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Big boys need big guns
By Abdalla M. Taryam October 03, 2010
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Tactical knowledge, squad discipline and man management are some of the attributes listed in a manager’s profile in the all-time classic game ‘Football Manager.’ These are the statistics that you try to improve as the game moves forward in time with you, as the manager, achieving ever-lasting glory. People who have never played this game might question why I associate a game with real life coaching, but as many fans and gamers would tell you: Football Manager never lies!

In my books these characteristics are what managers in the real world should be judged by when selection comes along.  Of course we can’t all have Mourinhos and Fergusons at our clubs, who are obviously proficient in all three traits, but then again not all clubs have the same type of players either.

Just as managers have a responsibility of picking the right player to fit into their system of play, owners have a similar task in choosing the right coach. Some coaches have extensive tactical knowledge but sometimes come with egos that clash with high profile players. Whereas some ex-players do a great job managing superstars and getting the best out of them but fall short when facing a witty, old-fashioned tactician. Which is why I would have never appointed Roy Hodgson at Liverpool.

The good old P.E. teacher has a well-polished CV that includes Internazionale of Milan but also a failed stint with the UAE national team. I would never suggest he was a poor manager, but just not suitable for either of those teams. Hodgson seems to be a manager that sticks to the same old tactics that he probably used in his P.E. sessions and they sure seemed to work for Fulham last season. He likes to work with a group of players that he moulds into a cohesive unit that go out and implement his game plan like a machine. With limited resources and player qualities, that is definitely the best way to grind out a result.

That brand of football is reserved for mid-table hopefuls like Fulham and Bolton or in smaller leagues like the Swedish Allsvenskan where he first built his contrasting CV.

Liverpool, coming off a disastrous season by their standards, still had global stars in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres who would certainly not fit into a system where they wouldn’t be able to express themselves. Skillful players need a manager to play to their strengths and make them carry the team. You can’t possibly make such players happy with a kick-and-rush game that was so successful for Bobby Zamora and Clint Dempsey at Fulham. Also Hodgson never really managed world-class players. Even when he was at Inter they were in one of their worst periods admitting they “lacked stars, apart from Paul Ince.” So why did the American owners of Liverpool think he was suitable to inspire Gerrard, Torres and Joe Cole?

On the other hand, the UAE national team has absolutely no world stars and are probably not used to some of his closely controlled tactics, which is why he wasn’t suitable here either.  UAE football need one type of coach and that is the type of the late Valery Lobanovskyi, a field general and a harsh disciplinarian. Our players don’t need complex tactics or inspiration, just a bad tempered man who can keep them away from the drive thru window at Mcdonald’s. Nice people like Hodgson and Carlos Queiroz will always fail with this bunch, no matter how advanced tactically they are.

Hodgson’s career is filled with incidents of conquering great teams like Real Madrid, but while those one-off wins would make some fans happy they certainly wont be considered achievements at Liverpool. We are talking about a team that has won 5 European Cups and 18 League titles, so anything short of a Premier League crown would be considered a failure.  Which makes his recent statement that Liverpool fans’ high expectations are worrying him and his players evidence to his unsuitability.

Liverpool are currently languishing in the bottom half of the league table with superstar Fernando Torres struggling with the worst form of his career. If given the time, Hodgson would eventually make Liverpool gather the points needed to push for European qualification but that is not what the world expects of the Mighty Reds. They need to push for titles year in year out and to do so they need to find a talented man manager. A manager that would attract the top stars and motivate them in producing the football of the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. A manager that has won significant titles and not just pulled off big upsets against bigger opponents.

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