Hodgson, Klopp and the two best decisions Liverpool owners FSG ever made

As Liverpool enjoy the present and look forward to the future, first they must deal with a ghost from their not-so-distant past.

The Reds can cement a good start to the new Premier League season when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday evening. In their way stands their former boss; perhaps the worst in the club’s 126-year history.

It is hard to reconcile the optimism and excitement of the Jurgen Klopp era and its free-wheeling, eye-catching football, with Roy Hodgson’s ill-fated, six-month stint at the Anfield helm.

Was it all a dream? It felt like a nightmare for Reds fans. If appointing Klopp is the best decision Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group ever made, then removing Hodgson from the job seven-and-a-half years ago must rank a close second. It was their first big call, and they got it spot on.

It was January 2011 and Liverpool were 12th in the Premier League, playing the kind of disjointed, pallid football which turns supporters away. Hodgson’s last home game in charge, a win over Bolton, featured around 10,000 empty seats. The previous one, a defeat to Wolves, had seen The Kop openly mock their manager, singing ‘Hodgson for England’ and chanting for Kenny Dalglish to replace him. It couldn’t go on.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course, but it is hard to imagine a poorer fit for a club of Liverpool’s size and values, to lead a fan base like theirs, than Hodgson. Imagine Klopp leaving tomorrow and Sam Allardyce being installed as his replacement.

Adding context is fair. Hodgson entered a club at war, its owners feuding and its finances crashing. Funds were limited and minds were distracted. It wasn’t an easy job, by any means, but having been asked to steady the ship, instead he guided it perilously towards the rocks.

By the last day of October, he had them in the relegation zone.

Roy Hodgson loses at Everton

Aside from the football, which for the most part was colourless, uninspired and unsuccessful, Hodgson’s inability to tune in to what Liverpool fans expect from their team (and their manager) ultimately played a huge part in his downfall. In half a year on Merseyside, he missed more sitters than his team did.

Where Klopp has tapped into the psyche of Liverpudlians, uniting supporters and players to create positive moods and vibrant atmospheres, Hodgson seemed hopelessly bereft, a decent manager promoted way above his station.

His signings were poor, his results were poor and his press conferences left fans and journalists scratching their heads in bewilderment. For a coach of experience and intelligence, he showed remarkable naivety.

Who could forget his upbeat assessment of a Merseyside derby defeat at Goodison Park, or his description of Northampton Town as “a formidable opponent”? Liverpool lost on penalties to the League Two side, in fairness, so perhaps he was right.

Fans cringed when listening to him worry about Danny Murphy “controlling the game” against their side, and laughed when he complained about being denied “the famous Anfield support” towards the end of his reign. Describing a Europa League play-off win over Trabzonspor as “another famous European night” or Jose Mourinho as “the great man” was never likely to go down well.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s game, Hodgson was asked about his time at Anfield. “It was a very different Liverpool that I joined to the one we see today,” he remarked, with masterful understatement.

Roy Hodgson Crystal Palace Manchester United Premier League

“The one we see today has had a lot of money invested in it. We didn’t have any money to spend. They’ve spent a few bob over the last couple of years.”

A fair point perhaps – Hodgson’s Liverpool signings were effectively paid for by the sale of Javier Mascherano, with the club crippled by loan repayments at the time – but there’s more to management than spending money. Klopp’s reign has shown the value of personality, of man-management, of courage and of a united, upbeat fan base.

The German was respectful of Hodgson in his own pre-match press conference on Friday.

“Roy is doing a fantastic job there,” he said. “When I started as a manager, or in fact as a player, playing 4-4-2, most of the videos we watched were from Switzerland of Roy Hodgson’s teams. He’s more or less the inventor of this kind of defending, and now he’s back on track with that.”

Big jobs may not be Hodgson’s forte – witness, too, his spell at Inter or his under-achievement with England – but the 71-year-old has done well since taking over at Palace a year ago. His team, built around an organised defence and the mercurial talents of Wilfried Zaha, will pose a bigger threat to Klopp’s Liverpool than West Ham did at Anfield a week ago.

Liverpool have actually won on their last four visits to Selhurst Park, the last being a 2-1 success back in March, but Klopp was quick to praise the Eagles, who won their opening Premier League fixture at Fulham last weekend. “It’s just a good football team,” he said. No danger of complacency, then.

Mohamed Salah v Crystal Palace

“In the end, we only go there to win the game,” Klopp continued. “They have quality, but we have to make sure they cannot show their quality on that day.”

Win, and the optimism around Liverpool will grow further. Klopp is aware that there is a positivity and an expectation around his side this season, and is keen to prevent his players getting carried away with the hype. “We need to stay positive, but to stay angry as well,” he pointed out. “Even LFCTV want to do wonderful stories, stuff like that, but we are here to work.”

How Hodgson would have loved such headaches during his time at the club. The “wonderful stories” at Anfield were written long before his time and long after he departed, his reign the perfect example of the wrong man at the wrong club, and then some.

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Klopp reveals bizarre Alisson training methods at Liverpool

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted to using rugby as the inspiration for training routines intended to aid Alisson’s adjustment to life in the Premier League.

The Reds spent big bringing in a new No.1 over the summer, with the transfer record for goalkeeping additions briefly broken when landing a Brazil international from Roma.

Alisson arrived at Anfield in a £65 million ($85m) deal, with the 25-year-old considered to be the answer in a problematic position.

There have been early signs of encouragement, but Klopp is still working to toughen the South American up to the demands of English football.

The German coach told reporters ahead of a meeting with Crystal Palace on Monday: “Set pieces are quite different here – it makes sense to do it because the six yard area is not a safety box, but rather [just] a proposal…!

“First of all we brought him here because of the things that he is already good at. That is what we want him to do.”

Liverpool’s efforts to make Alisson even better have included bringing out rugby-style crash pads at Melwood, with pre-game preparations taken to the extreme.

Klopp added: “That is what the goalkeepers always do. It is not really rugby, it is goalkeeper training.

“All the boys did it. When Loris [Karius] came he did it, all the goalkeepers do it, and Alisson is doing it as well, of course.

“We have these situations in training constantly when we do set pieces the box is full with 22 players. Maybe that is a bit much, but 15 certainly. It is busy, we do it often so that the goalkeeper gets used to that.

“It is all about timing. We will see how that is, but it is not that the goalkeeper has to change completely now for this league, we have to help him too in situations. That is how it is always is.”

Alisson kept a clean sheet on his competitive debut for Liverpool, with West Ham shut out in a 4-0 victory at Anfield.

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Crystal Palace vs Liverpool: TV channel, live stream, squad news & preview

Liverpool will meet Crystal Palace to contest their second Premier League game on Monday, with both sides heading into the fixture off the backs of an opening day victory.

Jurgen Klopp’s side subjected West Ham to a 4-0 thrashing at Anfield while the Eagles left Fulham with a 2-0 win.

The Reds have won all four of their previous away fixtures at Selhurst Park, but playing Crystal Palace – and Roy Hodgson – is always a peculiar game for Liverpool supporters.

Hodgson’s tenure at Anfield, which came during one of the club’s bleakest periods of recent times eight seasons ago, is in stark contrast to that of the positive outlook under Klopp.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Monday evening’s fixture…

Game Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
Date Monday, August 20
Time 8pm BST / 3pm ET

TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch

In the United States (US), the game will be shown on NBC Sports and livestreamed on the NBC Sports app.

US TV channel Online stream
NBC Sports NBC Sports app

In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on Sky Sports and streamed live through the Sky GO App.

UK TV channel Online stream
Sky Sports Sky GO app

Squads & Team News

Position Crystal Palace players
Goalkeepers Hennessey, Speroni, Guaita
Defenders Ward, Kelly, Souare, Sakho, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Wan-Bissaka
Midfielders Milivojevic, Schlupp, McArthur, Riedewald, Kouyate, Williams, Meyer, Kaikai
Forwards Townsend, Zaha, Benteke, Puncheon, Sorloth, Ayew, Wickham

Hodgson will be without defender Scott Dann, who has been ruled out with a knee injury, while new arrival Max Meyer is not yet match-fit. 

Connor Wickham is a doubt for the Eagles due to a muscle problem.

Potential Crystal Palace XI: Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Milivojevic, Schlupp, McArthur; Townsend, Benteke, Zaha.

Position Liverpool players
Goalkeepers Alisson, Karius, Mignolet, Kelleher
Defenders Clyne, Gomez, Van Dijk, Moreno, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Lovren, Matip
Midfielders Jones, Fabinho, Milner, Keita, Shaqiri, Wijnaldum, Markovic, Henderson
Forwards Sturridge, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Solanke

Dejan Lovren is in contention to make his first appearance in a Liverpool shirt since finishing as a runner-up in the World Cup this summer, while Joe Gomez may be called upon again to partner Virgil van Dijk in central defense.

Jordan Henderson is also expected to return to the starting XI following his substitute appearance against West Ham last week.

Potential Liverpool XI: Alisson; Clyne, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Salah, Mane, Firmino.

Betting & Match Odds

Liverpool are priced at odds of winning 4/9 according to bet 365, while a draw is available at 4/1. A win for Crystal Palace is favoured at 13/2.

Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.

Match Preview

Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2018-19

Eight seasons ago, Roy Hodgson took charge of Liverpool with an almost catastrophic degree of success.

Having replaced Rafael Benitez as manager, the Englishman led Liverpool during the Reds’ darkest of seasons – losing the Merseyside derby and seeing the side drop deep into the relegation zone, while struggling to get the best out of Fernando Torres and registering home defeats to Blackpool and Wolves.

Now, though, Liverpool are in a better position than they have ever been under Jurgen Klopp as they get ready to face their former manager.

The lethal front-three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were all on top form against West Ham last week, with the latter two bagging in goals to earn a 4-0 victory.

Klopp will be buoyed by the return of his captain, Jordan Henderson, and will already be pleased by how quickly new arrival Naby Keita has settled into the squad.

Palace, meanwhile, will also be optimistic following their 2-0 win away at Craven Cottage and there will be a few former Reds in Martin Kelly and Mamadou Sakho in the squad.

A win for Liverpool could spring them top of the table ahead of Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham.

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Udinese debut excites William Troost-Ekong, hails team comeback

William Troost-Ekong has revelled in his Udinese debut, lauding his team’s ‘great fighting spirit’ to secure a 2-2 draw against Parma on Sunday.

Troost-Ekong’s move to the Little Zebras from Bursaspor was announced last Friday and he was handed a starter’s shirt by manager Julio Velazquez two days later, turning out for the entire duration of the tie as his side came from two-goal behind to earn a share of the spoil.

Roberto Inglese and Antonio Barilla had given the hosts the lead but efforts from Rodrigo De Paul and Cote d’Ivoire international Seko Fofana saw Udinese leave Stadio Ennio Tardini with a point in their season-opener.

“Happy to make my debut for Udinese [on Sunday],” Troost-Ekong tweeted.

“Great fighting spirit from the boys to take home a point. We will build on this!”

Udinese, placed seventh with one point, host Sampdoria in their second 2018-19 Serie A match. And Troost-Ekong will hope to have done enough on his debut to be handed his first Dacia Arena appearance next Sunday.

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Bale ‘feeling good’ as Real Madrid eye sweep of trophies

Gareth Bale said he is “feeling good” after scoring in Real Madrid’s opening La Liga match as the Champions League holders eye multiple pieces of silverware this season.

Bale added to Dani Carvajal’s opener at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Madrid enjoyed a 2-0 win over Getafe in Julen Lopetegui’s first league match in charge.

Wales star Bale impressed in the Spanish capital, doubling the lead in the 51st minute after Carvajal broke the deadlock in the first half on Sunday.

Speaking after three-time reigning European champions Madrid got off to a winning start following their UEFA Super Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid, Bale said: “I’m feeling good and, although I scored, the most important thing was that we got the win and are continuing to improve as a team.

“We’re really looking forward to the season ahead. Our target, just like every year, is to win all of the competitions we’re involved in and we’ll be giving our all to do just that.

“The new signings have adjusted really quickly. We’ve given them a good welcome and I hope that they’re all available in the near future.”

Bale led the way in the absence of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who swapped Madrid for Serie A champions Juventus in the off-season.

The Blancos are determined to move on from figures of the past, with the likes of Marco Asensio very much focused on the present and a positive start to 2018-19.

He said: “It was important for us to get off to a good start and we come away feeling happy with our performance. We put in a complete performance and this is the way we’ll have to play to go far in the league”

“We had to quickly move on from the Super Cup. This is another competition and we’re very excited about this season. We had a great game and now we’re switching our attention to the next match. We have a great team, we’re working well and that was shown out on the field”.

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