Roy Hodgson’s come in for some stick this afternoon on the Liverpool fans’ site, Shankly Gates. They’ve taken exception to his comments ahead of our meeting with Manchester United on Saturday, which has apparently taken on a national significance after Liverpool’s storming of Old Trafford at the weekend.
Let’s have a look at what he says then.
Listen, we have to work very hard to win our games. can’t stand here and say at the moment that our team is on a par with Manchester United because everyone knows it isn’t but we’ll give it our best shot.
We’ll work very hard, but the Liverpools and the Chelseas who are chasing Manchester United can’t really expect that much of Fulham and think we’ll beat Manchester United for them.
Those teams chasing must be realistic. The lead is still four points and Manchester United have a game in hand, which could stretch the lead to seven points, and seven points is a massive gap. I think everyone will realise the chance is slim.
I find nothing objectionable in what Hodgson’s saying. Having had a lunatic as a manager before him (who very nearly took us into the Championship), it’s nice to have an intelligent and shrewd guy at the helm. The fans would love it if he was to declare confidently that we’d put a serious dent in United’s title apsirations but such talk would be crazy given the two beatings that Ferguson’s side have handed out in the space of a month.
The Shankly Gates piece reckons that Roy’s being defeatist. I beg to differ. I doubt that he’ll be telling his players they’ve got little chance ahead of the game on Saturday. In fact, I’d be sure that he, Mike Kelly and Ray Lewington will be working hard to try and contain United and exploit some of the weaknesses that Liverpool highlighted last weekend. Indeed, without Vidic at the back for the defending champions, perhaps Bobby Zamora might have a bit more joy in the air.
Hodgson’s just being realistic. We’ve got a good home record – the first comment is merely a nod to the recent defeats by Hull and Blackburn. But the chances of beating United are slim. We’ll give a real good go and will have learned some lessons from the two recent games we’ve played against them. But the fact that Liverpool are now hoping that we’ll do them a favour by beating United when they were sitting pretty at the top of the league at Christmas shows just how far they’ve fallen. And the blame for that lies at Mr. Benitez’s door.
Hodgson’s done a great job this season. He’s taken a side that barely scraped survival on the final day last term and turned them into a well-drilled, hard-to-beat and attractive team to watch. His candour is one of the reasons why we like him and, at a time when honesty seems to be in short supply up and down the Premier League, it makes a refreshing change.