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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Hodgson requires patience...


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At the time of writing Liverpool were still in the Coca-Cola Cup, but the sentiment remains. BBC Radio5 Live’s Jan Molby, (after defeat to Northampton, 22/09): “ I think we are seeing the legacy of the Rafael Benitez reign right here…”

Internet forum’s were awash with scathing attacks on Roy Hodgson and his Liverpool side on the Monday following their defeat to Manchester United.

“Roy, so far out of his depth”, “(Paul) Konchesky is not a Liverpool player” etc, etc. Five games gone and the wolves are already approaching Anfield. 

It is quite amazing that media and ‘supporters’ alike are genuinely giving Roy’s new side such a roasting, after just five games. Games incidentally, which were arguably the toughest opening set of fixtures for any of the Premiership clubs.  

They hosted Arsenal, visits were made to both Manchester clubs, a trip was made to the battleground of St. Andrews - all of which sandwiched an Anfield meeting with West Brom. 

Throw into the mix a disjointed pre-season due to the World Cup and an International schedule being inevitable intrusive, Hodgson has only had spurts with his entire assembly.

Granted, results and indeed performances have been far from electrifying but he is trying to implement new systems which take time - not to mention inheriting a squad littered with inadequacies.  

Discussions of a potential takeover and of the wretched owners are for another day, but conclusion of the very same boardroom and ownership matters will dictate the direction of this club. 

Hodgson has plans in his new job, plans he cannot present to the board until the monotonous shambles going on above his head, is put to bed.

Players he has brought in look sound enough, question mark’s maybe linger over a minority of these – evidence certainly suggests that Konchesky and Christian Poulson would top many polls. 

But English left-backs don’t grow on trees and Poulson was brought in whilst Javier Mascherano’s future was still clouded with uncertainty – and indeed before the arrival of Raul Meireles from Porto.  

Each time Liverpool conceded from set-pieces prior to Hodgson, Rafael Benitez’ zonal marking policy was chastised. Hodgson is applying a change in the way Liverpool defend by implementing man-marking. 

The players are learning a different method after six years of familiarity with the former method.

He must be extended the courtesy to trial a few formations, 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-1-1 have all been used, this will disrupt the rhythm of the side. More will undoubtly be tested until he is familiar with players strengths, it’s very much trial and error. 

Other key issues still need ironing out. How to utilise Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard in the same team, as well as trying to nudge Fernando Torres in the direction of much needed form, fitness and confidence.

If Christmas arrives and Liverpool are still bumbling around in the wrong half of the table, then maybe, just maybe, start to question him. To a degree football journalists are quite right in reporting what they see, it is their job after all. But legitimate Liverpool fans should not follow suit so soon.

The club are not masquerading as title contenders. Benitez left behind players who had their artistic licence revoked, Hodgson must pull some players through a renaissance.   

Just because the Manchester City hierarchy schedule in a change of manager like the rest of us schedule in holidays, this doesn’t mean the concept of longevity in football management should die.

This isn’t about whether Roy was the correct appointment or not. Who knows, maybe he was the wrong choice, only time will tell.  

This is about giving him a fair crack of the whip but it will be a long hard season. He will need the support of the fans and they should give him space to breath, because the media certainly won’t. 


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Paul O'Meara

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