Over the past few weeks, I’ve read many misguided comments about Liverpool fans’ with regard to the ‘Hodgson Situation.’ Some members of the press have even gone as far as implying that the fans, some of whom have wanted Hodgson out for a few months now, are stupid and do not know what they are talking about.
According to Dave Kidd of the UK based Sunday newspaper, The People, Liverpool FC fans have created the ‘Hodgson Situation’ by expecting too much and that we all ‘want success yesterday.’ In my eyes this is a massive insult to us as a group of supporters. As Dave Kidd, and plenty of other ‘experts’ know very well, we’ve had plenty of success ‘yesterday.’
Last season we finished 7th and subsequently a change of management was made. Whether the decision to dismiss Rafael Benitez was right or wrong is an issue that is still debated strongly to this day, but what we do know is a lot of the fans felt undoubtedly underwhelmed by the choice of replacement. Yet, despite Hodgson claiming otherwise, once it was officially announced everyone fell in line with ‘The Liverpool Way’ and let him make his own first impressions rather than acting on our own preconceptions without giving the new man a chance.
And to be absolutely fair, I feel Hodgson’s reign started well. Being kind, other than a couple of choice signings and some unpopular decisions regarding outgoing players, we had started positively in Europe and gave Arsenal a good game on the opening day of the Premier League season. Yet Hodgson’s suitability for the Liverpool job came under question as dire and negative performances, combined with a woeful away record, saw the reds record their worst start to a league campaign for around half a decade.
Aside from the unacceptable results and performances, Hodgson’s off the pitch performances have arguably been worse than those on the field.
His early interviews when taking up the post were encouraging. He seemed to be embracing the idea that he was privileged to be our manager. Yet his public comments became increasingly frustrating, including needlessly talking up the opposition before matches, and also our dire performances after embarrassing defeats, as well as ignoring fierce attacks on the character of one of our best players, and shortly afterwards agreeing that selling him to his attacker is not far from impossible.
In contrary to the belief from a large section of the media, we didn’t expect Hodgson to have us challenging for the league straight away. Nor did we think a return to the top four was ours for the taking. In reality, it was very much the the opposite. Upon the announcement he was to be our new manager, there was plenty of talk of him ‘steadying the ship,’ which was as much a welcome idea as the season before was an unwelcome surprise. However, what we ended up with was a manager who I feel, more often than not, set out to ‘not lose’ games and in the process has all but alienated some of our more attacking players with ancient tactics or, better yet, bluntly refused to use them in their true roles. Along this rocky path he has blamed everyone, including the fans, the players, the previous manager and even the freak weather for our misfortunes, leaving himself out of the equation.
At this point last season, Benitez’ record had certain sections of the media calling for his head. Yet the same journalists this time around, despite the situation being arguably worse, feel that Liverpool fans are being rash in their wishes. The previous manager was dismissed for finishing 7th, bearing in mind he had shown us what he was capable of in the seasons before. On the flip side, Hodgson’s record up to now has us finishing much worse off than last season, with only a mid table finish and a Europa League final appearance with his previous club to back up his recent credentials.
I know a lot of our fans, myself included, have felt abnormal wanting a Liverpool manager to be sacked so early in to the season. The feeling is something that we have never really experienced before, at the very least as a majority. You see fans of other football clubs baying for blood midway through the season after a run of unsavoury results, yet while we have had managers who had arguably ran their course and became unsuitable for our club, there has never been this level of public discontent before. Yet we are portrayed as impatient and demanding as the usual suspects seen calling for a manager’s head when things aren’t going right.
So to those journalists and experts who feel Hodgson is bearing the brunt of a new found impatience amongst Liverpool fans, bear in mind that we have experienced success ‘yesterday,’ and we know full well that it doesn’t come without intense preparation and forward thinking. And we also know, as Roy Hodgson has stated himself after periods of sustained pressure, that there isn’t a magic wand that will instantly make things happen. Preparation like this can take a long time to establish amongst a group of players. Yet we know that such inspiration doesn’t come from men who feel it is ‘naive’ to think they can beat every team they come up against. If you don’t feel you can win any given match, surely managing a club as big as Liverpool Football Club is not for you.