Regarding Roy Hodgson and the job he’s done at Liverpool thus far, let’s get all of the criticisms out on the table. In the past few weeks, I’ve heard complaints that “small club” managers, such as Hodgson from Fulham, don’t do well at “big clubs,” Hodgson is hopeless tactically, he hasn’t won any major trophies, the players he’s signed have been awful, if Hodgson was a foreigner he would have been sacked by now, he can’t handle the pressure, Benitez was able to finish last season in seventh place with essentially the same side, he waits too long in matches to make tactical substitutions, and so on.
When results don’t go their way, club supporters are quick to examine every little detail to rip their manager apart. But if Liverpool went on an unbeaten run for the next several weeks, most of the doubts and concerns that supporters have would quickly vanish all because the team was winning again.
No one likes to see their team lose. And Hodgson is not the first to be in this situation. In fact if you look back to Manchester United’s 1989-90 season in the old First Division, here was their record after eight league matches compared to Liverpool’s record this season:
- Manchester United, played 8 matches, W 2, D 2, L 4, 8 points
- Liverpool, played 8 matches, W 1, D 3, L 4, 6 points
And you could easily argue that the top flight of English league football is significantly more competitive now than it was during the 89-90 season, thus making it easier to earn points then than now.
Not only did Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have 8 points after eight matches in the league, but they also suffered a demoralizing 5-1 loss against Manchester City that season. In fact things got so worse for Manchester United that Ferguson was one game away from getting sacked. A banner at Old Trafford read “Three years of excuses and it’s still crap. Ta ra Fergie.” Luckily for Ferguson Mark Robins scored the winner to beat Nottingham Forest in the third round of the FA Cup on January 7, 1990. And the solitary goal saved the Scot from getting the sack.
Times have changed significantly since the late 80s, and there’s no doubt that Liverpool is in serious trouble in the league, but it helps to get a little perspective and for Liverpool supporters to keep the faith at least for a little while longer. As another comparison, more recently, let’s take a look at the disastrous start to the 2008 season for Tottenham Hotspur under Juande Ramos. Here was their record after eight matches:
- Tottenham Hotspur, played 8 matches, W 0, D 2, L 6, 2 points
After 8 matches, Ramos was sacked.
I believe that too many Liverpool supporters are living in the past. There are still too many Benitez sympathizers who are comparing everything Hodgson does to Rafa. Benitez is gone and won’t be coming back. And other managers such as Dalglish, Rijkaard, Pellegrini or O’Neill aren’t going to make a single piece of difference to this side unless Hodgson has lost the dressing room, and I don’t believe he has. At least not yet. You’ve got Liverpool’s two star footballers, Torres and Gerrard, both playing at their lowest ebb ever. That alone has had a major impact on the Liverpool side especially when both players, at different times, have carried the team on their shoulders in the past. And then you have the rest of the team that are playing well under par.
I still contend that Hodgson needs until the end of the year before a decision should be made on his future with the club. It’s too soon for trigger happy Liverpool supporters to be calling for Hodgson to be sacked. Anfield has long believed in getting behind its team. And in this Sunday’s game against Blackburn, Hodgson and his team will need Liverpool supporters to band together and drive their team to victory. The team, and its fans, just need to take this one game at a time.