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Hodgson faces Liverpool fight

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Phil McNulty | 21:51 UK time, Sunday, 3 October 2010

Roy Hodgson's reign as Liverpool manager has declined at such speed that even owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were spared Anfield's wrath for a few brief moments on Sunday.

It currently requires events of previously uncharted mediocrity to divert The Kop's attention away from the despised owners, but Hodgson's Liverpool achieved it as Blackpool joined Northampton Town in leaving Anfield triumphant this season.

Liverpool supporters, with no serious form for ever demanding managerial change despite thousands gathering in the streets in protest against the American duo, chanted the name of Anfield icon Kenny Dalglish as Hodgson's tenure moved ominously from transition to crisis.

Dalglish is the default option for those seeking unity at this troubled club. And despite the Scot being told in no uncertain terms by chairman Martin Broughton that he was not seen as Liverpool managerial material only a few months ago, it will still have been an uncomfortable experience for Hodgson.

Roy Hodgson looks increasingly frustrated as Liverpool lose to Blackpool

Hodgson looked increasingly frustrated as Liverpool were defeated by Blackpool

It was, at the very least, a rare and highly significant public show of dissent from Anfield towards their own manager and a sign of growing unease with Hodgson's performance.

It might be the Reds' worst start to a season for 57 years but the very notion of Liverpool dismissing a manager after only seven Premier League games is unthinkable and rightly so. Even if they wished to contemplate this nuclear option, they could hardly afford to do it anyway, such are Liverpool's reduced financial circumstances.

I wrote at the time of his appointment that Hodgson was the perfect "safe hands" and common sense choice for Liverpool after the turbulence and failings of the latter days of the Rafael Benitez era. It is too early to sway from that belief, but Hodgson is not giving his backers much to cling to.

There is no escape from the brutal truth that Hodgson faces a fight for credibility and a battle to win the hearts and minds of Liverpool's usually loyal following after the 2-1 defeat by the Seasiders.

Hodgson has been deeply wounded and insulted by the growing suggestions - backed up by a start that has been, at the very best, hugely undistinguished - that he has swiftly found himself out of his depth after leaving Fulham to succeed Benitez.

If the whispers are to be silenced and the doubters dispersed, however, he needs Liverpool to discover a spark from somewhere to end what currently appears to be a headlong and unstoppable lurch into Premier League obscurity.

Liverpool's sole league win has been a narrow victory against West Bromwich Albion, and all the positive spin after the Northampton debacle centred on two upcoming and supposedly winnable games against Sunderland and Blackpool.

Well they have come and gone, with Liverpool coming from behind to earn a point against Sunderland and ending up empty-handed against a Blackpool side that conceded 10 goals without reply on their trips to Arsenal and Chelsea.

It is only right that criticism of Hodgson's start is put in context. This is the very least this experienced and respected manager deserves. He inherited a team in decline from Benitez, despite the Spaniard's latest protestations that he left behind a club in relatively rude health.

As former Liverpool star Jan Molby pointed out during the Northampton defeat, if you wanted evidence of Benitez's legacy, there was plenty on show as they went out of the Carling Cup.

Liverpool deservedly finished seventh last season and had not won a trophy for four years. Anfield's financial situation, and the inertia and unrest created by a backdrop of owners waiting to sell without willing buyers in evidence, means Hodgson cannot reshape competely as he wishes.

And, crucially, he has inherited a world-class striker in Fernando Torres who is locked in a period of doubt, both physically and mentally, after a long run of injuries.

Javier Mascherano's decision to down tools on the day of the defeat by Manchester City put an early dent in Hodgson's plans. And while it could be said Hodgson should have been ready for his long-drawn out departure, the manner and timing was of the "hole in the head" variety.

These are Hodgson's mitigating circumstances. They should be quoted when criticisms are raised and shape judgements - but he has also made an uninspiring start.

Liverpool's fans naturally want to lavish adoration on their manager. Benitez was still being showered in it by many long after it became clear his reign was on the wane.

Hodgson, however, has done nothing to fire up Liverpool's fans, little to capture the imagination. He has cut an uninspiring figure and Liverpool's style of play has been unadventurous, borderline dull, and at times clueless.

Despite working in the hothouse of Inter Milan, it appears even a man of Hodgson's experience is taking time to grasp the unique nature of the beast that is Liverpool Football Club. Now he must get a grip on the job.

After the tedious Europa League draw in Utrecht Hodgson said: "I think people are piling expectations on the club which are unrealistic."

This is a matter for debate. Liverpool's history suggests aspirations should never be downgraded too much, and it is certainly not overloading on expectation to assume Liverpool might beat Northampton Town, Sunderland or Blackpool at Anfield. One of them anyway.

Since the days of Bill Shankly, there has been a natural bond between Liverpool's supporters and their managers. Hodgson may get there, and it is too early to announce that he will not, but he has not won over the Anfield faithful.

Hodgson must start to swing a few punches in his own defence. This does not mean a succession of outlandish statements designed to attract attention and headlines, but a few home truths delivered within and without Anfield.

He was too timid in the face of Sir Alex Ferguson's recent criticisms of Fernando Torres' behaviour at Old Trafford. The situation did not require Hodgson to publicly offer to take Ferguson around the back of the Stretford End and administer a sound thrashing, but it at least required a robust defence of Liverpool's striker, with perhaps a nod towards Nani's theatrics in Liverpool's 3-2 defeat.

The response came several days too late - but at least it suggested Hodgson was grasping what Liverpool supporters expect from their manager. They do not expect polite society when their club is under fire from Old Trafford.

Hodgson needs to tread a careful line between defending his corner and raining blows on himself, as Benitez did in a needless and ultimately futile war of words with Ferguson, but he was wrong to seemingly believe responding to criticism of Torres was beneath him.

The fixture list has intriguingly presented what some now regard as a ticking time bomb under the Hodgson regime. The opposite may yet be true.

If Hodgson wanted a game to show what he is all about, and what he can become, as Liverpool manager then their next game, a Merseyside derby at Everton on 17 October, presents a perfect opportunity.

Beating the old enemy never does any damage to the stock of Liverpool's manager, so Hodgson may have been given a "get out of jail" card on a ground where they have a good recent record.

Hodgson also needs to get tough with players who are not producing. Liverpool's performance against Blackpool was on the bad side of abysmal, a heartless affair given their current unpalatable league position.

Worryingly for a manager who prides himself on coaching and tactical wisdom, Liverpool look disorganised, lacking in direction and momentum. And when I have watched Hodgson's charges this season they have lacked passion, base camp for any Liverpool side.

Take a look at England full-back Glen Johnson, painful though this may be. Seemingly intent on showing you do not get much for £18m in the modern transfer market, Johnson showed his old failing of crass defending to needlessly foul Luke Varney for Charlie Adam's penalty, then produced a horror show of positioning when Varney scored Blackpool's second.

Hodgson has moved to strengthen Liverpool's squad, but the imports have yet to impress. Joe Cole has struggled to make any sort of serious impact from the moment he was sent off against Arsenal, while Christian Poulsen is conservatism personified and Raul Meireles is bedding down. Paul Konchesky, an old Hodgson acquaintance from Fulham, is struggling with injury.

And what of additions behind the scenes?

He has arrived alone from Fulham, not taking any staff with him and not appointing any new faces to his Anfield coaching team. Perhaps he needs an extra pair of hands and eyes, not to usurp long-time Liverpool stalwart Sammy Lee, but to augment him and beef up the backroom team.

And as the BBC's Alan Hansen said on Match Of The Day 2, this is not about owners, it is about players. No-one should hide behind the shambles in the boardroom as a shield against the shambles Liverpool have become on the pitch.

Hicks and Gillett can take the blame for plenty, but they were not the men failing to defend against Blackpool or playing in the manner that has seen Liverpool drift into alien territory near the foot of the Premier League.

Hodgson's hope of pushing Liverpool back towards the Champions League places already looks a distant target. And how will another season in the Europa League, or even out of European competition altogether, test the loyalty of men like captain Steven Gerrard, outstanding goalkeeper Pepe Reina and Torres?

Fortunes can change swiftly in football. It was only five months ago I sat in Fulham's press room as Hodgson was afforded the rare accolade of warm applause from a group of assembled journalists when he appeared after their Europa League semi-final win against Hamburg.

Hodgson will hope things turn quickly in his favour. He retains the self-confidence inspired by nights like that, insisting he remains "one of the most respected coaches in Europe". It is a status earned in a worldwide 35-year career and one that should cushion him against the blows he is currently taking.

Hodgson now needs to produce that magic to win the battles facing him on and off the pitch at Liverpool.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Spot on Phil!
    Yesterday our performance was abysmal. You can not blame the owners for the same. A lackluster display by the team. On the contrary I was very impressed by the team that Roy had selected. The formation was quiet attacking with Gerrard behind Torres to give out the required 'service' and Cole & Kuyt on the flank.
    Can't really make out as to why are we not firing all cylinders.. Agreed that Torres was off but then still the display was far from average. The blame game would lead us nowhere. As rightly put across in the blog, a derby win can get the momentum back.. YNWA!

  • Comment number 2.

    hansen is right, no matter what is going on the players need to take responsibility for yesterday's performance. i think that hodgson has crossed the rubicon already with the fans though. I can't see us going from yesterday's performance to all conquering again soon, which is the only acceptable level for a lot of liverpool fans.

  • Comment number 3.

    No he can't.
    Liverpool have been outpassed and outworked at home by Sunderland and Blackpool. There is something rotten in the mental approach and team ethic that's currently being instilled (or more accurately, not being instilled)
    And playing good players, like Mereiles, out of position is just exacerbating the situation.

  • Comment number 4.

    A season in the Championship, like Newcastle did last year, will give Hodgson a chance to revitalise Liverpool FC.

  • Comment number 5.

    Looks like Inter got the better end of the deal....AGAIN! Happy years to come for Inter fans I hope.

  • Comment number 6.

    Liverpool one of the greatest clubs ever is dead. It died about 4 or 5 years ago, it's last wail before it died was to win the european cup and then it had a heart attack breathed its last and is no more. The problem is the fans and the media didn't notice. But every footballer in the world knows that anfield is nothing to be afraid of. Hodgson won't be given the time he needs...The fans have woken up too late. The should have screamed for Benetez head near the end of last season. IF Fulham Sunderland and Birmingham had put a decent run together at the end of the season, Liverpool would have finished beyond the top 10. That they didn't is lucky for Benetez because it disguised the massive slump of last season......Liverpool has died. I miss it.

  • Comment number 7.

    He did a fantastic job at Fulham no doubt and it actually took him 2 years or more. People are quick to forget. I'm no fan of Liverpool, but I like the man. Give him time you scousers!

  • Comment number 8.

    A fair summary. I'd like to point out the contrast with the reception Rafa's early games with Liverpool were reported by the media. His indifferent early results (e.g. unlucky away loss to Bolton) were marked down as 'not understanding the Premier League' and 'prioritising European matches.' No mention of the poor resources (Henchoz, Biscan, Traore, Baros, Smicer, etc.) left by his predecessor.

    Hodgson appears to be imposing a dumb-ass indentikit style of play that makes no allowances for the individual strengths (and weaknesses) of the players available.

    So Torres, whose strength is his pace and movement off the shoulder of the last man is expected to slug it out as a traditional no 9 battling for hoof out of defence.

    Johnson, who is a world beater going forward with the ball at pace, is exposed with no midfield cover.

    Benitez was done a disservice by the media - he was never as defensive as protrayed. He instilled the importance of keeping possession and patiently working the ball round to create openings. His preference for a high defensive line and pressing the possession certainly yielded more entertainment and wasn't too dissimilar from Wenger's much lauded style, just lacking the guile and trickery of a Fabregas or Arshavin.

    Hodgson is now ticking all the boxes that you media pundits wanted: playing Gerrard in his best position of centre midfield, back to man to man marking, playing a settled team, a nice guy who can put his arm round the players, a manager who understands the Premier League. So why isn't it working?

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm not a Liverpool fan, but it's funny how Benitez is always to blame, despite doing pretty well in terms of re-selling players at a profit. In 2005 when Liverpool finished with 58 points it wasn't Houllier's fault- even though there was a lot of his dross there (Cheyrou, Medjani, Traore, Biscan etc). Funnily enough, some people later tried to claim the 2005 Champions League success as a success for Houllier! The buck stops with Hodgson, if he can't beat Northampton, Sunderland OR Blackpool at home than there is something seriously wrong with his tactics.

  • Comment number 10.

    Liverpool need to dump Gerrard and Torres. They are overshadowing every other player at the club. They always steal all the headlines for playing either brilliantly or terribly, unfortunately improvement is based on consistency.

  • Comment number 11.

    There are 3 players distinctly off form at the moment in the premiership. Evra, nightmare world cup, banned from National team confidence shattered. Rooney, nightmare world cup, scandal in tabloids, confidence broken, Torres World cup winner............. I don't get it.

  • Comment number 12.

    The players have been masquarading behind the ownership issue as the reason for our defeats. With the exception of Carra, Stevie G and Reina it is hard to see any hurt or disappointment in the eyes of the players after the defeats. Roy needs backing and should have had a Liverpool legend to be his assistant, Jan Molby or John Aldridge perhaps. Irrespective of ownership issues defeats to Blackpool and Notts County at Anfield along with a lucky draw against Sunderland is unacceptable.

  • Comment number 13.

    inherited a squad in decline? What a load of tit tat. How many of these players went to the world cup?

    I really want hodgeson to succeed. I was pleasantly suprised when he signed cole, merelies and managed to keep hold of torres and gerrard. But once the dust settled and the games began, i've seen a liverpool who sit on the 18 yard line. The team freely allow crosses into the area. The midfield has no shape. When on earth has mereiles ever been a right mid? And don't even get me started on poulson, he offers NOTHING. The man's actually got me rooting for lucas to be re-instated.

    He had alienated half the playing squad with his term 'b team'. Shockingly this has included agger, our only centre back who has the ability to bring the ball out of defence and scores the odd few as well. In the last two games, we've needed goals and there hasn't even been a glimpse of babel. Despite hodgeson saying he has till january to prove himself.

    Roy's comments say it all. I don't think i've heard one interview where he has said he expected us to win. He has continued to dampen down expectations, and his comments pre-blackpool game about not being concerned we were 18th showed he just doesn't understand this club.

    This is not rafa's mess. Last season liverpool massively lost their way, but the world cup was a welcome distraction. These players need to pull their finger out, but it's up to roy to at least organise them in the right manner. He has more than a good enough squad to have won the last two games. Shipping out aqualani and insua we're poor decisions with no solid basis.

    Torres is as good as gone. But the whole situation is so bad that him going doesnt even concern me. The whole club needs upheaval, and to be honest I think only relegation will allow sufficient time to cleanse this club.

    From top to bottom, everyone needs replacing.

  • Comment number 14.

    I might be wrong, but as part of letting Hodgson go, did the contract include something about Hodgson not being able to take staff or players for at least a year? I think I heard that on MOTD.

    Therefore Hodgson is like a new player, needs time to settle in and get to know everyone. There is no point in Hodgson replacing the Liverpool staff with people he does not know, as it would still need to for there to be synergy in the dressing room.

    That being said, time is not on Hodgson's side. It would not be a surprise for Everton to beat Liverpool in the next game. So Hodgson must be thinking how lucky they are West Ham and Wolves are playing eachother and realistically only one of them can overtake them, so unless they lose 5-0 to Everton, they will not be bottom of the table.

    As an Arsenal supporter I could see Torres fitting in well at Arsenal. By that I mean half of the time spent on the injury table. However unlike Arsenal, who do not have many layers themselves, Liverpool have no second option.

    They have a good midfield, and a great keeper. But a poor attack (when Torres is injured or out of form), and a poor defence with Carragher over his peak and looking less reliable every game, and Johnson who is supposedly Englands right back yet cannot defend!?!

    Gerrard, Maxi Rodriquez, Kuyt, Joe Cole, Raul Meireles, Poulson and Jovanovic are all good players in midfield. But they need something either side of them.

    In my opinion Liverpool don't have that, and until Hodgson settles in, or is allowed to bring in staff he knows then Liverpool will struggle.

  • Comment number 15.

    Did you not watch the World Cup? Torres had a shocker and was arguably the weakest player in the Spain squad.

  • Comment number 16.

    Right in every thing you say Phil,i have supported LFC for 45 years and living in Blackpool for the last 20 years yesterday was the worst day of my life but to all true LFC fans i would like to point out before everyone starts saying get rid of RH remember when AF took over at utd he was one game from getting the push and look at it now.Like the pheonix give him time and we will rise from the ashes.The only way is up,LFC forever.YNWA.

  • Comment number 17.

    Typical mindless journalism.

    "Sack Benitez"
    "Get an English manager"
    "Play 4-4-2"
    "Stop rotating"
    "Man-to-man marking"

    ...the press cried and used every single one of those points to beat Benitez with whenever LFC lost.

    Well congratulations, you got what you wanted. Benitez was sacked after having 1 bad season in a stellar career and was replaced by Hodgson after having 1 good season in a mediocre career.

    The same conditions Benitez was working under weren't to be allowed as excuses for his teams performances, but the "press-approved" Hodgson should be given time because of those same conditions?

    It's almost infantile the agenda against Benitez, still carrying on now, months after he left, used as a scapegoat rather than admit how wrong you were.

    The truth is LFC paid £10 million to replace a real world class manager with a winning record, with a journeyman manager with no trophies to his name. The saddest part is that a lot of LFC fans were too stupid to see through the nonsense and bought into the media opinion instead of backing the manager.

  • Comment number 18.

    Deservedly finished seventh, was this criticism or praise ?
    He had planned for Mascherano's departure by courting Poulsen for some time.

    About the one thing he has done right is by not replying to Fergurson and showing him up to be the moaner he always has been, it's the media that wanted the reply, not the fans.

    Hodgson is being shown as weak though, he over achieved with an average fulham side, and was being mentioned as england material, this sort of run should end that talk though.

  • Comment number 19.

    Honestly, I was quite appalled at the state of Liverpool this season, though I wouldn't say I'm surprised as the club have been going downhill for quite a while now. I seriously think Torres should go, as he is cutting a disconsolate figure, and it is weighing the club down with Hodgson building the attack around him. Maybe a defeat at Everton will finally knock some sense that hard changes need to be done from top (management) to bottom (players).

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm not a supporter but it seems to me that English football needs a strong and vibrant Liverpool - it 's an indicator of the health of the national game in general.
    I'm not saying that the club deserves to win anything but does need to be in a postion to challenge, punch at their weight as it were.
    Speculative ownership defined by massive and unsustainable debt, greed, poor transfer policies by successive regimes, misguided impatience, are all diseases of both LFC and the game in general.
    All in all, not a pretty picture.

  • Comment number 21.

    liverpool are at last coming to realise they cant just turn up and expect to win because of their past i looked at the team sheet compared to blackpools,11 internationals on show,all paid handsomely im sure,you would have put your mortgage on a home win,or would you? as the afternoon passed and the sky reporter at anfield repeatedly saying liverpool are devoid of ideas.anyone with half a football brain can understand what is going cant blame benitez,you cant blame the owners,the players must take full responsibility.even if the owneres sold the club today,would it make that much difference to the team, an evertonian and have seen my club have to fight for everything,and recently in the last few seasons and have seen the rewards.liverpool players need to take a long hard look at themselves and stop hiding behind the ownership problems etc.there is no alternative but to show some guts and fire,just not at goodison on the 17th.

  • Comment number 22.

    Like all Liverpool fans, I am concerned, especially with FiveLive this morning saying that RH has admitted the club is in a relegation dogfight.

    We are not, not yet, but if he carries on with rhetoric like that, he will be certain to lose the fans.

    What is really annoying me is that so many fans are scapegoating Hodgson - a man who has been at the club for a mere three months - and most of the reasons for our decline predate this time.

    Now is the time for the fans to stand by their man - whilst letting those who are ultimately responsible for this mess - Waldorf and Statler - know that we recognise where the blame squarely lies.

    Things will calm down, we start climbing soon, but, of course, we are looking at writing this season off already, and that is not good enough.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    what an utter load of tripe.

    Benitez was one of the most conservative tactician in the game. most Liverpool sides were set up to stifle the opposition not a free flowing attacking football, backed up with his obsession to play multiple defensive
    mids even at home or against weaker opposition. I've heard many deluded comments of backing over Benitez but this has to be one of the worst!

    Liverpools demise is a combination of many things, they have had a succession of poor owners, but Benitez is a big contributor, nobody can say he wasn't given tools, in the top two or three of spenders during his time and despite that has left them with a thin squad and no strong youth players coming through. Never mind yacht the highest player turnover over any other club

  • Comment number 25.

    "it is certainly not overloading on expectation to assume Liverpool might beat Northampton Town, Sunderland or Blackpool at Anfield. One of them anyway." nuff said...when did our mighty football club fall so far as to think this is acceptable. Anfield is no longer a fortress, its a joke!

    Unthinkable! YNWA

  • Comment number 26.

    I actually think this is all part of a very astute plan by the Liverpool players and coaching staff!

    The quickly further drive down the real market value of Liverpool FC, so it can be bought by new owners ASAP!

    A few more results like this, and Liverpool's already faint CL qualification chances will be finished, and this will force the owners to finally set a realistic selling price for the club.

    Its a brilliant strategy!

  • Comment number 27.

    It is really hard to explain how last season turned out to be such a bad one under Benitez. He had no friends at the club (Except the ones working underneath him) and I suppose it is arguably his own doing.

    Benitez had no friends in the media, the press, or amongst other managers. (Lets not forget the shameless Sam Allardyce 'hand gesture' fiasco).

    Even football pundits on TV like Alan Curbishly and Ray Houghton would criticize him for anything and everything.. Rotation.. Resting players.. Not resting players.. Signings.. Selections.. Zonal marking..

    Benitez was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.. And that is a FACT.

    Poor Roy Hodgeson gives the impression he doesn't have a clue. I for one cannot believe he loaned out Aquilani and then spent all that money on Meireles..!!

    There is no reasonable explanation as to why Poulsen is picked ahead of Lucas.

    Say what you want about Benitez and his failings.. At least the same set of defenders never defended so badly during his reign..

    I've never called for a Liverpool manager to get the sack.. And I dont think the board will take any action on the matter because they simply don't care..

    Roy needs to resign and the board need to do one last good deed before they leave us for good..

    Get Martin O'Neill's signature..

  • Comment number 28.

    We knew what we were getting into when we replaced a world-class manager with a man who has never achieved or been anything more than average. You get what you pay for.

    In my opinion, he has to drop Cole - by far our worst player this season - and stop playing Meireles on the wing. Our play is far too predictable right now - we don't look capable of either scoring, or keeping a clean sheet. Horrible times right now - how good does seventh look now! How i wish we still had Rafa.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm not a supporter but it seems to me that English football needs a strong and vibrant Liverpool - it 's an indicator of the health of the national game in general.

    A bold statement! Any actual evidence to support it?

  • Comment number 30.

    I saw it mentioned yesterday that Roy Hodgson had dared to mention relegation during one of his interviews. If he was asked a question about relegation, I would have expected him to dismiss it out of hand given Liverpool's size and stature. Relegation is not an option and should not even be contemplated, yet here is the Liverpool manager admitting they are in a relegation fight. Do Liverpool fans see that as acceptable? I've never liked Roy's style of management and seen it as far too continental, even from the moment he took charge of Blackburn. He got lucky at Fulham but it looks as though his luck has run out at the worst possible time.

    I can't see Roy being in charge past Christmas unless there's a massive upturn in both form and playing style. For Liverpool to look so ordinary cannot keep happening.

  • Comment number 31.


    top blog as always I too think Roy is a safe pair of hands but a few things are worrying me. Why we seem to have not been able to get a decent left back Konchesky is uncle Fester in disguise! I think Jamie C's powers are now on the wane I don't know why Agger is continually over looked? Glen Johnson is Englannd's right back why is he playing like a chump? He seems to be going backwards? Ngog is hopeless even if he dreams he's a striker he should wake and apologise!
    Roy I now your hands are tied financially but there are some promising youngsters Amoo, Shelvy, Pacheco etc if some of your "top players" are not up to scratch then start using younsters prompto it doesn't seem to being do Aresnal any harm!

  • Comment number 32.

    Robwiz.. Spot on..

    If people in the media had a clue about football they wouldn't be working in the media..

  • Comment number 33.

    People calling for him to be sacked could end up looking really stupid.

    Any new manager needs time, they are not the players of his choosing and not the staff of his choosing.

    Saying that it is a disasterous start and the expectations are not unrealistic, he needs to adapt to the fact that there are higher expectations at Liverpool than Fulham.

    Better blog than normal Phil.

  • Comment number 34.

    Liverpool shouldn't panic, i think in Poulson and Meireles you have the basis of a decent, though not world beating midfield.

    Expectations are way too high at Anfield, they should be compared to those across the road at Goodison, they are not panicing after their poor start they have the faith in their players and manager.

    On the signing of Joe Cole, the doom and gloom at Liverpool was lifted for some reason, and talk of a title challenge emerged again, despite what went before, and the team being in turmoil, Torres struggling (through injury), Gerrard struggling to carry the burden and Mascherano wanting out, the only real quality player left to rely on was Reina, who will save matches, but not win them. (ps. Carragher is not quality!)

    Give Hodgson time, there is some deadwood to ship out, Maxi may be a decent footballer, but his effort and form to date are attrocious.

    PS. Macclesfield > Northampton > Liverpool

  • Comment number 35.

    as a long life fulham supporter i am of course a big roy fan.
    the artical is spot on, when roy came to fulham it took 10 games befor you could see (and the players) what he was trying to do, when he gets the shape of the team right you will see the results improve, in the short term you have give him time.
    liverpools problems are there back four, right back excellent going forward woefull in defence, central to slow or unsettled, left back they only have one and he is injured, when he is fit again excellent going forward but prone to errors when defending.
    Any new manager would struggle with that defence.
    The guy needs time

  • Comment number 36.

    What more can anyone add Phil to what you've eloquently captured here. I still think you're being unduly harsh on Rafa, especially the reference to a team on the decline.

    That said, there was nothing wrong with Blackpool's gameplan yesterday or our own. The Seasiders just did exactly what they said they'd do and got a deserved result. We can blame luck in the Reds dominant second half but that doesn't explain our being besieged at home in the first.

    It's the easy thing right now to blame. The manager, players, Torres's injury, or owners, but is that it? I think its an amalgam of factors, but I'm yet to find out what.

    Roy is a coach like any other, and he solely cannot be the team's problem. I have the utmost confidence we'll find a second wind and turn it round, starting against Everton the coming weekend. The quality no doubt's there.

    The ownership issue is a significant start and ending the reign of the two clowns will prove a start. But that won't change our fortunes overnight. I still feel we can do better with our personnel. We have game-changing bench warmers, Pacheco and Babel, and Cole should be played outright in central midfield or in the hole. Might it also be a time to recall Aquilani?

    The midfield pairing of Poulsen and Lucas doesn't work and the former should be second to Lucas. However, Lucas should be paired with a more offensive-minded player like Meireles, with Gerrard given liberty to roam. j

    Can we do more with the ball? Yes, attack the ball, hoard it and pressure the opponent. We are currently doing none of that and playing too deep and narrow. Offense is the best defense and this can jump start our team.

    Otherwise I'm simply watching the ownership thing and praying it works out in the best way for Kopites, with the club's health paramount.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ah - Happy Days!
    I wish I was back at school with all those Liverpool supporting chumps.

  • Comment number 38.

    It amazes me how the Liverpool fans and now some fans of other teams can see that Benitez left the best squad he could possibly leave, a squad capable of a top 6 finish, yet the media still question him because Roy can't produce a team with any tactics.

    Roy seems intent on playing the same tactics from his Fulham days at Liverpool regardless of the differences in personnel and the respective levels of the clubs. Fulham were set up to contain and if they got anything from the game they were happy. Liverpool are expected to go out, dominate and win.

    What is more disconcerting is that Liverpool fans' initial fears about Roy are being a) re-iterated by his old fulham players who are loving the more expansive pressing game being employed by Mark Hughes, and b) the shambolic, lifeless and mystifying football(?) being played by the team.

    If anyone wants to see the main differences in play with Roy's Liverpool then they should head over to TheTomkinsTimes. Now that is a writer who backs his words up. Look at his assessment of the first 6 games of the season.

  • Comment number 39.

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  • Comment number 40.

    Hi might be misinformed on that one. Hodgson has signed Konchesky from Fulham after all. I am just surprised he turned up alone at Anfield and has not added to his backroom team.

    This is not intended as a criticism of Sammy Lee, who is highly regarded, but Hodgson may need extra help and another voice to hear. There was talk of tempting Sami Hyypia back from Bayer Leverkusen on a player-coach's contract. Mere speculation but that sounds quite wise doesn't it?

  • Comment number 41.

    Collie21's suggestion that Liverpool 'died 5 years ago' is somewhat off the mark, as wasn't it only the season before last that they finished 2nd with the highest points total achieved by a team finishing in the runners up spot in the Premiership? No, I don't think Liverpool is dead......more like in a coma brought on by the hemorrhaging away of it's life blood in the form of some of it's most influential players - Hyypia, Alonso and more recently Mascherano. Combine this with the leaching of funds by the present owners to service debts and interest payments  and there is nothing left to provide the transfusion necessary to breathe life back into the club. And the doctor currently in charge of the patient's recuperation - Mr Hodgson - appears to lack the drive, inspiration and motivation to maintain even the most basic life support systems for the club. This month will hopefully see the surgery undertaken to cut away the abscess that is the current owners, only then can the long road to recuperation begin. 

  • Comment number 42.

    Oh dear Phil.
    You seem to be in the habit of getting things very wrong when it comes to Liverpool.
    At the beginning of last season you tipped them to win the league, and the end you congratulated the board for their swift dismissal of Benitez and their appointment of Hodgson.
    The truth is being manager of LFC is currently the most difficult job in world football. You are expected, by the media and by some fans, to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Man City, and yet the infrastructure is not in place. LFC have spent no more money on players than they have brought in for 2 years. How can they possibly compete with Manchester City, let alone Chelsea, Arsenal and United?
    Hodgson is in virtually a no-win situation (quite literally it seems), especially with Torres having lost form and fitness. My heart goes out to him, especially when the media are already being so shrill and alarmist. The media in this country are composed of people who are, almost down to a man, inferior in virtually every department to men like Hodgson and Benitez. Jamie Redknapp is a wonderful example of a man of limited intelligence who is being encouraged to criticise men who he simply cannot compete with.
    The media criticism of Benitez in this country was wilfully ignorant, as will become increasingly clear in hindsight.

  • Comment number 43.

    What a shambles, it shows just how good a manager Benitez was that he managed to get this bunch of league two level players to 7th in the premier league last year. I suppose the flip side is that Benitez bought them so is ultimately to blame. If Liverpool are to rise to the levels they have occupied over the past 30 years they will need to remove most of this team and start from scratch, unlikely given the current owners and not possible in the modern game without a billionaire owner, neither of which seem possible let alone likely.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ah, a sly dig about Benitez. He sure did leave the squad in such terrible shape, I mean, look at all those awful players like Torres, Reina, Kuyt, Agger, Gerrard, Mascherano, Benayoun, Aquilani, Pacheco etc etc. But don't worry, now it's full of quality buys such as Poulsen and Konchesky. Chin up, eh? At least this managers English!

  • Comment number 45.

    8. At 08:20am on 04 Oct 2010, Robwiz wrote:

    "Johnson, who is a world beater going forward with the ball at pace, is exposed with no midfield cover."

    Benitez was done a disservice by the media - he was never as defensive as protrayed...... wasn't too dissimilar from Wenger's much lauded style, just lacking the guile and trickery of a Fabregas or Arshavin."



  • Comment number 46.

    How many times can Liverpool keep playing sub standard football with players like Ngog and think they deserve to win? Its time to realise you can't just beat everyone because you were good 20 years ago, United fans have been watching with joy over the last few years and now the fans are calling for Kenny to take over, i hope he does cos that would finish your club off nicely lol

  • Comment number 47.

    And this is why English managers don't get the very top jobs - of which Liverpool used to be one. They are hopeless. Liverpool need to sack Hodgson before they fall so far that no manager would be able to save them from inevitable relegation.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    And out of interest, where's Benitez now? Oh that's right, sitting pretty with Inter top of their Champion's League group, and second in Serie A, two points behind Lazio. He's getting Samuel Eto'o scoring for fun, something the "Special One" simply couldn't do. And let's not make the assumption that this is Maureen's team at all. After all, when did he players such as Coutinho, 18; Biabiany, 22 - hang on, I thought Benitez didn't play youth players?

    And what of zonal marking? That system that put Liverpool consistently in the top 3 best defences in the League (for goals conceeded) in every Benitez season but his first? Well, the press wanted man-marking. You got it. Now we're into minus numbers in terms of goal difference, and looking more vulnerable at the back than ever before.

  • Comment number 50.

    English players are overrated and overpriced. G. Johnson is not a player worth £18m. Somtimes his defending is like pub players'. He's a liability to the team now.
    What is doing Stivie G at Liverpool? He should go to Inter Milan. It seems as though Fernando Torres has been past his best.

  • Comment number 51.

    Confidence is as you would expect very low but it has been for some time. Watching us play is so boring (nothing has changed from last season) everyone is just waiting for Gerrard or Torres to do something to get us out of jail. All the players have got to have a go and not go missing. Kyrgiakos not a quality player but we need to play him every game just for the effort he puts in, he gives everything which you can’t say for the rest.

    It maybe only seven games in but to hear Roy keep saying he doesn’t know his player’s best positions is not good enough. Doesn’t he talk to Sammy Lee? Getting out of the bottom three will become more difficult as time goes on a change now by bringing Kenny back would lift the mood. He would also have the respect of the all the players something I don’t feel Roy has or will ever have.

  • Comment number 52.

    "I wrote at the time of his appointment that Hodgson was the perfect "safe hands" and common sense choice for Liverpool after the turbulence and failings of the latter days of the Rafael Benitez era."

    Roy Hodgson is a man who knows his foot ball, but what you fail to understand is that he is know Rafa Benitez. In the modern game today,Rafa is well above Roy when it comes to managing a top team and providing results. Yes, Rafa had a bad season last year, but there is know way a Rafa team will lose to Blackpool (no offence) at Anfield, in the manner the team Roy put out did,FACT. Rafa is gone, but all this bashing should stop, cos he was a top premiership manager. In his years in EPL, he won more trophies than Arsene Wenger (most Arsenal fans will trade the so called beautiful football we play with no end result to the trophies Rafa won) Only SAF and the collective chelsea manager listings won more trophies than Rafa.
    Phil, do you in the next couple of years see Roy (if he remains as manger)winning any trophies with Liverpool...i bet you wouldnt stake your editorial column with the BBC on this.

  • Comment number 53.

    I feel sick as I have supported my club all my life (over 30 years) and have always thought of myself as a "proper" Liverpool fan.
    I have always supported the managers.
    I feel sorry for Roy Hodgson as he seems a nice guy but he was already on a downer before he started.
    The board knew the fans wanted Kenny Dalglish.
    They probably thought if Kenny struggled the fans would never turn on him and just aim more abuse at them.
    What they should have thought was giving the managers job to anyone else would be second best to the fans and this would mean even more pressure on the new manager.
    The players also know who the fans wanted. They now have the perfect hiding place with poor old Roy taking all the stick whilst they do not stand up and fight.
    If Kenny was manager they know they would be the ones in the firing line if performances were as poor as they have been.
    Roy has constantly talked us down, looked happy to get a lucky point at home to teams we should be beating. I am not being being arrogant but look at our squad we have many international players.
    RH looks tactically inept which i must admit I am surprised by.
    Some people have said the players need time to gel but look at Man city.
    The majority of our players have played together for at least 3 seasons.
    Every game in the premier league (and against Northampton) we have looked the poorer team accept perhaps the second half against Arsenal with 10 men!
    With all the off field problems we need a feel good factor and that can only happen if the manager is changed and Dalglish is put in charge!
    I know this is not "the liverpool way" but I feel this would instantly transform our on the pitch fortunes.
    For those who worry Kenny Dalglish have been out of the game too long remember he has been at Liverpool for alot longer than Roy Hodgson and knows the first team (and reserves) better than Roy.
    With the transfer window not open until January we need someone who can change our fortunes without having to buy and who better than someone who has the respect of the fans and the players?

  • Comment number 54.

    Liverpool's past glories are just that, in the past.

    By the rational that they should expect to be successful, and the guy who mentioned English football needed a successful Liverpool, should Preston NE not also be expecting to be winning the league every year? After all they had a period of dominance in the top flight in the past....

    Liverpool, like every other football club, are just another football club. You can only play as well as the current staff allow you to. The combination of current staff are just not that good.

  • Comment number 55.

    Not bad Phil, I think you were wise to not take an opinion or make any predictions seeing as those concerning Liverpool normally end up so far off the mark - i.e., Liverpool to champions in 09/10 and Hodgson to be a safe pair of hands.

    I think it's fair to criticise the squad that Rafa left behind as we were clearly not good enough. At the same time, that was in the context of challenging for the title or even for fourth. Our performances have been shocking. We look even more demoralised than we did under Rafa. And Hodgson seems to be upsetting players with his playing style, team selection and tactics. For a man that has no transfer kitty, that is surely not the best approach.

    His ridiculous 4-4-2 lineup away to Manchester City was always going to result in defeat, whether Mascherano played or not. And his insistence on playing Skrtel (and Carragher for that matter) ahead of Agger is just pig-headed. It's like Inter all over again when Hodgson sold off the "tactically ill-disciplined" Roberto Carlos and replaced him with Pistone.
    The British press, yourself included, praise Hodgson for his vast experience and in this Inter Milan is normally cited. I doubt most of those commenting on his performance there ever actually watched Serie A. I did, and his Inter side were dull, dull, dull.

    The season that Inter finished third, Hodgson resigned before the end having become the target of fans' anger and players' discontent. In the team that won the UEFA Cup the following season only three Hodgson signings figured in the 14 that played. It's hard to say that was his legacy.

    It's not to say that Hodgson is a bad manager, he did well at Fulham in the league and did really well in the Europa League. But the Premiership is not the Europa League, and his solitary away win last season and a 12th place finish (down 5 places on his previous season) do not justify his appointment. Safe pair of hands we're told. I wonder what Blackburn Rovers fans have to say about that.

    But I think the thing that stands out the most is that Hodgson never had and still doesn't have his finger on the pulse of too large a section of Liverpool fans.

    The deferential English gentleman act is not endearing. We need someone with bottle and a little passion, someone that can demand the same from the players. I get the feeling that Hodgson plays down expectations so much so that he can't be accused of failing. It's not helped by the fact that former great players (but no so much so as thinkers) like Molby are more than willing to help him in this endeavor.

  • Comment number 56.

    If you compare Liverpool's and Everton's similar poor starts to the reason, you will see one big difference. In the league games so far Everton have been playing ok, bossing possession and creating more chances. Their problem lies in putting the ball in the back of the net. Of the three games lost, the only poor performance was against Newcastle, and they were unlucky not to get at least one win from other two.
    Liverpool on the other hand have been scrapping for points, relying on Gerrard as ever to bail them out, and yesterday they looked completely clueless, exemplified by Carragher & Johnson being pulled out of shape or lured into stupid tackles. Only Skrtel looked like a "proper" defender.
    So, as a Blue, I'm looking forward to the derby on the basis that our form and trajectory is going in the opposite direction to Liverpool's. However, this is Everton, who as any Blue knows, always find a way of making things difficult for themselves, coupled with the fact that if RH has an inkling of the football nous I reckon he has will get the Reds fired up in a "rat in corner" kind of way. I just hope that unlike last season we are not suckered into an all out physical battle which led to our undoing. We can and should outplay the Reds and give then the stuff of nightmares! COYB!

  • Comment number 57.


    That old media line about the results being Rafa's legacy is just plain rubbish. Roy's 'best 11' includes 4 of his signings (Cole, Konchesky, Poulsen and Meireles), as well as Carragher and Gerrard. Only the remaining 5 are Rafa's signings and those 5 are Reina, Tores, Kuyt, Johnson and Skrtel, hardly second rate material.

    So, to say that Roy can't get results against Northampton, Sunderland and Blackpool because of Rafa's legacy, is as pathetic as the accusations Rafa was receiving during his days at Anfield.

  • Comment number 58.

    Once again, a know-it-all journalists spouts nonsense. So we shouldn't fire Hodgson after 7 games?He should have been fired after 5. He's incompetent, clueless and faintly ridiculous.

    He has no understanding of tactics, formations and most important of all - the Club. He is NOT a Liverpool manager and never will be.

    The fans don't want or like him, but the media does. so that's okay then. The anti-Rafa media who are still blaming him for what is happening this season are as clueless as Hodgson.

    Don't you tell us when it's right and proper to fire a manager, McNulty. You know zero about Liverpool Football Club.

  • Comment number 59.

    I’m a bit sick of Liverpool quoting the boardroom as an excuse. In Scotland Rangers were unable to sign anyone for two years – in serious debt – and unable to find a buyer... yet Walter Smith has won the league twice!
    Liverpool at the moment are in freefall – and things need to improve very quickly. At the moment whilst no one really believes they will be in a relegation battle, they are going to struggle to secure Europa League football next season, let alone the champions league!

  • Comment number 60.

    Why is Kenny Dalglish the messiah all of a sudden, what has he done in the last few years to warrant being given the Liverpool job, you fickel kop fans make me laugh, you all wanted Hodgson after he got Fulham to Uefa Cup final and now you try to blame the press for him getting hired, you can bring in whoever you want to be your manager but whilst players like Lucas and Ngog are in your squad you will never get decent results, you have two world class players in Gerrard and Torres where as all the other top teams squads are full of world class players, get a grip and realise that Roy Hodgson is right, your in a relagation dogfight and with your squad that is where you deserve to be

  • Comment number 61.

    Ownership issues aside, I think the players all need to take a long, hard look at themselves. They get paid huge sums of money to represent LFC. The team put out out yesterday should have had no trouble beating Blackpool as should the team put out against Northampton (with all due respect to those 2 teams). Hodgson should be given more time to settle in. I had no illusions about us doing anything this season. Talk of relegation is daft at this stage. Once the ownership issue is decided I hope things will start to settle. Man U fans etc can have their moment of gloating, I for one won't begrudge them that, but don't forget, fortunes do change.

  • Comment number 62.

    As usual, much tripe, much accuracy and much truth amongst the comments - choose for yourselves!!! As for Liverpool, they need a plan which needs to be executed with rigour and vigour, I suggest:

    1. Fans to boycott all games until Hicks and Gillett sell.
    2. Give Roy this season to turn things around or appoint Kenny.
    3. Introduce Performance Related Pay to put a bomb up underperformers.
    4. Sell off the dross, e.g., Lucas, and buy another quality striker.

    To be honest, I don't mind if Liverpool end up in the Championship, sometimes it's necessary for clubs to rediscover themselves through times of crisis and, thanks to poor Board decisions over the past two decades, that's what the club's been brought to.

  • Comment number 63.

    as wasn't it only the season before last that they finished 2

    One season where Liverpool challenged for the title, but so many more when they have not constitutes what statisticians call "A random walk" (alone)

  • Comment number 64.

    @49 Benetez is simply doing at Inter what he did at Liverpool. Playing with somone elses team. Wait a year or two and you will start to see a pattern... I reckon it won't take him as long to run inter into the ground, or he will be given the boot before he gets the chance. It's a complete myth that Benetez was a top Premier manager. He never won the premiership, and to my knowledge, ( I admit I could be wrong) I don't believe he won any domestic trophy in his time at Liverpool. Redknapp is better, maybe even Grant!

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    To minusone...let's get one thing straight. The media did not sack Benitez. This was a decision reached by Liverpool's board at the end of a very disappointing season.

    In fairness to Roy Hodgson, as a poster said, if he is asked a question about relegation and Liverpool are in the bottom three, then of course he has to consider it.

    I am a firm believer that Hodgson has to be given time, but it is a concern when Liverpool supporters (who only ever voice public concern about a manager as a last resort) called for Dalglish yesterday.

    What should Hodgson do? How about dropping Glen Johnson, who was dreadful again yesterday? Even those who admire Rafael Benitez must question the notion of spending £18m on a defender who struggles to defend.

    Daniel Agger should be one of the first names on the teamsheet in my opinion - and Liverpool need to adopt a more positive style.

    How much pressure is Hodgson under? And what a vital match the derby is now.

    Keep the comments coming. This debate has so many strands and you can explore them all here.

  • Comment number 67.

    #8 good post.

    Maybe Roy has gotten too used to managing average clubs and now - unintentionally - is turning Liverpool into an average club because he doesn't know what to do with a top-level club.

    If these results were Fulham's, it would still be a bad start, but not a shocker like it is now with 'pool.

  • Comment number 68.

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  • Comment number 69.

    An interesting article. As a Fulham fan watching the plight of Liverpool, I find it surprising to see the criticism levelled at Hodgson so early into his reign.

    Don't get me wrong - Liverpool have looked lacklustre at best. But to blame that on Hodgson's tactical nous seems bizarre. Though Liverpool fans seem to associate Fulham with being "mediocre", through his guidance last season, we were able to beat the likes of Shakhtar Donestsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg, Hamburg, and may even have pipped Athletico Madrid. In the league, we also beat Man U and Benitez's Liverpool - so evidently, he was doing something right. As Danny Murphy mentioned in an interview, the key to his success is preparing each of his players meticulously prior to match day. In practice that means organising his team so they're defensively secure, so they can capitalise when going forward.

    Where I think Liverpool have been failing is that the players are reluctantly / refusing to embrace his methods. You need only look at Dan Agger's outburst to appreciate that the club has too many "stuck up" footballers. More worryingly, besides Gerrard and Carragher, hardly anyone else seems to have genuine passion for the club, and what it means to the community - as an example, you've already got Jovanovic talking about leaving after less than 3 months at the club. Put another way, could you really picture Ngog, Babel, Rodriguez, and a host of other players putting themselves in harms way in the name of LFC?

    All this along with too many players with unjustly "esteemed reputations", who seem incapable of playing collectively as a unit, compounds Liverpool's problem. In my view, if the fans want to get vocal, they should start examining the players and questioning who deserves to be wearing the shirt.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think Benitez did a good job with Liverpool. You don't win what he has done being a bad manager. Yeah he bought some shockers but name me a manager that hasn't (Fergie:Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson, Mourinho:Asier Del Horno,Mateja Kezman, Wenger: Francis Jeffers)? His team underperformed last season but so did Houlier's in his last season in charge but I don't think many would argue he didn't help Liverpool.

    As for Roy Hodgson every manager needs time. Even Sir Alex took six years to win the title with Man Utd and bounced between 11th and 2nd before back to 11th again and journalists and former players were calling for him to be sacked! Don't they look foolish now with what he has won since then? At the end of the day good managers don't just become bad ones overnight and it will take time for Hodgson to get his ideas over.

  • Comment number 71.

    i think hodgson has made a couple of big errors already.

    1) he should nhever have let aquillani go out on loan. He may be a bit of laughing stock because of last season but i have seen both him and meireles play a couple of times each and i think aquillani looks the better player. hodgson let a 20 million pound player go for nothing effectively.

    2) Of all of the positions that liverpool needed to strengthen under rafa, striker was the most important. Not getting atleast one other half decent striker in was simply criminal

  • Comment number 72.

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  • Comment number 73.

    #17 - SPOT ON ! SPOT ON ! SPOT ON !!

    You have said all the things that I was thinking so eloquently. The funny thing is how all the WRONG kind of stats are coming out now when Benitez has left. E.g. during Benitez reign Liverpool had NEVER lost by 3-0 when they had all 11 men until they lost to Man. City this season. Also, the last time they lost to League Two team was when Houllier was in charge. Is that right?

    As each week passes, it seems Hodgson sets a new stat. I believe Benitez had a very good record against Everton (can only think of 3/4 losses in 14 cup and league games), sometimes with only 10 men. So, I fully expect Everton to win in a fortnight EASILY.

    I really would like to know how mutual the "mutual consent" was when Benitez left. Somebody must have initiated it and it doesn't appear like Benitez did since he signed a contract only last year. Somebody mentioned something about Benitez not having any friends in the game in England. So, what if Allardyce/Ferguson/Bruce and others didn't like Benitez? He just beat them where it counted...on the pitch.
    It's clear that in Purslow, Liverpool managed to find a worse MD/CEO than Parry. If you're going to get rid of Benitez, at least replace him with someone who HAS WON SOMETHING !

    I know the press keep banging on about Benitez spending and comparing it to Ferguson's spending. But it really is a stupid comparison. When Ferguson bought Ronaldo, he paid £12 million+ in 2003 for an 18 year old. This was before Abramovich came to Chelsea. Once Abramovich arrived, clearly, ANY player desired by other Premier League teams needed to be undesired/unwanted by Chelsea first before they could sign him because no other team could compete with Chelsea in money terms. This is the market that Benitez operated in. So, he ended up paying £18m for a Chelsea-reject Glen Johnson. Enough said !

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi Phil,

    As a Liverpool fan, it pains me to say I knew this was going to happen. When the news of Roy Hodgson being appointed LFC manager came through, there was all sorts of comments in the media about his appointment, ranging from "safe pair of hands", "he will steady the ship" etc etc. However, underneath all of this talk there was a GLARING LACK OF AMBITION.
    What does this appointment say to LFC players?!?!? Well, look, this year we will try to steady the ship, forget about any trophy, so we can gear up for next year or the year after. Steve G is 30, Carra is 33, so who are we gearing up for in a couple of years.

    I am not saying that Roy is a BAD manager. I am saying his appointment sent the wrong message and he has a impossible job to change this arround. If LFC had appointed Hiddink, Hitzfeld or even O'Neill, then the message would be different; we would be expected to go for all the trophies available, and more importantly, the players would feel inspired and play to their capacity.

    I believe that Roy will not have the time to change things around, and contrary to what most LFC fans want (Dalglish), I would prefer Martin O'Neill.

  • Comment number 75.

    Agree with Robwiz & some others. The English press jumped on Benitez but not on Englishman Hodgson. Steve McMahon (ex-Liverpool, now pundit for ESPN) was spot-on earlier in the season when he wasn't sure if Hodgson is the right Mgr for Liverpool. Tactically, Hodgson and Benitez are miles apart. Those players he brought in (Poulsen, Konchelsky, Joe Cole) are not better than the bench (Lucas, Maxi R, Aurelio, Babel et al) and playing one of the better acquisitions i.e. Meireles out of position had made the team so out-of-shape.

    It's a sad day for Liverpool when teams like Blackpool has got no fear nor respect for coming to play at Anfield.

  • Comment number 76.

    To minusone...let's get one thing straight. The media did not sack Benitez.

    Your attitude towards Benitez is disgusting. If he had started this season the way Hodgson has, you would be foaming at the mouth. There's even a poll on the Sky Sports site, which asks the question: Who is to blame for the current situation at Liverpool? One of the options is 'previous managers'.

    Don't YOU tell us Liverpool fans that the media didn't have it in for Benitez. Even you referred to him as "the Spaniard". The inference is pretty clear.

  • Comment number 77.

    Totally agree with 71, until you get a striker you are going to continue to suffer, why not try pacheco (spain u21 striker) or whatever his name is lol as I keep hearing good things, he cant be any worse than Ngog surely?

  • Comment number 78.

    "Even those who admire Rafael Benitez must question the notion of spending £18m on a defender (Johnson) who struggles to defend."

    Dont forget that Liverpool didn't pay 18m in cash.. It was a partly a bad debt that the club were probably going to have to wait a long time to be repaid..

    18m is too much for Johnson especially.. But its nothing compared to what City are spending though..

  • Comment number 79.

    I don't think Hodgson has got a clue and he cannot motivate the players. I thought Rafa had gone and with him the constant mis-selection of players. As they lined up I was wondering why Meireles was on the right wing as he's a central palyer. Joe Cole was on the left wing and he's also a central player. Kuyt seemed to be at a bit of a loss. Square pegs, round holes, Rafa Benitez mark II was my feeling. Also I don't think Hodgson's being helped by sicknote Torres ; there was nothing wrong with his groin in the car park after the match the way he was moving ! Basically I think if Roy persists in playing good footballers out of position then maybe he'd be better off managing back in some minor European leahue as opposed to ruining LFC. And I don't think Sammy Lee instills any fear or confidence into the players either.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    Ah so because I post real journalism facts, my posts are removed? Why? I think the moderators should be fired. I pay your wages.

  • Comment number 82.

    Oh Liverpool are really missing Rafa. Owners are not only to blame.
    I honestly think Liverpool squad have enough quality to finish in top four. Players like Gerrard, Torres, Reina, Carra and cole can play an important role. But it is manager job to do that.
    But Hodgson must given some time to prove himself.
    Excellent article By Phil. You spot on.

  • Comment number 83.

    Unambitious, negative, mediocre. Three words to describe Roy Hodgson.

    Yesterday he was quoted as saying he couldn't give a monkey's if Liverpool were 16th or 18th. Says it all! He should be fired today.

  • Comment number 84.

    You predicted Liverpool would win the title. You predicted Hodgson would be a safe pair of hands...Something tell me Hodgson isn't the only one who faces a fight for credibility!

  • Comment number 85.

    #74 "...If LFC had appointed Hiddink, Hitzfeld or even O'Neill,..."

    But none of those would have gone to a club with no transfer budget, which is why Hodgson is a sensible choice. Like it or not, after Benitez, you needed someone to "steady the ship". Give him time.

  • Comment number 86.

    Liverpool doing badly makes my insides feel warm.

  • Comment number 87.

    I like Roy, I think he's a good manager. But he's not in the same league as Rafa. Rafa's a manager who has won major trophies and has time on his side.

    I also believe that Rafa was building something at Liverpool, a vision. Ok, he's made mistakes, what top manager hasn't. Let's not forget the mess we were in when Houllier left.

    But one bad season does not make him a bad manager. He should have been given this season to turn things around. That was I said to my brother and friend, who are LFC fans and wanted Rafa out because "he could take us no further".

    Well, now we see Rafa at Inter, current European champions and Serie A Champions and we've got lovely Roy, who, at 63 years old is not going to be around long enough to implement his vision and build a team.

    Roy needs time, that's the least he deserves. I hope he gets it and turns it around.

  • Comment number 88.

    Serious question - Why is it that so many Liverpool fans blame such an abject performance on the American duo and refuse to point the finger at the players or managers?

    It's strange. Did H&G not pay £28 million for Torres? Did they not agree to pay Joe Cole £24 million over 4 years? Gerrard and Torres £28 million each over the same period? Find £11.5 million for Meireles and £5 million a pop for Poulsen and Konchesky?

    Going back further they provided the funds to buy Keane (£20 million), Babel (£11.5 million), Aquliani (£20 million) (I could go on...)

    Staggering amounts of money which every manager bar Ancelotti and Mancini would kill for. Rafa was backed to the hilt. Hodgson has been backed to the hilt. And yet they march and whinge and moan?

    No club has a divine right to success. If City are to rise up from decades of being a laughing stock into the top 4 then someone has to drop out. Football is cyclical. Accrington Stanley were once a powerhouse of English football.

    The problem is most of their fans chose to support them because they thought they were backing a winner (with good reason) and now it's pulled up lame they're crying foul (loudly).

    "Enough is enough!" "We've suffered too much pain!" cry the fans of the team that lifted the Champions' League 5 years ago.

    One suspects their pain (by this I simply mean the years of mediocrity enjoyed by the vast majority of football fans) has only just begun, and I think I speak for a lot of football fans when I say "Bring It On!"

  • Comment number 89.

    If one wants to know what's wrong presently with Liverpool FC (apart from the debilitating and dispiriting ownership scenario which is affecting everyone at the club from top to bottom) one only has to look across the Park - to Everton FC. Moyes has had to endure a truly poor start to the season. But were Everton fans calling for his head? No! Everton do not have great riches to employ in the transfer masrket. But are their fans clamouring for unattainable players? No! I could cite other examples but, in short, Everton fans are generally realistic and patient and have trust in their Manager, his staff and the players, to all of whom they offer tremendous support. Can the same be said of Liverpool fans? Of some, yes, but all too many prefer to live in the past and ludicrously continue to talk of their "great club" and its "glories", ignoring completely the monumental change in the Premiership scenario which has occurred in the last few years and which is likely to continue. In their eyes, someone has to be BLAMED - some say Rafa, some the owners, others are now starting on Roy Hodgson. This blame game will only make things worse for all concerned. Let's get some genuine facts established first. Hodgson does not have a big pot of cash to use in the transfer market. He did inherit (and only just before the start of this season) a dispirited group of players. He has only been at the club a few weeks. He is not the amateur or "small town player" that some fans like to describe, having managed two national teams and Inter Milan, amongst others. He is very widely known and respected throughout the game internationally. Are all those international and top European team managers who respect him all wrong to do so? LFC fans who think so are just being ridiculous! Hodgson needs time and the fans need to temper their immediate and short-term expectations to a realistic level. Roy needs at least a couple of transfer windows to offload some highly-paid dead wood, thereby freeing up funds for new players' wages (a financial necessity). He needs to replace one or two ageing Liverpool icons (just watch some fans' reaction when this happens!). Most of all, he needs the support of ALL the fans to lift the spirits of his players. The present problems at Liverpool pre-date Roy by YEARS. The club has not prepared itself to meet the new challenges posed by clubs like Man C and Spurs who have brought in owners and funds to support their rise. More clubs will do the same - but Liverpool have, for too long, preferred to revel in their former "glories". It's now time for ALL associated with Liverpool FC to GET REAL. The club CANNOT match the top Premiership sides right now, no matter who is the manager. They must re-build first and that will take time, whether fans like it or not. Later this month, we may be clearer about ownership issues. Hopefully so. But either way fans need to get behind Roy Hodgson and the team in a BIG WAY! Roy may have to compromise in his transfer market dealings in the short term but fans must remember that this is probably not to Roy's liking either! With the wholehearted support of LFC's fans (to the level of EFC's fans) he can start to make gradual improvements and lift the players - preparing the team for the future time when new owners and funds become available. Then, and only then, can Roy or any other manager begin the march back towards a top four place. In the meanwhile, LFC fans, stop carping and REALLY get behind the team. Get back the Anfield roar and show you understand the manager and team's problems by backing them through hell and high water! Then you'll start to see the real Gerard, the real Torres and, YES, the real Roy Hodgson. In summary - Liverpool FC's future is largely in YOUR HANDS. BELIEVE!

  • Comment number 90.

    Well done Phil. In an article about what is going wrong at Liverpool under Hodgson, you've failed to mention even once the system and tactics that Roy is using.

    Pointless article.

  • Comment number 91.

    Hodgson has more experience than 1 good season with Fulham, he was very successful with Finland, a country where soccer is third in sports.

    I love all the numpty comments, apart from those saying Rafa was better than they media made out, top of his CL group and Top of Seria A. Now lets hear the idiots that say it is not HIS team, BS all stupid comments as you can't send out 11 players and tell them to just play, most players manage their positions and the manager manages the whole tactically, so no, it is not Joses team that is winning Seria A or leading their CL group it is Rafas team.
    Even the fools can pick up Championship manager and not do well in their first ten games as manager and that is only a game for gods sake, so how can you judge Roy after 7 league games. Roy knows better than all the numpty supporters put together re football and tactics although some fans are certain they know better, from their couchlolol

  • Comment number 92.

    @17 (Misusone)

    "journeyman manager with no trophies to his name"

    Are you an idiot or just stupid? If you are going to rant in public at least check your 'facts'. Hodgson has won more trophies than Benitez, and taken a country to a WC England failed to qualify for.

  • Comment number 93.

    You've been in decline since the Prem started, exacerbated by the Champion's League.

    You won so many trophies in the 80's because you had a great knack of buying unknowns(Hansen from Partick Thistle,Rush from Chester),or the occasional big buy from a smaller Div 1 club ie Lawrenson from Brighton. Who was your last decent purchase on that route-Danny Murphy from Crewe.

    You also had a reasonable youth policy to back it up. Who since Gerrard broke through has stayed in your first XI from that side of things?

    The one and only truly inspirational foreign signing you've made in 20 years is Torres & he's now wishing he was elsewhere. You can't even find raw young foreign material like Ronaldo or Fabregas & turn them into world beaters.

    You are also stuck in the past with your ground & that leaves you in the mindset that you have a divine right to be competing for the big prizes. Why? Nothing lasts forever, and you had 16-17 years at the pinnacle, which was a wonderful achievement.

    Yes, WAS. You need to get into 2010 & rebuild the club from scratch. That has to start on the pitch-Hodgson,Dalglish,Mourinho or the Archangel Gabriel will still need TIME to do anything.

    It took SAF 7 years to win our first League Title in 26 years, so don't expect miracles, regardless of owners, either.

  • Comment number 94.

    I dont care if we are 16th or 18th either, no he shouldn't be sacked, neither slot is good enough, and I am sure Roy doesn't care because he believes we should not be occupying either slot come the season end.

    For all the rubbish talk, 3 wins will turn this upside down, 3 yes only 3 wins. LFC are 8 points from second, hardly relegation worry regardless of our current position.

  • Comment number 95.

    Yesterday was a shambles, pure and simple. But the biggest indictment of Hodgson's reign was that it wasn't a shock. We were outplayed & outpassed by Sunderland last week and were lucky to get a point. This week, for 45 minutes, we were made to look like clowns by Blackpool. Or to be more accurate, we allowed Blackpool all the time in the world to make us look like clowns. Love him or loathe him, one of the main components of all Benitez's teams was to put pressure on the ball. Yesterday for the whole first half, we just sat off Blackpool, retreated to our 18 yard line and just let them take pot-shot after pot-shot. It's possibly the most dis-heartening 45 minutes I've ever witnessed as a Liverpool fan. Hodgson then said after the game that Blackpool scored twice "on the counter-attack". Nonsense. We were battered first half and Blackpool were well worth their 2 goal lead. Saying stuff like that just makes him sound like a fool!

    I could go on and on about Hodgson not signing a decent back-up striker, playing Carra at left-back, not playing Agger (even when fit), signing Konchesky, re-signing the perenially injured Aurelio, playing Meireles on the wing, persevering with Poulson & Johnson, bringing on Maxi for just 2 minutes (what was the point??), playing Torres against Utrecht, playing Kuyt through the middle, letting Aquilani & Insua go out on loan, being too tactically naive (vs City), being too tactically negative (vs everyone else), not defending Torres after Fergie's attack on him etc etc etc.... but I won't. All I'll say is that Woy's got a hell of lot to do to win the fans over now. I hope he does but it's not looking good.

    ps Joe Cole?? Can we have Yossi back please?

  • Comment number 96.

    Why can't people see that Hodgson clearly isn't good enough to be liverpool manager. Hodgson is a good mid-table premier league manager where draws are seen as good results and losing the majority of games is seen as acceptable. The last time he was in charge of a big club (Blackburn) he took them down and that was with, at the time the 2nd most expensive squad in the league!

    His tactics are too negative (Meireles on the right, 'i don't play with wingers!), he seems uninspiring and fails to lift the players and he is dragging us to his mediocre standards.

    The only reason the media is not on his back is because he is English, ask yourselve would a foreign manager be afforded the excuses and time he seems to be getting? Would a foreign manager be allowed to get away with the shambolic displays so far? No they wouldn't they would be accused of not understanding English football.

    Liverpool don't need a 'safe' pair of hands who will be all chummy chummy with ferguson, liverpool needs a manager with a winning mentality, liverpool need someone to inspire and lift players clearly in a slump. Liverpool don't need someone saying draws are good results and that we're in a relegation battle.

    Please Roy collect your P45 and let King Kenny take over, for your sake and for ours!

  • Comment number 97.

    I am not calling for Roy Hodgson's head. I believe any manager needs time to adjust to a new club, and the larger the club, the more time required. Liverpool are still a large club, though diminishing in power and reputation as every year passes while new stadia are stalled, sale of the club itself is stalled, and players agitate for moves away.

    Against that background, Hodgson needs time. Some managers arrive and players play better for them from the off. Hodgson is not one of those, he doesn't motivate through force of personality. He motivates through instilling in his players the belief that by following his methods, they will be successful. Setbacks such as those we have seen in his first 7 games are hugely damaging to that creation of systematic belief. Can he overcome those setbacks? Only time will tell, but time is something in rapidly diminishing supply for Roy. Let us be clear: with the players he has, he and the club should emphatically not be languishing in the relegation places --- and furthermore, no Liverpool manager should give credence to such a placing _as though it were more than transitory_. That is incredibly damaging, both to player morale and to the willingness of the fans to give Hodgson time.

    I feel the board will need to draw a line in the sand for Roy: improve the club's league position to a stable upper-mid-table at least by the end of November, or we start looking for a replacement. Time, a deadline, and consequences concentrate the mind wonderfully, so long as the target is realistic. The despair for many fans is that the target above may be as optimistic as we can strive for at present.

  • Comment number 98.

    Hodgson is doing nothing to convince me that he is good enough for this job. First of all his team selections at times are baffling, including the subs bench. Look at it yesterday, no Babel or Pacheco on the bench, attacking players that can make a difference, but instead he opts for Jay Spearing, a defensive midfielder that would struggle to break into most Championship teams, and Maxi Rodriguez, who has done absolutely nothing of note for Liverpool, I genuinely cannot remember Maxi giving anything other than an average performance. The continued bad treatment of Babel is doing my nut in, why ineffective players such as Maxi, Poulsen, and at times Lucas and Kuyt get 10-15 games in a row to prove their worth whilst Babel will get 1 game and subsequently be dropped is beyond me.

    The persistent selection of Poulsen is also causing much frustration amongst Liverpool fans, as was shown yesterday. Poulsen is off the pace, often caught on the ball and unable to pass forward. It's been quite a turn around of fan opinion regarding Lucas with fans now begging for him to be used ahead of Poulsen.

    Raul Meireles and Joe Cole are both being played out of position. Meireles is a central midfielder more suited to playing a box to box role, what is the point in buying a central midfielder only to deploy him on the right side? Joe Cole is also not a winger, but again is more suited to playing as an attacking midfielder in a central area. But again, his selection is not being justified thus far as he has been turning in some poor performances and has proved to be no improvement on Benayoun.

  • Comment number 99.

    "despite the Scot being told in no uncertain terms by chairman Martin Broughton that he was not seen as Liverpool managerial material only a few months ago"
    Remind me again, what are Broughton's achievements in football to qualify him in making a decision on who should manage the club ? Is this the same fella who wouldn't even turn up for the Chelsea game because of his allegiance to Chelsea ? I think he is a banker and should stick to what he loves doing best, banking. Do you know recently, this season, is the first time I have ever heard the local radio station advertising that there are tickets available for Liverpool home matches. Carry on Mr.Broughton, but listen to the fans, they know more than you about who can and cannot manage a football team.

  • Comment number 100.


    Your ultimate defence of Roy Hodgson is worrying to say the least, somewhat as reactionary as the people calling for him to be swinging from the gallows.
    There are clear reasons why YOU in particular have to hold this line and it born out of some blind loyality to a media manager, prehaps linked with hommage to his 'Englishness'.
    So lets look at 'FACTS' shall we ?

    Fact Roy Hodgson claims to be one of the most respected managers in Europe.
    Reality if so why was he sacked at Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers (when they had money).
    Reality he's never won any titles or trophies in the major European Leagues such as Spain,Italy,England,Germany.

    Fact Roy Hodgson considers, a good season for Liverpool as in getting into the Eurpoa league & salvaging draws against Sunderland.
    Reality Lievrpool record until last season was playing in the Champions League every season Rafa was in charge.

    The problems at Liverpool are deep the roots of which lay in the owners but there can be no denying THE OWNERS ACTIONS DO EFFECT THE FOOTBALL.
    It's simple logic less money means less quality players.

    The answer doesn't lay in Martin O Neil for those fans calling for him becuase I believe the task facing Liverpool is at least ten years to get back to the top consistently.

    Roy Hodgson is 63 years old and cannot be considered a long term solution.
    What should happen is a young Manager should have been brought in to be groomed for the long term.
    He should work alongside Kenny Dalglish for a three or so years or until the long term ownership of the club is rectified.

    What we have is Manager too old to inspire who doesn't inspire.
    Roy cannot escape the same things that were levelled against his Rafa.
    In that, these are the players you have and it's your JOB to get the best out of them.
    Roy Hodgson has thus far failed


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