West Brom vs. Liverpool: Steven Gerrard Right To Issue Apology To Roy Hodgson?
With Liverpool facing the uneasy trip to West Brom this weekend, both Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have issued apologies to former boss Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson leads the West Brom team in their quest to avoid relegation. So far he has performed relatively well kicking off his first four games in charge with two wins and two draws.
Steven Gerrard appeared highly vocal in his opinion that the team had let Hodgson down as opposed to the manager himself. This will of course be an opinion that a lot of Kop supporters will passionately refuse.
From various fans viewpoints the ex-Fulham manager was almost responsible for a relegation fight completely unexpected for a team of such an illustrious history. For sure the players were miserable to watch and difficult to back, but were they being lead in the right direction?
So has Gerrard been right in his admission that it was the players fault? Or is this just an understandable attempt at clearing the air before Liverpool head to the Hawthorns on Saturday?
When Hodgson came in to Anfield during the summer, his start was not the most welcoming with Javier Mascherano, one of Liverpool's most celebrated players exiting the club. A team that had finished only seventh the year before had lost one of their main players.
Add to this the lack of funds provided to Hodgson for a much needed spending spree, and he was fighting a mighty battle. Yet it was not a losing battle. A loss of one player, no matter how decent, should realistically not have sent the team into a pit of despair that became the bottom half of the table.
Whilst the Kop fans never gave him much of a chance, what he appeared unable to do was to manage a team of relatively talented players. Instead of joining forces to create a consistent and feared collective, the starting 11 looked fragmented and dispondent.
Steven Gerrard was one of these players who sat alongside newcomers like Raul Meireles and Joe Cole. Whilst Hodgson had acquired Meireles' talents as a switch for Mascherano he could not evoke the striking prowess held by the Portuguese star during his tenure.
Instead it was only when Kenny Dalglish, Hodgsons replacement, came in that Meireles began to shine. Five goals including some spectacular belters came his way in his new found abundance of appearances.
The team was beginning to play as just that, a team. A few steps backwards were seen in their Europa and FA Cup exits, but for the majority of their play, they excelled. This is what has left them as the team on form with the highest tally of points scored in recent league matches.
Was he right to apologise?
In some respects, Dalglish has been fortunate that with his responsibilities he was permitted to break the bank balance a hell of a lot more.Yet he was able to produce results before the onset of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll—something Hodgson could not do.
There is the idea that maybe it was the team, as well as the fans, who gave Hodgson a hard time. However, to overlook players like Meireles to the degree that he did, in hindsight looks reckless.
At the end of the day, Hodgson appears to be a natural manager when he leads teams destined for high performing but not high achieving action. He led a Fulham team to a European final by enforcing a stubborn defence and solid match play.
Yet with a team capable of a top end finish, he faltered. Kenny Dalglish in comparison may be helped with a self fulfilling prophecy but he has inspired the team to move forward. The players and the fans seem to respect him much more than his predecessor. Next season they may even challenge for serious silverware.
Would Hodgson have signed Suarez and Carroll if he had been given the opportunity? Would he have turned the season around and put Liverpool in the unlikely position of European and possibly Champions League qualification?
You would have to believe not. He just didn't seem to have it in him.
Therefore it would seem Gerrard's comments seem more born out of politeness rather than accuracy. It is a way of developing an atmosphere void of tension and spectator disapproval when the two sides meet.
More than anyone, Gerrard now knows he is part of a team that can and will return stronger for the 2011/12 season. And that would never have happened with Hodgson still in charge.
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