In defence of Roy Hodgson (…mostly by Roy Hodgson)
22 points from 17 games and Liverpool are languishing in mid-table mediocrity, 12 points off top spot and just 6 points from the relegation zone.
Add to that a succession of quotes from the manager in the press showing little sign that things are going as wrong as they probably are. No wonder so many fans are calling for Roy Hodgson’s head.
Thank heavens Tom and Gerry aren’t still here as well.
Two excellent articles were posted on This Is Anfield this week regarding the discontent many fans are feeling towards Hodgson’s tenure so far.
Alex Malone’s ‘A Letter to Roy Hodgson: Please leave’ recieved over 200 comments, 2000 shares on Facebook and over 250 retweets. In addition, fans pledged to print the letter and send it to the club.
Earlier this morning, Aaron Cutler’s ‘The Great Liverpool FC cannot drift into the abyss’ article adds to Malone’s sentiments that “things will only get worse”.
Speaking about owner John Henry and Chairman Tom Werner’s appearance on a phone-in show for fans on LFC TV on Monday night, Cutler said, “The Americans seemed decidedly uncomfortable but receptive to many of the frustrations raised. If – as seems unlikely – they were unaware of the hostility reserved for Hodgson before Monday’s show, they would have left in no doubt.”
But are we being too harsh on Hodgson? After all, he’s only been here since July, and he has had no resources to build his own squad.
Hodgson seems to definitely think the criticism is unjustified himself.
Ahead of tonight’s Europa League clash against Utrecht at Anfield, Hodgson told journlists at his pre-match press conference that he has “great confidence” in his ability as a football manager.
He believes he has taken on a difficult job, with a team of under performing players and should he answer the calls to resign, “Whoever takes my place will be in a similar job with similar players.”
Hodgson believes that the stem of the problems lies with not having the players he wants, or feels Liverpool Football Club deserves.
The horrible, dark years of Tom Hicks and George Gillett have now gone. But during those years of protests and campaigning against the American tycoons was the fact that their (disgusting) business antics meant Rafa Benitez had no funds for improving his squad and buying the players he wanted and needed.
Even the interference of Christian Purslow has been mentioned many a time. The club’s Managing Director, brought in by Hicks and Gillett, seemingly playing Football Manager and overpowering Bentiez’s transfer decisions or what money was spent where.
Hodgson hasn’t had the chance to build his own squad with the funding NESV could be about to put forward. Nor has he had the chance to work with Damien Comolli on transfer targets, though many would argue he shouldn’t be trusted with this privilege.
Club legend, ambassador and the man many are calling to replace Hodgson at Anfield, Kenny Dalglish recently also wanted to remind fans a lost has happened at the club recently – and Hodgson doesn’t have his own squad.
“It’s a transitional period for the club, Roy came in very late on in the summer, his players were away on international duty, he took a while to assess the staff, and by the time he did that he had run out of time in the transfer market,” Dalglish told press.
“Through no fault of Roy Hodgson’s, it is a transitional period. The takeover rightly took precedence over everything else. The club has settled down a lot more now and has some stability. Now we need to get results on the pitch.
“Roy Hodgson will decide if he needs to improve the squad. If he sees a weakness I’m sure he’ll ask the owners for finance.”
But does Dalgish have to say that anyway? He is employed by the club, after all and with employment by the club comes the propaganda and shying away from objective opinion.
Many would also argue that you have to work with what you have. After all, Benitez made just minor adjustments to Gerard Houllier’s squad before guiding them to a European Cup in 2005, and only a few more before a 2006 FA Cup was added and another European Cup Final a year later.
But he was given money and he was given patience.
Hodgson added that he believes Henry, Werner and NESV will be patient with progress at Anfield.
“The owners have made it perfectly clear they are in it for the long term and they are going to be patient. They realise it is going to take time.
“They realise we can’t turn things around overnight and they also realise that the team I am working with is not the team I put together.
“You don’t turn things around overnight and they are aware of the magnitude of the task but they are very focused on what needs to be done and I am convinced they will help me get it done.”
His own squad or not, many Liverpool fans voice their frustrations and Hodgson seeming out of his depth.
Another great article by Cutler last month listed 10 disasterous quotes of Roy Hodgson’s reign.
Hodgson’s quotes in which he has often seen Liverpool’s poor form this season as acceptable, and performances much better than they actually were, has utterly confused and frustrated fans.
Add to that attacks on former boss Benitez about the squad he left when he departed for Inter Milan this summer, a feud with underperforming Glen Johnson, a failure to defend claims over Fernando Torres diving and capped off with a comparison of Liverpool to his last club Fulham – if his decisions on the field have failed to inspire many, his later explanations certainly haven’t.
He continued his amazing series of quotes after the Reds lost 3-1 at under pressure Newcastle Utd on Saturday, stating, “This is a major setback and a major blow because we have been on a good run recently and played well.”
That “good run recently” included two wins in 5 games, 2 defeats and 1 draw.
The quotes are frustrating, most definitely. Whether the quotes are diverting the fans and media attention away from the players’ underperforming this season is another way of looking at it. But not necessarily right.
The national media in the country is unfortunately mostly controlled from London, either by Cockneys of aspiring journalists wanting to be Cockney.
Many have spoken about the nature of xenophobia in the British press – Roy Hodgson hasn’t and won’t be given as hard a time as Benitez was given last season, nor has he had to endure as much a rough time from the media as he would have had if he were foreign.
Unfortunately the media does warp public perception of events going on in football. Maybe Hodgson is being given too fair a time by the British press, maybe he’s not.
But the fans know best, not the media and their agenda.
Finally, Hodgson was asked about the discontent about his reign so far.
“It doesn’t bother me because I can’t do more than I am doing, I can’t work harder, I can’t work better,” he added.
“I have great confidence in my ability, I don’t think there is any reason not to have. I know the players are working as hard as they can to win matches for Liverpool and therefore me as manager.”