Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Backing Hodgson and backing the decision to appoint him are two different things

July 01, 2010 - 06114531 date 01 07 2010 Copyright imago BPI The New Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson during The Press Conference PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN men Football England Premier League 2011 Presentation later team manager press conference Portrait premiumd Vdig xmk 2010 horizontal Football.

WHEN Roy Hodgson emerges from the Anfield tunnel on August 14 to take charge of his first Premier League game as Liverpool boss, I’ll be there cheering him on.

But that doesn’t mean I’m happy with his appointment as successor to the axed Rafa Benitez. Far from it. In fact, I can't shake the feeling that it’s a backward step.

Liverpool will be Hodgson’s 17th job as manager – he’s a journeyman, and in 35 years he’s never won a major trophy.

He was sacked by Bristol City, Blackburn, Inter Milan, The UAE and Udinese. Some track record.

And ask yourself this, if Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal (even Spurs, Man City and Aston Villa) had been looking for a new boss would they have plumped for Hodgson?

It’s a mediocre appointment because the powers that be at Anfield are accepting the club now has mediocre aims under the stewardship of owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Ok, Hodgson got Fulham punching above their weight. He saved them from relegation, he took them to seventh, he reached the UEFA Cup final.

But Fulham isn’t Liverpool. Liverpool is still the most successful side in England. The club has worldwide support. Off-the-field problems or not, expectations for many fans won’t change. They want the title, cups, Europe. They want attractive football. Hodgson hasn’t got form for delivering any of that at a big club.

At Blackburn he spent £20m on a string of flops and nearly took them down. At Inter Milan the fans pelted him with lighters.

But he’s the LMA manager of the year, right? So? Joe Kinnear, Frank Clark, George Burley and Steve Coppell have also won the award so it’s hardly a benchmark for quality.

It stinks of desperation – a knee-jerk appointment based on one good season with Fulham.

It says it all that Kenny Dalglish made it so clear that he wanted the Liverpool job. He didn’t fancy Hodgson for the job and felt he could do it better himself. The King wanted someone world class in the role, a man who could command respect. A Guus Hiddink, a Jose Mourinho.

A man who could persuade Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and others that their future lies at Anfield rather than Real Madrid, Chelsea or Inter Milan.

Such bosses are unrealistic targets maybe, due to the state of the club. But that’s why Kenny was prepared to steer the ship until it reached calmer waters.

Now we have a man who can drive a milkfloat steering a Formula One car and he’s expected to make pole position.

Thank God, Sam Allardyce didn’t have a good season…

More analysis of Roy Hodgson's appointment, Rafa's exit plus exclusive interviews with Rob Jones and celebrity Kopite, actor David Morrissey, in issue three of Well Red.