Roy Hodgson: Stick or Bust? Bust

The Fulham view: Last season he was a hero at Fulham. Now he's staring unemployment square in the face at Liverpool. We don’t want to, but us Fulham fans can’t help say: “we told you so.”
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The Fulham view: Last season he was a hero at Fulham. Now he's staring unemployment square in the face at Liverpool. We don’t want to, but us Fulham fans can’t help say: “we told you so.”

It was a day I will never forget. I was sitting in my parent’s living room when it was announced.

‘Fulham FC have today appointed Roy Hodgson as their new manager on a ‘long term’ contract,’ said the Sky Sports News presenter.

I sat bolt upright from my slumber, eyes fixated on the TV, trying to make sense of who the hell this old man was in front of me, promising he would overcome the current situation that Lawrie ‘useless, waste of space’ Sanchez left my beloved club in. I wasn’t pleased. I wasn’t confident. In fact, I already started looking at season ticket prices for the Championship next year. Who is this man? Wasn’t he some guy who did something for Malmo?

The last time I remember seeing him on British shores was when he was sinking to the deep depths of the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers – I felt a little sick.

“Old Al Fayed has gone mad,” I remember saying to my father, who was just as bemused as me. But oh, how wrong we, and many other Fulham fans were. So, so wrong.

Not only did he manage to save the club from the brink of Championship football, securing survival on the final day of the season, he then managed to guide the Cottagers to seventh position in the league the following season (the club’s highest ever placing) which granted them qualification to the newly named Europa League – a tournament, which saw the little guys from South West London, reach the final of, and only narrowly losing to Athletico Madrid.

"'Old Al Fayed has gone mad,' I remember saying to my father, who was just as bemused as me. But oh, how wrong we, and many other Fulham fans were. So, so wrong."

The man, the legend, the Lord could do no wrong. The terraces were forever chanting his name, wherever he went away fans would give him a standing ovation, fellow players and managers couldn’t sing his praises high enough, and at one point, he was among one of the front runners to take the England job.

He was gracious in victory, dignified in defeat and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Even his relationship with the national press was love, true love.

But, as I sit here now, I worry. Things don’t look good, and don’t seem to be improving either. I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s all going to end terribly wrong. I can’t bear to watch but daren’t look away.

On the one hand there is Liverpool FC. A team for reasons I can’t explain, I loathe. On the other, is a man who saved my team from the bottom of the Premier League, and brought me more joy in just under two years, than any other manager will do in 20.

He should’ve stayed. He should’ve stayed. He should’ve stayed.

When rumours started circulating towards the end of last season that Liverpool were interested in him I knew he was going to take it.

He should’ve stayed. He should’ve stayed. He should’ve stayed.

And all we could do was sit and watch. He was taking over a quickly, sinking ship, and there was no way any captain was going to prevent it from going down.

He should’ve stayed. He should’ve stayed. He should’ve stayed.

Why? Because Liverpool are not the team they were five years ago – to put it bluntly, they aren’t a good Premier League team anymore.

They’re weak at the back, fragile in the middle and dull at the front. The players aren’t good enough and the one’s that are don’t want to play.

Hodgson is batting on a losing wicket, and cracks are already starting to appear like an old man slowly losing his marbles rocking in his rocking chair – and some of the stuff he is starting to say is quite disturbing.

He thought his teams two nil drubbing to rivals Everton last month was a ‘good performance,’ he believes Torres is close to his best, when quite clearly he doesn’t want to play for them anymore, and most recently, he likened Jamie Carragher to ‘the Carlos Alberto of old.’ More like the Uncle Albert of old!

He’s starting to get angry in the pressroom, sniping at journalists, he publicly criticised his former owners of Hicks and Gillet and is even having a pop at fellow managers. Only yesterday did ex Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez bite back: “I think that Mr. Hodgson, he doesn’t understand. Every single press conference is even worse than the last one. He’s talking about things that he doesn’t know.”

"He likened Jamie Carragher to ‘the Carlos Alberto of old.’ More like the Uncle Albert of old!"

And the worrying thing is, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better. Hodgson wants to bring new world-class players in, and with the arrival of new owners, that may have been a realistic opportunity. But even that looks like it’s not going to materialise now, as new owner John W Henry is more focused on integrating younger players from the academy into the squad.

You can’t really blame him, as not a single player has broken through from the club’s academy to become a first team regular since Steven Gerrard at the end of the 1990s.

“We are here for the long term. Everything we do is for the long term. Our biggest responsibility is to bring the people to the club on and off the field,” says Henry.

But is Hodgson going to be apart of this long-term plan? And does he really want to be? Football can be a fickle game, with fickle employers, fickle players and fickle fans. He was once a hero to the South, he’s now turning into a scapegoat to the North. My advice: jump my friend and save some face, before you are pushed!

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