Football can be a form of torture, seemingly designed to twist your blood into knots, defying any logic and contradicting even the wisest pundits and fans.
If Roy Hodgson had just lost to Manchester United and Blackpool there would be a full-throated cry from most Liverpool fans to get him out and bring in King Kenny. Towards the end of his tenure, there were those who wanted the team to lose in order to hasten his exit.
Sadly, for those people, its Kenny who has been in charge for these two results. They have played better but they’ve still lost and are not yet any better off for the change. It’s early and maybe they will get better results but maybe they would have under Hodgson. We will never know now.
But after such a change, those who wanted change have to discount these two losses as part of the old regime’s legacy. Those who pushed hard for a change have to get their explanations in quickly and make their excuses. They have to otherwise it looks like the club made a change for no reason or have made the wrong choice.
Every manager needs time to assert his influence but how much time is never clear. Hodgson didn’t get much. How much will Dalglish get? Who knows, but those who thought his obvious affinity for the club might be enough to turn things around quickly must be a bit dismayed this morning. Their defending was at times atrocious. Perhaps this was Hodgson’s fault or perhaps the players are just not that good or both or neither. Upon such debates is the culture of football based.
Interestingly, a change of manager usually brings a temporary improvement in form – as Ipswich proved last night – but in a university statistical study, it was discovered that on average by the 12th game, the improvement has lapsed and the form has not actually improved. There are exceptions to this though and Liverpool fans will be hoping they are one of the exceptions.
But this is football all over. Every time you think you’ve made the right decision, something happens to contradict you. Those who think Avram Grant is a dead weight around West Ham’s neck and want rid of him must, somewhere inside, have been a bit dismayed to see them win their League Cup game. Indeed every time he seems to be on the verge of the sack, he gets a decent result. Yet the Hammers are bottom of the league so he must be rubbish, right? But they’re one game away from Wembley in the League Cup so he can’t be that bad , can he? Err…..bloody hell, who knows? After all, someone has to be bottom of the league. Does it always mean you’re a terrible manager? Maybe 20th is West Ham’s rightful position.
As fans and as writers we always want things to be obvious and easy but in football this is so rarely the case. Just when you think you’ve got a settled view on someone, something happens to contradict it. Arsenal fans must feel this acutely. Watch them one week and they look like world beaters and all set for a push for the title. Other weeks they look lightweight, just as they did against Ipswich. It’s like watching two different teams at times. You can’t say they’re a great side but then sometimes, they are. This flip-flopping gives veracity to all extremes of opinion and to all shades in-between.
And that’s why football is so popular. It allows for almost every view to be held simultaneously with some degree of justification and for us all to fight our corner with conviction. The only hard fact we can agree on is that the ball is round……………..or is it spherical….or….is that the same thing?