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How Much Of This Can Be Blamed On Hodgson?

Roy Hodgson Manager Liverpool 2010/11 Birmingham City V Liverpool (0-0) 12/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

Is...Is That The Sack?

Liverpool are, quite frankly, terrible. Seven games into the season, they have played exactly two halves of Champions League caliber football. Ten men against Arsenal was riveting, and the comeback against Manchester United raised some hopes, although in retrospect that is probably made to look better than it was by the score sheet. Now, how much of this can we dump on the gaffer?

People, not least of all Hodgson, who seems intent on making us some sort of Fulham-esque, FC Copenhagen monster-thing, will say that we have had a tough start to the season. Indeed, both the schedule and off the field matters could have been better, but neither of those are acceptable excuses.

First of all, the owners are terrible, but everyone knew that going in, as far as the playing staff goes, not only has there been no Barcelona or Portsmouth style crisis, where wages were late or not paid, but not a single player has left to finance debt. Xabi Alonso left because bridges were burnt with Benitez, Riera the same, (character aside, probably not a good idea to let your only true winger leave), Mascherano was unhappy in England. Everyone’s come out and said it, the financial documents support it, payments can be met, there might not be funds for new players, but it’s not so bad that players have to be sold. So who loaned out Aquilani? Who sent off a left-back, when the things the club lacks are creativity in midfield and…wait for it…left backs? Hodgson himself has said that all dead wood will be sent out, so one has to wonder about his priorities.

The start to the schedule could have been easier, but Sunderland’s start was comparable. They had Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, and they got 5 points from those fixtures. Liverpool had West Brom, Birmingham City and Blackpool, they got 2 points from those fixtures. Who has the better squad? (Hint: it’s not Sunderland, you know why you wanted to say Sunderland? It’s because Steve Bruce knows how to use his squad properly).

Suppose you have a squad with a renowned striker, famous for pace and timing of his runs, what would you do? I guess you would make him into Bobby Zamora, because I’ve seen Torres come down to midfield with his back to goal far more times than I’ve seen through balls for him to chase. He’s turned into Emile Heskey, setting up goals for others instead of what he’s in the team for.

While that’s the decision from Hodgson I’m most confused by, there are others. If you buy Raul Mereiles, who has played all his life in a central midfield role, who is a box to box midfielder that can surely be used as an Alonso-lite, why would you put him out on the flanks? He doesn’t offer width, and he’s not that good a crosser. It’s the same thing with Joe Cole, good behind the striker, but lost on the wing where he cuts in anyway. There’s the tiniest bit of width in Liverpool’s play at the moment, and it’s Glen Johnson, whose form is slipping daily.

The bottom line is, Hodgson’s made some mistakes. Of course this isn’t Real Madrid so the chances that he’s fired are slim to none. A better question to ask is if he can learn from his mistakes, if he can make the squad play to potential, (which is at the very least in the top 7 squads of the league). There have been some good moves, (maybe he just fell into them but nonetheless). Playing Gerrard in the center of the park is a neat trick, although the right person isn’t in the hole behind the striker. Whenever he’s deigned to make an early substitution the team have generally played better, especially with Torres partnered by N’Gog in a 4-4-2 that can become a 4-2-4. People say the players don’t look interested, but to be honest I don’t see it. Gerrard’s been trying his guts out, Reina too. Torres does well whenever he actually gets the ball, what I see is mostly frustration that every weekend points are being dropped. Boardroom distractions can also play a part in people’s mindsets but a lot of this can be blamed on the manager. But his mistakes aren’t terminal, not yet at least.

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  1. Johnny

    October 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Roy Hodgson’s tactics.
    Liverpool don’t “press” teams under Roy. Liverpool, concede possession and let teams play, by not pressing – when Liverpool loose the ball, they “lay off” then rush back to defend in their defensive shape. That’s the way Roy sets the team out. Under Roy, Liverpool defend deep, 2 narrow banks of 4, and plays on the break. However given that we sit so deep, Liverpool NEED a target man, to build possession, by holding the ball up, in they same way Zamora did at Fulham. Torres doesn’t want to do that, thats not his game. Thats why hes struggling.
    So basically Liverpool are a defensive team, obsessed with defensive shape, that concedes possession , but plays on the break.
    That’s way Roy Hodgsons been setting up his teams for 35 years.
    And its why hes been successful with “small” clubs. However, he hasn’t been too successful with the bigger clubs, simply because small team tactics don’t translate well at big clubs.
    “Unbelievable,” said the Liverpool manager, when asked whether his approach could be applied on Merseyside as effectively as it was in west London. “How many clubs have I had in 35 years? What do you mean, do my methods translate? They translated from Halmstads to Malmo to Orebro to Neuchâtel Xamax to the Swiss national team.

    Not at Liverpool, Roy.

  2. Dave B.

    October 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    btw … did anybody notice toward the end of the game Meireles was essentially playing left back because Carragher strayed so far forward he needed to cover his spot. There are so many things wrong with that last sentence it infuriates me. The question is: was this by design? Or was Carragher going rogue?

    And regardless … Carragher is close for a center half. wtf is he doing on the wing?

  3. Dave B.

    October 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Not really sure how you can say Hodgson is the problem when …

    1) He’s inherited a poorly built team that lacked depth from the previous administration.

    2) The problems the team is facing today are EXACTLY what plagued them for most of the season last year.

    Looking at the side that played yesterday, only Poulsen, Cole and Meireles were brought in under Hodgson. The rest of that team was inherited from Benitez and many of the problems with that team were also inherited.

    I can only fault him for two things yesterday. Bringing on Jovanovic for Paulsen and forcing Meireles (who was starting to click with the offense and make things happen) into a more defensive role. And playing Carragher at left back.

  4. Stephen

    October 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I agree with those that say Roy Hodgson is to blame and should be fired. Watching Liverpool play is agonising because I don’t see anything that they do as being positive. There is no cohesion to the team. Replace Hodgson with Kenny Daglish and let him change things around as change is definitely needed. At least for the short term Daglish could do the job.

  5. Terry

    October 5, 2010 at 9:55 am

    As a Liverpool fan I don’t mind if we lose provided the team plays well and one can see progress. I see none of that on show under Hodgson. He brought in Joe Cole, who has been less than impressive, Konchesky, who is an average fullback, Poulsen, who is worse than Lucas and who couldn’t get a game at Juventus because Momo Sissoko was preferred over him (the same Sissoko who was surplus at Liverpool), and Miereles who is being played at right wing which he has never played before. The defense is a shambles. I have no idea what Hodgson is trying to do. So, yes, the fault lies with the manager given that the players are mostly internationals who are not average by any means. The players might not be top-4 caliber players but they are definitely better than a bottom half team. The fact that after 7 games the team is 18th says it all. Hodgson must go!

    Houllier inherited a team at Aston Villa that is definitely not as talented as Liverpool but being a good manager he has them playing well and winning some in the process. It may be early days but right now I can see Villa finishing in the top 6 while Liverpool end up in the bottom half. A new manager in Anfield is the only hope for saving the season.

  6. Carolyn

    October 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    So far this season Liverpool have only played one good game and that was against Arsenal after they were down to 10 men. Other than that they have been very poor and the team hasn’t been getting better at all. There doesn’t seem to be any cohesion among the players and they don’t seem to know what to do when they are playing. There is no character to the team whatsoever. Much of the fault has to be placed at the feet of the manager whose job it is to come up with a game plan and motivate the players to play with passion. None of that is evident with Hodgson in charge. The team is just not responding to him and that is why the only option right now is for a change in manager. Not sure who would take a job at a club that has so many problems off the field to begin with. Sad days ahead for Liverpool.

  7. CA_backpacker

    October 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Blaming Hodgson for Liverpool’s problems is like blaming Obama for the world not yet climbing out of the global Great Recession. Both inherited a complete disaster caused by others and neither have the tools to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, at least in such a short period of time. I won’t say all his management decisions have been perfect, but it isn’t like he has a simple out-of-tune Ferrari here. Our midfield is a shambles and can’t deliver an accurate pass for our strikers to run onto to save their life. Anybody think with his back to the goal is the best way for Torres to receive passes?? And our back four is similarly in trouble. Johnson is rubbish at defending (move him to outside mid), and Carragher has aged horribly and is too slow (and hasn’t figured that out and compensated by playing smarter and taking better positioning like Hyppia figured out in his last year or so).

    Our only hope is receivership and a White Knight to come in with loads of cash so we can dump our rubbish and start over. It is going to be a long, long road fellow Liverpool fans, and our prayer at this point should be just avoiding relegation…

  8. David

    October 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    I’m ashamed as a football fan in general to hear you Liverpool fans blaming Hodgson. I am first and foremost a Fulham fan, always will be, but I have amazing respect for Hodgson. I’m obviously biased, but also in good company. Manager of the year credentials, Inter Milan, national teams and two European finals to boot.

    I wish he never left Fulham, he was settled there, and could have spent more money than he can at Liverpool, sadly. He walked into a truly f*cked situation. So instead of you guys “never walking alone”, all I hear is pissing and moaning that went from the owners (rightfully so I concede), to now blaming a manager who left his post at a club on the rise (thanks to him) to TRY and help. No one wanted to take the reigns at Liverpool and that sure as hell hasn’t changed.

    You should count your lucky stars if you avoid any kind of a Portsmouth, Leeds or anything else that spells catastrophe. Call it unfair, or whatever you want, but Hodgson is not to blame for your downfall, and you should try and get behind something regarding the club for a change, as opposed to constantly shitting on it, yet wearing the top.

  9. ...

    October 4, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    its def not hodgsons fault hes gotten it done with less

  10. Jason Gatties

    October 4, 2010 at 10:54 am

    That “Fulham-esque” club is currently undefeated in the Premiership. You know, the team that Roy built. Hughes just took over the payments and added a sweet new stereo system (Dembele) but its essentially the same machine.

    • IanCransonsKnees

      October 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

      I’m not a Liverpool fan by any stretch of the imagination and have nothing against Fulham. But unless Mark Hughes turns those draws into wins it could be a tough season for the cottagers too.

      • David

        October 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm

        While it’s good to be on the cautionary side so early in the season no matter who you are, Fulham will be just fine. There’s a lot worse-off teams and you know it. They should finish comfortably in the middle of the table.

        On a counterpoint, they’re just two wins instead of draws from being in a European spot. Ifs and buts.

  11. Thomas

    October 4, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Hodgson inherited a tough situation. I like the guy, but he seems out of his depth at Liverpool.

    You have a side that is essentially married to the 4-2-3-1 Benitez installed.

    Torres is the only adequate striking option. Liverpool have failed to find cover for this position for years.

    In order to deploy Gerrard in a deeper role, you have to sacrifice him behind Torres, leaving very little adequate support for the striker.

    Kuyt’s hard work can be a good thing, but he lacks creativity and good service.

    Liverpool have very few creative players, and are unable to properly supply Torres. The defense has been questionable all year, with inadequacy at LB, and a big problem if Carragher is to be relied upon in the center.

  12. blair909

    October 4, 2010 at 2:19 am

    All of it can be blamed on hodgson. he playes counter attack football, when we know iverpool like playing attacking. Rafa didnt leave us in a bad state because we could win more than 1 game, BRING IN KING KENNY!!! YNWA

  13. brian torres

    October 4, 2010 at 1:10 am

    roy must live the club as soon as possibl he doesnt know what he is doing at the moment.and these could be the points for me as to why he should live.he doesnt play agger the man who condeses the deffence very well.he needs to play gerrard in his repective midfield and play joe cole behing torres .he needs t sell that i diot poulsen and bring in another defence midfielder with the lkes of alonso

  14. Lyle

    October 4, 2010 at 12:34 am

    How is Roy Hodgson intent on making Liverpool Fulham-esque or FC Copenhagen-esque? That makes no sense whatsoever.

  15. Gaz Hunt

    October 3, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    It’s a shame but you have to put partial blame on him. It’s just as you would give him commendation if they got off to a great start.

    The players, however, just don’t seem to have any creativity. Even in the second half when we bossed the game, we lacked that little bit of spark.

    By the way, Poulson and Meireles are terrible.

    I don’t think Liverpool can afford to sack the man – and he doesn’t deserve to be. If for some reason he was my money would be on Kenny Dalglish next.

    • Hicks Hater

      October 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      The guy says Liverpool fans have unrealistic expectations: we expect to beat Blackpool and Northampton at home, for crying out loud. The core of this team finished 2nd in the league not 18 months ago.

      • Gaz Hunt

        October 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

        You’re right – not exactly lofty expectations!

  16. Up the Chels!

    October 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Looking at the squad as a whole, you have 3 world class players in the whole squad. One can’t stay fit for more than 4 games before his hamstrings go out again, but on his day is one of the best in the world, the other two are quality (Gerrard and Reina) but three world class players does NOT make for a top 4 team. I would completely agree with what Hodgson said that Liverpool are currently equivalent to Fulham. Joe Cole has not been the same player since he blew out his ACL, Meireles is about as good as Danny Murphy, albeit younger, Kuyt is quality for a workman performance, but so is Zamora.

    Honestly, I would not blame this on Hodgson. The blame lies solely at the feet of Rafa Benitez. Forcing Alonso, the best defensive midfielder currently playing the game and the corner-stone that the whole team was built around, out brought the entire house of cards down around Benitez and he then discovered the lack of real talent he had.

    I know this is being harsh on Liverpool, and I have a lot of respect for the club’s history, but at this point, that’s all it is and all it will remain until things get turned around.

    • The God

      October 4, 2010 at 12:22 am

      Don’t blame Rafa….Rafa bought Alonso at 10m and sold him at 30 mil. Aquilani is a much creative player than mereiles….poulsen is no better than lucas….and Rafa also leave talented Pacheco and Kelly to Roy….

      • CA_backpacker

        October 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm

        Yeah, and we purchased Aquilani for 20M and got how many minutes out of him? He gets hurt when the wind blows. Who cares if Liverpool got a “profit” out of Alonso, he was crucial for getting the ball accurately to our strikers or wingers in a useful position. Now we just have people like Lucas who can’t hit the broadside of a barn passing.

  17. Yus

    October 3, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Believe Liverpool need to overhaul.
    Owner – need to change as fast as can (prefer in this month)
    Manager – Roy Hodgson is not qualify for Anfield job….prefer to have pelligrini or o’neil or daglish….Manager must aggresive.
    Player – Sale ….Skrtel,Agger,Konchesky,Krygiakos,Lucas,Poulsen,Jovanovic,Maxi,Kuyt,Ngog,Spearing,Babel,Jones,Aquillani,Torres
    Buy…..G.Cahill,R.Shawcross,R.Zieglar or T.Taiwo or F.Coentrao, X.Alonso, J.Martinez,A.Turan,J.Mata, P.Helmes, O.Taivonen, F.Llorente, DeGea,D.Payel, A.Sanchez,E.Dzenko,S.Defour or E,Banega

    LFC Team for championship chanllenge and title challenge.

    GK – Reina,DeGea
    C.Back – G.Cahill,R.Shawcross,J.Carragher,D.Wilson
    F.Back – G.Johnson,M.Kelly,R.Zieglar or T.Taiwo or F.Coentrao, F.Aurelio
    Mildfielder/Winger – S.Gerrard, R.Meireles,J.Martinez,X.Alonso,S.Defour or E.Banega,A.Turan,J.Mata,D.Payel,A.Sanchez,J.Cole
    Striker – E.Dzenko,P.Helmes,O.Taivonen,F.Llorente,D.Pachecho

    Hope this come true……………….

    • The God

      October 4, 2010 at 12:11 am

      Yus, how old are you?

    • Jhateen

      October 21, 2010 at 8:55 am

      I think Roy Hodgson should be fired and replaced by Martin Oneil or Kenny Daglish. We should sell all our crap players and buy some young and talented players
      Sell: Lucas, Meireles, Poulsen, Kuyt, Konchesky, Johnson, Maxi Rodriguez, Aquilani
      Buy: J.Mata, Ziegler, Gomez, Mertesacker, Bale, Fernando Lorente, Loic Remy

  18. GF

    October 3, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Keegan’s the man! The Reds can’t defend. They can’t score. At least King Kev’s teams could score, and usually more than they let in.

  19. Dave C

    October 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Joe Cole has pretty much ALWAYS been used as a wide player throughout his career. It’s certainly where he has shown his best form for Chelsea. I’m sure he would LIKE to play as the “classic #10” behind the striker(s), but the fact is he’s not really good enough to build a team around in that manner.

  20. Stephen J.

    October 3, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Hodgson is making Souness look good. That’s how bad Hodgson is managing Liverpool. Keeping Sami Lee was an absolutely bad idea by Hodgson. Sack the entire coaching staff and start fresh. Not sure who’s going to accept managing Liverpool given their lack of financial muscle, bad ownership and underachieving prima donna players. Relegation battle is in store for Liverpool.

  21. SantaClaus

    October 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    The performances, team selection, lack of team cohesion, etc. are all Hodgson’s fault. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that Roy Hodgson is out of his depth managing a club like Liverpool. He is at best a decent mid-table manager and right now Liverpool fans wouldn’t mind a mid-table finish but Roy is so wrong for them that I think the only way out of this catastrophe is to fire Roy and let Kenny Daglish manage. Given the ownership problems and financial situation Liverpool cannot aford to hire a top-class manager at this stage. Kenny is their best short-term solution.

  22. Sameer Chopra

    October 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Another thing, at least Rafa had the gall, the audacity, to GUARANTEE a top 4 finish, because that’s where LFC should be. Doesn’t matter if it didn’t happen, everything I’ve heard from Hodgson is that we can’t compete with Arsenal and Chelsea, our players are no better than the ones at Fulham, stop putting expectations on the team. Now we probably can’t compete with the top 3, and I’ve never managed a big team, but seems to me the first thing is to recognize that you’re in charge of a BIG team.

    • Hicks Hater

      October 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm

      Yes, this is the crux of the matter. The guy is not a winner so it doesn’t matter how much time you give him: he won’t get better. He has started to talk of us being in a relegation battle now! The guy’s a total defeatist, he must go.

    • brn442

      October 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm

      Yeah, and how did that delusional “guarantee” work out?

  23. Bishopville Red

    October 3, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    One thing about Hodgson, his timing was atrocious. Coming in on July 1 wouldn’t be a bad thing, but in a World Cup year, players are either super-busy or don’t want to be disturbed. That makes hit hard as hell to sign guys (of course, it remains to be seen how much he has to spend). On top of that, Rafa had already ostracized Mascherano and Benayoun, which didn’t help the case. Finally, Gerrard and Torres are both burned out, disinterested, wishing they got away, or any combination of the aforementioned.

    So, in short, a lot of blame can go a lot of directions other than Hodgson.

    However, four words let you know why he was the wrong man for the job: Christian Poulsen, Paul Konchesky. One is a slower, older version of Lucas, the other just an adequate EPL player, if he has a towering centre-back covering his inability to stop crosses from coming in.

    If Hodgson thinks this is the calibre of player that should be wearing a Liverpool kit, he’s miles out of his depth. The longer he’s there, the more the blame can be squarely placed on his shoulders.

    • Jon Sharp

      October 4, 2010 at 11:43 am

      I don’t know much about Liverpool and it seems you do, but I couldn’t let this pass..”Finally, Gerrard and Torres are both burned out, disinterested, wishing they got away, or any combination of the aforementioned.”

      I am pretty surprised to hear anyone describe Gerrard in these terms. Gerrard is the main reason I like to watch the Liverpool games each week – his work ethic and commitment to the game is extraordinary. I think he is an inspirational player in a game long on ego and self interest.

      • Bishopville Red

        October 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

        That’s the usual description of Gerrard, but he’s been off form this year. People talk about his two goals at United, but both were on set pieces – the old men, Scholes and Giggs, not to mention Fletcher bossed the middle.

        He’s put in some pretty anonymous performances this year, none moreso than against Blackpool. If he weren’t “Stevie G”, nobody would have much of anything to say about him this year, based on performance.

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