Roy Hodgson has left Liverpool “by mutual consent”, with former player and manger Kenny Dalglish replacing the Englishman on an interim basis.
Hodgson was appointed manager of LFC on July 1st, and left just a little over 6 months later on January 8th, in that time he did little to endear himself to Liverpool supporters.
He leaves the club as the first manager since before Bill Shankly not to win a trophy, and with the worst start to a league campaign since the 1950’s.
Hodgson was appointed as successor to Rafa Benitez, but his exhaustive CV – which included 35 years with no major trophy – did little to inspire supporters who felt the appointment was made for the wrong reasons.
Squad and Signings
One of the first tasks for the former Fulham boss was to persuade Liverpool’s star names to remain at the club. LFC had more players at the World Cup in South Africa than any other Premier League side and ultimately the only one to leave was Javier Mascherano who departed for Barcelona.
Despite the financial difficulties that plagued the club under then-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, Hodgson was able to spend over £20m on Christian Poulsen, Raul Meireles, Paul Konchesky and Brad Jones. Again, enthusiasm was hardly high, with only Meireles being seen as a positive signing, particularly given that Alberto Aquilani and Emiliano Insua were loaned out.
When Hodgson said during his first week in charge “I like a high-tempo passing game” hopes were raised that the new boss may bring a return to ‘The Liverpool Way’. Anybody who watched the Reds under Hodgson would never have attributed that quote to the manager.
There were plenty more from the quotable Roy; from describing the miserable derby display as one of the best of the season; describing Northampton as formidable opposition; openly criticising the players and supporters; marginalising other players; and blaming everybody from Scandinavian journalists to the previous managing director.
Hodgson’s two best results came at home to Arsenal and Chelsea, drawing against the Gunners despite Joe Cole’s first half dismissal on the opening weekend of the season, and defeating the Blues in new owner John Henry‘s first home game at Anfield.
But it wasn’t all success at Anfield; suffering embarrassing defeats to Northampton in the League Cup, and Blackpool and Wolves in the Premier League.
It was on the road that Roy’s squad struggled most, managing just one league win (at Bolton) and failing to get the best out a squad which just 18 months ago finished second in the Premier League with the club’s highest ever Premier League points tally.
Supporters quickly became unhappy at the tactics Hodgson deployed, with pass and move the least accurate description of the style of play that was served up. Most representative of the change in style was the distribution of goalkeeper Pepe Reina, as can be seen by the chalkboard below;
In his own defence, Hodgson supplied one of the most incredible quotes by defending his tactics by citing his successes at Halmstad, Malmo, Orebo and Neuchatel Xamax during the 70’s and 80’s;
What do you mean do my methods translate? They have translated from Halmstad to Malmo to Orebo to Neuchatel Xamax to the Swiss national team. So I find the question insulting. To suggest that, because I have moved from one club to another, that the methods which have stood me in good stead for 35 years and made me one of the most respected coaches in Europe don’t suddenly work, is very hard to believe.
From that moment on the writing was on the wall. Only the new owners’ reluctance to rock the boat further saved him from earlier dismissal.
Hodgson has at least broke plenty of records as manager at Anfield;
• Liverpool lost 8 matches after 18 match rounds in the league for the first time since 1964/1965.
• The last time Liverpool had fewer points at turn of the year was in 1953/54 … the season they were relegated.
• After the first five games of the season, Liverpool recorded its worst start to a season since 1992-93.
• Liverpool suffered its first loss to Blackpool at Anfield since 1967.
• Liverpool’s first loss to Stoke in 26 years.
• Liverpool’s first-ever loss in its entire history to fourth division opposition (Northampton in September).
• Liverpool suffered only their second-ever loss to Wolves at home in 60 years.
• For a period this season Liverpool has been mired in bottom-three relegation zone for first time since 1984.
• The worst winning percentage (41.38%) for a Liverpool manager since 1959, edging Graeme Souness’ 41.4% in 1991-94.
• The first Liverpool manager to win fewer than six of his first 18 league games in charge since George Kay only won five back in 1936.
The Final Straw
The miserable performance and defeat to then-bottom side Wolves on December 29th proved the final straw at a time when John Henry and chairman Tom Werner were reported to have begun a search for a long term successor to Hodgson. The 10,00 empty seats at Anfield three days later showed the fans’ opinion and the failure to sell out for the trip to Ewood Park four days later – and the once again awful performance and result – was the final nail in the proverbial coffin.
Hodgson leaves Liverpool four points above the relegation zone.
He is replaced by a manager who has won more trophies than Hodgson has won away games in all his time managing English sides.