Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Has Hodgson bitten off more than he can chew?

Tough times

Liverpool had a very difficult season last time out. After finishing second the season before and ending the season as probably the best team in England, hopes were high. As it turned out, of course, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage and finished outside the top four for the first time in a few years.

Problems

The problems on the pitch and the problems behind the scenes with the ongoing farce involving the American owners led to manager Rafa Benitez leaving the club and heading for Italy.

There was much speculation as to which internationally famous big name manager would take over but then Liverpool unveiled Roy Hodgson. He is a man of great experience and had done a magnificent job at Fulham, but was not universally welcomed as the man who would take Liverpool back to the top.

Humiliating

A disappointing start in the league has seen Liverpool take just five points from their first five games and sit in a humiliating sixteenth place just one point ahead of the likes of Wigan.

So it was that Liverpool went into their Carling Cup tie at home to lowly Northampton needing to get a result. As is the custom, Hodgson rested many of his first team players for the game but within the largely inexperienced line-up he included the likes of Agger, Kyrgiakos, Lucas, Jovanovic, Babel and Ngog. Surely a strong enough side to see off a side sitting seventeenth in league two.

Struggled

To add to the problems at Anfield, Liverpool struggled to a 2-2 draw with Northampton and then lost the tie in the penalty shoot-out.

Hodgson has apologised for the result and performance.

“We were playing lower league opponents. Whatever happens, if it doesn’t result in a win it’s very negative. It’s a setback for the club, one of many we are facing at the moment.”

Disappointing

Hodgson acknowledged that the beginning of his tenure at Liverpool has been disappointing.

“I always knew it would be a difficult job, and it’s not an auspicious start but that’s how it goes in football. I am disappointed, I was a bit deceived as I thought we would do better.”

Clearly the manager felt let down by the players he selected for the game.

“These are players brought to the club, some of them very expensive with big reputations. Maybe I don’t know them well enough yet, certainly they haven’t done themselves too many favours in my eyes. When you’ve got a squad with players who have come here for big money, this was a chance for them to show they’re great players. Unfortunately, and full credit to Northampton, we weren’t good enough to beat them.”

Honest

In a very honest assessment of the performance and of his decision to make so many changes, Hodgson said,

“When it goes to penalties and you are at home and in front of the Kop your hope is that at least the players will have the composure and confidence to win the penalty shoot-out, but we didn’t,”.All I can do is congratulate Northampton and apologise to everyone; the fans came expecting to see us win and I expected us to win but it wasn’t to be. These players have to accept responsibility. I accept responsibility for changing a lot of players in the team, I did it because I honestly thought the players I put on the field were good enough to win the game and they weren’t. The obvious conclusion to that was I shouldn’t have changed that many players but we should have been strong enough to get a result. We must all take our responsibility. I am just bitterly disappointed that the team I had so much faith in did not repay that faith this evening with the exception of one or two performances.”

Improve

Whilst it was right and proper for Hodgson to criticise his players and to apologise to the fans, I don’t think that will be enough for much longer if results do not improve very quickly.

The fans were not thrilled with Hodgson’s appointment and I can’t see them showing much patience. It is a shame because Hodgson is a great football man, but I wonder if he has bitten off more than he can chew?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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