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Feeling Sympathy For Strachan and Hodgson

Aug. 15, 2010 - 06330403 date 15 08 2010 Copyright imago Liverpool s Roy Hodgson looks ON dejected Barclays Premier League Liverpool v Arsenal 15th August 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK men Football England Premier League 2010 2011 Liverpool Vdig xsk 2010 Square premiumd.

I’m sure most Middlesbrough fans are pleased that Gordon Strachan has resigned and walked away without compensation. Our league position tells its own story. It plainly wasn’t working and his increasingly eccentric media interviews revealed a man who looked to be under intense pressure. This didn’t stop a majority of the fans from turning against him in no uncertain terms. Things had started to get unpleasant and nasty.

A manager at a failing club attracts an extraordinary amount of ire and bile, especially when, as at the Boro, he was expected to achieve so much with the investment made.

What we often fail to remember in such times is that the manager concerned is actually a human being with feelings and sensitivities. He’s not a human pineta. He has to go home and sit there, the abuse of the crowd still ringing in his ears, unable to make anything right until the next game. None of us in our ordinary lives know what that must be like. It simply doesn’t happen in other walks of life.

He knows things are not going right. He knows he looks like an idiot for buying these under performing players and setting them up to play so poorly. The stress that comes with such public failure must be hard to bear. It’s no surprise that it might make you behave erratically or oddly. I’m sure I’d go certifiably bonkers and appear in front of the cameras with a pencil up each nostril and a pair of underpants on my head.

In few jobs do you get to fail in front of tens of thousands of people all of whom are willing and able to voice their displeasure towards you. Imagine if that happened in the corporate or local council office. Indeed, in many public buildings you’ll see signs asking you not to abuse the poor worker behind the desk or window. At my local post office collection depot there used to be a handwritten sign saying “Please do not swear at the Royal Mail staff.”

But go to a football ground and such behaviour is welcomed and is all part of the banter of football. All good fun unless you’re the one on the end of the limitless weekly abuse.

When I was watching the Merseyside derby, Roy Hodgson was standing on the touchline, almost paralyzed it seemed, his face set in a look of fearful bewilderment as Liverpool went two down. Only a cold soul could fail to have sympathy for someone in such a position.

All managers end up getting the sack, usually sooner rather than later, so clearly you need to be prepared for that, but when you see a man getting slowly destroyed by his own failure, it’s really a blessed relief when he’s put out of his misery.

It makes you wonder why anyone wants to do it. It always ends in tears.

Editor’s Note: Johnny’s new book: “We Ate All The Pies: How Football Swallowed Britain Whole” has received the massive honour of being listed as one of William Hill’s Sports Book Of The Year 2010 – the biggest, most prestigious sports books prize in UK.

Buy it here via Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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  1. Football Souvenirs

    October 20, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Difficult to feel sorry for Hodsgon as he knew the constraints of the club when he took the job and should be gratefull that new owners are in as oon as they are into his tenure

  2. Stefan

    October 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I cannot feel sympathy for Hodgson as he took the job knowing full well what the situation was at Liverpool. The fact that he hasn’t come up with answers to get the team winning shows that he isn’t suited to manage Liverpool. It’s a shame as he seems like a nice man but seems to be clueless about what to do to get Liverpool playing well and winning. I think he will be replaced very soon and it will be interesting to see who the new owners hire as the new manager.

  3. Cardinal

    October 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Amen, Alfonso. You’ve got it right. If Hodgson were a foreign manager he would be gone by now.

  4. Alfonso

    October 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    It must said that if Liverpool were being managed by a foreign manager everyone would have been clamouring for his removal. Hodgson is being shielded by some because he is British. That’s a fact. What is most interesting to me is that unlike a foreign manager who has to become familiar with a new league, Hodgson has managed in the EPL before. In fact he was at Fulham just last season yet he is struggling to make an impact at Liverpool. It is not as if he is managing in a new league. I agree that the players are underperforming but isn’t it the job of the manager to make sure they perform? What is he doing about it? Nothing as far as one can see since the team hasn’t played well all season long. One cannot point to anything the team or manager is doing to believe it’s only a matter of time before Liverpool get things right.

    It’s sad to see a manager who has been in football for so long looking so bewildered on the sidelines. Surely this is a sign that he has no answers to what ails the team. There is no guaranty that a new manager would do better but it’s just as true that the new manager couldn’t do worse. Just when the ownership situation has turned for the better for the club now they find themselves worse off on the playing field.

    Hodgson’s failure so far at a big club will only deter other teams from installing a British manager. The unintended consequence of Hodgson’s performance will be that it will hurt other British managers trying to get a job at a top club.

  5. Stephen

    October 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    You should only give a manager more time if you see some progress with the performance of the team or can see exactly what he is trying to do. Neither of these is evident. The team has not played one decent game all season and nobody can say what it is that Hodgson is trying to do. It is quite clear from the team’s performances and his strange after-game comments that he is ill-suited to be Liverpool’s manager. Giving him more time will only make things worse as it is clear a new manager is needed so why wait till January. It makes no sense. It’s better to stop the bleeding now by bringing in a new manager that can change things so that the results are better. The squad may be weak by the standards of the other top teams but it is by no means a squad that should be fighting relegation. There are lots of international players that can deliver if they have the right manager. Even Rafa Benitez who had lost the dressing room towards the end of his tenure was able to do better than Hodgson. I think Hodgson is a decent man but he is seems out of his depth at Liverpool.

    • The Gaffer

      October 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      I disagree. The Liverpool players are under performing. We all know they can play at the highest level, but they’re playing like a Championship side. And even that is a compliment. Hodgson, no matter what his tactics are, can’t force the players to perform better. Ultimately it’s up to them to make the magic happen on the pitch. They should have no excuses now that Hicks and Gillett are gone.

      The Gaffer

      • dominjon

        October 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm

        Gaffer, no offense, but the idea that nobody would be able to make this team organized and efficient enough to eek out enough result to push themselves into lower mid-table is ludicrous.
        These players were very poor and out of form under Rafa and they finished 7th. Were Rafa in charge now we would be looking at a team in midtable with tabloid demands to get rid of him.
        Right now Liverpool are a mid-table team with a sprinkling of top quality players. However they are on-target to finish with 25 points this season, which means relegation. It is against everything I stand for to push for a firing this soon into a reign, but Liverpool were worse than Birmingham when they played them. Worse than Sunderland. Worse than Blackpool. They really deserved no more than a draw against WBA, and needed a bizarre goal to get a point at home against Sunderland.
        Common business sense says any new manager needs at least a month to work with the players prior to the window opening (Kenny would be an exception obviously, but I don’t believe in the Messiah thing, ask Newcastle). As such, Hodgson has a very finite time to turn things around.

  6. CA_backpacker

    October 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I wonder what will happen if Liverpool doesn’t climb and actually gets relegated? Our low revenues compared to other big clubs has always been an issue, but if we’re doing in the Championship it is going to be that much worse. I don’t know how deep the wallet is for the new owners, but if we pull a Leeds, what then? Will the new owners take a long view and continue to invest in a squad that isn’t even in the Premiership and bleeds cash enough for Liverpool to climb out of the Pit of Dispair?

  7. dominjon

    October 19, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Giving Hodgson until Jan 1st would be a huge mistake. If he is replaced, the new manager needs a minimum of a month to work with the current squad so he can have a chance to really evaluate all the players before the window opens. Otherwise you either get Hodgson buying players a replacement doesn’t want or the new manager having to make hurried decisions and not making the shrewdest decisions.
    I’d say Hodgson has the next three league games to produce improved performances and an absolute minimum of 5 points. Failure to do that and he should be gone.
    Also at that point, if he goes, I think the only option is Martin O’Neill. Even though I would always have preferred Pellegrini or Rijkaard, you won’t be able to afford someone who will need time to adjust to the EPL and learn through trial which players can adjust to the EPL. You will need someone who can parachute in on Monday and get an improved performance by Saturday, and MON is the only obviously available option I can see to be able to do that.

    • The Gaffer

      October 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      Three more games isn’t enough and no new manager, whether he’s Dalglish, O’Neill, Pellegini, Rijkaard, Mourinho or Jesus, would make a difference.

      The Gaffer

  8. Ed

    October 19, 2010 at 10:28 am

    That was a defeated, bewildered old man you saw out there on Sunday. I’d like to feel sorry for him, but frankly he knew (or should have known) the job was dangerous when he took it and he really didn’t have the CV for it to begin with. Now he just sounds pathetic and clueless, with disturbing public comments about Torres’ lack of confidence (that won’t help) and how the Everton match was the “best performance I’ve seen so far” or some similar embarrasment. Obviously he’s already starting to seriously crack under the pressure.

    And delusional public comments are no way to win the trust of new owners. Henry, regardless of whether he’s the owner to revive LFC’s fortunes, is not a man to stand on status quo for long if the Red Sox timeline is any indication. Hodgson will be shownthe door at the earliest opportunity, and until it happens, LFC will continue to slide downhill.

    • jeneria

      October 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

      I agree with you, Ed, but there’s another piece to the LFC puzzle and that’s the fans. I am one, but I’d like to think I see the forest for the trees. This squad is poor, no doubt about it. Fan expectations are ridiculously high.

      I can see that we’re in for a long rebuilding. Fans have to realize that new owners are not an immediate fix nor will a new manager be an immediate fix. Money alone isn’t an immediate fix. It’s going to take a few seasons to right the ship and to become a contender again.

      Liverpool fans are going to have to exercise more patience than they’ve exercised in recent times. Fans are going to have to watch the noveau riche of Man City and Chelsea reap glory. It’s going to suck, but it’s inevitable.

      • The Gaffer

        October 19, 2010 at 12:12 pm

        Amen Jeneria. Liverpool fans will need to be very patient over the next 2-3 years. The club is in transition both on and off the field and it’s going to take time to turn the ship around. Patience with Hodgson is key. He needs until January 1 to give him time to prove himself, but ultimately it’s up to the players on the pitch who are playing well below par right now.

        The Gaffer

        • Sir Guy

          October 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm

          “…ultimately it’s up to the players on the pitch who are playing well below par right now.”

          At the risk of being picky, I think the problem is that the players, especially the majority of the midfield, are actually playing to par.

          That really is as good as they are.

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