Roy Hodgson’s out for redemption, even if he says he’s got nothing to prove.
Both managers have said this game’s not about revenge, but if you followed Roy Hodgson’s disastrous tenure at Liverpool closely you know that’s not the case. Three points will mean so much more to Roy than just West Brom’s safety. For him, a win against his old club is a chance for emotional redemption for the horrific nightmare that was his reign on Merseyside. It’s his chance to prove his doubters wrong. The only problem is, Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish will have other ideas.
In a press conference this week Kenny Dalglish said,
“Roy hasn’t got anything to prove to anybody. Everyone knows he’s an excellent coach so we know what to expect. We know how they will play so it’s up to us to be better than them on the day.”
It was a typically diplomatic and respectful comment from Dalglish. Of course, he’s manager of Liverpool football club and a man of integrity, so such politeness is what you would expect, but we in the wonderful world of the web can pretty much say what we want. I don’t know about you, but I think you’d struggle to fill a classroom with people who think he’s an “excellent coach”.
He’s right in saying “we know how they’ll play” though. If it’s anything like Roy’s time in charge at Liverpool then West Brom will play 4-4-2, sit deep and pass the ball around nervously at the back, before making a comical error and conceding. Who knows? Maybe that’s changed.
Of course, Roy has provided his own insight into the situation, giving the standard 30 year career defence mechanism which we have all heard countless times.
“I don’t have any feelings of revenge or proving anything. If there are people out there who think I need to prove a point then I suggest they look at what I’ve done in 36 years. I’m more concerned with having that behind me than having debates about six months at a club. For me, it’s six months in a 36-year career – and I don’t have any worries about that.”
Ironically, he then goes on to say that he lives in “the present and the future. What happened at Liverpool is in the past.” For a man who considers himself a citizen of the present and the future he makes an awful lot of references to past managerial achievements!
Despite all the public announcements claiming he has nothing to prove, inside, deep down you know that he’s hurting. He was publicly humiliated, his tactics were a complete failure and he was left questioning everything he’s ever learnt during his long managerial career. That can’t have been easy for him to take and I wouldn’t wish what he went through on anyone.
His next comments hint to some of that pain.
“I never had any fears the people with whom I was working had no respect for the work I was doing. But it’s nice to hear them say it publicly, which is not always the case.”
The fact that he needed public reassurance from Dalglish and Gerrard suggests that actually, those fears were quite real.
The fact of the matter is, he just wasn’t the right man for Liverpool.
As much as Hodgson would like to banish his ghosts by defeating Liverpool at home, it won’t be easy. Albion have set a new Premier League record by going 28 games in a row without keeping a clean sheet. Liverpool on the other hand looked really solid against Sunderland and won comfortably without ever looking overly impressive in attack.
The Reds will likely start with the balanced strike partnership of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. I have to be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with the way Liverpool seemed to resort to long balls to Carroll far too often in previous games. Hopefully, the players will learn to pick and choose when to use that option because it makes for an ugly spectacle when that’s all you see.
I’m still on the fence over Carroll, but at 22 he still has plenty of time to improve. Even without Steven Gerrard (groin), an attack of Meireles, Carroll, Suarez and Kuyt (top scorer with 8), with Lucas holding behind looks very strong. We should definitely have enough firepower to see the Baggies off.
This game is very important for both teams. A win for Liverpool could take them within 2 points of Tottenham and European qualification. It’s also imperative we finish as high as possible this season in order to attract top quality recruitments in the Summer, and a win here would help that cause nicely. West Brom on the other hand are currently only 1 point away from the drop zone but as I’ve already mentioned, this game means more than that to Hodgson, despite what he might say. A win for Roy will make his sleeps a little bit easier but I don’t think the daemons from his past will ever truly disappear. A loss however, will just compound the suffering further.
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