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Hodgson must fight for Anfield affection


A dejected Roy Hodgson after yesterday's defeat at Blackpool. Photo: Getty Images

A dejected Roy Hodgson after yesterday's defeat at Blackpool. Photo: Getty Images

A dejected Roy Hodgson after yesterday's defeat at Blackpool. Photo: Getty Images

With one word the Liverpool faithful cast their vote on the new reigme of Roy Hodgson - and it was not favourable.

As the Reds slumped to defeat at home to Barclays Premier League newcomers Blackpool, the sound rolled down off the Kop: "Dalglish, Dalglish, Dalglish".

They were referring to their beloved 'King Kenny', sitting in the main stand. The man who offered to come to the club's aid in their hour of need but was put firmly and squarely in his place by chairman Martin Broughton and chief executive Christian Purslow.

Dalglish is a legend at Liverpool as he was not only voted the club's greatest player but he was also the man to lead them to the last of their 18th league titles in 1990.

When Rafael Benitez left in the summer and with the club in turmoil with the on-going sale by Tom Hicks and George Gillett, the 59-year-old offered to step into the breach and hold the fort while everything calmed down.

He was told his services as manager were not required and the board instead turned to Hodgson.

One school of thought was that Dalglish had been out of the game for too long but, judging by Liverpool's results in their opening seven league matches - which have brought just six points - it is difficult to see how he could have done much worse.

His appointment would certainly have gone a long way to healing the growing chasm between the board and the fans and also probably in uniting an increasingly disparate-looking squad.

Hodgson has yet to have his name chanted at Anfield and, in the current circumstances, with the club 18th in the table, it is unlikely to happen any time soon.

He has had to deal with a number of player dealings, which have not necessarily meant like-for-like replacements, is trying to instil a new playing style and does not yet know his best team.

But despite his wide-ranging coaching CV, which has taken him from Halmstad in Sweden to Inter Milan, the 63-year-old does not seem to have grasped what it means to be Liverpool manager.

The fans want a man in charge whose success they can admire and who, in turn, they can adore.

That he arrived in July having only won trophies in Sweden and Denmark meant the supporters needed some convincing.

He was not a promotion from Anfield's now-defunct Boot Room, nor did he have Spanish league and UEFA Cup titles behind him like Benitez.

A Europa League final defeat with Fulham two months previously cut no ice and what Hodgson had to do was assume the mantle of Liverpool manager and do it with an air of authority, while also appearing sensitive to the fans' needs.

He has so far failed in both, and him telling supporters protesting against owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett that they were not helping him or the team was poor judgement.

What he must do now is turn things around quickly, and he has no better opportunity than in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park when the Premier League resumes.

But in order to achieve that he has to get the team playing somewhere close to their best, and judging by performances so far that is a large leap forward.

A mid-table finish and losing a Europa League final may be enough for Fulham. At Liverpool it is classed as abject failure.

Talk of Hodgson's departure is far too premature and he will have the time to turn things around.

However, looming over his shoulder is the possibility that, when the club is eventually sold, if results have not improved significantly he may find time runs out for him very quickly.

PA Media