x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Liverpool harsh but fair on Roy Hodgson

The Englishman was the third Premier League manager to lose his job this season, although unlike Chris Hughton and Sam Allardyce, Roy Hodgson deserved to go.

Pepe Reina, right, the Liverpool goalkeeper, punches the ball away during their 1-0 FA Cup third-round defeat to Manchester United on Sunday. Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Pepe Reina, right, the Liverpool goalkeeper, punches the ball away during their 1-0 FA Cup third-round defeat to Manchester United on Sunday. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Three Premier League managers have been sacked this season, and in the first two cases, the football community has come out in support of the "wronged coach".

Chris Hughton was the first, ditched by Newcastle United for no apparent reason and replaced by Alan Pardew, a man whose last job saw him dismissed by a League One side.

Hughton was unfairly treated, said many of his fellow managers, especially after guiding Newcastle to 5-1 and 6-0 wins this season, plus a victory at Arsenal.

"It makes no sense," Sol Campbell, the Newcastle defender, said.

"Here is a guy who has done an unbelievable job. He got the club back into the Premier League and any manager would have been rewarded for that with a new contract, but Chris wasn't."

Then Blackburn Rovers gave Sam Allardyce the push and put Steve Kean in his place. They swapped a man with more than two decades of managerial experience for a man who had never managed a team before.

All because the club's chicken-farming owners wanted beautiful football and a top-four finish from a team that has managed that feat just once since the Premier League began in 1992.

Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, probably summed up the situation best, saying: "I find it utterly ridiculous."

The unanimous verdict from the football community: two bad decisions.

However, when Roy Hodgson joined the unemployment line last week, opinions were slightly different. More like "nice bloke, but deserved to go".

"A very good man with great dignity and integrity has lost his job," said Kenny Dalglish, who replaced Hodgson.

Both Hughton and Allardyce had statistics to prove they were hard done by - Newcastle were in 11th place after being promoted while Allardyce won more points in his time at Rovers than any club outside last season's top eight.

Hodgson, meanwhile, had the worst Premier League win ratio of any Liverpool manager and his side had lost seven of their 10 away games this season. So, while Liverpool supporters took some criticism, from the likes of Phil Thompson, a former player, for singing "You'll be sacked in the morning" at Hodgson, they were right in wanting a change of direction.

Liverpool had lost nine of their 20 games before last night's trip to Blackpool. That is more than Wigan Athletic, who are in the Premier League's bottom three. If they carry on at the same rate they will suffer 17 defeats in total this season.

The club's worst ever Premier League tally was 16 losses in 1993/94, when they finished eighth. On three occasions they have lost 10 games and finished in the Champions League places.

While fans hope Dalglish will turn things around, it would be naive to think Liverpool will not lose at least a couple more matches this season. And therefore, if it wasn't accepted already, Liverpool's hopes of Champions League football are over.

Meanwhile, you have to hope that Hodgson's contribution to football is remembered for achievements such as Fulham's run to the Europa League final last season, rather than a torrid six months while in charge at Liverpool.

And a final thought: Dalglish's win ratio during his first spell as Liverpool manager, from 1985 to 1991? 61 per cent.

twoods@thenational.ae

The numbers

Liverpool managers Premier League win ratio

Manager    Year    %
R Hodgson     (2010-11)    35%
R Benitez     (2004-10)    55%
G Houllier     (1998-2004)    49%
R Evans    (1994-98)    47%
G Souness     (1991-94)    41%

Hodgson stats

Win ratio at Fulham    39%
Win ratio at Blackburn     35%
Games in charge of Liverpool    31
Goals per game at Liverpool    1.32
Money spent at Liverpool       £25m

Facts

Howard’s way for United
Anyone surprised by the source of Manchester United’s 1-0 FA Cup win at home to Liverpool, shouldn’t have been. Ryan Giggs’s penalty winner was the fourth spot-kick Howard Webb, the referee, has given to United in the last six matches he has officiated at Old Trafford. And there have been five penalties in the last four games between United Liverpool at Old Trafford.

A game of two halves
Much has been made of Manchester United throwing away leads this season. “If we had won just half of the away games we have drawn we would have been out of reach by now,” Nemanja Vidic, their centre-back, said. Had all games ended at half time, United would be eight points clear. However, that shows a cautious approach by teams. Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea would have fewer points, having gone into the break level several times. Blackburn Rovers are a surprise top-five half-time team. They are ninth in the actual table.

Half-time table
Team    P    W    D    L    GD    P
Man Utd    20    13    7    0    17    46
Arsenal    21    10    8    3    11    38
Man City    22    9    10    3    11    37
Blackburn    22    9    10    3    4    37
Chelsea    21    9    6    6    7    33

Actual table
Team    P    W    D    L    GD    P
Man Utd    20    12    8    0    24    44
Man City    22    12    6    4    17    42
Arsenal    21    12    4    5    20    40
Tottenham    21    10    6    5    6    36
Chelsea    21    10    5    6    17    35

Newcastle’s triple threat

Newcastle United are the league’s second highest scorers at home, with only Manchester United (29) bettering their 25 goals. It is down to scorelines such as 6-0 v Aston Villa, 5-1 v Sunderland and the latest, 5-0 v West Ham United, which saw Leon Best become the third Newcastle player this season to score a hat-trick.

Newcastle hat-tricks
Andy Carroll (v A Villa 22/8/10)
Kevin Nolan (v Sunderland 31/10/10)
Leon Best (v West Ham 5/1/11)