Belfast Telegraph

Why Liverpool's Roy Hodgson is already proving to be a revelation at Anfield

By Steven Beacom - Frank, fearless and forthright

He would not have been the first choice amongst Liverpool fans. In fact for most he would not have made it into the top three to replace Rafael Benitez as Liverpool manager.

Dutch master Guus Hiddink was favoured. Kenny Dalglish got the sentimental vote and before he joined Real Madrid, Reds supporters were speaking in glowing terms about the Special One, once hated as much as Sir Alex Ferguson by those on the Kop.

Jose Mourinho is, of course, one of those managers who likes to shock.

He’s a guy who thrives on a frosty atmosphere, making his players believe the world is against them. And he’s someone never afraid to wind up the opposition or officials.

Mourinho and Liverpool would have been interesting bedfellows, but the perfect couple? I very much doubt it.

We’ll never know because after he wins La Liga and the Champions League for Real, he’ll step into Sir Alex’s shoes, when he retires at Old Trafford, doing even better than the knight of the realm, before finishing his career by leading Portugal to World Cup glory.

Well, that’s what he tells me anyway!

The man who ended up with the Liverpool job is not one to make such grand pronouncements. He’s Roy Hodgson and he comes from a different age, almost a bygone era when mind games didn’t exist.

He’s not into stunning people with outrageous statements.

He likes his players to feel loved rather than loathed.

And as for winding up the opposition, it’s a term not in his vocabulary. He prefers to focus on his own team.

It’s a pity for Liverpool that Benitez had not done that instead of becoming obsessed with winning wars against Fergie and the American owners in his final 18 months.

Hodgson was not first choice amongst the Liverpool faithful, but he has made a first class impression since taking the reins in the summer.

He pulled off a masterstroke by signing Joe Cole, one of those gifted players who would be cherished in Spain, yet is under-appreciated in England.

To follow that up he encouraged Steven Gerrard to stay despite interest from Madrid.

And then this week came word from Fernando Torres that Hodgson was instrumental in persuading him to remain at Anfield with Manchester City and Chelsea sniffing around.

Javier Mascherano may be on the way out, but once again Hodgson has dealt with that situation expertly, insisting any sale will be on Liverpool’s terms.

Liverpool fans are suddenly walking with a spring in their step thinking that the coming season could be a good one.

Contrast that with the depression in May when there were fears about just how low the Reds would sink.

Hodgson has injected hope into Liverpool hearts. If the Reds get the ownership issue sorted out, they really could be heading in the right direction.

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