Thursday, 30 December 2010

Hodgson's a dead man walking at Liverpool

Hodgson: holding on but for how long?
I'm sorry to say this about a good man, but Roy Hodgson's reign as Liverpool boss will be a short one.

Hodgson, who steered modest Fulham to the Europa League Final and a mid-table finish last season, simply can't steer the Anfield Titanic round the iceberg.

But home defeat to relegation-haunted Wolves, without a single away win since March and a first victory at Anfield in 27 years, must be close to being the last straw for Hodgson. It's an eighth defeat of the season and their third in four games.

Unfortunately, the damage began in Rafa Benitez' last campaign. Liverpool dipped from Premier League runners-up to seventh place - so failing to qualify for their usual Champions League spot.
The hallmarks of Shankly's Liverpool are all but gone.

And a change of ownership's not yet galvanized anything resembling a recovery.

John W. Henry's adopting a watching brief in his first months as owner - and will be troubled with what's on offer. This is easily the worst Reds team since Bill Shankly shook the club to its foundations and built modern Liverpool.

Not even the era of Graeme Souness was as bad as this. The abolition of the Boot Room was a symbolic low point, akin to the ravens leaving the Tower. 

But even then, as the Reds lost their grip on an annual title assault plus cup shocks at home to lowly Bolton and Bristol City, there was still an FA Cup victory and just the thought that the right manager could restore the trophy culture.

And it duly came to pass; even though the title hasn't returned to Anfield since, Liverpool have won trophies galore in the last twenty years including the very biggest one, the Champions League.

But this time, Liverpool's decline is spectacular. They are fast-becoming instititional also-rans. As the Reds slide down the table and lose their glister and status, Tottenham and Manchester City are fast-replacing them in ways that make them uncatchable. London and Manchester hold more excitement to young men with dreams of the Champions League than Liverpool, with less to offer all-round.

The summer will surely test the loyalty of Steven Gerrard and the commitment of Fernando Torres. Will both be considering life after Liverpool?

Hodgson admits the support has never been there from the Kop, but neither have the results. He cites the popularity of Kenny Dalglish, who he beat for the job, as the reason. Good results would have made life easier though.

But the key fact is, Roy Hodgson is not Henry's man. The ex-Inter and Switzerland boss had a clause added to his contract about severance should ownership change. As sure as eggs is eggs, Henry will trigger it - and soon.

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