Progress at Anfield will stifled so long as current boss remains in the hot-seat.
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The events of the last couple of weeks have been nothing short of phenomenal within the hallowed walls of Anfield. Even the most imaginative Hollywood script writer would have dismissed as farfetched the story which unfolded between London, Boston, Liverpool and Dallas.
So as Hicks and Gilette are finally shoved through the exit door, kicking and clawing all the way, a new era dawns at Liverpool Football Club. Let’s be realistic about what lies ahead. The battle of the boardroom may be over but the battle of the boot room is in full effect and this has to be the first priority for John Henry and NESV.
With Liverpool sitting 19th in the league, deservedly so, and rumours of player unrest all too frequently emanating from within the club, some crucial decisions have to be made by the incoming regime.
The dismissal or resignation of Roy Hodgson needs to happen as soon as possible. There would be little merit in waiting to see if a manager who has yet to make one, notable, good decision in his entire time in the job has it within him to turn things around at Anfield. His team selections, tactics, post match interviews, relationships with certain other managers, treatment of the players and his forays into the transfer market have thus far all been misguided at best and catastrophic at worst. You could be forgiven for thinking he is in actual fact some kind of secret agent on a mission of sabotage.
With the resignation of Christian Purslow, the man rumoured to be behind the departure of the much loved (and much maligned) Rafael Benitez, Hodgson now has few allies left in the boardroom, with Broughton also on his way out only Ian Ayre will remain of the 5 man board who originally ratified the contract offered to Hodgson.
It is of course very sad to see the manager of any club fall into quicksand in the manner that Roy Hodgson has and I along with many other supporters of the club feel genuine sympathy for his plight. Football though is a ruthless business and Roy and LFC need to part company sooner rather than later. This would be as much for the sake of his own reputation in the game, as it would be to prevent any further damage to the club.
It is therefore now inconceivable that Hodgson will still be in a job on Monday morning regardless of the outcome of the clubs next fixture (Blackburn at the time of writing). So who will NESV identify as the man to undo Hodgson’s negativity and turn the club around?
Frank Riijkaard is certainly an option having had a successful spell as coach of Barcelona winning both La Liga and the Champions League with the Catalans but his recent experience with Galatasaray, having just been sacked by the Turkish giants, is not as positive. He would clearly represent seismic shift in terms of style of play from that of Roy Hodgson but without serious investment in the current playing squad, it is difficult to see how Riijkaard’s ultra attacking style would immediately translate at Anfield. His total lack of Premier League experience would also surely be a hindrance.
Other possible candidates would include the likes of Guus Hiddink, Manuel Pellegrini and possibly even Harry Redknapp though the latter would be unlikely to be accepted by fans of the club after the pro Hicks and Gilett rhetoric he rather idiotically spewed forth in The S*n of all places. (Have a word with your Dad, Jamie).
There is of course, one other far more sensational option open to NESV in the shape of the one and only Rafael Benitez. Over the last couple of weeks fan forums have gone into meltdown with calls for the inspirational Spaniard to be given a second coming at the club he so clearly loves. Tellingly, Rafa never sold his house on The Wirral and openly talks of his affection for the area and its people including a bewildering reference to his milkman, John. Who knows, perhaps Kenny Dalglish could keep the seat in his office and let Rafa the gaffer himself make a triumphant return in May…. Possible I suppose.
Whilst I am sure that almost as many Liverpool fans (and a few players!) will be dead against the return of Rafa as those who wish it would happen, the fact remains that none of the managers named in this article are likely to want to take the job without the promise of some serious funds to spend on improving the playing squad. This begs the obvious question, will NESV provide them? The early signs are a little mixed, truth be told. Although John W Henry has swept into Anfield on a veritable tsunami of optimism and good feeling repeating his ‘I am here to win’ mantra to anyone who asks him of his plans, as yet we are still to hear what those plans actually are.
We have also heard Henry issue a note of caution to supporters that money will not be thrown at the club Man City style, helpfully he also reminded us that he does not have Sheikh in front of his name.
At the moment it all feels eerily reminiscent of the ambiguity and reticence to commit to concrete figures for money available to the manager espoused by Hicks and Gilett in the early days of their tenure. So, should fans be worried?
No, not yet. It is of course far too early to tell anything about the incoming regime and whether or not it is going to take the club forward. What John W Henry and NESV need to realise – and fast, is that as soon as they have their new man in charge of the team, a very sizeable amount of money needs to be invested in the squad immediately. They have been hesitant to talk about figures so let me do it for them…. somewhere between 40 and 60 million should be made available in January and the same again in the summer at the very least if Liverpool truly are to compete again within the upper echelons of English football.
Clearly right now there is probably more cause for Liverpool fans to be optimistic than at any time in the last 2 years, the toxic Texan has gone and the revolution continues to be televised…. all eyes are now firmly on Roy Hodgson.