West Brom vs. Liverpool: Revenge will be sweet for Hodgson
Hodgson will look to get one over on Liverpool this weekend
Roy Hodgson meets his former employers this weekend and, not only is it a big game for Hodgson himself, it’s a huge a game for West Brom.
Most think that he wasn’t given enough time at Liverpool. Many believe that Liverpool just wasn’t the right club for him; that he couldn’t handle the pressure of managing a ‘big club’. What is for certain, though, is that Roy Hodgson, in the time that he was given at Anfield, failed as manager of Liverpool Football Club.
Hodgson was given just over six months to stabilise a club in free-fall after a combination of poor management, poor ownership and all-round poor decisions left England’s most successful football club of the twentieth century in dire straits.
Earlier this week two Anfield talisman spoke out about Hodgson’s time with the club, saying that the sixty-three-year-old wasn’t to blame for the failure of Anfield. Captain Steven Gerrard stated that, “as players we didn’t perform consistently for him”, with centre-back Jamie Carragher adding: “it’s not as if Roy was there for two years and didn’t do well so as a group of players you have to ask are we doing well enough.”
Of course, Kop legend Kenny Dalglish took over from Hodgson in January, with Liverpool sitting 12thin the League. They now sit 6th, just four points away from Tottenham. The turn-around has been quite staggering.
Everyone has their own opinion: did the players not perform under Hodgson but are now finding their feet with Dalglish at the helm? Are Dalglish’s tactics simply more suited to the Liverpool players? Or is (or, was) Hodgson simply tactically inept and didn’t understand what it meant to be manager of Liverpool?
Hodgson is now manager of West Brom. Many tipped them for the drop when the former-Inter Milan, Blackburn Rovers and Finland manager was appointed West Brom head coach in February, after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked.
Many Baggies fans were unhappy with the departure of Di Matteo as he was seen as a young, likeable manager, as well as being a good coach with fantastic man-management skills. He was seen as the future of the club, a future that was then cast in doubt as Hodgson was brought in with less than four months left in the season and with a relegation fight on their hands.
West Brom are currently 16th in the Premier League and just one point above the relegation zone, but the fact that Hodgson has organised the team into a well-oiled machine as well as actually playing players in their preferred positions (as Di Matteo was criticised for doing the opposite) has delighted fans at The Hawthorns.
This weekend, though, sees a match that has set many tongues wagging. Liverpool visit West Brom on Saturday meaning that Hodgson faces his old employers for the first time since his exit.
Dalglish, though, had some positive words to say about the man who will be in the opposite dug-out this weekend: “Roy hasn’t got anything to prove to anybody. If you say he has extra motivation then you are doubting the man’s integrity and implying he never had enough motivation before”, Dalglish told The Telegraph.
“I have great respect for him as I said when I came in here and that isn’t going to change now that we are playing against each other.”
What is for sure, though, is that Hodgson will be looking to get one over on his former employers come Saturday, 3pm. West Brom’s Premier League status is not yet safe and a win against Liverpool could set them on their way to a fine run-in.
Hodgson has stated today that he already has targets in mind for the summer transfer window; he expects to be at West Brom for the foreseeable future but knows he needs time to build. On Saturday, he’ll come up against the side that wouldn’t allow him that time, in a game that could spark the surge away from relegation.
The time is now for Blackpool
EPL: Blackpool are in danger of relegation
In 2011, they’ve won just two games. They’re in the middle of an intense relegation battle. Blackpool’s form is relegation form.
The English Premier League relegation battle is always a gripping story that unfolds over the course of thirty-eight games. Usually, by the time April comes around, the relegation contenders have been whittled down to around five teams.
This time last season, Portsmouth were propping up the table on thirteen points, with Burnley above them on twenty-four – Championship football was already on the cards for these two sides. Between eighth placed Fulham and Hull City (18thand in the relegation zone) there were eleven points. Realistically though, Wigan and West Ham were the only other relegation concerns. Burnley, Hull and Portsmouth were demoted at the end of the season.
This season, it is not so clear-cut. There are eight points between the bottom club and 7th placed Bolton. West Ham, West Brom, Blackpool, Aston Villa and Blackburn are all in serious danger of dropping into a relegation zone currently featuring Wolves, Birmingham and Wigan. With eight games to go, no one is safe.
Blackpool, in particular, have seen a horrific fall in form. A 4-0 win away at Wigan sent them to the top of the Premier League table after the first game. A 6-0 thrashing from Arsenal didn’t exactly dampen their spirits as, by 28thDecember, they were sitting eighth in the table.
And then came the turn of the year. In 2011, The Tangerines have won two games (against Liverpool and Tottenham). They’ve lost vital games against their relegation rivals: Birmingham, West Brom, West Ham and Wolves. In their last six games, they’ve conceded sixteen goals. To put it bluntly, their current form is relegation form.
Charlie Adam, Blackpool’s star player this season, was, somewhat expectedly, completely outclassed on Sunday as Scotland were defeated 2-0 by a Neymar-inspired Brazil. The midfielder suffered a knock at The Emirates and, although he has stated that he’ll be ready for this weekend’s clash with Fulham, manager Ian Holloway will need a fully-fit Adam to inspire his team through the rest of the season.
After Fulham this Sunday, Blackpool face a struggling Arsenal who will surely be looking to re-state their claim for the Premier League title. Following that, three bottom-half teams visit Bloomfield Road. Blackpool cannot afford to lose to Wigan, Newcastle or Stoke, especially when their final three fixtures put them up against Tottenham, Bolton and Manchester United.
If Blackpool are to stay up this season, their form is going to have to drastically change instantly. A win against Fulham would certainly set them on their way and, to steer clear of the drop, they’re going to need to be tactically shrewd and adopt a win-at-all-costs attitude.
Blackpool have played some brilliant football this season which is remarkable baring in mind that, at the beginning of the season, everyone was writing them off. Gary Taylor-Smith, DJ Campbell and Luke Varney have played above and beyond themselves and have contributed to Blackpool scoring forty-five goals this season. Their defence, though, is a completely different matter.
The game against Manchester United in January pretty much sums up Blackpool as a team. In the first half, Holloway’s side battered United, taking a 2-0 lead into half-time after attacking with great fluidity. In the second half, United came back in roaring fashion, scoring three goals in sixteen minutes to destroy a helpless Blackpool.
Blackpool might not have the best squad on paper but, when it comes to actually playing on the pitch, in a unit, they are fantastic to watch and have been a revelation this season. They’re stuck in the middle of some woeful form but form can change. A win against Fulham won’t save their season, but it could set them on their way to survival.
These articles were originally published on Sports Haze.