Every year in Pamplona, Spain, thousands of people are chased through the city’s streets by herds of 700kg wild bulls. Nervous competitors wait in the streets and are alerted to opening of the bull’s gate by the launching of a rocket and then by a subsequent one when the bulls exit the gate; their cue to start running.
The route snakes through the city beginning with a climb up Santo Domingo and across to Ayuntamiento Square before descending to Mercaderes, followed by the most dangerous part of the run, a closed curve leading into the longest stretch of the run, Estafeta.
The final section is the Dupue de Ahumada also known as the Telefonica stretch. This is a very risky part of the race as it leads to a dead end street and access to the Bull Ring.
Lately Roy Hodgson must feel like his managerial career at Liverpool is akin to taking part in a bull race, with him being the only contestant with hordes of angry fans chasing and baying for blood.
Even the route of the race mirrors Hodgson’s reign, consisting of ups and downs and a prolonged stretch, ultimately leading to a dead end with only one escape.
A resounding defeat to Stoke at the weekend has further cemented fans’ opinion over the suitability of Hodgson as Liverpool manager.
The team showed little drive, creativity, intensity or the tenacious desire required to win what is for even the best of squads, a tough fixture. The team was outplayed and outfought and the score-line was probably flattering to Liverpool, who deserved to lose by more.
On a personal note, it was probably the worst I have ever seen a Liverpool first XI play during my time following The Reds.
People may point to the fact that play Stoke at the Britannia is a difficult game for any travelling side but the issue that will grate with most Liverpool fans is that they never even looked close to winning the game.
It was more of the same displayed in the previous game at Wigan. After Liverpool took the lead, they went flat and invited Wigan on and subsequently paid the price, rather than capitalising on the early goal and securing three points.
Home form of course is key for any team it provides a secure platform to build your season on. Yet for a team like Liverpool, away from is just as important, Liverpool want to win trophies and compete not merely just survive.
With all respect to clubs like Fulham for example, home form is crucial because it keeps them in the league which is their realistic aim at the beginning of the season, points picked up away from home are a bonus.
Liverpool have won just one away game in the league this season, a problem which Hodgson inherited from the tail end of last season. Yet when you look at Hodgson’s away record in the Premier League, it’s particularly damming:
From 105 matches Hodgson’s record stands at a laughable 13 victories and a further 35 draws.
Liverpool’s best performance of the season was against Chelsea, a game that doesn’t require much motivation from the manager to get a rise from the players. This may very well explain the win; the players took the game into their own hands against what was admittedly a weakened Chelsea side.
It took some strict positional sense from the team to ensure that they held on when the inevitable second half onslaught arrived. This may have come from Hodgson’s tactics, but it could have been equally punished had it not been from a bit of luck and the heroics of Pepe Reina.
At the beginning of the season Hodgson stated “Judge me after 10 games.” Now he is stating he needs a minimum of a season:
“I’m a 38-to-55-game-a-season man and I make my judgment over that period. I don’t get euphoric when we play well against Chelsea and I certainly won’t become anything other than realistic and determined to move on to the next step when we lose a game. The conclusions that are being attempted to be drawn are too big conclusions.”
Liverpool fans are famously loyal and patient but when there are little signs of improvement it’s hard to be optimistic. The Liverpool board has continually backed the manager when times get tough, sometimes it’s been for too long and the damage has already been done and will take years to reverse.
New owners NESV need to be swift and oust Hodgson before things do get worse, players are already reportedly becoming disillusioned and fans are becoming more and more irate with Hodgson’s methods and selections.
Hodgson is more than aware of the fans’ frustration which was made clear by calls for Dalglish for manager bellowed down from the stands during the Stoke game.
“If the club decide they want to give the job to somebody else, then I’ll have to accept that, if that day comes,” said Hodgson
“The fans can chant for whoever they want and it will be up to the club to decide what they want to do.”
The question remains however, will Hodgson stay and risk running down the dead-end street with the stampede on his trail or will he dip at the final exit when he can get out relatively clean?