It seems apt that on this, All Hallow’s Eve, I’ll tell you the scariest tale ever told. A tale that although now resigned to the past, can still wake you up in a panic of terror, panting, with the sheets soaked in sweat. A tale that doesn’t need be told in the dark, holding a torch to your face as the solitary source of light, in order to frighten the audience. This was a seemingly everlasting nightmare that tortured Liverpool fans for half a year: the reign of Roy Hodgson at Liverpool.
It was only two years ago that we were midway through Woy’s disastrous tenure, yet it genuinely seems like another lifetime away. It wasn’t a great time to be a Liverpool fan. The atmosphere around the club was hostile and poisonous as we looked like we were finally free from the tumultuous reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, as New England Sports Ventures had agreed to purchase the club, only for things to end up in the courtroom. It was a f**king mess, to be perfectly honest, and things on the pitch weren’t much better.
Now I know Hodgson is an easy target because he’s so unintentionally hilarious for all the wrong reasons, but you don’t realise just how bad he was. I remember being relieved that Benitez was finally out the door, without really thinking of who the board - who had no real footballing experience or knowledge between them - would decide to replace him with. I was hoping we’d get Deschamps in, who had just won the league with Marseille, but when we ended up with Hodgson it was a case of be careful what you wish for.
It became apparent quite early on that this was going to be a complete clusterf**k
Still, I remember fooling myself, thinking ‘this might work’ when watching his inaugural press conference, trying to tenuously cling to the one shred of optimism I had left, but it became apparent quite early on that this was going to be a complete clusterf**k. The signings, the press conferences, the god awful football, the facerub - all of it was just a mess. Paul Konchesky, Christian Poulsen, Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic were all horrendous signings who were on well over £250k per week between them. That’s £1m a month. On wages alone. On those four players. No wonder we nearly went in to administration.
The League Cup home game to Northampton was the moment when you knew it was only going to end in tears. It was the only Liverpool game in years that wasn’t being televised anywhere in the world, and it was played in torrential rain. We played a weakened side, with a few kids getting a chance, but 999 times out of 1000 the team would have beaten the Cobblers, who were a League Two team fighting relegation that sat 69 league places below us, but on this fateful night we managed to lose, on penalties, at the Kop end. The writing was on the wall there and then, but unfortunately we were as much of a mess off the field as we were on it, so the horror had to continue.
I’ve seen us beat the best Europe has to offer, and the first time I ever saw us lose was against Wolves. F**king Wolves!
The style of play was atrocious. Percentage football at it’s very worst; these were players who were very capable of playing aesthetically pleasing football being asked to lump it forward. Fernando Torres, who was inexcusably bad, was running the channels (or often not as he thought he was better than the club, the lazy, disrespectful tw*t) - and the clash of philosophies meant it was like a train wreck that lasted for an hour-and-a-half before the referee finally put us out of our misery.
Also, on a personal note, I’d been to about 150 Liverpool games and never seen us lose. Then, I went to watch us at home to Wolves on a bitterly cold December night. These midweek evening games in the winter are infamous for being absolute borefests that leave you wondering why on earth you paid good money to sit in the freezing cold and watch a dire game of football – and this one was no different. Except this was the worst Liverpool performance I’ve ever seen, and we lost 1-0. I’ve seen us beat the best Europe has to offer, and the first time I ever saw us lose was against Wolves. F**king Wolves!
With a new year came new hope, and the day before we were set to go and get trounced at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, it was announced that the King had returned. I remember being at Anfield, incredibly hungover, watching us play Crystal Palace in the FA Youth Cup, and news filtered through that Kenny was our new manager which got the biggest cheer of the day. This tale had a relatively happy ending, but much like the victims of Nightmare On Elm Street, the mental scars will never heal.
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