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Saturday, 26 June 2010

Should ‘Woy’ lead the Anfield revolution?

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If reports on Friday’s BBC Football website are accurate then Roy Hodgson, currently fulfilling punditry obligations in South Africa, is being lined up as Liverpool’s big summer signing. But is that a positive signal of intent?   

Hodgson enjoyed an enchanted last season but is the Fulham boss really the man to re-direct Liverpool Football Club? It must not be underestimated, they are a club in turmoil.

The scarcity of financial security is well publicised but the managerial void has been brushed under the carpet whilst the World Cup takes centre stage. 

Cottagers boss, ‘Woy’, won manager of the year and deservedly so. He got the very best out of a Fulham side who literally required the skin of their teeth to remain a top flight outfit in 2008-09. This season that fairytale script lacked a poetic ending but Hodgson will still go down in Fulham folklore. 

Is he though, the right man to steer the most prestigious football club in English history, out of the dumps? He has won five titles, spread across the Danish and Swedish premier divisions, at Copenhagen and Malmö FF respectively. 

Internationally he did well, again with limited resources, by pushing Switzerland to last 16 World Cup acclaim in 1994. 

Surely a chance has presented itself though for Liverpool to build from the ground up, as Manchester United did when they hired a certain 45-year-old Scot, 25 years ago.

Sir Alex Ferguson endured six years of uncertainty in securing his first Old Trafford title, but the board knew it would take time. They gave, they observed and Ferguson built his empire. 

Hiring a 62-year-old Hodgson seems to be settling for the best of the ‘available’ bunch. He may be good manager, but is he a great manager? It's debatable as the line is far from defining. 

Few continental managers would come and manage a club with little promise of immediate expansion. Maybe the thinking behind employing Hodgson, is that the club have minimal financial clout with which to build, and it seems he would thrive from such financial adversity.

He seems affable but how is he in the art of persuasion? Top of his to-do-list would be the nucleus of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, ensuring they keep faith and remain Anfield employees is pivotal.   

Liverpool crave the league title more than anything, pair this with getting the club back rubbing shoulders with Europe’s elite - Hodgson would be eyeballing a very, very big challenge.

Finally, would it not feel like giving an ageing manager a final chance at the big time. Saying that, it's a sentiment that does not always point towards a false dawn as Tottenham will testify, their transformation under Harry Redknapp has been quite remarkable.

Over achievement pours glory on a manager but the flip side can destroy them. Hodgson would find potential if he inherited Rafa Benitez' assembly, but many have had their artistic license revoked - the new Internazionale boss saw to that. Ryan Babel was touted as the next Thierry Henry upon his Anfield arrival, remember? 

It would be a balancing act - an overhaul operation whilst keeping hold of those prized assets - but the five times European champions are now a long-term project. It may be a challenge Hodgson craves, but it may also be a challenge one step too far for the nicest manager in English football. 

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Paul O'Meara



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