As details emerged of more player unrest at Liverpool, calls increased from Reds fans for Roy Hodgson to be removed from the position of manager.
Today Anfield Road has learned that two of the club’s most valuable assets – whether looked at from a financial or football perspective – have become sufficiently disillusioned with life under Roy Hodgson to be seriously considering their futures.
It hasn’t yet been described as a refusal to play, but it is understood that Fernando Torres has made it clear that he no longer wishes to play for Roy Hodgson.
It has also emerged that Pepe Reina has become equally frustrated, also finding changes to the goalkeeping coaching methods to be so frustrating that he is now weighing up where his future lies.
Today the club announced that temporary MD Christian Purslow was to stand down from his role. He would be staying on in a non-executive capacity, as an advisor to the owners, but his influence has been cut and his control removed.
Another update – although unofficial – revealed that commercial director Ian Ayre was to stay at the club after having his offer of resignation turned down. According to the Telegraph NESV assured Ayre he was a valuable member of the executive team and that he had a future at the club.
What fans are now waiting for is a decision on the future of the manager who has failed spectacularly to do what he was brought in to do.
On the day he was unveiled to the media, Roy Hodgson was billed as the man to “steady the ship” by chairman Martin Broughton. Liverpool’s start to the season is the worst since the 1950s. One more defeat would make it their worst start since the nineteenth century.
For many fans that makes Hodgson’s position untenable.
On top of claims that Liverpool’s two World Cup winners are finding it impossible to work under Hodgson is of course the evidence that Hodgson has got problems with Danish defender Daniel Agger. Hodgson recently made comments suggesting Agger was faking illness or injury. Agger was previously quoted – although he tried to retract the quotes – as unhappy with Hodgson’s tactics, tactics the quotes suggested were more like the Wimbledon of the 80s than the Liverpool of the 80s.
Hodgson’s summer transfer deals – that he said he was pleased with – have weakened the side considerably. Alberto Aquilani and Emiliano Insua were sent out on loan, leaving Liverpool with neither the benefit of their services nor the benefit of their transfer fees. Javier Mascherano was sold for a fee in excess of £20m but it was so late in the window that little if any of the fee was used on replacements or squad strengthening.
How much of that is down to Hodgson and how much is down to the outgoing MD is unclear. But the replacements have been far from inspiring.
Meireles is a good signing – but has been played out of position since he arrived. Poulsen isn’t even up to the standard of Lucas Leiva, let alone Mascherano. No cover was bought for Torres, a signing most Liverpool fans felt was vital this summer. Hodgson was more focussed on bringing in an average left-back in the shape of Paul Konchesky. Insua’s loan move and the re-signing of injury-prone Fabio Aurelio were also baffling decisions.
Not only have Liverpool been embarrassed in the league, they were completely shown up in the League Cup. As if going out to fourth-tier Northampton wasn’t bad enough, Hodgson went on to describe them as “formidable” opponents, leaving many a Red with head in hands.
That’s not unusual after Roy speaks. His view on each game Liverpool have failed to win always seems at odds with the vast majority of Liverpool supporters’ views of the game
Tonight, ahead of what many hope is his last game in charge of Liverpool, he was asked what he thought might happen if Manchester United (about to lose Wayne Rooney) were to make an approach for Fernando Torres.
Instead of responding with a morale-boosting “hands off” he suggested he’d have to have a think about it: “I think I’d have to say we’d cross that bridge when we come to it,” he told reporters.
Perhaps oblivious to the financial problems Manchester United are said to be facing, and Rooney’s suggestion that those issues have played a part in his decision to look for a move, Hodgson went on to suggest Liverpool’s biggest rivals outside Merseyside would be able to have their pick of targets.
“I am pretty sure when a great player like Wayne Rooney is looking to leave his club,” Hodgson said, “Manchester United will be in a position to target an awful lot of players around the world. I don’t think Fernando Torres would be the only player they will be targeting or we’d be the only club worried their star striker is going to be a target.”
After all those years waiting for Hicks and Gillett to get that shovel into the ground in Stanley Park we now find Roy Hodgson digging far bigger holes: “They will have the opportunity to replace him with many star strikers around the world, so all I can say is I am not naive to the situation. I am not naive enough to think there is no danger we will ever lose a player like Fernando Torres.”
What Hodgson is unwilling to admit is that the biggest danger to Torres remaining a Red of the correct variety is Hodgson himself: “I can only hope we won’t and I will make certain I do everything in my power to keep him happy at the club, help him improve his current form and to get him playing for Liverpool as he has in the past.”
What Hodgson has in his power, and what he must use if he has any self-respect, is the ability to contact the club’s owners and offer his resignation.
Without that offer, or without swift action from the club, the scenes at Anfield this weekend may well be unprecedented as vocal demands for Hodgson’s head seem to be inevitable.