Roy Hodgson: Right Man For Liverpool?
By Siobhan McCall.
The unveiling of Roy Hodgson may have brought an end to weeks of speculation about who would take over as the new Liverpool boss but fans still remain divided as to whether the ex-Fulham manager is the man for the job. Despite Hodgson receiving backing from Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, the announcement that he’s become Liverpool’s eighteenth boss hasn’t exactly been met with jubilation and the results of that now infamous poll, which suggested only 7% of fans quizzed wanted him as manager, still rings alarm bells.
One of the most common complaints seems to be why Liverpool chose to sack Rafael Benitez and then appoint an already contracted successor. This changeover cost around £9 million and since Hodgson has a far inferior record to that of Rafa, it’s not hard to see why some fans have questioned the logic of this decision. For a club whose finances aren’t exactly in tip-top shape, would that money not have been better spent in the transfer market?
The move is made all the more confusing by the fact that Manuel Pellegrini, formerly of Real Madrid and Villareal, is a free agent with a proven record at the top of the game. Los Galacticos may have only finished runners up in La Liga last season but this hides the fact that they also achieved a club record ninety-six points. At Villarreal, Pellegrini took the club to the Champions League in his first season and the semi-finals of that competition the following year. While success in Spain doesn’t automatically translate into success in the Premiership, Liverpool need someone who can attract some star players and guide them back into the top four. A former Real Madrid boss is going to be a name that every player recognises and for this alone, the Chilean may have been worth a punt.
Then there‘s Kenny Dalglish. A legend as both a player and manager, Dalglish was many a fans favourite to take the post. Detractors have suggested that Dalglish would be out of touch, having not managed since 2000, but does someone of that calibre really lose their managerial magic, especially having delivered three league titles at Liverpool and one for Blackburn? Dalglish’s appointment would have lifted fans, you can’t help but associate him with the glory days, and at a time when there hasn’t been much to smile about at Anfield, this could have been just the tonic. Dalglish would also have had the advantage of the fans giving him time to build and revamp the team, supporters won’t turn on one of their own in the way they might should Hodgson not deliver.
So what of Hodgson then? As someone who had the privilege of watching all of Fulham’s Europa League run from the stands, I can understand some of the thinking behind his appointment. One thing that Liverpool lacked last season and Fulham had in abundance was fight. The heroics of Istanbul, Cardiff and even the comebacks against Manchester City and Wigan of the previous season were replaced with drab and lacklustre showings. If Hodgson can instil the same spirit in his new team that he did in the Fulham side that put four past Juventus, Liverpool might prove a surprising force. Neither can you ignore the fact that under Hodgson, the much ridiculed Bobby Zamora was transformed into a twenty-one goal a season striker, on the verge of an England World Cup squad place until injury cruelly denied him his chance. Perhaps Hodgson can get Alberto Aquilani to demonstrate some of that talent we all know he possesses or make Ryan Babel, if he stays, produce for the full ninety minutes the performances he can turn out as a substitute.
The problem with Hodgson’s appointment is that his reputation is based on turning Fulham, potential relegation candidates, into Europa League finalists and a solid mid-table side. Liverpool fans know their club is bigger than this and there’s a fear that by bringing in Hodgson, the board are suggesting that stabilising the team and perhaps a cup run are the highest ambitions they should be hoping for. But this isn’t necessarily the case. We need to remember that Hodgson, bar his spell at Inter Milan, hasn’t been given a shot at the top of the game and especially not in the Premiership.
He may prove to be a fantastic coup and who knows what he can do with a side that could still contain Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. He might not be everyone’s first choice but for what he did at Fulham, he certainly deserves his chance.
What’s your thoughts on Hodgson becoming Liverpool manager?
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