Liverpool job may be too big for Hodgson
TEAMtalk's Mark Holmes is starting to wonder whether the Liverpool job may be too big for Roy Hogson following Saturday's defeat at Stoke. Roy Hodgson's appointment at Liverpool was greeted by a great deal of scepticism from supporters, but the national media, never too quick to criticise his predecessor Rafa Benitez, were purring. The Anfield faithful were assured they were taking on a man of dignity, a man with class, and a man that would play the attacking football they craved. Claims that the job was too big for him were laughed off - this is, after all, a man that has managed Inter Milan and two separate national sides. But Liverpool are a different proposition altogether. One of the two great sides in English football, one of the five biggest clubs in the world and one whose supporters DEMAND success. The fans probably need to lower their expectations in truth - Liverpool are after all nothing like the force they were - but they have every right to expect more than what Hodgson's men served up at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday. And the Londoner's post-match comments hardly screamed out 'class' or 'dignity'. "It was a triumph for Stoke's way of playing," he said. A backhanded compliment if ever there was one, but he is right of course. It was a triumph for playing with two wingers, it was a triumph for playing with two strikers and it was a triumph for 11 players that fought to the death for their manager and their shirt. It was a defeat for a side that set up to defend, a side that were disjointed, dispirited, despondent, a side that were clearly not fired up for the task. The players themselves deserve criticism for that - they proved what they are capable of against Chelsea - but every ship needs a captain and perhaps Hodgson is just not that man. It has been claimed he does not have the universal backing of the dressing room and that appeared clear as day at the Britannia - Steven Gerrard apart, there was no player that looked willing to fight for the shirt and the manager. Hodgson hardly has an embarrassment of riches to choose from in fairness, but he is famed for getting the most out of players and that knack seems to have deserted him at Liverpool. Take Fernando Torres for example - excellent against Chelsea at Anfield, but completely isolated at Stoke. Did Hodgson honestly believe the Spaniard could turn countless long balls into goalscoring chances? Against Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth?! Torres never had a kick, but it was hardly his fault and he must have been upset with the way his side were instructed to set up - the poor bloke never stood a chance. Most bizarre of all is that Hodgson does not appear to see any great problem. He declared himself happy with the performance in the derby defeat at Goodison last month and was similarly unperturbed by the showing at Stoke, claiming "I thought we did very well for 55 minutes." I'm sorry Roy, but you need to clear your desk right away if you think that was good enough for Liverpool. His side were on the back foot from the first whistle and were remarkably fortunate to go in level at half-time but it appears Hodgson would have been pleased with 0-0. Is 'hanging on' at Stoke acceptable for Liverpool these days? They went to Stoke to defend, to frustrate and to avoid defeat. They were so comprehensively outplayed that a 2-0 loss flattered them. It could easily have been far worse, yet Hodgson accepts it. "Stoke are a very difficult team to beat here," he argued. True, but would Sir Alex Ferguson accept a Manchester United defeat there? Of course not, and as manager of the other great club in England, neither should you Roy. Stoke deserve an enormous amount of credit for their performance - they pressed high up the pitch, got the ball wide, gave the front two plenty of service and were full value for their win. Yes, they scored from a Rory Delap throw, but they also added a fine second and played the better stuff throughout at the Britannia. They were the only side set up positively trying to win the game and there were a good number of their players - not least former Red Jermaine Pennant - that looked a class above their contemporaries. This was the great, great Liverpool and they were utterly, utterly dreadful. They didn't play "very well" for five minutes Roy, never mind 55 and you need a serious reality check if you think they did. Hodgson said the chants for Kenny Dalglish do 'not help anybody' but who can blame the fans? They will not accept performances like Saturday's and neither should the manager. But he does, and for that reason he must be on the thinnest of thin ice.
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