English Premiership

Rafa spotted in Merseyside

2010-12-22 20:25

Liverpool - Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has said he is unconcerned by the presence of predecessor Rafael Benitez in Merseyside as some fans agitated for the Spaniard's return to Anfield.

Benitez appears to be on the brink of being fired by Inter Milan - a club once managed by Hodgson - just six months after leaving Liverpool to take charge of the European champions.

This week has seen Benitez back at the house he has kept on the Wirral, near Liverpool in north-west England, since leaving the Reds, and supporters plastered the gates outside that property with banners pleading for him to come back to Anfield following the club's dismal start to the season.

Liverpool are currently ninth in the Premier League table - 12 points behind leaders and bitter rivals Manchester United.

Hodgson, who quit Premier League side Fulham to take charge at Liverpool, has so far failed to win over a significant section of the Anfield faithful but has, so far at least, retained the confidence of the club's new Anerican owners who took charge in October.

And the Englishman, responding to a question as to whether he felt under any extra pressure given Benitez's return to Merseyside, replied Wednesday: "None at all, no."

Hodgson added it would be extraordinary were Benitez to return to the Liverpool hotseat after such a short time away.

"You'd have to ask the owners about that. It would be surprising.

"If he was the right man for the job it would have been wiser not to let him go for six months and then have to bring him back again.

"This job will always be linked with lots of people. When you are in one of the top jobs in the country it would be very strange if there were not other people being linked with my job.

"I am sure there are many people who are envious of my job and would like to take my place."

Benitez exited Anfield in June, when former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were still in control, with a large pay-off after a seventh-place league finish.

Many of the boardroom figures with whom Benitez endured a torrid relationship have since left the club.

Hicks and Gillett were replaced by John Henry and Tom Werner, whose New England Sports Ventures completed a 300 million pound (462 million dollars) buy-out in October.

Meanwhile Hodgson has been focusing on getting Liverpool ready for their Boxing Day league match away to fellow north-west side Blackpool.

The Tangerines' Bloomfield Road ground does not have undersoil and, as happened with Liverpool's scheduled match at home to Fulham last weekend, the fixture risks being postponed with the cold weather that has hit Britain this month showing no signs of easing off.

Recent events have only strengthened Hodgson's belief in a winter break, having seen such a system at first-hand during his lengthy managerial career in both Scandinavia and Italy.

"I come from European football where winter breaks are a necessity and for many years has been accepted as the norm," Hodgson said.

"The insistence everyone plays all of their football month after month without a break and then spends over three months without a game I don't understand any more."

Read more on:    epl  |  roy hodgson


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