With the international break done and dusted, Liverpool are back in action this weekend when they visit Selhurst Park on Saturday for a showdown with former boss Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace side.
Though his Anfield tenure was mercifully short, it’s hard to forget just how specularly dire the Reds were with the 70-year old at the helm. The Eagles manager remains a stark reminder of the dark days under the bungling ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillette and truly puts in to focus what’s been a steady — although slow — shift back to the top under the stewardship of Fenway Sports Group. Could you think of a coach better suited to play the antithesis of Jurgen Klopp than ol’ Roy?
“He likes to shout on the side of the field, he likes to be involved in the game. If things aren’t being done, obviously he’ll tell you that,” said Liverpool midfielder James Milner when asked about the German. “Sometimes at half-time you’ll get a team-talk where he is angry but other times you might expect that and he doesn’t. I think it’s important as a manager that he can come from both ways,” explained the vice-captain. “He obviously loves a hug as well – he’s got that side in him at the end of the game,” added the Englishman. “As a manager, you need to know when to give the bear hug and when to give the boot up the backside. He judges that pretty well most of the time.”
Drafted in from Manchester City on a free by Brendan Rodgers, Milner thankfully never had to work under Hodgson at Anfield, but he’s familiar with the veteran manager from the England set-up. Winning only thirteen and drawing nine of his 31-matches in charge, the now Palace boss presided over one of the worst spells in the Reds history — a stark contrast to what’s going down today.
Looking likely to finish in the top four for the second season on the hop and in to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Liverpool are playing modern, wholly entertaining attacking football and are a force to be reckoned with under Klopp with the German pushing his players from the off to win.
“[It was] intense. He loves his job and loves football. He is passionate,” stressed Milner, revealing that he was straight in to it from the very first time he took charge of team training. “His first game was Spurs away and the tempo of that game was ridiculous; they play a high tempo as well and it was his first game,” mused the utility man. “We played a pressing game under Brendan as well, but I just remember the intensity and the tempo,” he continued. “He was trying to get his ideas across quickly but not too much too soon. It’s a long way from what we do now. I remember, in the first few sessions, him trying to get that across.”