Hodgson Not Up To Task

by Sam Wheatley

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Just as Liverpool’s season looked like it might begin to take off thanks to some woeful Manchester United defending, Roy Hodgson stepped in to ensure that it remained on a downward trajectory.  Steven Gerrard had dragged his team kicking and screaming back to 2-2 from 2-0 down, and the momentum, you would have to say, was with Liverpool, but then hapless Roy popped up with some uninspired substitutions.

In the interests of fairness, hauling the perennially useless Maxi Rodriguez off for David N’Gog was probabaly a worthwhile move, although the arrival of N’Gog was a timely reminder of the weakness of Liverpool’s bench, and consequently why a domestic cup might be the roof of their ambitions for this season.

Then Roy boy, clearly in search of a last-gasp winner, threw on Milan Jovanovic for Raul Meireles, disrupting the balance of the Liverpool side with the introduction of another striker for a midfielder.  By the time the game had finished, Liverpool had three strikers on in N’Gog, Jovanovic and Fernando Torres – but the lack of service had still not been addressed.  Players were out of position and it’s no coincidence that Hodgson’s final substitution, Daniel Agger (a centre-back) on for left-back Paul Konchesky, led to Manchester United’s goal.

When the ball was fired out to United’s right hand side (Liverpool’s left), John O’Shea had plenty of time to pop in a cross for Dimitar Berbatov to rise above Jamie Carragher and seal his hat-trick.  Arguably, had Liverpool still had a left-back on the pitch, O’Shea might have been closed down before being able to put a ball in.  The way United were able to work it across the middle of the pitch highlighted the fact that Hodgson had removed most of his midfield players.  It was left to Cole and Gerrard, in the end, to supply three strikers with only one left to try to protect the back four from waves of Manchester United attacks, a back four which now contained no left-back, and it proved fatal in the end.

Everyone seems willing to give Roy the benefit of the doubt because of the turmoil off the pitch at the club.  I don’t think that’s a valid excuse – if a new owner is installed at Anfield, why would they want to take on a manager seemingly so unambitious?  It’s a shame because despite wanting Hodgson to succeed, he’s made countless mistakes and, frankly, the job is too big for him.

Mascherano and Aquilani have departed the club, only to be replaced by two inferior players in Poulsen and Meireles.  The young (and still promising) Insua left and was replaced by the spectacularly average Paul Konchesky.  I know there isn’t a lot of money at the club at the moment, but it’s not that Hodgson hasn’t been able to augment the squad he already had – he let many of them go and replaced them with a lower standard of player.  Mascherano didn’t want to play for the club, and Hodgson was right to let him go, but Aquilani had committed himself to the season at Liverpool before he was shipped out to Juventus.  One suspects the Italian will not play for Liverpool again.

It has only been five games, but morale is quite clearly low at Anfield (except for the mysteriously chipper Joe Cole, who thinks we should judge Liverpool in May after they’ve won nothing and, at this rate, finished 8th) and five games soon becomes ten and over a quarter of the season has gone.  At that stage, people will have to start looking very seriously at Roy Hodgson’s position, regardless of how likeable he is.

Admittedly the defeat was at the hands of Manchester United, but an off-form Manchester United that is plagued by defensive lapses at the moment.  Hodgson got his tactics wrong again, as against Manchester City, and was punished.  We have seen new owners come in before and remove managers better than Hodgson, and if this form continues I can’t see him getting the opportunity to spend in January if a new owner is in place because he won’t be there.  Even his shrewdness at Fulham seems to have been eclipsed by Mark Hughes, who sold Konchesky to Liverpool for £4.5m and replaced him with the impressive Carlos Salcido for around £1.6m.  You have to admire Hodgson’s loyalty to his ‘favourites’, but it isn’t conducive of good management.

Yesterday’s game essentially symptomised some basic flaws in Hodgson’s approach to the game, and some evidence that he’s not a big club manager.  He said of Inter Milan, the biggest club he had managed before Liverpool, that Paul Ince was the club’s only star player.  Bold words indeed – do not forget that Ince was a player that he had brought to the club himself and hardly the most technically gifted player to grace a football pitch.  Perhaps when his Liverpool reign is over and ultimately potless, he will say that the squad only consisted of Christian Poulsen so there can be no comeback on him, really.  If the poor league form continues, he may be rolling out that excuse sooner than you can say ‘I raided Scandinavia for footballers and all I got was the sack’.

Upon defending Liverpool’s pretty dire start to the season, he called upon some misleading statistics, that as Liverpool manager he has ‘played eight, won five, drawn two and lost one’.  He was citing a few easy Europa League games in there, as the Premier League picture reads played five, won one, drawn two and lost two.  That, I would say, is not a good start and his Liverpool side resides, for now, at 16th in the league.  A few wins over Steaua Bucharest and Trabzonspor aren’t going to mask that.

It’s hard to be cruel to Hodgson but I think he’s blissfully unaware of how out of his depth he is.  In a climate in which younger managers are around that look far more dynamic and astute in their approach to the game, not to mention those around his age that are clear masters of their craft, Hodgson looks to be a loveable but outdated relic in the context of the modern game.  Like Liverpool’s passing, I can’t see Hodgson taking them forward to where they want to be – he can’t even seem to keep them where they were.

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  • Ben McAleer

    Good read. Liverpool have definitely gone backwards since 08/09 season when they finished second. I bet the board regret hiring Hodgson so hastily prior to MON leaving Villa. However, I would have to disagree in your judgement that Aquilani is better than Meireles, Meireles was easily one of Portugal’s stand out stars in a less than average World Cup performance (coupled with left back Contreao) but agree that Poulsen is no where near an adequate replacement for Mascherano but player power coupled with Liverpool’s crippling debts doesn’t aid Roy’s cause.

  • Ragish

    Spot on article. Liverpool made the biggest mistake to remove Benitez and replace him with Hodgson. Will be lucky to finish mid table is they continue like that. When Benitez was removed, everyone said ‘problem solved!’ Well, the problem it seems has grown not solved!

  • Jay Wright

    I totally agree with your article Sam – I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one with these opinions! If Hodgson was actually embedding some changes into the team then it wouldn’t be so bad, but seeing that we’re playing the exact same rubbish that saw us finish 7th last season, there is no cause for optimism or belief that performances will magically turn around once the players click.

    Irt Meireles, I honestly had never really noticed him before we bought him – I think his stellar reputation amongst Liverpool fans may be mainly built around us buying him and exaggerating his quality in hope more than anything else; much like Silva being a world class star player when we were interested in him and apparently being regarded as an average, overrated player now that he’s gone to Man City instead…

  • KopThisMate

    Aqua is not a better player than Merieles. But your article speaks truths, especially when you ask the question as to why would you break the momentum that was clearly growing by taking one of the very few influential players on the pitch, and replace him with Jova, who quite frankly is a joke. Its almost like he was throwing the game.. Taking off Konchensky, who wasn’t having the greatest game, but at least he is a left back, and replace him with Agger???. Agger should have started, instead of carra, im sorry Carra but you are not the player you once were, and that last goal was your fault. Kenny should have been appointed from the get go, Roy does not have what the skills to take us to the next level, far from it. We are actually going in the opposite direction. The board has to act now, dont wait like they did with Rafa, get rid of Roy and appoint Kenny until the club is (fingers crossed) eventually sold. Cuz i can only see roy digging an ever bigger hole than he already has. I don’t have faith in Roy, and i don’t think giving him time will eventuate into anything positve..

  • tommy walsh

    i totally agree with headline ,how many time’s are liverpool going to get it wrong before we get it right i would’nt come down hard on roy at all if he played his own line-up and formation if this formation did’nt work last season with rafa why would it work this year, i think the board got it completly wrong with hodgson his tatics are for with no disrespect a bottom tier team coming to a big team with the intention of not getting beat and getting bodys behind the ball, at least rafa’s teams put pressure on team’s high up the field ,kenny daglish would of been the best option i would’nt mind getting beat as long as we attacked team’s and gave youth a chance but its the same old story diffrent manager

  • Alan

    Good article and you’re right about his outdated tactics. He essentially wanted Liverpool to pass the ball in their own half yesterday just to keep the ball away from Utd. You can’t do that for 90 mins and win a match. You need to have a plan to to hurt the opposition and Roy had no such plan, though of course he would deny that as all these failed coaches do. Liverpool were lucky to lose only 3-2 is the truth about the 90 mins. For the first hour they didn’t have a serious shot on Utd’s goal.

    Roy is out of his depth, no doubt. Look at his CV and you understand that apart from 18 months at Inter Milan in a 40 year career he has never been under the pressure he is now under at Anfield every week. He is also too old and uninspiring a character to give confidence to players or fans.

    Martin O’Neill is a long ball merchant so don’t want him. Personally, I feel Frank Rijkaard is the ideal man for Liverpool. He plays attacking football, and has managed a huge club like Barcelona for 5 years so understands the pressure. He also won major trophies. He’s a lot younger, too. At least under Rijkaard Liverpool would attack like the old days.

  • ste


    And sack those responsible for hiring the MORON!!!! ‘taking their time’ for 2-3 months before plumping for HIM!!!????.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Spot on ! Could not agree with you more, very well written and articulate picture of the current Crisis – yes crisis – facing our club.

  • rolando

    why oh why didnt we go for King Kenny?? he would have had the same desired affect regarding keeping the key players, he would have steadied the ship as was required but he would also have some experience managing a top class team to sucess, thats right roy sucess. something that within you illustrious mangerial career you have failed with.

  • Sam Wheatley

    @KopThisMate: Good point. Agger was widely regarded as one of the brightest defensive prospects in Europe when Liverpool signed him. He hasn’t had the best time with injuries, but how long can Liverpool conceivably persist with Carragher (as good a servant to the club as he’s been) over the Dane?

    @tommywalsh: Do you think that there is a serious lack of (British, especially) players worth developing in Liverpool’s current academy? Apart from Daniel Pacheco and the pretty average Jay Spearing, there seems to be a huge shortage – especially for a club that had previously brought the game McManaman, Fowler, Gerrard and Carragher, amongst many other lesser players that went on to be Premiership regulars (like David Thompson).

  • igorsuncledave

    A rather poor and misleading article here, poorly written with the intention of attacking a manager recently placed. But lets look at some of the “facts” that have been presented to us. Insuas replacement by Konch – Firstly Insua was identified last season as one of our weak points, perhaps because of his age but mostly by his lack of pace. Pace is a gift and can only be marginally improved on. Konch has better game awareness and is a steadier player in that position.

    Then to add to that you then attack the manager for replacing him with Agger during the closing stages of the game. Konchesky had finished the last game with a tightening of the hamstrings, this was apparent at the end of a game here he had worked hard in his position. Agger, had played in that position a number of times before and is left footed defender and an International. Do not blame the manager for replacing a weakened and tired player with an international left sided player who has experience in that position.

    Then you mention Mascherano and Aquilani being allowed to leave – Mascha had put in a transfer request this season having been told that he could not go last season – this is a no brainier and he was going to leave (nothing to do with the manager) – Aquilani has not proven himself at the club even after a lengthy absence – has his injury cleared up enough? Do the medical staff at the club know more that you do perhaps?

    During the Manc game the manager too the gamble at two down and introduced a striker to play up front with Torres – Liverpool had done nothing up to that point and it was gamble, a gamble that almost paid off as it game Torres more freedom and it led to two goals – I did not see a mention of good judgement of the manager here? At 2-2 we were in the driving seat and the manager felt that we had a chance of winning this and replaced Meireles (who is still coming to terms with the speed and pace of the Prem) with Jovanovic who has always shows a spark of creativity.

    The gamble did not pay off not because of one of Roys decisions but by the fact that Carra was out muscled and out-jumped by a player on a massive streak of form at the moment.

    This was nothing to do with the manager – we went for what would have been a MASSIVE win and a massive boost for the lads – we were unfortunate in the loss but I was happy that we took the gamble and went for the jugular – well done Roy.

    What would Rafa have done? Settled and brought Agger on and played 5 at the back with 2 defensive midfielders at 2-0?

    Calling for Roys head at this point in the season and at this time is naïve to say the least. We have lost away to two of the top teams in the league and drawn at home to one of the others – but for a freak and uncharacteristic error by Pepe. Was this too Roys fault?

    I’m happy with what I have seen, pride has been restored and Roy tells it how it is. Torres is struggling with form but I can guarantee that he is being supported, what would Rafa be doing? You mention the weakness of our bench yesterday, Babel, Jovanovic, Agger, Ngog. I would say that was a much better line up than last season. Judge Roy at the end of the season an not in the first few weeks, give the man a chance and considering he has brought in some top quality players and made a profit, I would say that the side is not only stronger but happier – but than this is my opinion.

  • Ken

    What a sobering article but you are still too careful with Roy. Be bold, say it like punch it, not have pity on Roy just because he is old, senile and kind. He is shit. Defensive 4411 against any team include WBA at home is timid, bend over come and screw me tactic. Doesn’t it matter who are playing in the midfield? Liv still got quality players but this senile goner has no clue where he is? So far his parking the bus tactics against any teams home and away is blending liv as stoke or worst. His post match comments are like screw me anybody as I ain’t expected to win anything at all, rafa leaves me tons of shit players what to you fans expect. Worst excuses, no money, in transition blahh. Answer you man for man liv is no way inferior than mu but manager is. He is a coward who is trying to cover his arse, irresponsible prick; fans don’t expect me to win lots of match as that is not expected of me shit Birmingham comments. His small club mentality and attitude toward other teams are timid, bend over. If he stay wee bit longer, liv will become Blackburn. Alex sorry you say Torres what? O’shea should be sent off? nay wine Alex? Gutless. Ok sorry about the grammar as I am very pissed off with weak-minded Roy. Basically like him, his tactic is too timid, reactionary,no wonder Torres is fedup only one in the frontline and the rest stay at home as per Roy instruction. And last Agger got a point.

  • daboy

    The only point you are overlooking when speaking about Hodgson and turmoil is that he would not have been appointed, if the club had decent ownership world class managers were not lining up.
    Why would they? no money to bolster the squad a team that under performed the season before would you go there if you were not a fan, the answer is no!
    I am not a big fan of Roys but i am a fan of Rafa i hope you people that berated him can see he really wasnt that bad.

  • Ken

    Hope this comment is better illustrate my point.
    Roy is the main culprit for playing very negative tactic not only against mu but all other BPL matches. Guys see how Sam Bolton plays and learn from it. Let torres in the frontline and the rest stay behind. Well guys only 1 down could have been more. Do the same in the 2nd half and hopefully they make a mistake and we level the score. What 2 down, shit what am I going to do. Gerrard looked at Roy ‘now what?’ Roy ‘calm down just keep the shape.’ Gerrard ‘f**k Roy got no clue, guys go all out!’ 2-2. Roy ‘yes I am a genius. Now Gerrard remember Bolton plays!’ Gerrard ‘what! F**k!’ 3-2. Gerrard ‘Roy why you come to liv? If Bolton is what you dream of.’ Roy tactic is if they don’t score, we need not to press just keep it 0-0 will do. Roy ‘Afterall we are no more liv but a mid table team. Fans will understand after I have brainwashed them into that mentality, so need not worry my excuse and comments esp. after Birmingham match is superb.’ What a gutless coward timid weak manager. His failure is down to his passive attitude, inferior complex and the players, club finance, owners are just the shield for his weakness. Question: man for man liv is inferior to mu? Or the manager is the weak link? Remember Blackburn, yes his Blackburn! If his tactic can’t even dominate WBA at anfield, what make fans think that after mu match liv got easier games? Come on! Roy made WBA looked world class, for f**k sake!! Afterall said liv still got quality players but shit manager.

  • Ken

    Rafa should not be sacked that I always maintain. He is a true tactician, injuries and players unhappiness due to his poor man management led to this sorry arse take over. If medias say rafa is cautious, what do they make of Roy, f**king timid! Agger has voiced out soon many would follow be it behind Roy’s back or in his face. Yeh fans should not be panic, Roy should if he persist this attitude and mentality toward games.

  • BootleBob

    Completely agree, apart from Raul. He is a top player. Hodgson has no tactical acumen and has low expectations for himself and the club – a disasterous appointment.

  • rowan

    Couldn’t agree more. at least with rafa, we would have drawn v city and maybe only lost to manure.
    If and when money comes in, Roy’s days are numbered. If money doesn’t come in, then we better get used to being mid table dross.

  • tommy walsh

    @Sam Wheatley,i think there’s loads of talent in the accademy + lots of british who represent there country under age(coady,robbinson,roberts,wisdom,flanagan,shelvey,sterling,ngoo,) but what make it more interesting is the way rodollfo borrells team took apart the famed leed’s united accademy on saturday we also have the like of suso,pacheco,silva ,and mavwinga who won the u19 euro championship with france who arsne wenger went into a dog fight with liverpool to sign him from psg he marked kiko and canales who represent hercules and real madrid respectfully out of the game yet we go and sign paul konsesky who was not even good enough for west ham,charlton,spurs, managers like souness,houllier,banitez,hodgson are the reason we have fallen way behind the rest and i think our fans are to loyal and living on past glorys and not putting presure on the boards to sack them were as at any other big clubs they would be waving white flags to get them out which makes our board lazy in my opinon

  • tommy walsh

    we actually have on board the right person for the job was head of the barcelona accademy and then went on to manage and win a league title in greece jose segura remember nobady heard of arsene wenger before he went to arsenal he came from a football team in japan

  • http://cravencottagenewsround.wordpress.com rich

    Out of his depth? Ha.

    It took time to turn Fulham around and he did it. Liverpool will be fine. The biggest problem will be whining fans without the patience to let him and his methods bed in.

    Honestly, read some of these comments. The ignorance is frightening. Konchesky not good enough for West Ham, Charlton, etc? Right, but he was an outstanding part of Fulham’s best ever defence, a defence that got to the Europa League final. He’s not an outstanding player, but Liverpool aren’t an outstanding team. He’ll do a job and stabilise the side, which is what you need.

    PS Hodgson didn’t buy Paul Ince at Inter, he was already there.


  • Mike

    Good article- I agree with other comments in that it is ‘sobering.’ However, Hodgson’s style of play at Fulham was defend, soak up the pressure, and then spring forward with fluidity. It worked a dream over there but I still think he will do ok at Anfield. As Morrissey once sung ‘These Things take Time’ and thats exactly what will happen here. Liverpool may not get going for another 5 games but I believe they will do enough to get a top 6 finish. City and Tottenham have made their job much harder this time around, but I believe Hodgson will do just about enough to stay for another season

  • Ken

    As long as Roy persists in his defensive, bus parking, non pass and move, none pressing tactic, any good ambitious players would not perform. They would sick of it, just the fans would hate it. Blaming players or owners are only shielding Roy from his failure. Roy is the culprit, stop pitying him you sycophantic journalists, ex-players. Roy is kind but incompetent. With that kind of players liv got, overnight all become shit relegation quality players? Unfuckingbelievable, it is so obvious Roy’s passive attitude and small club mentality are the main reason liv has playing like one. Remember Roy’s Blackburn, scary huh?

  • dexylongshot

    I don’t now what everyone is moaning about, sh*t happens, it’s only the Carling Cup, I’m sure Roy would rather get shown up in that than end up in the bottom of of the league come May. He’s only been there 5 minutes, give him a chance. I said in the pre season predictions it will take a season for Roy to get his team on the road to recovery, especially with the wedge restraints. If they are still pony this time year, then start moaning.

    It is good to see them out thou!!!!!

  • robtheboy

    WOW, Im shocked so many dissapointed Liverpools fans…….well i for one arnt….we are still moaning recovering about Rafa and the Yank owners….

    Liverpool are in transition, i for one dont think Roy should have been the new boss, two Rafa had to go, reason played to defensive, to many bad buys, played players in wrong positions (stev g), and relied on two players, yes thats right two players, world class YES…glad he mananged to keep them but for god’s sake get it right.

    We wont win anything this year, need to build, get rid of the dead wood, get new owners, spend wisely and correctly, play players in right positions, and challenge in every game, 1005 effort, attack is the key, you dont win games playing defensive, you win by scoring,SIMPLE!!!!!!!!

    As for manager, well at least he’s english lol…
    no seriously wrong choice for me, what has he done let alone won…King Kenny should have got it…he is the one person who knows what Liverpool fc is about, what is required, passion…..all this we are lacking, and if it continues we wont be a top four team more middle table, which as a hard core liverpool fan is just not acceptable, frustrating,and quiet frankly SHOCKING…

    The YANKS have made this club, once a powerhouse not just in this country but in Europe a laughing stock, and with our deadliest rivals on level peggings regarding titles its painfull…

    LFC will always be there in the end but we need to rebuild everything from scratch, then who knows….(FAITH)….as for last night yes it was only the Carling cup , but its a trophy…THats what counts at the end of the year, you dont get prizzes for playing good/great football you do for WINNING!!!!!!.by all means play the kids, second string but we should have beaten Northampton easy…..my old Saturday team could have played better and won….
    MESSAGE TO THE OWNERS sort it out and quick !!!!!!

  • Adam Webster

    You can only blame Roy for so much of the trouble at Anfield.

    A good manager (as he was at Fulham) does not suddenly become one overnight, and maybe Roy is a victim of quite unfortunate circumstances. There is a war going on inside the Boardroom and he clearly cannot command the respect of certain egotistical players on the training field. Add those factors together and you have a recipe for disaster.

    Liverpool are in danger of becoming a mid-table club and winning nothing this season. They won’t be relegated, but they should remember that no team is too big to go down. People said that about Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest in the past – where are those teams now? Certainly not in the Premiership!

    It will be interesting to see what develops over the next 48 hours, as Hicks tries his best to stall any deal for the club.

  • Danny Goodwin

    Adam, very well said!

    However, now that things off the pitch have calmed down, Liverpool have to improve come January or they will finish 8th or below.

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