Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool boss faces massive job, says Aldridge

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge has warned Roy Hodgson he has a "massive job" on his hands at Anfield.

The club are expected to end their search for a replacement for Rafael Benitez by finalising the appointment of the Fulham boss by tomorrow morning.

Hodgson has been linked with the post for several weeks after emerging as first choice to take over from the Spaniard, who left Anfield on June 3.

The 62-year-old's name also cropped up as a potential replacement for Fabio Capello should he pay the price for England's dismal World Cup but negotiations have been ongoing with the Merseysiders for some time.

However, Aldridge believes the extent of the task Hodgson will have to do is akin to what the legendary Bill Shankly was faced with when he rebuilt the club in the 1960s.

"He's got a massive job on his hands at Liverpool," said Aldridge.

"This is the most important stage in Liverpool's history since Bill Shankly took over with what's happening off the field with the owners and the lack of stability at the club."

Benitez departed after Liverpool's worst season for 11 years, with the club finishing seventh in the Barclays Premier League.

Performances were not helped by uncertainty surrounding the sale of the club by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett and the futures of Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano.

Benitez's relationship with members of the Liverpool hierarchy and a lack of substantial transfer funds contributed to the Spaniard's exit.

Aldridge believes Hodgson has to decide very quickly his plan of attack and make key decisions in order to be able to move the club forward.

"Something has to happen as soon as possible; you have to go in and test the situation about which players need to go out, what you've got to bring players in and who you can keep," added the former Republic of Ireland international.

"That's very important as Mascherano has been using the wild card about his wife [being unhappy] and there's question marks about Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. They've got to be sorted out asap."

Despite Hodgson lacking the glamour of a big-name overseas appointment or the sentimental appeal of a return for ex-player and manager Kenny Dalglish - who despite being involved in the selection process felt he could do the job - Aldridge believes the former Inter Milan and Blackburn boss has the credentials.

"His experience is fantastic with the jobs he's done in Italy and Switzerland (as coach of the national team)," he told Sky Sports News.

"He might have had a bad year or two at Blackburn Rovers, but when you've been in the game as long as he has, you are allowed a few mistakes."

Hodgson was named League Managers' Association manager of the year after guiding Fulham to a runners-up place in the Europa League but he will have to do considerably better at Anfield if he is to appease supporters.

"While he may not have been the fans' choice ultimately he's in charge and he has got to be given the opportunity to do the job to the best of his ability," said Les Lawson, secretary of the official LFC supporters' association.

"But what he achieved at Fulham would have been unacceptable if he achieved it here - there's more expectation."

While Hodgson may be forced to work with a limited transfer budget he is certain of one new arrival after Standard Liege forward Milan Jovanovic confirmed once again he will be joining up next week.

The Serbia international, identified as a free transfer signing by Liverpool's former manager, has had to field questions about his future over the last couple of weeks after it was reported he was considering backing out of the deal to instead join Benitez at Inter Milan.

"I am going to Liverpool. I have signed there for three years. I repeat, no pre-agreement - a real contract," the 29-year-old told Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad.

"The departure of Benitez changes nothing. I have maintained contact with the executive board of Liverpool and everything is good.

"I am working to arrange my visa for England. Next week I go there to collect my work permit.

"Everything is in order as in the last two years I have played 75% of the matches for my national side. Next I am looking for a house.

"On July 14 or 15 I will join the squad for a training camp in Switzerland.

"But, as from Thursday, I want to start my individual training programme so I can show them immediately that I am worth a place in the side."

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