I 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.”
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.
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.
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?
I don’t get the residual hostility towards Hodgson. I just don’t. More than five years after his sacking, his time at Liverpool should be one everybody skims over before moving on to more pressing matters. A footnote nobody feels much like referring back to.
The football played under him was mostly bad and he deserved to get sacked. So why couldn’t that be the end of it?
It always makes me think of that ‘Success has many fathers’ banner. Maybe there should be a ‘Failure is an orphan’ one with Roy’s giant mug on it (Hmmm, on second thoughts…). His tenure seems to bring out this existential anger in some people; the crystalized moment when Liverpool stopped competing for the top honours and looked bound for upper-midtable respectability instead. Trouble is, we arrived there under Benitez and we’re still there now.
He wasn’t ‘unlucky’ but it’s difficult to say that he wasn’t doomed. This was his last shot at managing a ‘big’ club and he understandably took it. He was incapable of doing the job however and clearly some of his remarks haven’t held up so well. Then again, you could make a pretty impressive blooper reel for most managers based on the dumb things they’ve said and done.
As for England, going out at the group stage in Brazil was hardly crime of the century. They played better than they had done in South Africa (a truly abysmal tournament performance) and many people didn’t expect them to get out of the group at Euro2012. Any national side manager has to be pragmatic with his resources and Hodgson is nothing if not that.
Anyway, the defence asks for leniency. Or at least that we forget about our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream.
I’m with you, Ed.
Time to move on, it’s all been said and all a bit boring now. Bit like the view that the England team is somehow a bad thing or at least something to be criticised and looked down upon. Not entirely sure why both can’t operate in conjunction rather than always have to be considered somehow detrimental?
Thought all three Liverpool boys played well on Saturday and I don’t believe that that won’t then translate into improved confidence (and performances) for Liverpool.
I get the “defend our lads from parochial criticism whilst on England duty” thing but why follow that lowest common denominator ourselves by dismissing the whole thing? That view jars with the rest of the generally open-minded views put forward on this site.
Anyway, back to work.
P.S. Now feel free to point out the irony of me moaning about other people moaning.
are you okay? honestly lad this in a windup yes? The barn owl and his bucket mice will haunt me for ever.
Great post. Hodgson had no chance at Liverpool. The club was just about bankrupt and he was regarded as an establishment Southern Tory. It was a bad appointment and Hodgson was foolish to grasp it. Our fans went beyond voicing legitimate angst about the terrible football and turned to playground bullying.
He made some stupid comments, but they were just irritating really. Why should someone like that really understand the club, or the city?
I can’t think of one manager from the South East of England (going back 50 years, or more), who would ever have been truly accepted by or fans – even if he was successful. *
*Apart from Digger, maybe?
Ha. To be fair, I don’t think he is totally incompetent. I think Neil’s C+ is more accurate. But agree with everything else.
Does anyone have a read on his fluency in five languages BTW? I can only speak for Italian and in the two interviews I’ve heard he sounds like Google Translate.
I’ll never stop singing about Istanbul.
He doesn’t even look like someone who likes football. Maybe deep down he really doesn’t, the fusty imposter.
He’s got a huge wad of used fivers in his pocket and keeps touching them and smelling his fingers to remind himself how lucky he is.
Hodgson is not a great a coach, tactician or motivator. He’s great at covering his arse, though. He really needs to thank Suarez after the last World Cup because that bite meant the English press was distracted from the national team’s piss-poor performance and could concentrate on its favourite pastime – hounding Suarez. So Roy got away with one goal and one point in three games, in a group that Costa Ruca topped and England came bottom.
He’s getting paid £5m a year – the highest salary of any of the managers at Euro 2016. Just let that sink in. £5m a year to produce the shit that the national team has produced under Hodgson. Somehow, I can’t help thinking that the FA, the media and the England fans deserve him…
That’s Costa Rica, btw. Even Hodgson’s England would have beaten Costa Ruca…
Thank God we got rid of him asap.
I really believe that virtually anyone, and yes, i mean you, you’re mate down the pub, or your sister, could have gotten England out of the last two qualifying groups.
It’s hard for me to put into words the complete and utter disdain i have for Hodgson as a manager of a football team, and even if he wins the World Cup, it’ll not change the way i feel. That might mean that i am mental, but he’s the very antithesis of everything i like about football.
Vardys goal was something special though.
(You’re mate) – that’s just embarrassing!
I agree with the writer’s wife here and echo her response: seek professional help.
Usually a big fan of TAW articles, but this was an uneasy read for me. I’m no fan of Hodgson, in fact I struggle to enjoy international tournaments with him in charge and would love for England to move into the 21st Century and employ a modern, forward thinking coach.
However, Ben makes the point in his 2nd para that it’s time to stop going on about Istanbul as it was yonks ago and no one is bothered anymore (which is a fair point) but surely the same must be said for Woy? His tenure was a momentary blip in the club’s vast history and the footballing world has mostly already forgotten all about it. Seems like the writer should follow his own advice and do the same.
Maybe the problem is that Roy Hodgson has never been held to account for his stratopheric failure at Liverpool. He just went on as if it was all unlucky and not his fault. History has been rewritten. His idiotic handling of the whole situation has been glossed over. That annoys me to this day.
In Sweden he is still fondly regarded as a saint-like pioneer for the work he did in the 1970s. Over here the general opinion was that Liverpool fans never gave the nice old chap a chance. Which we know isn’t true.
Having said that, under the right circumstances he can still be a decent manager. It’s just that he was hired by Liverpool to “steady the ship”, but instead he drilled a massive hole in it and just let it sink. It was fucking ludicrous. But only Liverpool fans will remember it for what it was.
I don’t get the impression that Ben thinks his own obsession is healthy, I bet he wishes he could get over it.
As was said at the time by Gareth Roberts, replacing Benitez with Hodgson was like replacing (the then) Torres with Heskey. Why does it matter now? Because we are still struggling to get back to the level we had under Benitez (despite his last season) and the decision to appoint Hodgson was an disaster perpetrated by a bloke who was a Chelsea fan and another who works for them now, supported by Hodgson’s glee boys in the press. And for my money they have never been taken sufficiently to account for it..
Roy’s a brilliant politician, and average coach. Although England play turgid football in general, and they most likely will lack that special ingredient to ever get to a semifinal of a major tournament – let alone win – at least he’s managed to engender a better spirit in the national squad than his predecessor. Beyond that? He’s a lucky guy, who works hard. Sometimes that’s enough in life. It must be, as I don’t have any other explanation for his success. And if England win Euro 2016? I’ll be glad, not angry. And gobsmacked.
It’s only England.
Who gives a shit?
Can’t believe people defending hodgson, these are the same people that got rid of Rafa, they need to fuck off and support him full times, England meffs
The Anfield Wrap lads portray themselves as ‘right on’ salt of the earth lefty types who are decent honest folk — the constant bitter vitriol against RH is just nasty bullying and very revealing of their true characters. It’s just playground bullying now.
You may not like him
You may think he’s a shit manager
You may think he ‘didn’t get’ what it means to be LFC manager, or ‘didn’t get’ us fans
You may think he lost more matches than he should have
But move on, seriously.
It was years ago. It was very difficult times for the Club and whoever was manager would have found it difficult – as did Kenny, and Rodgers at times – and Rafas last season was nothing to write home about with a totally divided fansbase.
Nasty comments about how he looks, or his age, and the tripe above and seen often in Neil’s and Robbo’s tweets is not exactly the sort of stuff you expect from the man-of-the-people leftwing schtick you espouse of yourselves
It’s bitter vitriolic bile now, in 2016
Funny you should mention ‘playground’ bullying, ‘Jimbob’. Because that’s exactly what Hodgson behaved like in press conferences.
I witnessed first hand him lose it with a Scandinavian journalist over a perfectly valid question regarding Fernando Torres and the tactics he had employed.
He proceeded to make a show of said journalist, bully him, single him out, point fingers, accuse him of an agenda. And so on. He also accused another journalist of being ‘too Scouse’. That was his problem apparently.
Throw in his general arrogance, how he disparaged supporters protests against cancerous owners and his general disdain for anyone and everyone Liverpool and is it any wonder that we think he’s a prick?
The rest of your post is utter nonsense. “Very revealing of their true characters.” You don’t know me. What I occasionally tweet has fuck all to do with what I’m like as a person, my political views or anything else. And it isn’t directed at the man himself, either, it’s on a social forum.
So how exactly is he ‘bullied’? I can guarantee you he doesn’t give a flying fuck about what I think, nor is he likely to even be aware of it. If he is searching for online stick about himself there’s plenty worse out there than anything I’ve said.
It is interesting that Roy Hodgson was picked as England manager after his history of failure. He has managed, among others, Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers, Malmö FF, Fulham, Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion and been branded as typically uneducated by Raymond Verheijen. We can assume only that the FA picked him because the they realize he will be as good as gold and do everything they say.