Warning: The following is not an attempt at heresy, merely a cautious thought.
With Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson seemingly caught between a rock and a hard place, a huge decision rests on the shoulders of John W Henry and his chairman Tom Werner. Roy Hodgson, despite coming here with the best of intentions and a decent if unspectacular record over his many years, has found himself downstream without a paddle.
When NESV took over Liverpool FC, they preached about the long term goal and how they want to do things in the right way. But the amount of pressure that is building on Hodgson, is now building on NESV, and I feel like there’s something not right about that. I would be disappointed if NESV bowed to the fans wishes so easily, fans are fickle, and one thing a chairman cannot be is fickle. A well known website recently posted an open letter to Henry with what was effectively an ultimatum; sack Roy Hodgson or lose the respect of the fans. This kind of thing I find out of order, there is no way someone in the position that Henry is in should give credence to ultimatums and blackmail.
Those in charge are clearly astute businessmen, and Liverpool FC, whether we like it or not, is a business. There are countless factors to consider with replacing Hodgson. Things ranging from the new manager, to the pay out, to the effect on the players and to the image the club gives out. One problem which might occur, is the appointment of someone who may become too powerful. The man who springs to mind is obvious; Kenny Dalglish. The child inside me pines for the return of the king, the atmosphere and energy he would bring back for those initial games would be worth every penny. The concern however, and maybe I’m being a bit too cautious, is what if Kenny doesn’t work out?
Say, for instance, Kenny gets us playing half decent football but by the summer we still languish in 5th or 6th. Could we bring ourselves to replace him? What contacts does Dalglish have in the modern game? Could he work with Comolli? Will he be able to establish a modern sports science approach which is essential these days? Would the fans be able to see common sense if it wasn’t working out? However, most importantly, if a relationship broke down with the board, the fans would inevitably come down on Kenny’s side. The board must see the potential for trouble here.
We know that Dalglish is a gentleman, he’s proved it time and again, but put your business heads on. Would you hire someone with the potential to have more sway and power than yourself? I would hope that, if Dalglish does end up with the reigns, that it works out. I would like nothing more than a legend to come back and restore the club, it’s fairy-tale stuff. But maybe, as a Liverpool fan, we’ve been subjected to too many broken promises.
For this reason, I think the best the board may do with Dalglish, (if Hodgson was to go), would be to give him a contract only to the end of the season. There would have to be some kind of gentlemans agreement that Dalglish would go quietly and by mutual consent. It seems silly to even be considering this kind of thing now, but I want a long term future, not a short term answer. If Liverpool get beat by Bolton, Hodgson will surely be sacked. But if he stumbles on to the summer, I won’t be too upset (just disappointed).
The ultimatums to the board must stop though, we need a strong board who prove they have faith and an eye for the future. Besides Dalglish, there are no managers available at this time of year. God forbid we end up with Allardyce or O’Neill, although O’Neill would no doubt have us a bit more motivated than Mr Roy. The biggest decision comes in the summer. Regardless of what happens from now til then. We aren’t going to finish 4th, forget about it. We probably won’t finish 4th for a couple of years, but Henry has a tough decision to make in the next couple of days.
It’s a fine line between a weak chairman and one who answers the fans. It was a strong board who stuck by Ferguson in the 80’s despite fan calls for a sacking, we need to be prepared to accept that Dalglish might not get the job, and if he doesn’t, then the summer will be the time for change. For now, we may have to just grin and bare it. A. A. Milne said it clearly for us all: “The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”
Maybe we need the board to do what they alone think is best for the long term, for Liverpool FC in the next 25 years, not the rest of the season.
Written by Chris Servers from the excellent Live4Liverpool website