So Roy’s finally gone. We got what we’ve wanted since the day he arrived. With the press reaction, you’d think we’d just sentenced an innocent man to a hanging without a fair trial. The most ridiculous part is, pretty much every journalist has more-or-less admitted that their initial predictions were wrong; Hodgson was out of his depth. What Liverpool fans knew from the start has only dawned on the English press now that he’s dragged us down to four points above the relegation zone. The only problem is, one or two ‘pundit’s and journalists still don’t believe that Hodgson was treated fairly. Sadly, even a Liverpool great – Phil Thompson – believes that Reds fans didn’t give Roy enough time and that managers in general don’t get the chance to mould a team in their image. That’s a fair enough comment; for the most part he’s probably right but there are exceptions, ie. when it is abundantly clear to everybody that the manager is taking the club in only one direction: down. However, the other opinions being offered up (and something which was being said all season long) are that Liverpool’s squad just isn’t good enough. That Rafa Benitez had made such a mess in the transfer market that Roy was doing all he could with a limited team.
Reading some of these comments over the weekend, I was struck by what utter drivel it is and how it would be justified to even consider this a viable excuse. To cite the most obvious example of why this is nonsense: 8 members of the current squad played in the first team during that historic 4-0 victory over Real Madrid at Anfield. That wasn’t just a fluky win, like you often see, were the winning side takes every one of their opportunities; this was an absolute mauling, against one of the strongest sides in Europe. Some would argue that one win doesn’t make a great side. True. But then I’d like to see these same people argue that a side that then goes on to beat Manchester United 4-1 several days later at Old Trafford and then Aston Villa 5-0 at Anfield just over a week later isn’t a strong team. Apart from a 3-1 defeat in the Champions League later that season, Liverpool went unbeaten for the rest of the year, winning all of their league games, aside from a 4:4 draw against Arsenal. Does that sound like a side that isn’t good enough to finish in the top 4? I seriously hope not, because that side finished 2nd that season, less than a stone’s throw from being champions. And despite what many would have you believe, this was 2 years ago. A great deal has changed since then, that much is true, but for the most part that first team is still pretty much intact and they didn’t all become lesser players overnight.