A Tale of One City?

Big day for Liverpool Managers, eh? Firstly Roy Hodgson – the appallingly treated ex of the Anfield club – releases a doughtily, relatively predictable England squad; next #kingkenny goes. Perversely, perhaps, I’m more interested in the latter, it being appeallingly clear – so far – of anything smacking of crassness.

This is weirdly both a pleasant surprise and a disappointment of the most nigglingly perverse kind, as the last period of Dalglish’s reign has been characterised by a unique(?) tartness the situation now suddenly lacks; because both the owners side and the profoundly bitter Scot himself have apparently played an anticipation-crushingly dignified blinder. It’s as though a whole lotta calm, whackhh has been twinkled over the scenario by some unlikely, mediating scouse angel. Hence my personal feeling of non-closure – for which I shall naturally seek expensive therapy.

 

The statements of course may mean nothing. They are likely to have been prepared under legal advice via the scrutiny of wiser men than the chief protagonists themselves in a room no-one has farted in for 40 years; a room where miraculously pristine glasses of carbonated water appear, unbeckoned at 8.55am and at hourly intervals before being transmogrified into Sauvignon Blanc of a pretty high order come 5.30. That is, somewhere fascinatingly or even fascistically devoid of traces of humanity; or ordered, depending on your proximity to a cupboard full of suits.

Dalglish, having been summoned to Boston when many were expecting him to jet off for a yoga/golf retreat in Birkdale, has been sacked. Whether this was the politely agreed termination of his contract – which seems kinda likely to me – or the converse fraught celtic arse-flap through a defiantly departing kilt we may never know. Dalglish I think mainly saves his hatred and contempt for journalists, so he may have taken a well-argued dismissal with the good grace we are led to believe was mutually exchanged.

I know my sharp view of Dalglish tramples close to sensitivities on all manner of genuinely precious things; life and death things. I am conscious that many Liverpudlians raised Kenny to sainthood during his magnificent and heartfelt joining with families and all concerned, touched or traumatised by the Hillsborough disaster. (I wasn’t there and I can therefore not judge the degree to which Kenny helped). It may even be right that am disqualified from commenting on either that terrible issue or Dalglish the man in the wake of it. What I would say is that believe it or not, I respected Dalglish the player for his rich gifts but have come to dislike what has felt to me like a developing and unhealthy myopia and sourness in the later man. (Which may, of course, be a natural result of bearing such close witness to such tragedy). I think it is both right and probably ‘good’ for Liverpool FC that he has gone, and gone in a dignified way.

That other fellah Hodgson has also been thrust into my defiantly un-hoovered living room today, as always with the slight air of someone quietly battling insidious anal penetration by caterpillars through constant refocusing or adjustment of key muscles up and down the body. He therefore displays the gait of a man in danger of expressing untoward or explosive reaction. This is countered by concerted efforts to talk well and properly, presumably on the grounds that any minute he might scream AHH BOLLOCKKSS WORMMMSS hysterically mid-sentence. Roy talks with great effort and clarity and authority in a manner I imagine the England Football Team in their post-training soporific arrogance might listen to for all of 30 seconds. Hence – wisely – he appointed Gary Neville, who has silverfish but no caterpillars.

Hodgson’s England squad has drawn interest mainly due to the omission of Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United’s medium-loquacious centre-half (i.e. wordy on twitter) and the retention of John Terry and The Astonishingly Unproductive One – Stewart Downing, of Liverpool. Ferdinand is unfortunate in the sense that he is quality; in a markedly pedestrian group he might have been the gazelle. Or he might if he could run. The truth is he has been medium-crocked for some years and despite his real ability to read the game and caress the ball better than most of his rivals, he is patently not fit for top-of-the-range tournament football; regrettably.

John Terry is if not sub judice exactly, under a cloud and therefore lucky to be considered. His chief remaining asset – his durability, his toughness – may be a liability under cross-examination from quick-witted foreign flyers but unsurprisingly he is there for exactly that near-caricature Engerland Through and Through Thing. Fitness-wise, he certainly cannot sprint and therefore may be as big a gamble as Rio might have been; indeed the crux may be that Hodgson dare not take them both and thinks Ferdinand more damaged. All this leaves personal/political issues aside; I make the confident assumption that Hodgson has and will be utterly honourable in this regard. (Bless him). I also suspect that novelty value – and the Neville appointment – will provide Hodgson with an opportunity he may not have had if his tenure had ‘given him time’ to mould his own squad. My guess is that given such time (and minus that Neville) Hodgson would have been subjected to indifference at best from the majority of players and diabolical treatment from the press; pronto.

This is because he is old-school and methodical and on the grindingly elucidating side of articulate rather than inspired; or inspiring; or young; or hep to the funky ipod beat man. Roy is good, don’t get me wrong… but like most of us he is particularly good when people are prepared to listen. At Liverpool, they certainly weren’t.

Where that has left his relationship with his chosen skipper, S Gerrard Esquire, is an interesting point; one of many we are likely to remain unenlightened upon. As with the Dalglish sacking, as with anything; things are wrapped in so much packaging these days.

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