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COMMENT: Sacking Hodgson not Liverpool way

Liverpool are not a sacking club - yet.

For most, Roy Hodgson is a dead man walking at Anfield. But do John W Henry and his offsiders really plan to kickoff their legacy by changing the whole philosophy of the club?

It took Bill Shankly almost five years to win his first title as Liverpool manager. Would the Scot have been afforded the same time today? No chance.

Yes, Hodgson can be short with people when under pressure. And usually when a manager has lost the support of the faithful, there's no way back. But there must be a section of the Kop (even if surveys claim 95% want him out!) that believe dumping the manager after just six months is not the Liverpool way.

Unlike predecessor Rafa Benitez, Hodgson has inherited a team in decline, a youth system that has just undergone an overhaul of staff and structure and a change of board. How many of Benitez's final Liverpool XI would have made the team for the Champions League victory in 2005?

You can understand the nostalgia for Kenny Dalglish and the calls for him to replace Hodgson from the Kop. But remember it was actually Hodgson who gave King Kenny a more defined role upon his appointment. Just as it was he who convinced Pepe Reina to sign a new contract.

Hodgson has barely had one transfer window to work with. There's no late-season, title-defining signings like Ronny Rosenthal allowed these days.

The season Sir Alex Ferguson won his first trophy in 1990 he went on a buying spree that lasted well into the first months of the season. Gary Pallister, Danny Wallace and Paul Ince were all signed outside what then would have been the transfer window. Such a decisive staff overhaul just cannot happen now.

It's a year of transition at Anfield - and with that comes inconsistency. But a top four finish is still within their grasp and Hodgson has successfully guided a shadow selection through the Europa League group phase. We've seen - and been encouraged - by the progress of Jonjo Shelvey, Danny Wilson and Martin Kelly.

And where the likes of Danny Guthrie and Jack Hobbs were dumped by the previous management, Hodgson has brought in Jay Spearing and pumped him full of confidence both at Melwood and publicly through the press. When was the last time a Liverpool manager spoke so enthusiastically about their young players?

Foreign players need - and deserve - at least 12 months to settle into English football. Opinion appears to be split on Raul Meireles, but the Boot Room rates him (Aldridge, particularly) as does Steven Gerrard. He really looks a player and is the sort that should encourage others to want to work for Hodgson.

At Fulham, Hodgson appeared to pay over the odds for Bobby Zamora. There was no way he was worth six million quid - but Hodgson turned the striker into an England player. Danny Murphy can't stop rabbiting on about his former manager, while the powers of his talent spotting can be seen in the success of Chris Smalling, now of Manchester United.

Hodgson can do the same at Anfield - if he is allowed.

It's a new era for the Premier League. With the transfer windows and squad quotas, transitions take longer - and a team's decline falls faster (just look at Chelsea).

Liverpool do not need a quick fix. For the club to reclaim their place at the top table, they need a board with nerve to stick to a long-term plan from the juniors to the first team.

Chopping and changing the manager is not the Liverpool way. And it is not what the club should do at this point in their history.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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