View from the Kop

Roy is not Rafa. Fact!


Six seasons ago a young Spanish man walked through the doors at Anfield and seemed to instantly endear himself to the Liverpool faithful. The Gerard Houllier era had turned sour the season before and there were few on the Kop who disagreed with the decision of the Liverpool board to call time and bring in Rafael Benitez, fresh off the back of lifting the UEFA Cup, and almost 12 months after his Valencia side had ripped the Reds apart in a pre-season friendly.

Whilst his early league results did not set the world alight, the fans saw something in him that they liked and were prepared to stand by him. He famously joined a bunch of reds supporters for a drink in Leverkusen which was unheard of in the modern game and his run to the Carling Cup final and the fairytale that was Istanbul meant his star rose to practically untouchable heights.

Roy Hodgson has been in the Liverpool hot seat for little over three months and already the vultures are circling. Whilst there is no real danger that he will be sacked before the season is out, his tenure will not last much longer than that if he is unable to win over The Kop. It was The Kop after all that bought Rafa time when the Americans looked certain to give him the axe three seasons ago.

Hodgson’s start could hardly have been tougher. If the fixture schedule had threatened to disrupt his honeymoon period, Joe Cole’s opening day sending off and subsequent suspension, Reina’s last minute error against Arsenal and Mascherano’s unforgivable and ultimately disruptive antics on the day of the away trip to City all but cancelled it. Whilst the Europa League has provided Roy with five wins out of five, few have been there to bare witness.

The closeness of the scoreline in the loss to United on the back of a bore draw at Birmingham did nothing to quell the growing murmurs of unrest and the humiliating loss to Northampton only fuelled the frustration further. Few disagreed with the decision to take the opportunity to give the fringe players a chance and blood some youngsters in the game, we, like Roy, just expected better from them.

A spirited Sunderland team proved to be a match for the ‘A Team’, and so came to an end a relative disaster of a week. The murmurs have swollen and one could be forgiven for thinking that Hodgson is all of a sudden fighting for his job.

His real problem appears to be that he is not Rafa. There was and still is a large section of the Liverpool following who want Rafa to still be at the helm. For those people, Hodgson’s teething problems have only heightened their loyalty to ‘El Gaffer’.

But. . .

These same people need to realise that Rafa will not be coming back and that things at Anfield have changed. Hodgson will be given time, of that there is surely no doubt, but he also needs to be given the same backing the fans afforded his predecessor; the same fans who need to remember that, in the beginning, for every Juventus there was a Southampton, for every Olympiakos a Crystal Palace, and of course, for Northampton, read Burnley.

Hodgson is Hodgson just as Rafa was Rafa. Hodgson has spoken well in interviews and is eager to champion the Liverpool way in the same fashion that Benitez did. He deserves the chance to do so.

Benitez was given time, and losses, as he tried to rebuild the uninspiring and much maligned squad that he had inherited. Hodgson needs the same. Whilst the spine of the current crop is up there with the rest of the league, the fringes are not, and the squad as a whole does not compare favourably with five of the six teams that finished above it last season. The same five teams have been allowed to strengthen in the mean time whilst Liverpool have sold as many players as they have brought in. With Roy’s supposed minimum requirement is to break back into the top four, the facts do not add up.

Hodgson has been given the task of steering the club through the most turbulent period in its history, a mountainous task that all of a red disposition hope does not prove insurmountable. The only factor that can be controlled is the support the team and the manager receive as they try to steer the club to more calm, more successful waters. The fans must shoulder their responsibilities and get behind the team and its leader, for that is the Liverpool way and it must walk on.

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  • me says:

    spot on mate. BUT what i don’t like is roy’s lack of ambition. we really should expect to beat sunderland and roy said something like “they’re a tough opposition”. i’m was also annoyed by our Fulham-esque style of play that day- hoof it up to Zamora (Torres) and hope he does something with it. Torres is not that sort of player.

    Having said that, we must give him both time and our full backing. He’s come to our club at a very difficult time. The aim for this season should not be to finish in the top 4, nor win the Europa- simply remove the owners and get some better ones in.

  • Rush says:

    Massimo Moratti became president at Inter in 1995 after a decade of turmoil in which the Italian club went close to meltdown, surviving relegation by a ­solitary point.

    One month into the new season Inter were bottom of the table, and Moratti took drastic action by sacking Luis Suarez as manager and turning to Hodgson.

    The Englishman had an immediate impact, dragging them up the table to clinch a place in Europe. The following season, he led Inter to a UEFA Cup final and third place in Serie A.

    “Roy Hodgson was an ­important person in the ­development of Inter Milan to the point we have reached today,” said Moratti. “He saved us at the right time.

    “When he came we were in trouble, and things appeared dark. He didn’t panic, he was calm and made us calm

    “Disaster was averted at the most important time. Everyone at Inter will remember him for that and his contribution. He is considered by us all as an important person in our history. He left an endowment to this club that’s important in our history.”

    Hodgson worked on a limited budget and initially had few of the star names synonymous with the present-day club – his biggest player was Paul Ince. But he unified a previously fractured squad, and created one of the most fondly ­remembered sides of that decade.

    Moratti believes that if ­Liverpool want a man to calm troubled waters and bring stability to Anfield, the Fulham boss is ideal.

    Hodgson had a second spell at Inter as caretaker boss after his sacking by ­Blackburn in 1998.

    “Roy has experience,” Moratti said. “He came back to us to help us when we needed someone to step in and calm things down as a stand-in manager.

    “If Liverpool or any club need someone with authority and with a fine reputation people will look up to, players and fans alike, he’s a perfect candidate.

    “We still see him, he is part of our family, and always welcome at our club. I’ve been asked about his qualities, and I’d say he has many, most importantly of all he has qualities as a man.”

    Hodgson’s career has ­primarily been spent on the Continent, and many people in England are unaware of his achievements following his disappointing time at Blackburn.

    Only in the past year, after he steered Fulham to the Europa League final, has he come to prominence in the Premier League, but in Europe he is regarded as one of the best tacticians in the game.

    Fulham fans are in no doubt as to his ability, as one showed with a banner at the Europa final in Hamburg (below left).

    Hodgson took Malmo to five consecutive Swedish titles, turned Inter around, claimed notable scalps consistently in European competition, and under him Switzerland reached a world ranking of three by out-qualifying eventual ­finalists Italy for the 1994 World Cup.

    But it is his reputation for being a statesman who can handle a crisis that makes him an ideal candidate, given the unrest at Anfield. He has a proven ability to work with players and create harmony.

    Hodgson has remained quiet about Liverpool’s interest in recent days, but the 62-year-old is thought to be interested in one last challenge.


  • Rush says:

    Oh and to boot the are European Champions

  • dr scooby says:

    agreed! Roy should get the backing he deserves. It will take him time to settle the ship. how long did it take for Alex Ferguson to win his first title?
    We need to show more patience and see how things go at the end of the season.
    Rafa is gone, so time to walk on.

  • davie says:

    The Liverpool way is good attacking passing football creating chances with plenty of excitement oh n passion for simply wearing the famous shirt. I for one find Roy boring but i would love it if he helped bring all of the above back to LFC. We need to support the team & get more worthy owners in. YANKS OUT NOW.

  • Mike Arms says:

    I still think Rafa should have been given more time, unless you have buckets of cash the only way to success is through a slow building process. The most succesful team in the last 20 years has been Man Utd, it is no surprise that their manager has been in charge for 24 years. (His first 6 years a lot worse than Rafas). The only other major success has been Chelsea who had hundreds of millions to give to a top class manager. Then of course Arsenal who again have had their manager at the club for 14 years.
    All this proves that a club will achieve very little by changing managers unless the change comes with a blank cheque book.
    I like Roy Hodgson, but then I liked Gerard Houllier too, just think if Houllier was still in charge today where would we be? He would have been in the job over 12 years by now, I’m certain despite the current owners with that stability and longevity Liverpool would be in a much better place than it is now.
    We lost a good manager in Houllier and we lost a good manager in Rafa, we are where we are because we are too impatient and demand instant success.

  • Dan says:

    Inter-Werder Bremen 4-0. UN FATTO NUOVO.

  • stah howard says:

    please let me be wrong, roy leaves gerrard behind, torres probably wont start, where do the goals come from ? lets hope these are not a better than average team. always the optimist – away win.

  • Jay Wright says:

    my issue with him isn’t that he he isn’t Rafa – in fact the problem is that he is too similar to the manager that Rafa eventually became! He is replicating everything that Rafa did during his worst season at the club and THAT is the real problem – I don’t want Rafa back at the club, nor do I want a cheap imitation of him, which is what Hodgson appears to be… 🙁

  • Bill says:

    Roy is a plank Fact

  • Dan says:

    Jay Wright,

    We scored more goals than any other team the season 2008/2009. I can´t agree at all with your opinion about the similarity between Benitez and Hodgson. It seems to me that Benitez always understood the limits better than we fans, when he had to play without his key-players, and played a fast, attacking, high-possession team when the squad was complete. Other teams had no time! We met them on their own half in a way that was directly opposite to Hodgsons cowardly idea of the game. I saw Inter beat Werder Bremen with 4-0 to night. Guess in what kind of style!

  • Sng says:

    Roy needs to go… NOW… FACT!

  • sherby says:

    The Headline is spot on ,
    Rafa 2 x Major National League Titles , Champions League , UEFA Cup , UEFA Super Cup , FA Cup .

    Roy , Nothing , came close a couple of times , BUT Nothing .( And spent 34 years winning that nothing )

    The sooner this media tripe about Good old experienced Roy is exposed and he is gone , LFC can move forwards , with him in charge we will only slide back at an alarming rate .

  • Jay Wright says:

    Dan – I said that Roy looks like the manager that Rafa “eventually became”; Benitez changed his style last year to keep the team sitting deep and inviting the opposition onto us rather than pressing high up the field, and THAT is the style of play that Hodgson is replicating.

    Our 2009/10 team bore as little resemblance to the 2008/09 team as our current team does

  • stah howard says:

    jay wright is right, faint heart won f all

  • David Tyrer says:

    Roy most certainly is not Rafa. The prime difference being that, when Rafa arrived, he had a squad with about 4-5 decent players and the rest were a load of pap. We were a defensive side for the first 12-18 months but our style gradually changed as we signed better players, bit by bit. The squad Roy inherited was undoubtedly a strong one, regardless of what Rafa-haters (and the lurkers from other clubs) say, but Roy is persisting with an ultimately defensive/prohibitive style of football. Rafa didn’t change during his tenure, he just had to adapt to the players he had at any given moment and we became a more attacking side as he started to sign the players he saw as the answers to our problems. Roy seems to have the side play more-or-less the same way, regardless of who is fit.

  • David Tyrer says:

    Also: Rush, why are you copying and pasting an article in as your comment?

  • Miereles says:


    We have MASSIVE problems at the club. Issues with owners – most of the income being used to service loans. Roy has only been at the helm for a few months – stepping into this volatile environment, he has had to sell players to strengthen the squad, his midfield general and heart of the midfield (Monster Masch) decided he had had enough AND a difficult fixture list for the start of the season…what do you expect?

    It is time to support the players/team, manager AND the club….YNWA

  • sherby says:


    Rafa 2 x Major National League Titles , Champions League , UEFA Cup , UEFA Super Cup , FA Cup .

    Roy , Nothing , came close a couple of times , BUT Nothing .( And spent 34 years winning that nothing )

    We got exactly what we expected a second tier journeyman who is totally out of his depth and does not deserve our support , the team does but not him . The team needs motivation and inspiration from the bench and what do you see there . Someone who has been everywhere , won nothing .

  • Red G says:

    Mark, you are bang on mate.
    at the end of last season, i feared for the club -media hype or reality, players can be fickle and their time is short to carry the burden of a failing club. i felt we desperately needed Rafa to stay and steer us back into the ECL, but that proved impossible after so much acrimony both on and off the pitch. so what did the vacant manager’s role offer any dynamic manager? stress, frustration and a slow drowning in the mire of football politics and media witch-hunts. No, the board were right to appoint RH, i now realise we were fortunate to get him – he has the experience to soothe the turmoil and he has the tenacity to bite back at journalists hurling rubbish at him. He demands respect for the club and has managed to brief his players to respond positively and stick to the agenda. communication from and within the team has improved spectacularly since he arrived. allegedly he has also managed to convince key players to stay to ride out the storm – another example of the Liverpool Way. when the club finally sorts out its problems RH has the grace to know that he’s not the long term solution but he’s as a reliable a pair of hands as there is available to us right now and i’m sure he is capable of getting this group of players to gel and ensure the club qualifies for european competition next season. he’s got my backing. YNWA

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