Hodgson’s change in philosophy rekindles hope at Liverpool

After weeks of failure amidst a series of significant victories in the boardroom, Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool seemed to get it right on the pitch on Sunday – at long last. An impressive performance against an average Blackburn side who were struggling with injuries has proved all is not lost with the players and the 63-year-old at the helm, and that time isn’t over just yet for the former Fulham manager. What little hope was there after the defeat of Everton rekindled at Anfield on Sunday – but the flame is still small.

With just a third of the season down, Hodgson’s head was already on a plate and there was even talk of a replacement appearing in Frank Rijkaard, on the back of his dismissal from Turkish giants Galatasaray. Kudos must be given to Roy in his response to this rumour, however, in one of few examples where Roy humoured the needs of the fans as well as that of the journalists.

Rijkaard has just been sacked from Galatasaray – he must be a great manager to have been sacked by Galatasaray! What you are talking about is Frank Rijkaard’s agent putting his name around. It is all speculation

Little faith was shown in Roy, but after eight games and a measly six points there were grounds for talk from fans that the Englishman had to go – ‘he was simply not the right man for the job.’

Hodgson had his way about football, just like his predecessor Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard was forced to take a prolonged bedding in period in English football. His first mistake was dismissing league football over European success for so long, as well as treating the FA Cup on the same level as those do the League Cup in his first ever tie (Djimi Traore, own goal, Burnley). But Rafa changed his philosophy, he adapted to the challenges that faced him, learned from his mistakes and went on to win the FA Cup a season later, overcoming Manchester Utd in the process.

Now it’s obvious Roy has no such difficulties. He’s been in English football long enough to know about the traditions of the FA Cup, the pride of a long-lasting cup run and the fans’ ambitions of a high domestic league finish (although at Fulham, European success rightly took front seat last season).

No, English football isn’t a new atmosphere for Roy – but Liverpool Football Club is not like anything he has experienced before. Keep the fans happy, like so many managers did before him, get results on the pitch, again – like many of his predecessors achieved, and life at Liverpool will be (relatively) smooth sailing. Nobody was expecting any miracles, but Roy, in his first three months at the club, managed to fail dramatically in the above two tasks. He discarded the role as the voice of the fans, instead siding snugly with his press room chums and his rival manager counterparts. He neglected the knowledge of the fans, trying to humour the club’s followers with blinded observations on his side’s underperformances. He blatantly tried to justify Liverpool’s terrible showings when it was even more blatant that it was his tactics and persistence with a Christian Poulsen-handbrake philosophy that was the root of the problem.

‘That was as good as we have played all season, and I have no qualms with the performance whatsoever. I only hope fair-minded people will see it the same way.

On Sunday, in the 2-1 victory over Blackburn where had it not been for Paul Robinson in goals would’ve been more a more comfortable win, Liverpool showed signs of revival as Hodgson showed signs of amendment similar to Rafa when he first came head on with a difficulty. The side pressed, hassled and harried Sam Allardyce’s side into submission and dominated comfortably for seventy minutes, playing nice fast flowing football on the ground which benefited the likes of Joe Cole, Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez and Raul Meireles as they all enjoyed more time on the ball higher up the pitch. The talented attackers who were left bereft of possession before the game could finally get into a flow of good football.

This sudden change in philosophy was urgent from Roy, or more dropped points would have been hazardous to Liverpool’s season and his managerial career. The previous method of playing deep, hoofing the ball around and generally being a low tempo and unchallenging side to play against not only defied the ability of the players at his disposal, but relinquished the club’s authority on the field before they could even establish it. Losses against sides such Blackpool, Northampton, Everton and draws against Sunderland suggest this.

Liverpool have not become a top four side again overnight, but Roy must continue with the method he adopted against Blackburn. Confidence was high, play was quick and the morale reached a season peak. The Reds’ should be aiming for three points and a handful of goals in their next game against Bolton, followed by a win at home to Napoli. The biggest task of the season thus far arrives against Chelsea after that. Like they’ve been able to manage in recent seasons, a win in this tie will be a bolt to Liverpool’s season.

The players at the club were clearly lacking confidence, but by playing to their strengths like he did on Sunday, performances will begin to shape in time. Lucas Leiva displayed what many would admit was a stratospheric improvement on Poulsen, Maxi oozed confidence down the right hand side which wasn’t occupied by Raul Meireles who linked up play between in each half of the field masterfully. Cole, who admitted himself had hit one of his poorest runs of form in his career, also did well. And most importantly of all, somewhat, was Fernando Torres got the ball.

All is not lost at Liverpool under Hodgson. Just like the hiccups that arose in the takeover process, just like the traditions Benitez failed to adhere to in his early years, Roy has room for revival. A new found philosophy with, hopefully, a less defeatist approach and fewer blonde Danes in the midfield.

Author Details

Kevin Coleman
Kevin Coleman

Founder and co-editor of Back Page Football.

18 thoughts on “Hodgson’s change in philosophy rekindles hope at Liverpool

  1. Hodgson is not wanted at Liverpool, he never was. Hes a small time manager and his lack of previous successes and his failures at any of his relatively big clubs proves that. Wow he managed to get the team up and beat a rubbish Blackburn team at Anfield. It would be madness to let him spend another penny in the transfer market. Normal service will resume, we will at best take a point off Bolton and another point off Chelsea and Roy will get the sack. Not a minute too soon either. Worst appointment since Graham Souness.

    1. “How he managed to get the team up”

      So you don’t think it was Liverpool’s best performance to date? He changed his approach and picked up three points, what more could you ask for? It obviously wasn’t working previously

      And regarding his spending, Konchesky is one of the worst players I’ve seen join Liverpool but his passport and the treatment of Insua aided that. Meireles, however, is a fantastic signing and a major coup if you ask me.

      And I hope you’re right about getting the point of Chelsea.

      1. It was certainly the teams best performance so far but even Roy couldnt manage to keep playing as badly for so long, that would be an achievement in itself.

        Its whether he can replicate that type of performance away to Bolton, home to Chelsea. I dont think he has a prayer. He wont get consistency.

        Konchesky I didnt mind because we didnt have a left back, Insua was more or less gone at that stage and I dont think Roy had much of a say in that. But your right Konchesky isnt better than Insua. Meireles will come good, needs time to adapt. The one signing I was screaming NO for was Poulsen. I didnt think he would be any better than Lucas and I thought he would be a waste of money. And this isnt hindsight, Im quoted as saying as much. He is rubbish, what was Roy thinking.

        Another big problem I have with Roy is the exclusion of Pacheco. He is a talent and is going to leave. I dont understand his exclusion from the squad and the Europa team.

  2. Agree with pablos, One win and suddenly he’s back? he’s changed 20 years of management style over night? don’t think so.
    poulsen and konch were his buys, they are not even as good as what we had. Raul was really bought by macia. the manager is given a list of available and good enough players to choose from, depending on tactical needs. roy can not be given credit for cole either.
    We need a young, progressive manager, someone who has some pull in the transfer market, and wants to play attacking football. its what we all want. I’d rather have King Raf back, but being as its not possible, lets go for the attack , youth minded ,style of coach.
    Anything but 4 points from the next 2 games and he’s gone!

    1. We’d all love a young attack minded coach at our clubs, but there isn’t many left on the market I’m afraid. I was hoping for Pellegrini as a #1 option after Rafa left, but at the time he was beyond the club. My dream option would’ve been the Chilean manager, Bielsa, but his style would be high risk in the PL and Liverpool might have ended up where they are anyways.

      I’m not saying one win and he’s back, I’m saying one win and a good performance from a change of tactics shows all is not lost.

  3. “Rijkaard has just been sacked from Galatasaray – he must be a great manager to have been sacked by Galatasaray! What you are talking about is Frank Rijkaard’s agent putting his name around. It is all speculation”

    Most Liverpool fans I spoke to regarded that comment as unprofessional, rather than amusing!

    1. Really? I don’t think if Rafa had said the same it’d be branded as unprofessional.

      I’d rather see that from the manager rather then “Oh, he might replace me ya know?”

      1. I’m glad in a sense that he has shown a bit of fight for once, but it was still an unprofessional comment to make.
        And it’s not like Roy hasn’t been sacked before, with Blackburn the example that first springs to mind.

  4. “Most Liverpool fans I spoke to regarded that comment as unprofessional, rather than amusing”

    Especially since Rijkaard was back home in Holland grieving the death of his father.

    Roy doesnt have the support of the Liverpool fans and was appointed by people who who knew very little about the game.

    Actually tell me one thing in the last 10 years that made him good enough to become Liverpool manager, a Uefa Cup final give me a break. He will be found out whether it be now or a years time, the guy is out of his depth and a footballing dinasour. Mike Kelly 68 first team coach, your having a laugh.

    1. I didn’t know about Rijkaard’s father, sorry to hear of that.

      Look around, there are plenty of old managers and coaches in the business over and around the 60s.

      There were few options when he came in, and there’s even fewer options now.

      I’d be interested to see who people think can come in as manager and take us up the league. There’s nobody who can guarantee a league improvement by Christmas.

  5. By the way my anger isnt meant to be directed at you Kevin, I just think Roy was possibly the worst footballing appointment from any of the major clubs in years.

    It angers me to see someone with a cv as unsuccessful as his take over this great club. The easiest thing would have been to give the role to Dalglish in the interim until the takeover was sorted and then let the owners choose their own man.

    Yet we wasted money sacking Rafa, we wasted money paying Fulham for Roy all for what Roy to attemot to pass the buck on to Rafa for the state of the club. In case roy didnt notice we finished 7th last season not 17th.

    1. It’s cool Pablos, I understand your pain!

      I just believe that at the time, for me Roy was a good option regardless of his CV and I’m one to give managers time rather then bailing so early.

      Worst case scenario, if Liverpool are still in and around the relegation zone after the next 4/5 games then the board should be patient and look for a top grade manager in time for the January window.

      1. Kevin I have never been one to call for a managers head early before now. I would consider myself completely loyal to every other Liverpool manager that has gone before, even the likes of Houllier I was probably too loyal.

        I will admit never wanting Hodgson at the club, I thought Dalglish could have done an interim job as good if not better and then the club wouldnt have to commit to another manager until the takeover was complete. It also gave you time to see whether Dalglish could do the job.

        The way I see things working out is that a) Roy gets sacked in the next month b) Roy is given time to fail. Be it 1 or 24 months I think he will ultimately fail. Outside of Scandinavia in his 30 or so years of management he has never been a success. What makes people think he is going to buck the trend now. I prayed for him to get the England job but alas it wasnt to be.

  6. I would like to see Pelligrini. Did wonders at Villarreal and played great football. 96 points with Real last season and managed huge egoes.

    1. Would love him also.
      Very tactically astute. His Villareal side always seemed to beat Barcelona!
      Unlucky to be sacked at Madrid considering he finished one point of the title

      Also he’s a free agent, wouldn’t cost us a penny in compensation

  7. ‘Kevin Coleman Reply:
    October 25th, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Really? I don’t think if Rafa had said the same it’d be branded as unprofessional’.

    Rafa would never have said it. And he had good cause to get uptight when all the Klinsmann stuff was going on.

    Despite what his media mates feed us, fact is Hodgson is simply not a nice guy. Far from it.

    Will be interested to see if he now sticks with the Benitez-style tactics he employed against Blackburn, or goes back to his own outdated ones.

    One swallow and all that… well done though woy on presiding over one good performance in three months.

  8. Im very surprised the new Owners havent moved decisively to remove Hodgson. Im trying to figure out, what are they waiting for?

  9. Hodgson out. He’s not LFC. He’s not the fans man and will not be supported. Rafa was liverpool, still is and i hope he returns some time in the future. That said, if i have to have my team managed by someone who is not rafa then let it be pelligrini and not in any way Martin o’niell. i’d wather have woy, and i’d rather cut off my gentleman veg’s than have woy. so that puts that one into perspective. Rant over

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