Every week Lawrence Gray-Hodson, a man who made his name in the upper reaches of Division 2 in the 1970s and 80s as well as being a former Scotland and England international, writes a column exclusively for Three and in.
This week he looks at Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool plight.
It was with great sympathy that I read the comments of Roy Hodgson after Liverpool’s defeat to Wolves last night. I fully understand that it was a terrible result from a team who are struggling badly this season. I also fully understand how Liverpool fans are upset that a team which finished second just a couple of seasons ago is now struggling to make the UEFA Cup places.
But who could not have been moved by Roy when he said:
Ever since I came here the famous Anfield support hasn’t really been there. I have to hope the fans will become supporters because we need support – we are not deliberately losing.
It’s been obvious since day one that Liverpool fans don’t like Roy Hodgson. To them he’s like a step-parent who has taken the place of their real dad. Yet they ignore the fact that their real dad was a rioja swilling buffoon who spent £20m on Robbie Keane. If Benitez was their real dad and Liverpool was their mum then their dad used to get into bad moods and slap her about the face a bit.
Yet when it’s your real dad you’re willing to overlook his flaws. Forget that he alienated your best midfielder so he could bring in the honest but limited Gareth Barry. Forget that when the title was there to be had his team conceded four goals to a Russian who barely moves from a 20 yard patch the entire game.
Along came Roy and he is kindly. He tried to win the Liverpool fans over by bringing them a present. “Hi”, he said, “I’m not trying to take the place of your real dad but here’s a Joe Cole to play with”. Granted, it’s a bit like getting second hand lego that has been chewed by a dog but at least the thought was there. From the start the famous Liverpool support turned their nose up at him.
That’s not support. That’s the opposite of support. You know the Scousers, so happy to wallow in misery that I bet many of them are enjoying this season much more than title winning ones because it means they always have something to cry about. I fully expect a group of celebrities to make a video about how Hodgson is killing their club. First it was Hicks and Gillett, then Hodgson, whoever comes next will be to blame I imagine.
Is it Roy Hodgson’s fault that Liverpool only have two good players? Fernando Torres stayed loyal this summer, while the midfield brilliance of Lucas will certainly see him move to a Champions League qualifying club. The rest of the squad is average but Hodgson didn’t sign most of them. Most of them were signed by their real dad. A man who had quality strikers like Crouch and Bellamy on his books yet sold them so he could bring in a left back like Dossena.
I’m loath to criticise an Englishman but where exactly is the captain Steven Gerrard? His furrowed brow is all well and good, we know he cares about the club, but in recent games he’s been nigh on invisible. Why does he not find himself on the receiving end of some fan disgruntlement? It seems as if it’s one rule for Roy and one for special Stevie.
I remember when I was in the middle of my career and we had a change of manager. The fans didn’t take to him at first, chanting against him because the man who came before him was popular. It didn’t matter that he’d nearly had us relegated. The fans loved the way he dealt with the press, the chairman, the players. The new man found it tough at first and we players let him down just as the Liverpool players are letting down Roy Hodgson.
During one game some of our fans showed their support by going to his house and spray-painting an enormous penis on the side of his house. Rather than watch their team they did that. And that’s what Liverpool fans are doing to Roy Hodgson. They are spray-painting a giant penis on the hallowed turf of Anfield.
Maybe the Liverpool fans need to take a long hard look in the mirror. When times are tough a real supporter supports his team, through thick and thin and all that. There are those who say the crowd should react to the team, and that’s a fair point, but what about the crowd being the 12th man? At the moment Liverpool’s 12th man is Ronnie Rosenthal against Aston Villa, a tubby Jew who isn’t much good except missing an open goal from 8 yards out.
Is that how they want to be seen across the world? Liverpool’s problems go deeper than the decent Roy Hodgson. They might start in the boardroom but they spread to the pitch, the dressing room and to the stands in which these so-called supporters sit.
Sure, they want what’s best for their club but maybe they ought to realise that their mum has kicked out their real dad for being mean and abusive. They may not like who their mum is sleeping with right now but they’ve got to grow up, stop being kids and just play with the chewed up lego they’ve got.
Nobody likes crybabies or spoiled kids and that’s what Liverpool fans are right now.