|Time's up for Roy Hodgson at Liverpool|
And so, after weeks of speculation, Roy Hodgson has finally left Liverpool. His tenure has been marred by dismal performances against Wolves, and most recently, Blackburn Rovers. But the dismissal of the mild-mannered Londoner has left a sour taste in many fans' mouths.
After leading Fulham to their first ever European final last May, it seemed Hodgson, after years of trying, finally had the world at his feet. Voted PFA Manager of the Year by his fellow professionals and in some outlets touted as the successor to Fabio Capello in the England job; Woy, after 36 years in management and unknown successes on the continent, was, it seemed, finally being appreciated back home.
Beginning his career at Malmo in Sweden, Hodgson was a revelation. He won five Swedish Championships in five years and two national cup competitions. Such was his popularity at the club that even do this day a corner of the ground is referred to as 'Roy's Horna' (Roy's Corner). He also did well in European competitions with the minnows; knocking out Inter Milan at the last 16 stage of the Champions League - a club he would later go on to manage. The greatest period in the club's history culminated in him being offered a lifetime contract, unfortunately for them he declined the offer.
He continued his globe-trotting exploits over the next ten years: managing Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax, the Swiss national side, Grasshopper (also in Switzerland), FC Copenhagen, Udinese, Finland and the United Arab Emirates. His biggest job in that period was at Internazionale; leading them to a UEFA Cup final and second in Serie A. Perhaps an underachievement with (the original and the best) Ronaldo in your side.
Having proved his calibre in Europe, it is surprising how late England has been in appreciating Roy Hodgson. Unsuccessful spells at Bristol City in the 80's and Blackburn Rovers in the 90's were probably the catalyst. But the miraculous job he did at Fulham finally had a big English club calling.
In his first press conference as Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgson called Liverpool "one of the biggest clubs in world football", it's perhaps unfortunate then that he inherited one of the worst squads the club has ever seen. Admittedly he didn't help matters by signing Christian Poulsen and Paul Konchesky, but if a club with only three world class players truly harbours title-aspirations, then they are probably living in a Jamie Carragher induced coma.
The takeover of Liverpool by the NESV (New England Sports Venture) group back in October was also, in a hindsight, a bad omen for Hodgson. Not being 'their man' when new investors take over a club is always, in most cases, a precursor for a sacking, but after only three months working together, most neutrals looking on will agree that Hodgson hasn't been given nearly enough time. John W Henry - the owner of NESV - promised in various interviews back in November to give the manager both time and money. Obviously, it's naive to expect everything a new owner says as gospel, but the marginalisation of Hodgson right from the outset has been an embarrassing indictment on the club.
It was clear from the off that Woy wasn't the man the majority of fans' wanted; many of them asking for a 'bigger name'. And fan-power has finally won out at Anfield. The performances have been awful (games against Utrecht and Wolves stick out), but to blame that entirely on the management is ludicrous. It was said before the season on the Guardian's Football Weekly podcast that Hodgson is very stuck in his ways regarding training. Danny Murphy, last season, was quoted as saying that the manger's sessions were "boring, but worth it". Concentrating largely on keeping the ball and patterns of play, it wouldn't surprise me if Liverpool's players' found Hodgson's training sessions beneath them, and instantly took a dislike to him. By some of the players' body language, that looks almost certainly the case.
Still, Kopites have finally got the man they wanted all along: Kenny Dalglish. The last man to win a league title with Liverpool is a hero on Merseyside. Their greatest ever player. But 11 years out of football management is a long time, and with only six months to turn things around, not many people - apart from the most ardent of Liverpool fans - believe he can.
Today's FA Cup defeat to Manchester United was an improvement, but the initial ecstasy that inevitably occurs when a new manager joins a club will almost definitely fade from the Anfield Road. With Steven Gerrard missing the next three games; including a Merseyside derby, it will be up to Dalglish to get Fernando Torres firing again, something which Rafael Benitez, Vicente Del Bosque and Roy Hodgson failed to do over the past 12 months.
In the end, this could be the best thing to happen to Roy Hodgson. Any educated fan will recognise that six months was too short a time to make any sort of mark on Liverpool football club. And on the other hand, if he were to of been given till the end of the season, on current form, it could have been the likes of Barnsley and Crystal Palace playing their games at Anfield next year: and Hodgson's reputation would have been ruined forever. As it is, the general consensus is that he didn't do well, but then what sort of squad did he have at his disposal? Let's just hope, over the coming weeks, Dalglish manages to kneecap Glen Johnson in a training ground 'accident'.