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 The Yes Man?

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Shankly Gates
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Date d'inscription : 2005-01-13

PostSubject: The Yes Man?   Thu 1 Jul 2010 - 15:12

Whether reading the excellent book by Danny Wallace or watching the, to put it politely, less than excellent motion picture starring Jim Carrey, you will have heard of the title, 'Yes Man'.

In some quarters that phrase has been associated with the news that Roy Hodgson has been named as the new manager of Liverpool, replacing Rafa Benitez, whose six-year tenure came to a conclusion at the end of a disappointing 2009/10 campaign. The opinion is that Hodgson has been appointed because, to clutch at a cliché, he will not ruffle feathers among the club's hierarchy.

Benitez had many strengths, however, his downfall was due to the fact that he was a control freak. His stubborn nature may have outranked former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry, but it ultimately clashed with current managing director Christian Purslow, want-away co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks and, possibly, new chairman Martin Broughton.

General consensus is that the Anfield suits wanted a man who will not rock the boat when that is exactly what fans believe the club needs - to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and given an almighty shaking, with a kick up the backside thrown in for good measure. From the outside, Hodgson would appear to meet all the criteria for those in the boardroom and not many for those who occupy The Kop.

Articulate, modest, polite and honest, the 62-year-old former Fulham boss and 2010 LMA Manager of the Year would seem to have all the credentials to be considered a thoroughly decent chap, but one who is perhaps too nice for the cut-throat task of managing Liverpool. This is naive, do not be fooled. He has experience in abundance and a ruthless nature.

Man of principles
I have witnessed firsthand that there are two sides to Hodgson. During a post-match press conference at Newcastle in May 2009 after Fulham had recorded a 1-0 win which as good as relegated their hosts, he happily and intelligently confessed that his side may have benefitted from refereeing inconsistencies. But then in March of this year when addressing journalists at the KC Stadium after his side had lost 2-0 to Hull City he snapped a dismissive response at a reporter who stupidly questioned the award of an obvious penalty against Fulham.

The simple explanation for the difference in personality would be explained by the contrast between winning and losing. It would, though, also indicate that Hodgson is a truthful man of principles who does not suffer fools gladly. He will not stand for nonsense at Anfield and could never be classed simply as a, 'Yes Man'.

Hodgson said during his time in charge of Fulham in 2009: "I don't want everyone's opinion. I might have one or two people I've identified as having no opinion worth listening to so I dismiss what they say out of hand... In areas where there is a bearing on the result of the game, people expect the leader to lead. Initially they will respect the status you have been given, but you have to get to a situation where they say, at least in their sane moments, 'well we don't like him, but he does lead us'".

That is exactly the attitude that Liverpool need at a time of crisis. The priority, of course, is to address a slide away from the UEFA Champions League places in the Premier League. However, Hodgson will also need a single-minded approach when dealing with a gigantic task that includes addressing the doubts surrounding the futures of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano, giving attention to the club's neglected youth system and building a connection with fans to compare to that which Benitez enjoyed, but, unlike the Spaniard, maintaining a workable relationship with his bosses at the same time.

The other accusation levelled against Hodgson is that Inter Milan, who he guided to a Uefa Cup final in 1997, are the only other glamour club on a Curriculum Vitae which largely contains a number of fringe outfits, including Bristol City and Swiss side Neuchatel Xamax. It is suggested that he is not showbiz enough for five-time kings of Europe, that he does not offer the glitz of the likes of other supposed Liverpool targets Marseille coach Didier Deschamps, Galatasaray's Frank Rijkaard or former Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini. But there is a flipside.


Hidden gem
A glance at Hodgson's club managerial history, which started at Sweden's Halmstads BK in 1976, indicates that he has almost never spent more than one year out of work since cutting his teeth in Scandinavia. An essentially journeyman career could be viewed as a result of a failure to secure major trophies at any one club, but, to take an optimistic opinion, he has built a wealth of experience in taking on short-term projects. Nobody, Hodgson or Liverpool, will be under the impression that this will be a long-term partnership. The man is approaching retirement age and so will be installed as a quick-fix on the red half of Merseyside.

Hodgson is held in high regard at Inter after two spells at Giuseppe Meazza and the fact that he was persistently linked with England in the past and immediately prior to his appointment at Liverpool indicates that he is not a mug. Travelling the world, including international placements with Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Finland, has also helped to build an ability to speak five different languages - another plus when dealing with his inherited, continental squad.

His failure to make a genuine mark at Blackburn Rovers between 1997 and 1998 is a frequently used example of inadequacies after he was sacked in December of his second season. He had renewed optimism among the once Premier League champions by finishing sixth in 1997/1998 and yet in the next campaign, the difficult follow-up album, it is rarely remembered that he was chronically unfortunate with injuries among his squad.

The second memory of Hodgson at Ewood Park was that he blew £20million in the 1998 summer market, with £7.5million infamously going towards Kevin Davies. The accusation therefore exists that he is not capable of operating with a large amount of money. That is hardly going to be a problem at cash-strapped Liverpool when Hicks and Gillett want to sell. Hodgson's dealings with, respectfully, minnows will have helped develop a knack for discovering hidden gems on a budget such as Brede Hangeland, who could follow his former manager from Fulham.

It depends how you measure relative success. How does dragging a small club like Fulham away from what looked like certain relegation from the Premier League in 2008 to the lofty heights of the 2010 Europa League final compare to winning the Champions League with a big club like Liverpool? Obviously lifting the European Cup involves competing against the best coaches and players, but there also needs to be some perspective.

Whether they like it or not at Anfield, in the short-term, it is no longer about winning the Champions League and Premier League. Consolidation is required. Hodgson is not the 'Yes Man' but he is the right man.

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