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In Six Months, John Henry May Not Own a Premier League Club

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Out Of Time

Dec 29 - League - Liverpool v. Wolverhampton
Jan 1 - League - Liverpool v. Bolton
Jan 5 - League - Blackburn v. Liverpool
Jan 9 - FA Cup - United v. Liverpool
Jan 12 - League - Blackpool v. Liverpool
Jan 16 - League - Liverpool v. Everton
Jan 22 - League - Wolverhampton v. Liverpool
Jan 26 - League - Liverpool v. Fulham

So, which looks as though it should be most winnable? Go ahead and pick. Look over the list. Choose carefully.

It was only two days back that we discussed the looming month-long stretch of congested fixtures, and only yesterday Ed passed along Roy Hodgson's pre-emptive shifting of the blame and suggestion that said dense run of matches could be a reason why Liverpool might not get as many points as some would hope and expect in the coming weeks.

Surely, though, neither Roy nor anybody else expected things to go quite so wrong quite so quickly. Because when you look over the list, one match stands out fairly clearly as the easiest of the bunch. It's the one against the team at the bottom of the table. The club with the worst road form in the league. The match where that bottom of the table, worst on the road side comes to Anfield to face a squad as rested and with as much time to prepare as it will likely see in any match all season long.

It was the match against Wolves.

Liverpool will not play another game over the next month against a poorer side, and they will not play another match where they will have nearly as much time to prepare. So if a truly pathetic one-nil loss to lowly Wolves is the best that can be managed, with the squad left horribly unbalanced and its proverbial engine room ground to a halt in order to accommodate Steven Gerrard in the center of midfield, it is impossible not to look ahead and be deathly afraid of where January could leave the club.

If, given two weeks, Roy Hodgson can't out-manage Mick McCarthy's Wolverhampton Wanderers with a side full of internationals, then what chance does he have against United and Everton? Hell, what chance does Liverpool have against Blackpool or Bolton or against Wolves again when LFC heads out on the road for the return fixture? The last time the subject of January's rapid-fire fixture list came up, the oblique implication was that more wins than draws over the next month could see Liverpool realistically poised to battle for fourth in this topsy-turvy season in the top flight. However, going by the display yesterday against Wolves and with the club sitting a scant three points clear of the relegation zone, it suddenly appears as though loses over the next month could realistically match draws and wins--last night's Liverpool, set out incompetently as they were, is certainly capable of losing at least a couple in the League against Bolton, Everton, and Fulham at home, and Blackburn, Blackpool, and Wolves on the road.

As much as anything, that the smart money would likely be on Liverpool losing at least two of those fixtures--and quite possibly losing more than that--is a sign of Hodgson's gross misconduct as manager of Liverpool Football Club. The poorest Liverpool sides under Benitez or Houlier would never be allowed to sink to such lows without every hack across the land wringing his hands in mock distress, and it is both comical and infuriating that Hodgson can drag the club so far down in only a few short months while still retaining a dedicated core of support amongst certain despicable portions of the media, along with a handful of surviving TalkSPORT caliber morons who if they were feeling especially contrary might go so far as to bleat that Hodgson's similarly useless compatriot Martin O'Neill be appointed in the former's place.

With two unexpected weeks off between matches, one might have sought to head into the Wolves game with a positive outlook, thinking that just maybe, with a good run against some theoretically middling sides, Liverpool could re-establish itself over the next month. Now it is difficult not to look and wonder if perhaps it is more likely Liverpool will be in a relegation dogfight by the end of January if Hodgson is allowed to keep his job. And that's a terrifying thought: to have finally escaped Hicks and Gillett only to have their final poison pill keep dragging the club down long after they've gone.

Of course, poison pill or not, Henry and NESV have it well within their power to change things. And for all the talk that they need to figure out football and get their bearings, they were able to sort out that they wanted Comolli as director of football--a hugely unusual role in the English game--quickly enough. If they can't figure out that Hodgson not only isn't the man long term, but that he isn't even the man for the job short term, and if they can't figure it out pretty damn soon, they may find themselves owning a Championship side before they finally pull the trigger. The real question they find themselves having to answer is when will Liverpool truly hit rock bottom: now or when they actually are relegated as the next Blackburn? If they really are clueless enough to allow that possibility, then perhaps somebody needs to inform them that the Premier League doesn't deal in draft picks like American sports leagues.