It comes as no surprise to Calvinayre.com that Roy Hodgson has emerged as second favourite to replace Rafa Benitez at Liverpool, particularly not when this possibility was suggested on these very pages three months ago – long before it was clear that Benitez would be getting on his bike.
Hodgson is simply the best man for the job, as he has experience in spades, can work wonders with a shoestring budget and is a master among footballing tacticians.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, it should be pointed out that Fulham’s away record in the Premier League last season was absolutely abject. The Super Whites managed a not so super one win on the road all season – and that was against sorry Portsmouth.
But Fulham themselves were a side tipped by many for relegation at the start of the season; a wafer thin squad that succumbed to more injuries than Ledley King and yet one knocked out some of the best sides in Europe on the way to the club’s first ever European final. Hodgson’s feat was miraculous.
Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill has been a favourite to take over at Anfield for some time, but the fact of the matter is, he would be mad to take the job. Liverpool may be a big name with an illustrious past but they are no longer a Big Four club. Mired in debt and in danger of losing their best players this summer, the Anfield appointment is a poisoned chalice for the Irishman.
Villa, who have a shrewd back-seat owner prepared to invest in long-term potential, have a far better prospect of finishing in third or fourth place next season alongside either Arsenal, Tottenham or Manchester City. The glory days at Liverpool, meanwhile, are a distant memory – Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano are ready to set sail first life-boat out of Merseyside when the World Cup is done, leaving the Reds rudderless and going nowhere.
Gus Hiddink, Manuel Pellegrini, Louis van Gaal and Slaven Bilic have also been linked with the job, but there is no reason in the world by Hiddink, who turned down Chelsea, would go to a club with no money, although as I write I notice that Bodog have suspended the betting on big Guus and Sir Roy. Do they know something we don’t? Van Gaal can also be ruled out, as he is creating his own legacy at cash rich Bayern Munich. Pellegrini, meanwhile, is alien to English football, while Bilic has next to no club management experience.
That leaves Mark Hughes and Hodgson as two of the most likely candidates. Hughes has ambition, the right pedigree and did a superb job at Blackburn, but his Man Utd connections may rule him out. Still at 16/1 he remains a good bet.
Then there’s Hodgson. He may be 62 but he is still ambitious for a shot at the big time. He has managed at the World Cup and at Inter Milan – and has proved that he doesn’t need a big balance to achieve results. It’s not surprising that the BBC have asked him to be one of their TV pundits – and don’t be amazed if that’s not the last new job he takes up this summer. Read more.