English Premiership

Liverpool fans turn on Hodgson

2010-10-04 18:40
Roy Hodgson (AFP)

London - Just weeks after hailing Roy Hodgson's arrival as Liverpool manager and predicting a return to glory, fans have turned on the veteran coach and started chanting the name of the man who once led them to domination of the English game.

"Whether I can turn things around is a question that really shouldn't be asked, but you know it will be asked in football when there are some bad moments," Hodgson said. "That's the nature of the game."

And the nature of the game means that Hodgson's time with Liverpool could be over after just three months if his team loses at local rival Everton in its next Premier League match.

Sunday's 2-1 home defeat against newly promoted Blackpool confirmed Liverpool's worst start since 1953, and a break for international duty will keep the club in the relegation zone for at least the next two weeks.

Fans chanted Kenny Dalglish's name at Anfield on Sunday, hinting at the despair felt by many at watching a performance so disjointed that the team finished with a central defender in attack, a midfielder at fullback and captain Steven Gerrard in central defense.

"It was really, really disappointing," Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt said. "It's probably one of the hardest defeats I've had to take since I've been here and we're sorry for the fans.

"The first thing we have got to do is make sure we start winning games again and then we can begin to take things from there."

Hodgson is defiant, suggesting that league positions after seven games of a 38-match season mean little.

"I don't think it matters we will be in the bottom three for the next fortnight," Hodgson said. "The psychological blow of being in the bottom three after seven games is a damn sight less damaging than being there from game No. 18 to game No. 36, as I experienced at Fulham."

But while Hodgson can point to titles in Sweden, several international appointments and an appearance with Inter Milan in a European final, fans cite his lack of experience with top English sides and suggest he is out of his depth at Liverpool.

Having been hired to steady the team and return it to the Champions League, his assurances that Liverpool will not be relegated are unlikely to impress many.

"Whether or not this bad start is going to affect us in our ambition to be nearer the top of the table that is another matter," Hodgson said. "That is something you can accuse us now of not being able to do.

"But I think to suggest, especially after seeing what we did in the second half against Blackpool, that we are a relegation candidate would be stretching credulity to the limit."

And the international break means Hodgson will have few players to work with ahead of the October 17 meeting with Everton.

Hodgson saved Fulham from almost certain relegation, took the small west London club to its best topflight finish and then guided it to a European final, convincing Liverpool officials that he was the right man to restore their club's fortunes after seventh place last season.

He was greeted with enthusiasm - particularly after signing England midfielder Joe Cole and convincing Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay - but the honeymoon period is over.

"The fans are frustrated at the moment," Hodgson said. "There are a lot of things happening and it's understandable they are frustrated. I am the manager, I am the one who has to take responsibility and I have to accept their right to aim their frustration in my direction.

"I don't think you go from being viewed as positively as I was in May to losing your ability by now."

Liverpool is playing poorly but the chanting of Dalglish's name shows the extraordinary pressure heaped upon coaches at the club. None - not even Rafa Benitez and his 2005 Champions League title - have matched the success Dalglish enjoyed at Anfield.

His status as a club legend was assured after a playing career that included three European Cups, but he then led the team to three league titles as a manager and guided the side through the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.

Now a Liverpool club ambassador, he wanted to take over following Benitez's departure at the end of last season but was overlooked in favor of Hodgson.

That was no surprise since Dalglish quit Liverpool 20 years ago and has not coached a team for more than a decade.

But fan power - or more accurately, the power of fans' nostalgia - could yet give Dalglish another, unlikely shot at glory.

Read more on:    liverpool  |  epl  |  roy hodgson
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