James Lawton: For a safe pair of hands, Hodgson is now painfully out of touch with his club

He is a good football man, but in the wrong place at the wrong time, and not able to do much about it
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The Independent Online

Roy Hodgson was already in a terrible place and it was trouble he compounded this week when he appealed for the support of the Liverpool fans.

They pay their money and if they wanted to continue to believe in the powers of Rafa Benitez that had disappeared, palpably, it was their business. Blind support is not automatically transferred – and nor should it be. Benitez earned his with a body of a work – and a Champions League win – which was enshrined in the Anfield memory and proofed against every shred of evidence that it had run hopelessly beyond its course.

Hodgson's credentials lack any such emotional underpinning in the cockpit he finds himself now, perhaps as much because of a streak of vanity as anything else. They are of an experienced, widely travelled football man who did excellent work at Fulham, made a very good job of coaching Switzerland and held prestigious tenure at Internazionale.

The vanity surfaced, you had to believe, when he decided that he was up to the job of sorting out the chaos of Liverpool Football Club, a task which someone like Kenny Dalglish, whose name is now being so fervently chanted on the terraces, could have tackled with a vastly greater degree of local sympathy.

What Hodgson, who for all his professional virtues has never been a man to catch the imagination of a crowd, needed to do after the appalling performance against bottom of the table Wolves was produce not a reproach to the fans but a degree of candour.

He might have said that as a coach he had never authored quite such an inadequate effort. He could also have said, with unchallengeable justice, that if there had been errors in preparation, and a failure in motivation, they were perhaps only matched by the shocking impression created by the performance of Fernando Torres.

Hodgson explained his decision not to pull off the plainly disaffected Spaniard in the least convincing way. He said that you do not remove the quality of a Torres from the field when you are in a tight corner. You do the Torres who announced himself on Wednesday night. You get him out of there because he mocks everything you are trying to achieve.

The case for Hodgson of Liverpool was always a modest one. He was safe hands, a man who might not be able to rise to the challenge of making a broken team – and a dysfunctional ownership – great again, but someone who might just gain a little time, a little respectability.

Under new ownership that immediately became the limit of his potential. John W Henry didn't win the world series of baseball without understanding that dynamic leadership from the field manager would always be a most vital ingredient.

What does Hodgson do now, assuming he retains the capacity to shape his own destiny? Reality suggests he cuts his losses. He certainly shouldn't negotiate away any more of his dignity by futile rallying calls directed at anywhere other than a dressing room which seems never to have been in more desperate need of healing.

He is a good football man, unquestionably, but he is in the wrong place at the wrong time and without, it seems increasingly obvious, any striking ability to do much about it. Fans are fans, no more, no less, and he should have realised that when he made his desperate appeal. Fans only help managers – in 99 per cent of cases, anyway – who prove that they can help themselves.

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