Well Red - August-September 2010
Roy versus Rafa? Sorry, there is no comparison I
S it just me or is there a certain irony in being accused of blind faith for supporting Rafa Benitez in the darkest days last season and then being told you have to get behind Roy Hodgson this?
It would appear that to question the club’s motives or Hodgson’s record at this juncture is unwelcome or a sign of all out mutiny to some.
The ironic theme continues with the ongoing character assassination of Benitez from certain quarters (some people don’t seem to be able to let
BY TAF MCDONALD
go) and when you try and put the record straight the same people reply ‘he’s gone now, you need to forget about him. Oh, and get behind Roy’.
For me the sense we have taken a step backwards while feverishly continuing to paper over the cracks can’t be shaken. Meanwhile, there seems to be some sort of lemming’s philosophy about ‘well it’s done now and we have to show support.’
But it’s not a question of not showing support – something surely all Reds intend to do come kick off in August. In the meantime can we not question and discuss whether this was a good or bad appointment?
This is the first manager appointment at Liverpool Football Club I can recall feeling I had to support the manager out of a sense of duty so I don’t rock the boat.
It is an appointment which is symptomatic of a club which is heading only one way – backwards.
It’s extremely difficult to not bring Rafa into any early conversations concerning Roy because of the palpable sense of downgrading.
Having been asked several times what my thoughts on Roy’s appointment are, I always find myself saying ‘It’s a travesty and shouldn’t have happened, we had one of the top managers in the world’.
ITAL DO NICELY: Benitez with Inter Milan’s sport director Marco Branca
It’s my immediate response, the words pop out before I’ve considered the reaction I’ll get (which all too often is a mumbling about ‘steadying the ship’).
It would appear that seventh place put us on the same path as the Titanic heading towards the iceberg. When you list the achievements of both managers side by side there is no comparison.
In terms of silverware, quality of silverware or league positions, Rafa always comes top.
In fact when you list Hodgson’s achievements next to other managers linked to the job they don’t look as impressive.
A strategy statement from the club just two months ago read: “The
strategy is to deliver the plans for growth and football success.
“The immediate elements are to continue to strengthen the football squad and to implement plans for a new stadium.” Without getting bogged down in the stadium questions or our sell-tobuy transfer policy - how is replacing one of the top managers in the world with a likeable journeyman aligned to football success?
He may be tactically capable, a good man motivator and liked by the media (a prerequisite for our club it seems) but when has he delivered significant domestic football success in line with the top managers in the world? We’ve downgraded our manager. That is not said with any malice intended, but when you take the records of both managers the one who left stands out. Meanwhile huge question marks hang over the heads of Torres, Gerrard and Mascherano; never mind some of the fringe players or those who need offloading (Riera springs to mind). We’re told that any player sales will see Roy’s transfer budget increase but let’s be realistic - if Torres (below) goes for £60million how much of that £60m will Roy actually have to re-invest?
I don’t see the banks allowing £60m to come in and go straight back out while they’re owed such vast amounts. So some downgrading of our playing squad is highly likely. Yet - and here’s the biggest danger - the club keeps talking itself up and some fans don’t downgrade their expectations.
It was the failure of delivering expectations that slowly eroded Benitez’s ‘power’ last season, which was inextricably linked to performance and fan backing.
Then I see expectations for this season ranging from the squad just needing a few tweaks to be top four competitive to others banking on Champions League qualification to the truly delusional talk about winning the title.
Pressure could mount quickly and relentlessly on Hodgson, especially when you look at our opening fixtures.
Unless we keep hold of all our star players and add some fresh faces then expectations need lowering and quickly.
The Premier League is set to be at its most competitive next season. Spurs are yet to improve their squad, but in the time we’d taken to offload the capable Yossi Benayoun, Manchester City had added David Silva and Yaya Toure to their ranks.
The quality of a machine is the sum total of the quality of its parts. Much can be said the same for a football club and those ‘parts’ include the manager. We’re like a BMW and the six cylinder petrol engine has been transplanted for a diesel one. It’s reliable and cheaper but the performance just isn’t quite there.