Ben-Johnson-Ident-69--1024x301I HAD every intention of using this column to write about our current songbook this weekend; a critical analysis of the songs that are in heavy rotation and a reflection on the impact they are having on the atmosphere in the ground.

There was going to be a big section on “We won it five times” and the rather minor issue that it was absolutely ages ago and no-one else is at all arsed about it any more and that we should probably stop singing it until we win it six times.

I was going to write a few new songs in an attempt to show everyone how easy it is — I was working on a cracker which started with me rhyming ‘Lallana’ with ‘bananas’ and another about Joe Allen to the tune of the Tom Jones classic Delilah.

I checked with Robbo if he was ok with it as I couldn’t really think of anything else to write about this week and he asked whether I would write about Hodgson given that they were playing Germany on Friday night. He was met with the rather classy response of: “I’m not talking about that arl gobshite again.”

Read: The Hodge Files

Everyone was happy and then England beat the reigning World Champions after trailing 2-0 on Friday night.

Hodgson was up and celebrating and saying it was the best night of his life and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him since.

International Football - Friendly - England v Belgium

Whenever I have had a spare few minutes over the last few days I have been flicking through the Hodgson image file on my phone and laughing to myself.

Me and Adam Melia often play “Hodgson Images Top Trumps” where we try to outdo each other with rarely seen photos of him and his family until one of us gives in, possibly under pressure from our loved ones to stop looking at our phones and laughing and showing random strangers various pictures of some old man wearing shades or smelling his fingers and expecting to be treated like some form of all-conquering comedic heroes fresh from selling out the Albert Hall.

You did read that right by the way, I did call Hodgson a finger sniffer. Google it, have a look through the images that come up and you will find loads of pictures of him watching games of footy whilst smelling the end of his fingers.

It is a bit weird, you know.

The thing about smelling fingers is that the absolute best-case scenario is that they smell of garlic. Best case.

No-one has ever smelt their fingers and thought: “Oh that is lovely; I’ll have another go on them.”

Think of the occasions that come to mind when you read this and I’ll guarantee that they were almost certainly pretty sinister, some of them probably involved bodily fluids and all of them without a shadow of doubt involved fingers that smelt bad.

Now imagine what Hodgson’s fingers smell of and then ask yourself why he does it. Awful.

I won’t lie, the Hodgson Liverpool manager period hit me that hard that I quickly powered through the five stages of grief and then invented a new sixth stage, which involved laughing manically and waking my girlfriend (now wife) up and showing her his latest quotes until she told me to piss off.

What I couldn’t get my head around was his sheer level of incompetence. How was this man getting paid to manage our football club? I can’t believe he is still going to be honest.

Football - Liverpool appoint Roy Hodgson as manager

When he was appointed England manager I was so overjoyed and wishful that he would do to them what he did to us that I didn’t think about the possibility that he might find a way to be alright.

How can a man with no real skill, no track record (aside from them impressive couple of years when he won the league in Sweden….probably down to the fact that all the other teams thought you had to play in cross-country skis and his lads wore astros) and absolutely no personality or redeeming features manage to hoodwink so many people for so long?

How is that even possible?

The first thing to say is that he is as resilient as they come. You could easily imagine him in some quantum leap quirk of fate as the head of some dictator’s army, fighting and killing allied forces one day only to be told his boss had been captured the next, resulting in him just changing his beret and his tie, going in for voluntary talks and a nice coffee with the UN at ten in the morning and somehow walking out, appointed as Ban Ki-moon’s successor in time for tea.

One of the dark arts he has mastered that feeds this resilience is his ability to lower expectations.

He couldn’t survive at Liverpool because we were able to see this attempt for what it was. We are a club built on success and as soon as he started the old self-preservation “this team is shite, I’m doing just about as well as anyone else could be expected to do given the circumstances” bollocks we were onto him in a flash.

The general consensus outside of Merseyside though is that he was unlucky and was only replaced as a consequence of an ownership change and the desire of the fans to be reunited with a club legend as manager in Kenny Dalglish.

The fact that this couldn’t be further from the truth is by the by. This is where he excels. This is the area within which no-one else even comes close. He is a master of survival, of reflection, of influencing enough people to avoid criticism. As difficult as this is to say — this is where his genius lies.

England’s performance in the last World Cup was as abject as it was in the European Championships two years earlier and yet each time Hodgson manages to remove himself from the post knock-out critique and helpfully contributes to the process by highlighting his players’ flaws and where they went wrong, as if they were issues completely beyond his control.

I don’t know how he does it but it is remarkable.

The worrying thing for me is that he now seems to be getting performances out of his team that on the face of it are pretty impressive.

I said it before but how can a man with no real skill, no track record and absolutely no personality or redeeming features manage to put a team together that looks capable of winning things in the future?

I’m starting to have sleepless nights thinking about it.


Imagine he wins the Euros or worse still a World Cup?

How will we manage to go on with his face, that empty smug stare, fingers to nose, looking back everywhere we turn?

How will we cope?

How will we live in this country if the worst-case scenario happens?

I’m trying to hold on to my core beliefs that good things happen to good people and the opposite is true for baddies but I can’t shake that image of a victorious Hodgson from my mind’s eye.

All the while I am thinking about this, that quote from The Usual Suspects is echoing around my mind: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

What happens if that was bollocks?

What happens if his greatest trick was convincing people that he wasn’t Roy Hodgson?

I don’t know about you but I’ll be watching from behind the couch tomorrow, trying to make out whether there are any horn-like lumps beneath that wiry Lego mane.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the only possible explanation.

Hold me, I’m scared. What’s that smell? Is that your fingers?