"What do you mean you've hurt 'your' knee, it's Liverpool's knee" - Bill Shankly.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Roy Hodgson argues for change of boss at Liverpool FC

OF all the voices who have argued for a change of management at Anfield this season one man has consistently made the most compelling case – Roy Hodgson.
There has never have been a Liverpool boss as universally disliked by supporters as the Londoner.
But it’s not just the regressive tactics, awful signings (Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky) and pitiful away form (six defeats in nine games with a goal difference of -10) that has turned the Kop against him.
Liverpool supporters have become accustomed to their managers being equally skilled as orators, a trend begun by the great Bill Shankly. Even the quieter men among the club’s roll call of bosses like Bob Paisley could be relied upon for cutting sound bites.
Not Hodgson. Barely a press conference goes by without the former UAE coach embarrassing himself and the club, alienating a player or enraging fans.
Here is a collection of the worst efforts of his first – and hopefully only – six months in charge:

I preferred to put my weight behind David Ngog and Ryan Babel, who's never really been given a proper chance at centre-forward at the club. I'm hoping that between now and Christmas we'll have ample quality to see us through that period.
On not buying another striker

A club like Liverpool shouldn't have to rely on non-specialists like Dirk Kuyt or Ryan Babel ‘doing a job’ up front when they are primarily wide players.
Hodgson changes his mind a month later.

They'll be a formidable challenge – there's no question about that.
On Carling Cup opponents, struggling league Two side Northampton

I thought we did quite well when (Northampton) they took the lead in the extra time and we threw caution to the wind it gave us the equaliser.
Hodgson uses the words ‘throw caution to the wind’ about playing a League Two side. At Anfield.

That was as good as we have played all season..... To get a result here – against Everton – would have been Utopia.
After the wretched loss to Everton

I know Sir Alex (Ferguson) is not really a Liverpool man so I’m a bit concerned about my excellent relationship with him.
I sincerely hope he forgives me for moving north and hopefully we can have a glass of wine together, maybe in secret.
Hodgson endears himself to Liverpool fans everywhere

I prefer to talk about the game and talk about issues that interest me. Mr Ferguson is entitled to any opinion he wants to have but I'm not going to come here and say I agree or disagree.
Hodgson refuses to defend Fernando Torres against accusations of cheating

I understand (Frank) Rijkaard has just been sacked from Galatasaray – he must be a great manager to have been sacked by Galatasaray.
'Nice guy' Roy on the Champions League and La Liga winning manager

You would have to ask (Glen Johnson) 'do you think you're playing at top form and are you playing like the best right-back in the country for your club?' If he says yes, obviously we will have to agree to differ and if he says no, then you'd have to ask the question 'why not?
Showing his man-management skills

The protest does not help but it is something I have had to live with since I came to the club.
Criticising the fans’ protest against the club’s former owners

I was disappointed – and I've told him this – that he – Dalglish – applied for the job in the summer because I don't think that was ever really going to happen for him.
Putting Liverpool legend Dalglish in his place, a man who has won more trophies than Hodgson has Premier League away games in his entire time in England

I've been involved in some big derbies in my career and you know how much they mean to the fans.... I didn't like losing in those games, which I did quite often. I did poorly so it would be nice to change that.
Hodgson shows he’s the man for the big occasion before losing 3-2 to Manchester United.

He’s a quality player and we will be working hard on our tactics to make sure he doesn’t dominate the game.
No, not Lionel Messi, rather Fulham’s Danny Murphy, who was sent packing by Liverpool six years ago.

I think it would be a sad day for football and for Liverpool if someone who had been brought in with the pomp and circumstance, and the money it took them to release me from my previous contract, and being feted as one of England's best managers – if after eight games people are deciding this guy has got to go
Showing his modest side.

Are you from Denmark? (No, Norway replied the journalist) Ah, two countries I never want to work in again.
Insulting a Norweigian journalist and a large part of Liverpool’s fan base.

We have got a lot more expensive failures on our list than good players that we have brought in for next to nothing.
Having a dig at Champions League winning former Reds boss Rafa Benitez and his transfer record

What do you mean do my methods translate? They have translated from Halmstad to Malmo to Orebo to Neuchatel Xamax to the Swiss national team. So I find the question insulting. To suggest that, because I have moved from one club to another, that the methods which have stood me in good stead for 35 years and made me one of the most respected coaches in Europe don’t suddenly work, is very hard to believe.
Reeling off some of the massive clubs he’s managed. Not so much a who’s who of European football as a who are they?

Today was a famous victory
No, not Liverpool’s win in Istanbul but a 1-0 triumph over Bolton at the Reebok.

There aren't many quality left-backs around in the world, never mind in England – so to find an English one ( Paul Konchesky) who can go straight into the team without any adjustment problems is a big advantage.
Hodgson, who sold Roberto Carlos to Real Madrid while manager of Inter Milan, knows a good left back when he sees one.

Christian (Poulsen) is an all-round player. He is capable of scoring goals, a good passer of the ball and a good defender.
After paying £4.5m on the 30-year-old plodder.

He's not that bad on the ball.
After seeing him play.

It is very early for me to make very strong judgements about where his best position is.
Hodgson shows the depth of his research on £11.5m signing Raul Meireles, who has played his entire career in central midfield. Until he came to Anfield.

I don't understand questions about Liverpool and Fulham players being different types
Who said Hodgson doesn’t grasp how big a club Liverpool is?

I've had several bad experiences. Even at Halmstad in the 70s, in the year we won our second championship, it took until the second half of the season to win our first game away and that broke a record going back two seasons. We went over two seasons without winning an away game.
On his wretched away form throughout his career.

Fans make their frustrations felt every time we lose, but unfortunately they may have to do that a few more times, because I can't see us going through a season winning every game.
Roy promises the good times are going to roll again after the 2-0 defeat to Stoke

I don't know where the stories came from that Gerrard would be fit for Newcastle.
From your Head of Sports Medicine Dr Peter Brukner, Roy.

It's not as if he'll be playing with a bunch of also-rans. I'm not asking him to play in the reserves.
Asking Torres to play against Utrecht while also motivating his reserves

I thought it would be a nice game for him (Torres) and a chance for him to get his confidence back. But I also had a talk to our fitness people and they made me see sense that it wasn't the wisest thing to do.
Revealing who picks the team.

I think we will cross that bridge when we come to it... I am not naive to believe there won’t be any danger and we will never lose a player like Torres, I understand these things can happen
Issuing a stern hands-off Torres warning to pal Ferguson. Well, kind of.

When it was mooted the club wanted me for the job I made it clear to Kenny I wanted him on board and it wouldn’t be like it was with Benitez where he’d be here in name only. It wouldn’t be the case that Kenny would be never be allowed to step foot into Melwood.
Having another dig at the Spaniard, a claim which was exposed as a lie by the Champions League winning manager

He's not so much a player I can really take responsibility for. I'd have to share the responsibility for Joe, less so than for people like [Christian] Poulsen, [Raul] Meireles and [Paul] Konchesky, who are players I was quite happy to bring to the club.
Washing his hands of Joe Cole a week before the former Chelsea midfielder earns Liverpool a 2-1 victory over Bolton

Ever since I came here, the famous Anfield support hasn't really been there.There was the problem with the owners and Kenny being so popular and the job going to me, so I have had to live with that. I have to hope the fans will become supporters because we need support. We are not deliberately losing games.
Roy puts the final nail in his coffin


Hodgson Putting the Gaff in Gaffer

A few weeks back, someone emailed me a list of Roy Hodgson’s PR gaffes, to put onto this site. I decided against using them, thinking it might be seen as unfair, but they do paint the picture of a man who underestimated the pressure at Liverpool FC, and who has looked hopelessly out of his depth.

There have been moments of good humour from the boss, but mostly it’s been spikiness and a desire to protect his own reputation before that of his players.

This is not intended as a personal attack, simply a demonstration of a man who appears to have bitten off more than he can chew.

I haven’t included his more recent gaffes (the Rafa/Dalglish lie, slating players in public, etc) ; there appear to be enough here, in what was sent to me.

* * *


29 July 2010 – “It’s a massive step up.”

(Describing the challenge facing the squad he took to Macedonia. A squad that included Cavalieri, Soto, Skrtel, Agger, Aquilani, Lucas, Jovanovic and N’Gog.)

* * *


30 July 2010 – “I don’t think I’ve ever said the squad is in need of a major overhaul,” said the boss. “We need to add one or two players to the team.

“It is important we keep the nucleus from last season and a nucleus of players who are maybe just behind the first team.”

Contrast with:


9 September 2010 – “We should be very happy [with summer dealings].” “We were unbelievably overstaffed when I came to the club and, if the truth be known, we still are overstaffed.” [Could mean fringe players here. But his own signings have only added to the deadwood.]


29 October 2010 – “There are a lot of things here that the club has got to get right. We have got a lot more expensive failures on our list than good players that we have brought in for next to nothing.”



29 October 2010 – “I do not want to be taking people’s leftovers. We have got those type of players ourselves. If we are going to improve, we need better.”


10 September 2010 – “I preferred to put my weight behind David Ngog and Ryan Babel, who’s never really been given a proper chance at centre-forward at the club.” “We have Fernando Torres, we have good players who can play behind a lone striker.” “I will be using David Ngog and Ryan Babel in certain games to give Fernando Torres a rest and it’s up to them to prove to me that there’s no need to look further than them.” (Saying he didn’t regret not signing a striker in the summer.)

Contrast with:


31 October 2010 – “A club like Liverpool shouldn’t have to rely on non-specialists like Dirk Kuyt or Ryan Babel ‘doing a job’ up front when they are primarily wide players.”

“In training, I can’t have practice games where each team plays a 4-4-2 because I don’t have the front players to do that.”

* * *


25 August 2010 – “I thought for long periods of the game it was fairly even and both teams passed the ball fairly well in the middle of the park. But the difference, as in all games, is goals.” (After Man City 3-0 loss. Simply not an accurate reflection of the game.)

* * *

Describing the Trabzonspor win as “a famous victory”.



“Today was a famous victory because we hadn’t won more than once away in the whole of 2010,”

* * *


16 July 2010 – “He’s a player I know very little about.” (About French international striker, Loïc Rémy.)

* * *

4 October 2010 – “There are 31 games left, but when you are in the relegation zone you are in a relegation battle.” (After Blackpool defeat.)


“Unfortunately, when you give yourself an uphill task with a 0-2 you’ve got to expect it’s going to be very difficult in the second half against a team of Blackpool’s quality.”

Liverpool hadn’t lost a home game to a promoted side since 1999.

* * *


16 September 2010 – “You don’t play in the Europa League to play against poor opponents.”

* * *


22 September 2010 – “They’ll be a formidable challenge – there’s no question about that.” (About Northampton Town. Who were at the time 17th in the 4th tier of English football.)

* * *


23 September 2010 – “Northampton were clearly better than one would have expected from a team playing where they play.” And on 18-year-old Shelvey’s debut…. “He did well but the fact is he came on in extra-time and people were tiring.”


26 September 2010 – “…in many ways it was the performance we wanted.”

“I think over the 90 minutes we were certainly more than worth the point we got.” (After dreadful Sunderland performance. A team we had dispatched 3-0 the previous year.)

* * *


1 October – “So it’s a good point to take back to Liverpool. Four points out of two games. It’s the first time we haven’t won one of these games but to be honest it would have been unfortunate for them if we’d won the game tonight. They would have felt hard done by. For me, a draw was a more than satisfactory result.” (After Utrecht 0-0. They’re not even in the top 100 European clubs by UEFA coefficient.)

* * *


2 October 2010 – “What do you mean do my methods translate? They have translated from Halmsteds to Malmo to Orebo to Neuchatel Xamax to the Swiss national team.”

* * *


17 October 2010, after 2-0 defeat at Everton “This was always going to be a difficult game to win.” (It wasn’t for the previous two Reds’ managers.)

“To get a result here and win the game would have been utopia.”

“I hope that fair-minded people see the game the same way. I think it’s a bit unfortunate that after such a good game of football, everything revolves around the fact that Liverpool didn’t win it.”

“We didn’t score goals and Everton did but I refuse to accept that we were in any way outplayed or any way inferior. I watched the performance and the second half was as good as I saw a Liverpool team play under my management that is for sure.”

* * *


21 October 2010, responding to alleged interest from Manchester United in Torres – “With Torres, I think we will cross that bridge when we come to it,” said Hodgson. “There will always be speculation.

“When a great player like Wayne Rooney is looking to leave his club, Manchester United will be a position to target a lot of players around the world.

“I don’t think Fernando Torres will be the only striker they target and I don’t think that we will be the only club that will be worried their striker can be targeted.

“I am not naive to believe that there won’t be any danger and we will never lose a player like Torres.”

* * *

“I hope we don’t get beaten too heavily” … before the friendly with Al Hilal

“I hope we don’t get beaten 6-0” … before the Man City game.

* * *

Do you think, Torres is more suiteable to playing alone, or with a striking partner?

RH: “I don’t know.”

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Quote of the moment

Defying belief however, is a market Benitez has cornered quite well. The moment you think Benitez is clueless, he defies it by pulling off a result of majesty, like the one achieved in Madrid. The moment he is hailed a genius, he masterminds toothless surrender to a team going nowhere. In the ongoing Anfield power struggle, just when he was cornered by the firing squad, the Spaniard's demise at Liverpool looking practically assured with the ominous suspension of betting by the bookmakers, he squeezes out through a narrow trapdoor and eliminates Rick Parry. Rafa Benitez is Keyzer Soze.
- Just Football blog: The Curious Beast that is Football 28 Feb 2009