When asked about his immediate future after overseeing his second/third-string side’s utterly dire goalless stalemate with Napoli in the Europa League last night, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson took a familiar, if not a little futile, defiant stance.
Before the game, there was a flurry of spiralling internet speculation claiming that the beleaguered veteran, who has won but one solitary Premier League game despite having eight stabs at it now, was set to walk out on Liverpool regardless of the result in the Stadio San Paolo.
Speaking in a post-match interview, Hodgson retorted:
“I have heard the ridiculous rumours about me resigning, and I can tell you there is not an iota of truth in any of them. The simple truth is that I have never considered resigning, and I never will.”
There were plenty of positives to come from the [Napoli] game. It was a good point which many people didn’t think we would get, considering the team selection, but we’ve proved them wrong.
The team proved people wrong. The players stepped up to the plate and it was a performance that showed the club is not dead.”
Not dead, but very much flat-lining.
The ‘team selection’ Hodgson was referring to was his decision to rest Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres in favour of giving reserve team regulars Jay Spearing (Gerrard’s heir apparent, who’s solid performance has been ludicrously over-hyped) and summer acquisition Jonjo Shelvey (who flitted between ‘fine’ and ‘hopelessly out of his depth’ with unnerving regularity).
Actually, fact that Hodgson seemed to think Liverpool managed to leave Naples with a point despite the team he put out might be a direct reference to the selection of Ryan Babel, who seemed to be suffering from some mild strain of motor neuron disorder.
During the tumultuous courtroom drama that accompanied Liverpool’s overwrought takeover saga, no manager in his right mind would have courted the club with a bargepole (to coin a non-existent phrase).
However, after New Yanks on the Block NESV’s £300 million coup, a club – which was deemed only a fortnight previous to be an ungodly chalice of sh*t – is suddenly a much more attractive proposition for an aspiring coach looking for a new challenge i.e. there are lots of crisp new dollars to be frittered away.
Hodgson himself unwittingly summed up the sea change in any interested party’s outlook:
“We’re going through a very bad passage in the league. Things haven’t gone our way for a variety of reasons and that’s why we find ourselves down the bottom and desperate to get away.
But the new owners have already done a little for the club, they’ve given us a lift. Even before the Everton game there was a new buoyancy and good feeling that we can get a lift.
I just hope the result (against Blackburn on Sunday) will go our way to give us a bit of breathing space to move up the table instead of finding ourselves marooned at the bottom of the table.”
Should things not go Liverpool’s way over the weekend (or perhaps the weekend after) I, for one, can foresee a certain head rolling.
The point is, whether it’s his fault or not, I don’t think Roy Hodgson will be given until Christmas unless he starts putting points on the board pretty damn smartish.
Since leaving his post at Galatasaray on Tuesday, Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard has continually found his name linked with replacing Hodgson at Liverpool on an almost hourly basis – although his agent Perry Overeem has today refuted claims that NESV have already been in contact his client.
Speaking to Sky Sports News this morning, Overeem said:
“We have not been approached by Liverpool, Frank’s not thinking about any job at the moment – he wants to put what’s happened in Turkey behind him.
Frank is still in Turkey so whenever we are approached, if we are approached, we will deal with that then, but it’s not helpful to get into rumours at this stage.”
Although it’s fairly safe to assume that another tactically inept display against Blackburn over the weekend may be enough to change all that. Hodgson may be intent on ‘never resigning’ at Liverpool, but I don’t think NESV would have too many qualms about putting him out of his considerable misery.