Home > Benitez, Everton, Football, gerrard, hodgson, houllier, Liverpool, Match Report, Premiership, Sky Sports, Soccer, torres > The case for Hodgson’s dismissal. An LFC rant.

The case for Hodgson’s dismissal. An LFC rant.

I really wanted Rafael Benitez to become Liverpool manager before he took over in 2004. I was away living in Edinburgh for the summer but when his name was linked with the job I thought back to the time his Valencia team had thoroughly dismantled Liverpool in 2002, with Pablo Aimar and company running rings around a shaven headed Gerrard and his teammates.

Clueless? Hodgson's future as Liverpool boss is looking bleak

I was still on the fence about the case for Benitez’ dismissal in the summer, and let’s face it, his time had come to an end and the mutual decision was a case of saving face for the former owners, Hicks and Gillett. I still felt that with proper backing, with the ability to choose the right players to sign for the club, Rafa could have won the title.

When Hodgson signed, I felt nothing. No excitement, nothing. It was a case of Hodgson taking a team who weren’t very good and making them punch above their weight with Fulham. He did a terrific job. But he hadn’t been given the big jobs over more than three decades of management. He presided over an Inter Milan team in a rebuilding phase but as recently as five years ago had been manager of Norwegian team Viking.

This season has been an unmitigated disaster, on and off the pitch. But while fans and commentators are queuing up to criticise the effort of the players, something has to be wrong with the style of management when the likes of Torres and Gerrard don’t even have the usual passion for the game, especially against rivals Everton.

It has become popular to say that Liverpool need massive rebuilding of their squad, but these are the same players who were winning big games with ease two years ago. Rolling out victories as they chased Man Utd, hammering the likes of Real Madrid and the league leaders within a week. Reina, Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Lucas, Kuyt, Babel, Gerrard, Ngog, Torres. They were all a part of it. Johnson is not a bad signing. Meireles is not a bad signing. Cole is not a bad signing. In replacing the likes of Degen, Mascherano and Benayoun, the fact is the first team should not be considerably weaker.

Meireles has not been utilised to his potential under Hodgson

Mascherano and Alonso were the perfect platform for any team and them leaving has ripped the fulcrum of the team apart. But the first team is still performing well below its ability.

The full backs look up and see no-one on the wings. As Hodgson said recently, “we don’t play with wingers” meaning that Konchesky and Carragher had to pass the ball infield at every opportunity today because Maxi and Cole were invariably nearer the centre circle than the wing. The lack of width is frightening, especially when the opposing team has the ball it means that they can switch play with ease and find themselves with acres of space with which to attack a frightened defence.

The usual criticism applies of Liverpool failing to test the goalkeeper. Any save Howard had to make today was a hopeful shot straight at him, with the exception of a Torres header in the first half that would have taken a Howard howler to give Liverpool the lead. Torres’ running was shocking today. He was heading for the same channels as his teammates. When he laid the ball off to good effect he failed to show the ambition to get into the box.

This points to a lack of belief in the tactics. It seemed he wanted to drop deep and try and work magic on his own because once again he received no service in the box, nothing to trouble Jagielka and Distin. Indeed Everton dropped back with half an hour left because they weren’t afraid of Liverpool attacking. The midfield five passed the ball among themselves with no penetration, no ideas, meaning Everton knew the victory was theirs if they kept their discipline. Which they did.

Hodgson's comments in the media have failed to inspire confidence

Hodgson’s dismal start as manager is all the more depressing for his growing tendency towards foot in mouth moments in front of the microphones. Here’s the phenomenal delusion he showed after today’s demoralising defeat:

We suffered at the hands of an early onslaught which you invariably do at Goodison but towards the end of the first half we started to even things out.

From what I saw I thought we dominated the second half totally.

I thought the shape of the team was good, the quality of our passing and movement was good.

We didn’t score goals and Everton did but I refuse to accept that we were in any way outplayed or any way inferior.

Is it a crisisI don’t think it is a crisis, I thought the way we played today was not the level of a team in the bottom three.

TorresHe got battered during the World Cup and mentally he is probably a bit low and he needs a goal or two to get it back. Certainly today I would have no qualms about his performance.

Before Gerard Houllier was sacked as Liverpool manager, he had become fond for noting statistics like the number of corners his team had won as a way of batting away suggestions that his tactics were negative. Today’s comments from Hodgson beggar belief though. That he could go on to describe the second hand performance as the best of the year so far is nothing short of a disgrace.

If that is Liverpool dominating and performing well, if Hodgson says he can’t ask for anything more from his players, what can Liverpool fans genuinely hope for this season.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright shows new Liverpool owner John Henry how to point and laugh

I try and maintain this blog impartially as I watch all teams play and love The Premiership as a whole. But when it comes to Liverpool at the moment it is important to show that this is a team I watch week-in, week-out. I hate seeing us exit the Carling Cup because it means another matchday with no Liverpool involvement. But I was almost smiling this afternoon. It was a weary smile of someone who has given up. That I saw Hodgson do the exact same thing on 90 minutes made me angry though.

The team has gone backwards again after a poor season last time out. Decisions to invest in the likes of Konchesky and Poulsen rather than stick with Insua and Lucas in similar roles and failing to bring in a striker are strange, bad judgement maybe.

Investing in Poulsen and Meireles after bringing in Cole is odd, given that it was possibly the one area Liverpool didn’t need strengthening in. Playing Cole and Meireles on the wings, keeping faith in Maxi for 85 minutes today despite his complete lack of imput,  risking Ngog only when games are lost, failing to inspire his team despite the roar of the Merseyside Derby and new owners watching from the stands, describing his Northampton team as a “B team”, failing to back Fernando Torres against Alex Ferguson, publicly flirting with the sale of the likes of Babel and Lucas, only to go back to them in times of desperation, signing in Paul Konchesky a likeable man but a decidedly average player, these are no the decisions of a top coach.

I expect Hodgson’s comments to lead to his dismissal shortly. New owners will want to start afresh. They will see some despondent players today and will probably make quiet signals to key players and hierarchy like Gerrard and Dalglish to see what they feel needs changing.

Hodgson admitted the buck stopped with him after Blackpool. He couldn’t do so again today as it would be like a broken record interview. His time is running out. The gamble on Hodgson has backfired. Far from steadying the ship, Liverpool are in their worst-ever position in Premiership history, with a team containing some world-class players. Players who don’t believe in their coach either.


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