Hou's better? Hou's best
By Glory Hunter
From Issue 59, Winter 2002
If your opposition needs taunting, just call
He's got quips and bit and lots of brags, at Rent-a-quote
If your best player needs chastising, Or you’re
just nine games from glory,
Remember what you see is not humility, but Rent-a-quote
Remember what you see is not humility, but Rent-a-quote
ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
To the tune of Rent-a-ghost and will therefore
pass by about 95% of you. However, it was the
best children's TV show of the late seventies
and early eighties.
This was, is, a piece to defend the manager against
what, on certain Internet forums in particular,
is beginning to become pretty vitriolic campaign
to get him sacked/to resign /moved upstairs/replaced
- whatever. But to do so I feel I've got to address
some of the things that he does that are becoming
First and foremost is obviously the increasingly
vocal outbursts to the press - hence, the above.
I, like many, have been brought up -weaned - on
managers who were distrustful of the press and
didn't like speaking to them. Paisley was a man
of few words, Dalglish too. Joe Fagan was a bit
more outgoing but it was hardly the stuff of banner
I would dearly love to go back to those days -
as far as I'm concerned, the less we are in the
press the better. However, I realise we are in
an age where T.V. and money rule. GH has to do
so much more in the way of communicating - it
comes with the territory.
His comments regarding Steven Gerrard were interesting
to say the least. Maybe he had done his best to
cajole him in private, without success, feeling
the only option remaining was to go public and
give him a kick, and in principle I have no problem
with that. However, the way in which it was put
forward did concern me somewhat. "I have
given him five chances"; "We played
well in Moscow and against Leeds and then I brought
him back in"; "Against Basel I even
played him in his favoured role in the middle!"
He went too far and then had to back-track in
And if you're talking about chances, how about
Heskey's 30-odd chances last season and 15 this?
Too often recently we've also heard how we're
going to win what trophy, how many games we've
got left to do it; incredibly - WHICH ONE WE'D
PREFER TO WIN!! This is all very un-Liverpool
like. Please let us talk only of the next game
- no further. Do not worry about tomorrow, today
has enough worries of it's own.
The manager is also showing signs of becoming
increasingly mad during interviews. His latest
excuse for the defeat against the Glams - World
Cup exhaustion - is straw clutching to say the
least and doesn't address why Diao has been one
of our best players. "We were poor, we didn't
compete and we were undone by a flukey goal. We'll
be looking to put it right as soon as we can."
That's all he has to say.
Presently we have too many players who are bang
out of form. GH's problem is that he seems to
be standing by them too much. Riise, Heskey, Gerrard
and Dudek shouldn't see the inside of the first
team for weeks. Playing them out of position -
as has happened with the outfield players just
hasn't helped. Riise isn't a left back. He's admitted
as much himself. At left back he has too much
to think about - positioning etc. He also the
worst tackler in the team - and that includes
Smicer. If he plays he should play left wing.
As it happens, he shouldn't be playing at all
at the moment because he is so poor. Fortunately
for him he is being overshadowed by the form of
Gerrard and Jerzy.
So if Riise is on the left wing it means Heskey
can't play there. Ivanhoe is a striker; he should
play there. If he isn't on form and scoring -
and he isn't- then he shouldn't play at all, it's
that simple. You could argue that Houllier continued
to play Owen through his bad patch. Fair point,
but Owen was actually missing chances whereas
Heskey is just not getting involved enough to
have any to miss.
We're still putting square pegs into round holes
and it won't work over any length of time. Despite
all this, and let's be fair things don't look
that good at the moment, calls for the manager
to be changed are way off beam especially as the
names being put forward are O'Neill, O'Deary and
- for the love of God - Keegan.
Reasons given for this range from: He's taken
us as far as he can; we haven't progressed to
we're not very good. Well, granted at the moment
we're not very good. However, it cannot be denied
that the beginning of the season left us very
optimistic as to what we thought might follow.
But late goals by Newcastle, Blackburn and Birmingham
seem to have put the willies up. A revert to a
tried and trusted formula (which hasn't worked
so far this year) was always on the cards.
You've got to say that we have progressed since
Houllier took over. Roy Evans did well, 3rd/4th/3rd/4th
on the face of it were decent finishes but he
was never going to take us on from there with
accusations of being too nice. Houllier seems
determined to be completely the opposite and whilst
I don't hold to the notion that 4th - 3rd - 2nd
= 1st, it does show definite progression. Even
this season there have been signs - best start
for donkeys years; football (to start with) that
was better than last year; fewer defeats and more
wins each year show we are going in the right
Look at the players he brought in during the Summer.
Diouf and Cheyrou are not defensive players -
Duff was apparently on the cards and that bloke
from Leeds. All forward thinking players. Okay,
so they've hardly been spotted so far, but they
will. The two French lads are coming in before
next season - again forwards. They players are
amassing for a more fluid style.
But what about the Champions League? “Where's
there?” I hear you ask. True, we've ballsed
that one up, but is that the first time we've
ever gone out of a competition? Even as European
champions we got dumped out in '82. As FA cup
holders didn't Luton kick us out in the 3rd round
in 1987? These things happen, although in the
CL case we had six chances and contrived to throw
Was Basel the first time we've ever had a bad
half? No. Then why was it such a crime this time
round? What I would take from that game is the
way in which we did get ourselves back into the
game in the second half. A few years ago that
would have ended up 5-1. Progression.
We didn't win anything last year. Like that's
the first time that's happened. Arsenal won the
double in '98, it took them four years to win
anything again. And just for the record, who decides
that winning Uefa, Worthington and FA cups are
worthless? Should we win one or any of them this
season will that mean we are less successful than
last year because we got knocked out in the 1st
phase? The club exists to win trophies, a third
of the way through the season when four are still
very much up for grabs is not the time to decide
we're going nowhere.
Has Houllier taken us as far as he can? Well only
he can answer that and we won't be able to see
an answer to that question until, I would suggest,
the end of next season.
Things aren't as bleak as people are making out
- although they're not good at the moment. We
are not out of the Premiership picture, domestic
cups are still a possibility as is the Uefa. Please
can we have a bit of patience; trophies are not
our divine right to win; new players are not going
to be instant successes. The manager deserves
our backing - divided we fall (but at least we'll
give the press some great sound-bites whilst we
do)! Keep the faith.