Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool career is so fresh that the ink has barely dried on his contract. The popular manager has had to endure a trial by fire in his first weeks on the job. But just as he is getting his feet under the table there is a very real chance just over the horizon that he could be sacked.
Make no mistake about; six points from six games for a club with the stature of Liverpool is just not good enough. However, the most discouraging part of the Reds start to the season has been the manner of their performances; ranging from passable to abject.
This week the club have had to stomach ignominy of being knocked out of the Carling Cup at Anfield by League Two side Northampton, being outplayed by Manchester United at Old Trafford in a 3-2 defeat before another dispiriting draw at home to Sunderland.
From their six league games this season, Liverpool have only managed one three pointer thus far, a 1-0 home win over West Brom in the third game of the season. It is fair to say that the fixture list has not been kind to Hodgson with his team having faced three heavyweights in Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
However, as already mentioned it is the manner of Liverpool’s performances that causes concern rather than their point’s total. Not once this season have the Reds even looked liked they were playing well.
Arsenal dictated much of the opening game of the season, albeit against ten-men, and if it were not for a poor piece of goalkeeping by the haphazard Manuel Almunia and some wayward finishing, Liverpool would have begun this term with a loss rather than a draw.
A truly terrible performance followed at the Eastlands where Liverpool was brushed aside by Manchester City in a 3-0 victory that easily could have been more. A 1-0 win over an improving West Brom side at Anfield settled a number of nerves before an abject display away to Birmingham had everyone wondering what exactly was happening at Liverpool.
If it were not for Pepe Reina producing one of the finest performances of his Liverpool career then Birmingham would have won by a cricket-score.
It sent a worrying pulse through the Reds supporters who wondered just how far their team had fallen if it was taking man-of-the-match type performances from their goalkeeper just to eke out a point at Birmingham.
This led us to the last seven days.
Manchester United dominated Liverpool in every area of the pitch at Old Trafford and really should have been home and dry before two Steven Gerrard strikes pegged the Red Devils back. In the end justice was served as Dimitar Berbatov finished off his hat-trick with another well taken goal.
Then there was Northampton…
Hodgson changed the set-up of the team completely but still found his side having to score a late equalizer in injury time to draw with the Cobblers, who then won the game on penalties.
And this weekend Liverpool produced yet another below par performance against Sunderland at home.
Hodgson just isn’t producing the kind of changes everyone thought he would. His signings, while restricted by a severely dented budget, have the ring of mid-table about them, especially Poulsen and Konchesky. While Meireles and Cole look like they are struggling to come to terms with the growing pressure they are playing under.
In short, after just six games Roy Hodgson has found himself in an extremely vulnerable position.
Let’s make it clear, he will not be sacked by the current board unless the club goes on a slump of biblical proportions, but he is in grave danger of being sacked by whoever decides to eventually take over the club.
The main reasons that Hodgson was brought in initially are two fold. The first reason being that Roy was the best, cheapest option. Liverpool only had to pay Fulham around £1.5 million in compensation for their manager. The second being that his contract is short, and if new owners take over the compensation they have to pay out will also be minimal.
It is precisely for these two reasons that Liverpool went for Hodgson over other options like Martin O’Neill or Laurent Blanc. While the board also recognised that their new manager was a better option than Kenny Dalglish, who had been away from the game for some years.
Last May it became clear that Liverpool was moving towards administration is something huge did not happen at the club. Now it is known that all potential investors have to do is wait for RBS to take over the debt-ridden club in October and they could make a massive saving of around £300 million.
Currently RBS lawyers are looking into how they could force Kop Holdings in administration but not the club itself. However, Liverpool FC is the only asset on Kop Holdings books and the Premier League would surely investigate such instances should they arise. If they were to find wrong doing then the club could face a larger penalty than the 9pts currently on show.
Just to show what Liverpool fans want, well known Liverpool fan site Anfield Road have just conducted their own opinion poll where the options given were
- 1) Keep Hicks and Gillett or
- 2) Enter administration with RBS
So far fans have voted overwhelmingly for administration, with some 97 percent seeing the unknown as a better option than keeping Hicks or Gillett.
Should the seemingly inevitable happen then it is almost a certain bet, unless results improve dramatically, that Hodgson and Liverpool will part ways as the new owners look to put their stamp on the club.
Early money would suggest that Martin O’Neill is the prime candidate for the job.
Tom Hicks and George Gillett have until the start of October to pay, the government owned bank, RBS the entire amount of some £280 million or face being taken over.
From here it would seem that the countdown for the clubs future is in line with the countdown for Hodgson’s too.