Hodgson runs out of time and sympathy - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Hodgson runs out of time and sympathy

Liverpool dispense with under-fire manager before Old Trafford encounter

Sacking the manager is an unusual way to prepare for a match against your greatest rivals, but of course it has its attractions. A bad result for Liverpool against Manchester United today and nobody will blame Kenny Dalglish; a good one and the short-term effect invariably seen from making such a change will be evident. Had a Roy Hodgson team left Old Trafford unbeaten, it would have looked peculiar to dispense with him immediately afterwards.

In the circumstances, Sir Alex Ferguson's welcome for his old adversary Dalglish will be cooler than the recent weather. Hodgson, unlike his fellow Scot, was a friend of Ferguson, who asked rhetorically before yesterday's events: "Why did they take him on? It's experience, he's been around the world, managing Inter Milan twice, managed the Swiss national team, the Finnish national team, and he took Fulham to the Europa League final. So it's his fault? It's a sad situation when managers don't have the time, they don't have the money, don't get the breaks and lose a few games."

Whether or not Ferguson would have been sacked had United lost their FA Cup third-round tie at Nottingham Forest 21 years ago this weekend is a matter of some debate. What is clear is that one of his many subsequent achievements has been to overcome the curse of great expectations shared by United and Liverpool. Hodgson won a lower percentage of matches at Fulham (39.37 per cent) than at Liverpool (41.38 per cent) yet he is destined to be forever remembered as one of the most successful managers in the history of the London club and one of the worst at Anfield.

Lawrie Sanchez stirred a hornet's nest last week when he suggested Liverpool were no longer a big club. Any club who have won five European Cups (and there are only three of them) is entitled to make that claim, and the point Sanchez was presumably trying to make is that they have won nothing of significance since the FA Cup in 2006.

"Chelsea's got no history," the Kop still love to chant, but there is a point, reached by Liverpool some time ago, at which history becomes a burden. For how long could the club bear to fall below their own high standards? No more than six months, it appeared.

What Hodgson hoped for, reasonably enough, was time to make his mark. The appointment was officially made only on the first day of July, which he believed left insufficient time to mould his own squad. Unfortunately, his efforts in that direction did not inspire confidence for that crucial decision which so many clubs are making now about whether to entrust funds to their manager for the January transfer window. Milan Jovanovic (effectively signed before Hodgson arrived), Raul Meireles, Christian Poulsen, Paul Konchesky and Joe Cole did not inspire that faith.

Crucially, he was unable to keep the disenchanted Javier Mascherano and, in terms of selecting those he was stuck with, had to face the fact that Fernando Torres, one of the three outstanding talents along with Steven Gerrard and Jose Reina, was not fully fit. When Torres was briefly at his best, as in the demolition of Chelsea at Anfield in November, there were encouraging signs, still not fulfilled.

The weight on Gerrard's shoulders was therefore all the greater and Hodgson was inclined to rest him more than some supporters would have liked. He still repeated his trick with Fulham of shepherding a squad through the Europa League group by unrepentant rotation.

It would not have been an easy transition from the age of Rafael Benitez, who had moulded the club for six years, even with full stability and support off the pitch. In Liverpool's case, under the American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the word "dysfunctional" had become almost an automatic epithet. There had been talk of a Chinese takeover almost from the day Hodgson arrived; it finally disappeared just as Mascherano did, following a 3-0 defeat by Manchester City at the end of August.

That result proved a good indication of where Liverpool, only seventh in the League last season, now stood, great expectations or not. It was October before the Americans were gone, to be replaced by another lot, the Fenway Sports Group under John W Henry. Then, after minimal consultation with the manager, came Damien Comolli, once of Arsenal and Tottenham, as a "director of football strategy"; not the sort of title or appointment that an old English football man would be expected to take to, for all his experiences in Europe.

Hodgson kept a dignified silence on that one, whatever he felt. How Dalglish, another man steeped in the older traditions of the British game, will work with an executive responsible for recruiting new players is one of the imponderables that this change brings. Another is how easily he will pick up the threads of a job he last did, with no great success, at Newcastle 13 years ago. Presumably he will attempt on the training ground and in the dressing room to return to the Shanklyesque old Liverpool way of passing and moving, supporting team-mates positionally and mentally. His presence will doubtless inspire the few local boys such as Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, if not necessarily the foreign legions.

A clear majority of supporters are also delighted with the appointment, which illustrates the one significant benefit of turning to a former playing hero, as so many clubs do almost instinctively. Popularity as an old favourite gives the new man time but does not, in the end, help him win matches; note the obsession that Leeds once had of putting Don Revie's former players in charge, none of whom achieved anything approaching the success of Howard Wilkinson, a Sheffield Wednesday man.

The wise old former Owl is now chairman of the League Managers Association, a body who seem to be attracting much criticism for fulfilling their raison d'être, namely supporting their members. Before Hodgson's sacking, Wilkinson wrote in a newspaper yesterday: "What we are seeing is an increasing mood not for making the best decision but the popular one." It was a prophetic comment to begin an eventful weekend.

Manchester United v Liverpool is on ITV1 today, kick-off 1.30pm

The contenders: Who will take the helm at Anfield full-time?

Kenny Dalglish

The bookies' favourite, who would almost certainly appeal to the owners if he can 1) substantially improve the team's prospects; 2) rub along with Damien Comolli and 3) regain his enthusiasm for the pressures of the job he left prematurely in 1991.

Owen Coyle

Hodgson's efforts after Rafa Benitez may have convinced the owners that there is limited benefit in employing a British coach. But proven success is available up the road at Bolton, where Coyle again enhanced his reputation.

Martin O'Neill

Did himself no favours with potential employers (especially American ones) by walking out on Aston Villa five days before the start of the new season but is well qualified for a shot at a club even bigger than Villa.

Andre Villas-Boas

Like Ralf Rangnick, who recently resigned after taking Hoffenheim up through the German leagues, the Portuguese is a modern young European coach. He also worked to good effect in England, as an assistant to Jose Mourinho.

Steve Tongue

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week