Club Focus – Liverpool – Under pressure Hodgson needs to belie off the field woe for the Reds to get going

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has faced much criticism this week, after the Reds were embarrassingly beaten 2-1 by newly-promoted Blackpool at Anfield on Sunday. Hodgson survived the wrath of supporters after defeats to Manchester City and Manchester United, along with disappointing draws against Birmingham and Sunderland. However, fans have become frustrated with life under the former Fulham boss, as the atmosphere of the crowd suggested at the weekend.

Hodgson’s friendly nature and his managerial success at Fulham have seen the Englishman develop an excellent relationship with the press. Indeed, many journalists remain confident that he can turn things around at Anfield. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of any improvement at Liverpool under the new boss. Hodgson was brought in to improve on what Rafael Benitez achieved in his last season at the club. But, the Reds have only got worse under his guidance so far.

Captain Steven Gerrard issued a rallying call as he aimed to lead his side to a string of victories; following a disappointing return from the opening five Premier League games, which included fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United. Instead, the Reds find themselves in the bottom three after seven matches. Following the atrocious performance against Northampton in the League Cup, Hodgson apologised and said his side would do better. Then after defeat to Blackpool, the manager admitted Liverpool were currently in a relegation battle. Not exactly the inspiring words that fans would want to hear.

Hodgson’s purchases and tactics have been questionable. Raul Meireles, bought for over £10m, has found himself drifting to the right wing, despite being an out-and-out central midfielder. Joe Cole began life at Anfield in his favoured position behind the striker. He now occupies the left side of midfield, a position he made clear prior to his arrival that he would not play in. Defensively, Christian Poulsen offers virtually no protection to the back four, unlike his predecessor Javier Mascherano.

But this is not all about Hodgson. The focus on Merseyside this week has been largely on the ownership of the club with yet more demonstrations being held by angry fans over the issue. Late last night, the club released a statement claiming there were two parties interested in purchasing the club. However, reports suggest that the American duo Hicks and Gillett are unwilling to sell to either, as they would not receive a profit from the prospective deal. This will undoubtedly irritate fans even more.

Nevertheless, the ownership issue should not stand as an excuse for Liverpool’s continued poor performance on the pitch. Hodgson knew what he was letting himself in for prior to his arrival at the club and he was aware of the lack of funds that would be available to him. Also, regardless of ownership, the Anfield outfit should have been more than capable of beating Northampton and Blackpool recently. The fact that they did not cannot solely be due to the owners. Some of the blame must be directed at the manager, who now has a fortnight to prepare for the crunch local derby against Everton. Hodgson does not appear to be walking alone just yet, but he is certainly treading on thin ice.

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