Is finishing as a runner up in the Uefa Cup, or the re-branded Europa League becoming somewhat of a poisoned chalice? This is the question that Roy Hodgson should perhaps of asked as he was offered the Liverpool top job during the summer. His Fulham team of last year surprised many, taking some top European scalps and playing their way to the first European final in the clubs history.
This was based on a well organized and disciplined set up, and the considerable form of Bobby Zamora. However – as anyone who had the misfortune to be at some of the Cottager’s away games last season will know – this approach hardly made for attractive football to watch.
Still, good results speak volumes, and as the season wore on, Hodgson seemed to win over his critics and more importantly, Fulham’s players. When being offered the Liverpool job, he should surely have known however, that he was going to have to adapt to a more attacking approach. It is hardly a good idea to ask Steven Gerrard to act as part of a disciplined and organized midfield, as Liverpool’ talisman is probably one of the most tactically inept players in the country.
Perhaps Hodgson should have looked back at the case of another manager who came so close, but ultimately failed to land European football’s second trophy. Steve McLaren took lowly Middlesbrough to the brink of European glory, thanks mostly to an impressive team spirit and some stirring fight backs along the way. However, McLaren’s reputation was crushed during a disappointing spell as England manager only to be partially rehabilitated by a spell in Holland. After winning the title there with Twente he could not resist the lure of Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg in the summer and may well come to regret his move after a lacklustre start to the season.
Some managers should probably stay put and accept they are not destined for a higher level. Organizing a bunch of journeymen footballers into an effective defensive unit and playing for 0-0’s away from home is a completely different job to massaging the considerable egos of the footballing elite into trophy winning outfits.
Perhaps McLaren had to test his abilities amongst the Stevie G’s of this world, but with two spells at Inter under his belt, Hodgson should have known better.