Lack of Liverpool cash won't hinder Hodgson
TEAMtalk's Simon Wilkes feels the lack of cash at Roy Hodgson's disposal doesn't really matter - as Liverpool still have a cracking first XI. I firmly believe Roy Hodgson will be a fantastic appointment for Liverpool. The 62-year-old has penned a three-year deal at Anfield and his arrival will be like a breath of fresh air at the Merseyside club - for staff and players alike. Rafa Benitez ruled the Reds roost with an iron fist and clearly spent as much time preparing his 'fact-files' as he did dossiers on opposition teams. The Spaniard had an uneasy relationship with the press, both national and local, purely because he was so spiky and unlikeable in interviews. Hodgson, meanwhile, carried himself with grace, professionalism and humility during his first Anfield press conference on Thursday - with broadcasters and writers like putty in his hands as he answered questions in a calm, composed and measured manner. He was grilled about his 'failure' at Blackburn, where he was sacked in December 1998 with the club bottom of the table following a previous season where they had finished in sixth place under him. That decision was more of a failure on the Rovers hierarcy's behalf as managers really should be judged on an entire season in my opinion - and anyway that was 12 years ago for God's sake, he has learned from the experience and is a completely different manager these days. Now to those claiming he is not a 'big enough name' for Liverpool - and especially those who wanted Kenny Dalglish to take the reins. I understand Dalglish is quite rightly held in legendary regard on Merseyside but the Scotsman has not managed since a short spell in charge of Celtic 10 years ago - and football has changed a lot in that time, with the stats provided by the likes of Pro Zone and Opta likely to leave his head spinning. In Hodgson Liverpool have appointed a manager with a wealth of relevant, recent experience and an ability to get the best out of players at his disposal. Everyone knows the Reds are strapped for cash, which is unlikely to change while wantaway owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are in charge, but although the squad needs strengthening, the first team is still incredibly strong. Hodgson's biggest challenge will be to convince Javier Mascherano, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay at the club, with all three linked with big-money summer departures. Martin Broughton insists the club are under no pressure to sell their crown jewels in order to service their whopping debt - and if that's true then Hodgson needs to tell Gerrard he would build the team around him in the same way he built Fulham around talismanic skipper Danny Murphy. Fulham played some fantastic football under Hodgson's tutelage, and he favours a fluid 4-4-2 system with one holding midfielder playing alongside the heartbeat of his team who is given free rein to orchestrate proceedings. Reds fans have been crying out for Gerrard to be played alongside Mascherano, rather than Lucas, and I think Hodgson would grant that wish if the England skipper decides to stick around this summer. The former Inter Milan coach also likes width on the wings, so Maxi Rodriguez could make the right flank his own with Albert Riera brought in from the cold to battle Ryan Babel for the left-wing role. Pepe Reina is one of the league's best goalkeepers and a backline of Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher would provide a solid foundation on which to build a successful season. Finally up front Torres is the first name on the team sheet, and until the purse strings can be loosened to purchase a top-class strike partner for him, Dirk Kuyt could do a job as he was once a prolific striker before being converted into a hard-working winger by Benitez. I supported Liverpool up to the age of 13, when I switched to West Brom as I lived in the Midlands and was drawn to watching live football, and have always had a soft spot for them. That admiration waned badly during Benitez's tenure as his defensive style of play and stubborn refusal to change his tactics drove me mad. But I'll be keeping a close eye on their results again this coming season - and genuinely hope Hodgson gets Liverpool back in the big time.
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