The sight of Liverpool’s new owners interacting with fans on Monday night was a breath of fresh air. Messers Henry and Werner are polar opposites from the slapstick duo they ousted and seem genuine in their attempts to comprehend all things LFC.
Evidently clued-up on the business side of running a sports franchise, their tentative approach thus far is understandable. Unlike Hicks and Gillett before them they have stopped-short of promising the world and instead discussed a long-term vision most would buy into.
But though issues like commercial growth, stadium expansion and youth development can be considered over time, the one matter which simply cannot be drawn-out is the manager’s position.
It pains Kopites to turn on one of their own but Roy Hodgson seems to have alienated the vast majority. Through a combination of poor results, terrible signings, a turgid style of play and a whacky list of Royism’s, he has slowly eroded any belief in his tenure.
And the harsh reality is things will only get worse.
The phone-in show underlined how estranged NESV’s public have become, as call after call pleaded for change. 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.
At this moment they find themselves in a difficult situation. Just two months into their reign, they feel obliged to give the incumbent time and are presumably loathe to wield the axe so promptly. The resentment directed towards Blackburn’s new owners is an indication of how divisive a quick-fire dismissal can prove.
Nonetheless, if they hope to restore Liverpool to its former glories they cannot allow things to stagnate. Failure to act now may condemn the club to mediocrity for years. Plodding along from one rank showing to another will disgust Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina, ultimately robbing the team of its two shining lights.
That would be a catastrophe and turn a seeming rebuilding job into a complete overhaul.
If immediate action is taken both may be cajoled into a rethink. Keeping the Spaniards is paramount as finding alternatives would add years to any attempt to catch Spurs and Arsenal; let alone Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs.
Of course managerial replacements will ignite heated debate, with many claiming there are no serious contenders to be had. But a temporary appointment would prove a better alternative to this charade.
Certain quarters believe hiring Kenny Dalglish, whether it short or long-term, would be a case of letting the heart rule the head. Granted, Newcastle fell into the dreaded Messiah trap when they reappointed Kevin Keegan to no avail but Dalglish (whether it Kenny, Marina, Paul or Kelly!) would trump Hodgson’s despicable approach.
For a start he would inspire the team as opposed to standing motionless; save for the odd face or chin rub. By no means a gung-ho manager, he too may adopt a slightly cautious approach but it would not involve cowering to the likes of Blackpool at home.
As for his reputation, that would be intact whatever unfolds. I highly doubt he’d relegate us and at worse he’d stabilise the mess Hodgson’s served-up. Could we seriously hope for more between now and the end of the season? If we were to climb the table he’d be hailed as a saviour – so it’s a win-win scenario for the legendary Scot.
Appointing Dalglish for the short-term would be the perfect move. NESV would rid the club of its worst manager post Shankly and send a message to the valued first teamers that change is afoot. The interim period could be used to search the globe for their own man, with the real transition period beginning next season.
But the crucial thing is to act imminently rather than let this chaos ensue. It is easy to slip from top four to the status of also-rans but ever so difficult to reverse that fall from grace. The longer Liverpool sit alongside the likes of Fulham, Blackburn and Birmingham the harder it will become to rejoin the elite.
At the risk of repeating myself, Hodgson is totally out of his depth. His tactics are based on containing the opposition, whether it home or away – with a preference for long-balls proving a real turn-off.
His signings have been pitiful. If Paul Konchesky is a Premier League Left-Back I’m Simon Cowell, while Christian Poulsen ranks alongside Gabriel Paletta and Jean Michelle-Ferri in the list of all-time duffers. Can this man be trusted to waste millions in January? Absolutely not.
His record on the road meanwhile is so sickening it should come with an 18 certificate. A derisory 13 wins in his entire Premier League history is shambolic – bear in mind Ian Holloway already has four this term.
Then come the infamous Royisms, with clanger after clanger dropped in press conferences and post-match interviews. They are both cringe-worthy and infuriating, a lethal combination.
The old adage of him being a nice guy is trumpeted time and again by his sympathisers but it says something when Twitter rumours of his departure excited our own fans and frightened rivals last weekend.
If NESV are serious about their plans for Liverpool they will act quickly, before the wreckage is too bad to salvage.