Whether through his own making or otherwise, Roy Hodgson’s tenure at Liverpool has been anything but plain sailing. Yesterday’s 1-0 win over Bolton propelled the Anfield outfit out of the relegation zone, somewhere Liverpool fans would never have expected their team to be after 9 games, and somewhere they hope they will not be visiting again anytime soon. After a disastrous start, the pressure has been intense on the Liverpool manager, with many calling for him to be relieved of his duties on Merseyside. The team’s league position and the manner in which the side are playing are definitely major factors in this vitriolic response to Hodgson, and since the Gillett/Hicks saga ended in John Henry and NESV taking control of the club, the burden of blame and expectation has landed squarely on Hodgson’s shoulders, with the 63 year-old taking the brunt of Liverpudlians dissatisfaction. But is there another reason for why Hodgson and the Anfield faithful can’t quite seem to click?
Prior to Sunday’s game at the Reebok Stadium, Hodgson told the waiting media that he was happy working alongside Liverpool legend and former manager Kenny Dalglish, with the 59 year-old occupying an ambassadorial role at the club. However, since it was revealed that Dalglish threw his hat into the ring for the Liverpool job shortly after Rafa Benitez parted company with the Merseysiders, combined with Hodgson’s dismal start as manager, speculation has been rife as to whether Dalglish is biding his time in the background, waiting to be offered the job when Hodgson is either removed, or resigns.
“I’m not prepared to pass up on quality people who can help because of a fear the day may come the club decides they want Kenny as manager… That wasn’t the case in the summer, but that’s not to say it won’t be the case forever. I don’t know. I have no fears in that respect because I know my qualities and I’m not a political person… He is doing a great job alongside us and we involve him in our scouting while he still works at The Academy and plays an ambassadorial role. That’s what he’s good at.”
Hodgson may talk a good game when it comes to discussing Dalglish, but through some rather pointed allusions in his statement, it shows he is anything but comfortable with the Liverpool legend lurking in the shadows at Anfield. He makes the point that he was chosen over Dalglish in the summer, even though the 59 year-old expressed his desire to manage the club once more, and that in an ambassadorial capacity, Dalglish will better serve the club because ‘That’s what he’s good at’. Not exactly the thoughts and words of a man who is secure in his job, or even with his co-workers.
All the while Dalglish is in the frame and Liverpool are struggling, Hodgson will be looking over his shoulder, and rightly so, with Dalglish having won the league title 8 times as both player and manager, he has unwavering popularity with the Liverpool fans. This was demonstrated recently when the fans started chanting Dalglish’s name as the Merseysiders went down 2-1 at home to Blackpool in October.
With Hodgson’s popularity waning and NESV looking to make a grand gesture to the Liverpool faithful, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that we could see Kenny Dalglish once again at the helm at Anfield before the season is out, and at the moment, I can only see one person being unhappy with that scenario.