Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: He’s no Mourinho but Hodgson can bring calm to Liverpool

The last man replaced as a manager by Roy Hodgson was Lawrie Sanchez.

Remember him?

Roy did wonderfully well when he took over from the former Northern Ireland boss at Fulham, who didn’t exactly set the world alight when he left here for Craven Cottage.

But the stakes are a lot higher for Hodgson now as the successor to Rafael Benitez.

Liverpool are one of the biggest clubs in the world. They have some of the best players in the world. And they have the best fans in the world.

But here’s the rub. The football club is smack, bang in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. Not to mention in a state of confusion with no-one seemingly knowing what the future holds in terms of ownership, finance, stadia and players.

Liverpool don’t need a manager, they need a miracle to sort the whole sorry mess out.

Whether Hodgson is the man to deliver it remains to be seen, but right now he is Liverpool’s best hope.

It’s fair to say that the majority of Liverpool fans would have wanted someone else at the helm. Someone, say, with a little more stardust, like Guus Hiddink, Jose Mourinho or Kenny Dalglish.

The first one is under contract to Turkey — and he doesn’t break them. The second is out of their league financially and in any case is determined to restore Real Madrid to former glories. And the third was picked by the Liverpool hierarchy to help select the next boss rather than becoming the man at the helm himself.

The return of King Kenny would have been welcomed by Liverpool fans craving for the success he brought them as player and manager. But looking at it coldly, maybe too many hearts were ruling heads.

Never go back they say. Kenny knows that better than anyone.

When Liverpool routinely won trophies in the 70s and 80s, legendary coach Ronnie Moran would throw medals at the players and tell them to do it all over again. Always go forward — it’s a great strategy and one that Hodgson must embrace.

His vast experience will help him on that score.

This is a guy who has managed all around the world.

He’s been a boss in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

In England he failed with Blackburn but was a huge success with Fulham, guiding them to the Europa League final — a feat about as surprising and admirable as Ghana winning the World Cup.

Ask anyone who has worked under him and they will tell you he is a players’ man. That will be music to the ears of the Liverpool stars, who too often felt undervalued by Benitez.

Will it be enough for Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay? Time will tell.

If they do remain, they would enjoy working with their new boss, that’s for sure.

If they don’t Liverpool must move on and work their socks off to catch Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City and Aston Villa, who were all ahead of them last season.

It’s a long road back for the Reds. And it’s a massive challenge for a 62-year-old.

It’s a bit like giving a jobbing actor the starring role in an epic movie. Now Hodgson must pull out the performance of his life.

Will Liverpool win that long awaited league title under him? Highly unlikely.

Will they stabilise and gradually move forward? Probably.

That will do for starters for Liverpool fans. They desperately need a man to steady the ship.

They’ve been through enough choppy waters lately.

Belfast Telegraph

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