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Mr. Hodgson Or: How We Learned To Stop Worrying And Blame The Manager

hodgson Pictures, Images and Photos

The manager has risen from club secretary to official face of the club since the creation of football teams worldwide. He has moved from the man that kept the record books to man that is larger than the football team he manages. Commentators and pundits refer to Ferguson’s United or Wenger’s beautiful, passing football.

He even has books written about him. The Manager by Barney Ronay, an excellent book that discusses the rise of the manager into the modern game, unearths some of the origins of the manager’s image and attempts to discuss what kind of person the manager really is. While the book wasn’t ever intended to be an academic study of the merits of various tactical thoughts of managers, it does address some of the often listed character traits of successful managers. When all these traits are put together, to many the manager appears to be a father figure, a scary headmaster, a politician you’d like to have a beer with, or some combination.

Yet despite all this popularity, he is little more than decider of players and positions during an actual football match. His only other real role having to do with a game of football is what he says, or does not say, to the players. While this may seem to be just about everything that there is to do, this is really not much in relation to even one, single football match. Even the purchasing of players has been taken from his list of job responsibilities at some clubs. After talking to the media, amping up / scaring the team, and picking the players and formation (something that many of us feel we could do a better job of), it’s up to the players to get the job done. He is then left to either become the scapegoat for club and player ineptitude or savior for lifting his players (all the while not doing much different in either scenario).

The idea of the manager being wholly responsible or all to blame for results is to make a system with many variables look like it all comes down to the whims of one man. This is ridiculous. To some, suggesting that this is absurd may not come as very controversial at all. I suggest listening to fellow fans and media but understanding that this article may not provide much reflection for you. To others, this begs to ask the question of who is responsible if not the manager. While I refuse to fall into the same trap of blaming one party for an entire club’s woes, I would suggest the players as a possible start.

The point is that the owners (a common euphemism for cash), back-room staff, the manager, a dash of luck, and mostly players play a part in a team’s performance. In addition, former owners and managers often continue to play a role. When a team fails to obtain the results they are perceivably entitled to, the fans and media seem to have a checklist of blame that progress from the manager’s tactics, the manager’s transfer policy, the manager’s man-management, and usually ending in the owner’s lack of investment. Players rarely, if ever, come into play (pun intended) unless it is to discuss the manager’s man-management.

All managers have come under close scrutiny at some point in their career but one of the most extreme examples from a fan-base and the media recently is the demonization of Roy Hodgson at Liverpool.

One reason fans have cried for his removal is, what I believe to be, the myth of his lack of tactical knowledge. Hodgson is, if anything, a man deeply involved in tactics to the point of players at Fulham labeling their endless repetition of team shape at training as tiresome. This is all, however, beside the point for me. 4-4-2, zonal marking, 4-3-2-1, team pressing, or the deep, lying midfielder have nothing to do with what is wrong with Liverpool right now. Jonothan Willson, Michael Cox of Zonal Marking, and like-minded individuals may cringe at the idea of tactics taking a backseat but a quality player will be a quality player in any position without needing to be told what square to position himself in. Tactics come into play and they can definitely give that extra push that is sometimes required. In the Hodgson’s Liverpool example, however, I believe bad purchases have been made in the past and the world-class players are often failing to rise above. Swapping one man’s 4-4-2 for another man’s 4-3-3 won’t change Liverpool’s chance of winning games. Further, tactics often don’t improve a player or team but aim to exploit weaknesses in the opposition.

This leaves us with the question of his ability to both manage players and, to a lesser extent, the media. This is where I will somewhat concede to the critics. While at Fulham, he seemingly could say no wrong. He was polite, soft-spoken Hodgson. This is quite different to his time at Liverpool where he has experienced quite a few moments of idiocy when opening his mouth. One quote that sticks out as especially odd to me was during a discussion about Fernando Torres and an alleged move to Manchester United. Hodgson didn’t exactly express the sentiments most supporters would have wished for considering this is the club’s long-time rival.

“I am not naive to believe there won’t be any danger and we will never lose a player like Torres, I understand these things can happen. I don’t believe we will lose him, we will do our best to ensure he stays…”

Having said all that, I still believe this has little to do with a match of football. His man-management / media relations may be lacking and Torres may look at a quote like that and wonder what his manager was thinking but I would still expect a world-class striker to make his supporters proud as soon as the interview is over and the match begins. To say Hodgson’s man-management is wholly responsible is to say that a kind word or two and the proverbial “arm around the shoulder” of professionals is all that stands between Liverpool and former winning ways. Again, this probably has something to do with the trouble at the club but not the sole reason.

Being as unbiased as possible as a twenty year supporter of Liverpool and, while critical of at times, a supporter of Hodgson, I fail to believe that one man can be responsible for the play I’ve seen this season. Any manager on the bench cannot change the fact that the players are making silly mistakes and are not fighting for the shirt and crest they wear. This coupled with a bench that hardly strikes fear into the opposition has seen the club at a historic low. This season I have seen some good football. I have also seen our most often excellent goalkeeper booting the ball right into a striker’s feet, defenders falling over themselves trying to intercept a simple through ball, midfield players spending an entire match passing backwards in fear of mistakes, and strikers not willing to put the work in to hold the ball up. As absurd as it sounds, I’m sure he’s addressing these basics with the players during training but at some point responsibility must at least partially shift. Having said that, when results do turn I will also be the first to point out that Hodgson isn’t the only reason.

The point is that I don’t believe another manager would do much better without improvement in the squad and players stepping up. Removing Hodgson is an especially bad decision considering the need to pay off Hodgson’s contract and find a manager willing to work at a club that will give him little say in who the club purchases.

In the very first chapter of Barney Ronay’s book, The Manager, he discusses one thought on why the manager’s position was even dreamed up in the first place during the late 1800s and early 1900s when, again, he was little more than club secretary.

“The crowd called for blood, and they got it: secretarial blood. Mute, office-bound – but also dressed in the directorial waistcoat and watch-chain – the sacrificial lamb was already on premises. The secretary was about to get his big break. It seemed unlikely to be a very happy experience.

Here we come to a central dramatic irony in the manager’s story. The fact is, his first real high-profile public act was to be sacked. Getting the boot was where it all started. The manager was born to be sacked, and sacked with some sense of cathartic public ceremony.”

This is how it has always worked. It is much easier to take all that dispersed anger out on the one man from whom we have come to expect too much. The owners need not address all these messy issues mixed up with a team’s performance. They can just fire, hire, and repeat.

Buy The Manager: The Absurd Ascent of the Most Important Man in Football by Barney Ronay

Note: This article was written prior to Liverpool’s latest poor result against Blackburn. In the few hours since the end of that match, even more speculation about Hodgson’s job have surfaced and it is very likely he could be leaving the club soon. Though I planned on publishing this later in the week, I have pushed it up because I believe this game was the perfect example of how the club uses the manager as a sacrifice to their fans despite it being clear that fault was literally at the feet of the men that, save Steven Gerrard, seemingly couldn’t be bothered to fight for us, the supporters, on the pitch today.

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  1. Gaz Hunt

    January 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Just posted this on a new article discussing the appointment of King Kenny. Thought it would be pertinent to post this here also for anyone coming to the article late.

    I was, and continue to be, a Hodgson supporter (or apologist depending on where you stand) but I agree something had to happen. While I won’t ever admit that one man was responsible for our play this season, you can’t go about sacking the entire squad. Something had to change and as much as it is the backwards thinking of most major sports clubs, I guess this is the only option. I’m glad King Kenny is in charge and have seen him as the only viable replacement for ages now.

    Having said that, what if the results continue to poor? It is going to boggle my mind a bit when my fellow supporters accept excuses for King Kenny when they were unable to for Hodgson – especially considering we had to pay Hodgson (allegedly) 7.5 million quid to release him.

    I don’t think the results will continue, though. I hopeful King Kenny will be able to install enough passion and heart in the side to grind out what we need. More importantly, I hope that with the supporters fully behind the manager, they will start to look at the players and demand more.

  2. Michael

    January 7, 2011 at 9:55 am

    This from Phil Thompson, former Liverpool assistant manager:

    “Roy Hodgson has done his very best but he has had a lot of problems to deal with and sometimes you just have to admit that the club and the issues are just too big for you to handle. And that something has to happen.

    If Roy and the club can strike a deal that lets him go with his head up and allows Liverpool FC to move on, then sad as I am to say it, I believe that would be in the best interests of everybody concerned.

    Roy did come in under the previous owners and he did inherit a depleted squad lacking talent and commitment.

    He hasn’t had a Chief Executive Officer to work with in recent months and at times it cannot have been easy for him. Early on he had to deal with the Mascherano situation, trying to keep a player who wanted to go and who eventually forced his way and got his wish.

    But that said Roy has got some things fundamentally wrong with tactics and personnel, particularly away from home. The truth is we have not seen one fantastic performance from Liverpool all season. And we have seen some abject ones.

    We are wallowing in mediocrity and the owners, who to their credit have taken their time and listened to lots of people to try and grow to understand the club, must surely know this is not what Liverpool FC is all about. Quite the opposite.

    They’ll be talking to the right people about how to handle things I hope – and for me two of the best people they could listen to are Commercial Director Ian Ayre and Kenny Dalglish.

    I hate knee jerk reactions – this isn’t that – and take no pleasure saying so.

    But it is time for a parting of the ways between Roy Hodgson and Liverpool. One that happens with a degree of dignity for everyone’s sake.”

    Phil Thompson is a true Red.

  3. Sam

    January 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Hodgson says goodbye to his players knowing he is going to be fired. The first choice to take over, Didier Deschamps says he does not want the job. How much worse can it get for the once mighty Liverpool. So Roy stays and his next game is away to Manchester United. Given Roy’s horrible away record Liverpool might just lose by a cricket score. They’d be better off without a a manager on Sunday.

  4. Major

    January 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Gaz,Hodgson is one reason Liverpool are so bad and whether you believe it or not he is the major reason. Whether it’s poor tactics, bad selections, inability to motivate his players or not being able to get the best out of his players, the fault lies with the manager. Managers play a huge part in today’s sports.

    Most Liverpool fans don’t blame Hodgson alone but he is by far the major reason for their poor form. There is lots of criticism about the players too if you read the many Liverpool FC forums. I don’t believe this Liverpool squad is good enough to challenge for the title but neither are they that bad as to be 5 points from the bottom.

    Some managers do better at some clubs than others. That’s a fact. I am not arguing, as some are, that Hodgson is a poor manager but that he is ill-suited for liverpool and his record bears that out. Scolari was a failure at Chelsea but was successful elsewhere. That does not make him a bad manager but that does not alter the fact that he failed at Chelsea. By the way, his successor did better with the same squad. Tactics do matter. Managers can make a huge difference.

  5. Gaz Hunt

    January 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Nope. That’s Hughton’s team and Allardyce’s team. 🙂

    I knew I’d end up defending a man I don’t even fully agree with myself anymore but let me just say it once more. Hodgson is one reason Liverpool are so bad but not the only reason (yet he’ll be blamed for it all).

    Also, take a look at Liverpool’s World Cup players sometime. To begin, one isn’t with us anymore, two didn’t leave the bench, and one of them played two matches for Greece.

  6. Wilson

    January 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    A true Kop:

    A message to all Roy’s chums in the media; dispelling 2 of your pathetic myths.

    I am tired of hearing media pundits and former managers providing their backing to Roy Hodgson as Liverpool manager by proclaiming that “it’s not his team” and how he needs time to build his team, or how Rafa Benitez left him a poor squad.

    Let’s get one very simple thing straight here; was it Alan Pardew’s team when Newcastle beat Liverpool in Pardew’s first game in charge as Newcastle manager? Was it Steve Kean’s team when Blackburn beat Liverpool on Wednesday night?

    It is always the manager’s team.

    The manger’s job is to manage the players at his disposal. Whether he signed them or not is irrelevant. The manger coaches, provides the tactics, gives the teamtalks and seeks to motivate the players. If he is not doing this, he is not doing his job.

    As for the “Benitez left him a poor squad” argument. Let’s look at some good old FACTS;

    – when Roy Hodgson took charge on July 1st, Liverpool had more players represented at the 2010 World Cup than any previous World Cup, and more than any other Premier League side had.

    – the squad which Hodgson inherited finished second in the Premier League just 12 months previously, with the club’s highest Premier League points tally

    – Roy Hodgson choose to loan out Alberto Aquilani and Emiliano Insua…

    – … and then signed Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky

    – Roy Hodgson signed Raul Meireles for £11m, then admitted how he wasn’t sure where best to play him despite the fact that he has always only played in midfield both for club and country.

    A message to all of Roy’s friends in the media – 35 years in management without a major honour says it all. He was out of his depth the moment he got the job.

    Here’s one for you, Kenny Dalglish has won more trophies than Hodgson has won away games in all his time managing English sides.

    Another thing, please stop reporting his overall win record (which includes pathetic Europa League games). His league win percentage is the lowest for any Liverpool manager post-war (35%).

  7. David

    January 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Gaz wrote:
    “Those same bad purchases were able to finish 2nd in one season…”

    Xabi? Mascherano?

    So you think taking away Alonso and Mascherano is the reason why Liverpool are in 12th place and 5 points from dead last? Some people will believe anything.

    • Gaz Hunt

      January 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      You’re right – people will believe anything. Some people believe that Hodgson inherited a team in the same shape and with the same players that achieved 2nd place (three starters made it last game, if you’re wondering).

      And yes, one reason the side achieved 2nd in 2008-2009 and we’re hopeful now is that we lost two world-class players in Xabi and Mascherano. We lost the center of our midfield – and a brilliant midfield it was.

      Another reason is Hodgson – but he’s only part of the problem not the entire problem (yet he’ll get all the blame). That’s what the article is about – you should read it and not just the comments. 🙂

  8. Gordon

    January 6, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Roy Hodgson = most overrated English manager ever.
    Liverpool squad = most overrated bunch of players around.

    Only a complete overhaul of players and coaching staff will stop the rot. Fact.

  9. Brian

    January 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Having watched Liverpool from the Blue side for a good 10 years, and the one thing that I thinkk gets lost in the whole Hodgson debate is the simple fact that the Liverpool squad needs a serious makeover. A lot of the key players are either at 30 or older, and while they may still be quality players they have certainly lost a step or two. I agree that a new manager will certainly improve Liverpool in the short term, but for this team to return to Champions League football they will need a serious overhaul of the squad to do it.

  10. Simon Burke

    January 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I am sure i’ll regret this but over the last 6 months I have come to despise Liverpool fans. The treatment doled out to Hodgson and on twitter to Paddy Barclay has been laughable.

    Hodgson took over at a time when no-one big would have. No Jose etc…
    The turmoil around the club was evident – Hicks and Gillette… no real cash for Roy to spend. As such he didnt buy Messi and Kaka and David Villa….
    Instead he was left with a lump like Torres who cant be bothered to put a shift in 3 games out of 4.
    I am tired of hearing how he’d work harder with better service and better players. The fact is he needs to play for that shirt he’s wearing , not a manager but your team.
    Roy cant publicly bollock him because he might leave – well you are better off without him at this point.

    Roy has had one transfer window with petty cash and he has you in 12th. You have had some results go against you that you should have won but sacking him wont help. Get your club sorted out – lets see your new chairman open his wallet.

    Worst of all, when your team is up against it the fans have stopped going. Wow. Over Xmas (and you had one game cancelled) you didnt fill Anfield for Bolton or even fill your contingent against Blackburn. That’s support for you.

    I cant see Roy surviving which is a shame and you lot never gave him a chance. Who did you expect to take the job at the time? Who would you have backed that was daft enough to take the job?
    He has a load of ex-Rafa players and you were just as dreadful to watch under him.

    Liverpool doesnt deserve a decent team because all I have seen is complaining, petitions, not showing up to games when other fans can clearly see you havent given him a chance and your club was a huge mess.

    I hope whoever comes in is crap and you can all get back to whinging.

    Liverpool’s fans this last year have gone down with the club. You deserve each other. Apologies to the very few fans out there who actually are knowledgeable.

  11. Guy

    January 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Gaz, I don’t disagree with you as a whole, but you are bemoaning a fact that is true in sports worldwide. We’re having a bad year? Sack the manager! Sometimes it’s justified. Sometimes not.

    What astounds me is the subsequent hunt for a new manager and then the inevitable hiring of someone with equally mediocre credentials. Baseball is particularly “good” at this. Same old names in the hat. Same old results.

    If Hodgson is sacked what dynamic new manager will they bring in whose style of play and personality will be sure to spark Liverpool into life? You might as well go get some hungry young gun from the Championship. Of course then the players wouldn’t respect their inexperienced manager and blah, blah, blah back to the beginning.

    I’m with you, but it ain’t gonna change.

  12. John Clark

    January 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    That was very, very well written. Nice job!

  13. Glen

    January 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Terry, couldn’t you just leave good enough alone. Even if not true at least let us live in the hope it is 🙂 .I’ve wanted Roy out before he was even appointed because I didn’t see anything special about him. My uncle, who was a Blackburn supporter his entire life, once told me how terrible he was at Blackburn and because of his signings got the club relegated. I’m afraid the same fate might befall Liverpool if he is allowed to stay.

  14. Terry

    January 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I got a text from a mate who wrote Radio 2. Gaffer, you’re correct that Radio 2 is a music station but they do announce breaking news that is not music related. However, it would seem that Radio 5 would be more likely to announce it first. Now it seems it may not have actually been reported. I take back what I wrote. I’m sure there will be lots more “reports” about this and other managerial sackings. Sorry if i misled anyone.

    • The Gaffer

      January 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      No worries Terry. The rumors are coming in from several different places, but I’ll continue to keep a close eye on developments from Anfield to see if/when something happens.

      The Gaffer

  15. Terry

    January 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Beaking news:
    BBC Radio 2 reported a few minutes ago that Hodgson has been sacked and it will be announced tomorrow after a pay off has been sorted. Not sure how much truth is in it but BBC are usually pretty reliable.

    • The Gaffer

      January 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Terry, BBC is very reliable, but why would Radio 2 announce it? They’re a music station. Did you mean Radio 5?

      The Gaffer

      • AshevilleLFC Fan

        January 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        Nobody on RAWK mentioned anything and Google has nothing. I want it to be true but seems suspect.

      • Dave C

        January 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm

        Don’t you know? Terry Wogan is the go-to man for that kind of inside-information.

        • The Gaffer

          January 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

          Dave C, you might be right. Wasn’t Wogan on the radio too?

          The Gaffer

  16. Fernando

    January 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Hodgson’s crime sheet while in charge at Anfield is long and well-known: his signings, his football, his treatment of players, his public gaffes and his cringe-worthy press conferences. Not to mention results, or rather lack of them. But of all the things Hodgson has got wrong, most annoying is his constant attempts to play down expectations and create a culture where mediocrity becomes acceptable.

  17. Malcolm

    January 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

  18. SantaClaus

    January 6, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Well said Steven K. I couldn’t have said it better. The manager can make a difference.

  19. Steven K.

    January 6, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I’ve been a Liverpool supporter for just over 40 years. While I have not followed Hodgson’s career very closely I am aware of what he did elsewhere. I remember how awful he was at his first job at Bristol City in the lower leagues, how he ruined Blackburn after taking over a side that had won the title before he took over, complained about the talent there and got the owners to outspend Man United only for the club to be rock bottom when he was fired. Yes, he did have some success in Norway but other than that he has been average. There is a reason why his teams have only won 13 away matches in the league in his entire English career, his tactics have never been very good.

    “Hodgson is, if anything, a man deeply involved in tactics to the point of players at Fulham labeling their endless repetition of team shape at training as tiresome”. What works at Fulham does not work at Liverpool. He has used the same tactics almost everywhere he has managed. The mark of a decent manager is one that changes as the situation warrants.

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people regard a manager who has been very average his entire career as suddenly someone who is top class. Look at his entire managing career and you’ll see what I mean.

    “In the Hodgson’s Liverpool example, however, I believe bad purchases have been made in the past and the world-class players are often failing to rise above.” Those same bad purchases were able to finish 2nd in one season and the season where they were considered a failure finished 7th by a manager that was considered not good enough. What does that say about Hodgson? Besides, how well has he bought? Poulsen (couldn’t get a match at Juventus as he was kept out by a Liverpool reject, Momo Sisokko) and Konchesky are hardly inspiring purchases. Meireles has been a decent buy yet he is often played out of position. Not the mark of a decent manager.

    Sorry, but Hodgson only has himself to blame. Yes, the players are underperfroming and may not be good enough to be in the top 4 or even 6 but this squad is nowhere as bad as their present position shows. Managers do make a difference.

    • AshevilleLFC Fan

      January 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      Hodgson is simply an average manager at best. Simply take an objective look at his career record and you see it’s a fact. We are now consistently getting outclassed by teams with lesser talent home and away! HODGSON OUT!

      It’s hard to see right now, but the amount of talent being squandered is ridiculous. We had more WC participants than any other PL club! We have a top 5 in the world GK (Reina), mid (Gerrard) and striker (Torres) but under Hodgson they are all looking terribly average! Rafa can be blamed for not properly spending to bolster those three, but a proper manager would certainly be able to get us 7th or better!

    • Gaz Hunt

      January 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      “Those same bad purchases were able to finish 2nd in one season…”

      Xabi? Mascherano?

  20. Dave C

    January 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I think the most important element of a manager’s role is managing the atmosphere within the squad, or “man-management” as people say.

    To be able to get all players giving 100%; to manage the petty squabbles that might arise between players (or between players and managers); to build confidence in each other (so a team can play good football rather than nervous, restricted football); to have big egos accept and relish their role in a team (even from the bench). I think these are amongst the key things that determine a teams success, and this is what a good manager should handle.

    I think Hodgson has failed at this with Liverpool.

  21. Arnold

    January 6, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Managers do make a difference. They have a say in buying players, selling players, selecting the team and coming up with tactics. Not insignificant. Yes, players also make a difference in how they perform on the field. The question is does Hodgson make the right decisions and how successful has he been in his 35 years of managing. Outside of his stint in Scandinavia he has been very average. Many point to his time at Inter and assume that he must have been good to be given that job. Well, as it turns out Inter realized their mistake and fired him in less than 2 years there. He was also responsible for selling Roberto Carlos to Real Madrid as he thought Carlos was too attack-minded. Del Bosque who managed Roberto Carlos said of him ” he covers the entire left side of the field and is very good at it”. Roberto Carlos is arguably one of the best left backs to have played the game. Goes to show that some managers are better than others in recognizing talent. The same goes for tactics, man-management, etc.

    At liverpool, Hodgson has been afraid of his star players and has nevr taken them off when they have been poor. Torres is an example of this. He should have been substituted in many a game because he has not shown any desire. Even Benitez, who I am not a fan of, took out his star players like Torres and Gerard when they played poorly. Hodgson does not have the stature of a manager that players respect. Not his fault but that’s just the way it is in modern soccer.

    Personally, I would get rid of Hodgson and most of the players, including the likes of Torres, and start from scratch.

  22. old33

    January 6, 2011 at 8:52 am

    While it can be said that the players are directly responsible for the result, there is more that goes into a manager’s job than just tactics and formations. As a coach I can attest to this. How you go about practice, how in tune the manager is with the team, how the manager conducts himself with his team in public and behind closed doors also are huge factors. I remember really riding one of my players for an entire week. The player never had a coach who took his players’ performances seriously like I do. I was on him for every mistake that he made in practice and made him correct them immediately. To his credit, the improvement both skill wise as well as his approach to the team changed dramatically. I’m not suggesting that this is how every situation should be done. However, the manager must have some type of chemistry to get the team to function like they should. Remember Steve MacManaman’s observation that Liverpool is “littered with internationals?” There is something missing where the pieces of the puzzle are not being put together. Something is missing psychologically. Not to dispute Hodgson’s technical knowledge, but in my opinion, he just doesn’t seem to have that necessary chemistry that Liverpool and the fans so desperately need.

  23. daniel

    January 6, 2011 at 5:17 am

    I would hope that after the passion to sack Roy dies down that the supporters would realise that Hodgson was the caretaker guy taking over from Rafa. Unfortunately, he was the caretaker from Hicks and Gillett not for FSG. FSG saw that they had a world class manager with a stable hand and wanted to see how to best get their hands into the business and see where the real issues were. Its painful, but as a lifelong Red Sox fan, I trust FSGs judgement and also that they will put the right pieces together…eventually.

  24. Chris McQuade

    January 6, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Well for a collapse as mighty as this it is entirely accurate that one man cannot be blamed.

    However you go on and on about ‘on the day of the match’ that’s one day out of seven (or 2 out of 7 depending). You spend hours training, perfecting your playing, perfecting your set-pieces and getting the sharpness and the hunger.

    You don’t think it matters if players are in different positions, that’s your opinion. You’re entitled to it, it’s also manifestly incorrect. Jonathan Wilson and Michael Cox don’t write guff, they are widely respected for their analysis. But positions on a pitch are one thing, playing style is another. Look at Barcelona between Rijkaard and Guardiola. Inter between Mourinho and Benitez.

    A change between 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 may be elementary if your centre half is bypassing those men in midfield with aimless hoofs up the pitch.

    Look at Reina’s distribution, that’s not his Choice that’s a Managerial/Tactical decision. It’s also suicidal, by playing it short you maintain possession and put pressure on the other teams defence. By lumping it long you give the ball away in their half, exhaust your midfielders chasing after a lost cause and taking down a 70 yard hoof was never part of Torres’ game, i mean ever. Not at Madrid youth, Atletico, Spain or Liverpool until now.

    I’ll leave it at that for now but I don’t mind a reasoned debate. Can you honestly say you’ve not noticed the ‘long-ball’ “tactics” that Liverpool have been trying this season?

    • Gaz Hunt

      January 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

      I don’t intend to say that Jonathan Wilson and Michael Cox write guff and I understand that they are respected. They’re joined by many, many others who have brought some intelligent thought to the game. This is geeky stuff and I love it. But formation takes a “backseat” (not “doesn’t matter”) until we improve our squad and / or get the basics right.

      This criticism about Hodgson’s “long ball tactics” is still strange to me. First off, unless Reina just sent you a text, you have only speculation (like me) and can’t be dealing in certainties. 🙂

      To see some of you write, you’d think that Hodgson were sending messages with his magic, Owl brain to the players whenever they receive the ball. The manger is responsible for a lot – but he surely can’t be responsible for every single kick, tackle, pass, and shot (or lack of any). That’s the point of the article. Hodgson doesn’t have remote control robots out there, mate.

      Our conversation on this topic will most likely end similarly to my conversation with Ed above.

      I refuse to believe that an experienced manager would tell his players to give away possession and I think the players are (at least partially) making this decision due to nerves or lack of faith.

      You refuse to believe that experienced players are making this decision and you think the manager is (at least sometimes) telling them to do this due to an overly defensive style.

      Maybe we’re both wrong.

      • Gaz Hunt

        January 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm

        By the way, that comparison chart of Reina’s passes that Tomkins posted is an oddity. It works very well for his argument but I think he had to search long and hard for it.

        Look at the next game from last year (21 sucessful, 15 unsucessful and mostly long attempts) or the one after that (13 sucessful, 19 unsucessful with lots of long attempts) and even the next after that (14 sucessful, 20 unsucessful with those typical long attempts again).

        Go look at some chalkboards for yourself ( and notice that Reina has always been a quick, long distributor. Remember that goal Keane got for us after one bounce from a quick Reina boot? Or the many goals Torres has picked up from Reina’s distribution?

        In fact, I don’t think Reina has ever had a pass distribution that looks like Wovles from last year – you do realize that means he only attempted a drop kick once the entire match. How many times can you say you’ve seen a football game where the goal keeper booted it just once!

  25. Willmore

    January 6, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Nothing wrong with Hodgson as a manager. He has coached many teams, gotten many jobs, accomplished season goals, produced results expected, etc. More often than not he has achieved what was expected, sometimes even more.

    Poor managers do not last as long as he has in this business.

    Yet for whatever reason, Hodgson has failed as a manager of Liverpool.

    Is the squad good. No. The level of the squad is not that of a team that can challenge for the title. Perhaps not even a Champions League spot. But it can certainly be a top-6 team, and with luck, who knows.

    Hodgson, it seems from the outside, failed to motivate the dressing room, did not enthuse the fans, and, perhaps committed the cardinal sin of any manager – he was appointed by the previous regime.

    Whether it’s Hiddink, Villas-Boas, Rangnick, Klopp, makes little difference in the short term, they will be better. Not because of tactical innovation, but because, if Hodgson had lost the player’s confidence, anybody new will boost morale. Anybody new, a body, hell, Stevie G as player-manager would produce better results and might actually produce a top-6 finish by May.

    If Hodgson had a time machine and had not made the political blunders he committed, he might have guided Liverpool to glory. But he did, and there really is no good ending to this story. He is done at Anfield. The sooner it happens, the better.

  26. mintox

    January 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I agree in part with what your saying, in some games this season we’ve given possession away cheaply, our defence has made some very poor mistakes and that comes down to the players.

    I also think that Benitez has left the squad (whether it’s his fault or the owners not giving him the cash) without true width and he’s had to make do with what he has and for that he can’t be blamed.

    However I think there have been occasions where he has to take the blame for poor choice of tactics:
    – We’ve started to sit deep and defend which makes it hard for Torres to be effective as we rarely win the ball in the attacking half.
    – Playing Miereles out of position on the right exacerbates our lack of width
    – Pairing Kyrgiakos and Skrtel together (they work well alongside the likes of Carragher and Agger but look poor together)
    – Purchasing Konchesky who is as poor a left back as we’ve had for a long while
    – Dropping Maxi when he had been doing the job for us on the left.

    As for Reina passing out from the back instead of booting it. Benitez worked very hard on this aspect of the game, our tactic was always to build up from the back and we did it well because we practiced it. I don’t know what Hodgson has been working on but I would suggest this isn’t one aspect he’s concentrated on.

  27. Gary Denness

    January 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I too disagree with you I’m afraid, and Thomas and Justin make good points. Mourinho didn’t have buckets of cash at Porto by the way, and he was far from being the biggest spender at Inter Milan. But when he does buy, he has a better success rate than most.

    Hodgson has really never been anything more than a mediocre, average manager. His successes have come at teams in, no disrespect intended to Switzerland et al, far from competitive leagues. At Inter he is remembered as the buffoon who sold a young chap called Roberto Carlos who he thought not quite good enough. And single handedly screwing up a UEFA Cup final.

    He was fired at Blackburn because he did to them what he’s doing to us this season. Then there is Fulham. Sorry, but although it was a good run to the Europa League final, who did he beat? Juventus? On paper in years to come that will look like a cracking result. In some ways it was. But a lot of poor teams beat Juventus last year.

    In the important bread and butter competition, Hodgson’s Fulham slipped down the table by five places on the previous year. So did Rafa’s team. Rafa was fired for that…

    Hodgson is a nice chap apparently. Decent. We’ll see. The second worst manager we’ve had at LFC in my time watching the game, was Graeme Souness. He was a decent chap. He knew he wasn’t doing the job he should have been doing with the players he had, so he acknowledged it, did the decent and honourable thing and resigned.

    Will Roy resign, or will he wait till he’s fired and take a big payout? We’ll see how decent a chap he is. To be fair, the way contracts are drawn up these days encourage managers to hang on. They should have the same sort of contracts as normal employees. Perform badly, and you’re fired. No payout, end of. Want to leave? Fine. A month’s notice, por favor.

  28. Justin

    January 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    The manager picks the team and sets up the teams’ tactics and formation. Those are 3 very important parts of a match…and all decided by the manager. The manager needs to put the appropriate players in the correct position to succeed. Roy is not doing this.

    • Gaz Hunt

      January 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      So all we need is to move one man over here, another there, and bring on that guy. Voila!

      As I said in a reply above:

      But are you suggesting that in what you consider “perfect” positions and formation, our players would have not made all the silly mistakes and may have played with a little more passion today? Managers play players out of position and vary formation all the time and good, committed players adapt and get on with it.

      Again, my point is not to remove the burden from Hodgson (I too have had those “what!?” moments when the team lineups are announced) but to hear some speak he’s to blame for everything. For instance, how was our third conceded goal (that one that started with two of our defenders and one opposing striker in the corner) a problem with tactics?

  29. Thomas

    January 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I agree that at some point, the 11 men on the pitch have to succeed. But to say a manager doesn’t play a crucial role in the team is absurd.

    You have to look no further than Scolari at Chelsea. They team started brilliantly, and he clearly lost the dressing room. Something went awry. They bring in Hiddink and things suddenly turn around.

    What about Mourinho? Mancini took Inter as far as they could go. In comes a proven winner, and a brilliant tactician. Inter bounce Barca on their way to winning the competition.

    I feel bad for Hodgson, as much of this can be put on Benitez.

    I’m sure no Liverpool fan would trade that famous victory in Istanbul, but in many ways that victory cost the club dearly. Benitez always cried about his lack of funds, but his spending record showed a man who had a penchant for nickel and diming away huge amounts of money on ineffectual squad players….in 5 years he never brought in a suitable second striker, and the team was left devoid of any wide options…though I will credit him with players like Alonso.

    • Gaz Hunt

      January 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

      I believe the manager does play a crucial role but when that whistle blows I think there are 11 men in much more crucial roles (if a player isn’t crucial to football, I don’t know what is).

      There are some excellent, proven managers out there right now – but probably only a handful. In the Premier League we have Alex Ferguson (who has enjoyed long-term backing despite an early flirt with being sacked) and Arsene Wenger. I admit there can be a huge difference between the handful of truly great managers and poor managers but the difference between the rest of the good / unproven managers (where I would say 90% or higher fall) is slight and success is all a result of a combination of factors.

      I’m not knowledgeable enough about Scolari to comment but I believe Mourinho obtained a wad of cash to improve the squad from selling his forward in that season. The thing about Mourinho is he’s a brilliant manager but he always has teams with lots of quality stars and cash to spend. He’s often that extra push really good teams need to be excellent.

  30. Jack

    January 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    The smartest coach I know (he is English, he played for an EPL team) said exactly the same things about Hodgson to me last week. Hodgson has been in a terrible position since the first week. The only thing worse would be bringing Rafa back.

  31. Ed

    January 5, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Regardless of the fact that I disagree with your opinion, I really appreciate the care that you took to put this together. It’s clearly an important issue, and even though a vast majority have a contrary view, I enjoyed reading a thoughtful counterpoint. I’m also in agreement that player performances can’t be ignored–I’d like to think that most of us who want Hodgson out aren’t in any way dismissing the responsibility of the players in the squad, many of whom have put forth sub-par efforts for much of the season.

    But I think absolving Hodgson of responsibility, something he’s all too happy to do for himself, misses the point. I couldn’t help but bristle a bit while reading the bit about tactics–not only has the tactical alteration been unsuccessful, it’s proved to isolate Fernando Torres and often resulted in a square peg-round hole scenario (e.g., Meireles on the right).

    Anyhow, don’t want to ramble, but wanted to say nice work, even if I strongly disagree.

    • Gaz Hunt

      January 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      I appreciate the kind words, Ed.

      Though you’re not allowed to disagree! No seriously, that’s what it’s all about. I know I’m in a minority of Liverpool supporters here but that’s one of the reasons I love football – the endless opinions and statistic swapping.

      I don’t aim to absolve Hodgson of responsibility. But he is perhaps one of many things going wrong at the club right now and unable to do much once those players enter that pitch.

      To your point, I agree with the “square-peg in a round-hole” comment. It’s frustrating at times.

      But are you suggesting that in what you consider “perfect” positions and formation, our players would have not made all the silly mistakes and may have played with a little more passion today? Managers play players out of position and vary formation all the time and good, committed players adapt and get on with it.

      • Ed

        January 5, 2011 at 10:52 pm

        Oh no, not at all, I think the players need to carry a portion of the burden, like I said. And I don’t know that there are any “perfect” positions for anyone in the squad.

        I just think that at times we’ve seen glimpses of what the squad are capable of, and those seem to be the times when they’re playing less of a “hoof and hope” approach and more of a pass-and-move, fluid forward style.

        I think that falls at Hodgson’s feet–yes, the players can execute any type of tactical approach, but I think certain approaches lend themselves to different types of personnel, and I don’t think Hodgson’s fits Liverpool very well.

        • Gaz Hunt

          January 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm

          But surely the decision to “hoof” the ball comes down to players on the pitch. Maybe it’s nerves or lack of belief in some matches and / or instances.

          Like him or not, I can’t see an experienced coach like him telling his players to boot the ball up for a fifty-fifty in favor of retaining possession.

          • Ed

            January 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm

            I don’t know that it does come down to the players–but that’s the most difficult part about being an armchair critic for me.

            With all of this stuff we can talk about players v. manager and who’s accountable, but over the course of the first five months of the season, it’s going to take a lot of convincing for me to believe that Liverpool’s senior squad, many of whom are holdovers from seasons far more successful, are so nervous that they consistently boot the ball up the pitch against squads like Wolves and Blackpool on their own volition.

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