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LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE...
BY STEVE LILLIS, FREELANCE SPORTS WRITER AND FULHAM SUPPORTER
THERE are plenty of diehard Liverpool fans whose shoulders sank when Roy Hodgson came in for the Spanish waiter – but they are in for a shock.
No, ‘Woy’ isn’t Bill Shankly or Bob Paisley. And he won’t win so many trophies that even the most dedicated fan will lose count.
But one thing’s for certain when Hodgson leaves – either for England in 2012 or if silly money owners come in – Liverpool will be in a better position than the sorry state your club is in now.
Liverpool might be a big club in name, but in my book 11 league losses (two more than Everton, two less than Stoke City) and a thirdround FA Cup exit to Reading is the sort of stuff mid-table clubs are made of.
Hodgson can hardly do worse and will bring stability at a time when Liverpool are being trampled all over and spat out by rival teams you love to hate. Christ, you are even looking up at two Manc clubs!
You all know what he did at Fulham on the field – after all that is what landed him the Liverpool job.
Off the field speak to any player who was under him at Craven Cottage and they will sing his praises.
He has more eye for detail and precision than a bunch of crooks planning a bank heist for a year and hours will be spent on the training ground getting it right with repetitive drills.
Fulham players used to laugh because Hodgson’s training regime was so dull – but it brought results OPINION
and respect for Roy from the players – especially men like Aaron Hughes, Dickson Etuhu and Chris Baird who went from donkeys to thoroughbreds.
Liverpool players can expect the same, and it’s no surprise that I heard he couldn’t give a damn whether Kop galacticos like Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres do one or not.
He doesn’t go for big names, never has, and while he sorts out the mess expect the transfer budget to be spent on a few decent Scandics and rising British youngsters.
He wants Brede Hangeland from Fulham but Mohamed Al Fayed would rather have a night on the keg with Prince Philip than sell to Liverpool.
Good for us, but a shame for Liverpool – Hangeland would be the new Sami Hyypia. Mighty Mo feels let down by Hodgson as do half our fans.
For me it is thanks for memories and hoping he is a success.
It won’t be samba football, just neat, methodical and almost 1990 Italian – but my money says Liverpool sneak a top-four place and win the Europa League.
If he can get Paul Konchesky and Baird to master two-legged football against continental opponents, then the superior players he has at Anfield should find it a walk in the park.
Honestly fellas, you had a result when Kop hero Kenny Dalglish didn’t get the job.
He has been out of the game too long and can’t match Hodgson for contacts and footballing brain.
Hodgson will change your fortunes, and while he won’t bring back greatness, the foundations will be laid for Liverpool to become kings once more.
Good luck to Roy, the team and Liverpool fans – with the exception of the patronising mugs who pitched up at the Europa League final, sang Fulham songs and were Cottagers for the day!
Just give Roy a chance
THE world’s worst kept secret finally came to fruition when Roy Hodgson took over the reins.
Silver goblet or poison chalice, we wonder? Well, we can hypothesise all we like, but not until the season takes on something of a pattern will anyone be really able to assess the new manager’s impact.
Nor, I suggest, should we jump to any conclusions about how the guy will structure the team.
And indeed, in saying that, what kind of personnel he will have at his disposal.
As I write the futures of several players in red shirts seem hardly guaranteed.
Many of Hodgson’s critics keep looking at his past and predicting we’ll become a boring team.
But my instincts tell me otherwise and that a guy who has coached top-flight footballers from right across Europe, is hardly likely to apply rigid formations to flair players.
He need only look at Capello and England to see the futility of that.
No, I am confident that Roy Hodgson is a very pragmatic kind of guy.
He might stick to patterns of training that have served him well – it seems he’s very much an advocate of ‘coaching in the
BY MIKE HOPPER
game’ and likes to make his point that way. However, I’d be shocked if a man with his wealth of expertise and experience tried to restrict or confine attackminded players.
Imagine anyone trying to tell Torres how to score goals!
To that effect many at Melwood, even those who were strong supporters of Rafa’s more scientific and technical methods, will likely be happy to adapt to a change in routine, most certainly in the short term.
But anyway, with the savage early list of fixtures, I’d be more than delighted to think we could get through the first five games without conceding a goal. Wouldn’t you?
As a staunch supporter of the previous manager, it hurt to see a change in leadership; I certainly hadn’t seen the need for one.
Neither did I necessarily presume that Hodgson was the obvious man to take over.
But none of us know what sort of impression the interviewees created or the demands they (or their clubs) were making. Words come cheap and it’s far too easy for you and I to get dogmatic about the merits of others when in truth we know nothing about how the interview processes unfolded. What we do know is that Roy Hodgson came through with ticks in all the right boxes. And for sure, after the press conference, it’s easy to see how he created such a good impression.
And just for good measure, RH is a tracksuit manager and we can feel reassured that he’ll be out on the training ground and directly involved with training.
That is most certainly a big plus for this supporter at least.
Still, for all that said, I know that these few words are unlikely to impact on those of you with a mindset against the man.
However, to those critics I will say this: that Liverpool Football is far more important than any individual coach, player or supporter.
Now is the time to stick together; to establish a climate of collectivity; a call to arms if you like.
So that when Arsene Wenger’s men arrive at our stadium for the first game, the unity of purpose will be there for all to see and feel.
All of a sudden, after weeks of limbo, I’m starting to perk up. I’m feeling that it’s the visitors who could well be thinking Anfield might not be the best place to be starting their season.
Go for it Roy and good luck!