Club Focus – Liverpool – Hodgson’s future hanging by a thread after Wolves defeat

Stephen Ward scored his first goal in almost four years as Liverpool fell to a disappointing 1-0 home defeat against Mick McCarthy’s well-organised Wolverhampton Wanderers side. Prior to the game, the visitors were bottom of the Premier League and had managed to secure just a solitary point on their travels all season, but McCarthy’s men showed they are no pushovers with an impressive and well-deserved win over Roy Hodgson’s side.

Hodgson’s team selection raised a few eyebrows even before a ball was kicked. The former Fulham boss opted to start with a midfield including Dirk Kuyt, Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles, much to the bemusement of some supporters. Portuguese summer signing Meireles, a natural central midfielder, operated on the right flank whilst Dutchman Kuyt, who has been playing on the right wing or as a striker throughout his Liverpool career, was instructed to play down the left wing. Consequently, both were ineffective and failed to provide any real width for the Reds.

Fernando Torres cut an isolated figure up front, unable to show his talent due to a lack of supply from midfield. Young Frenchman David Ngog, who is reportedly on the verge of being offered a new long-term contract to prolong his career on Merseyside, found himself moving deeper simply to try and regain possession of the ball. Meanwhile, much-maligned Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva was excellent, though his effective performance was not enough for the Reds on the night.

Even the Anfield crowd turned on their under-pressure and worried-looking manager. Ironic chants of ‘Hodgson for England’ could be heard from the Kop and the name of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish was once again sung in the stadium much to the frustration of Hodgson. Liverpool fans do not have a habit of voicing their anger at their own managers, but the poor performance brought the worst out of the crowd.

Hodgson’s post-match comments seemed to aggravate his relationship with the Anfield faithful even further. The Englishman said: “Ever since I came here the famous Anfield support has not been there.” Fans on several message boards and fans’ forums, such as ‘Empire of the Kop’, were particularly unhappy with that statement.

Although many fans believed Hodgson’s position was untenable following that defeat, the new owners have not yet decided to relieve him of his duties. Instead, it appears likely that Hodgson will still be in charge for the next home game against Bolton. The Trotters are flying high in the Premier League under Owen Coyle and are an impressive seven points ahead of the Merseysiders going in to the clash, albeit having played two games more. It will be a tough test for Liverpool, who cannot really afford to drop more points, particularly on home soil and it appears highly unlikely that Hodgson will risk the wrath of the crowd by opting to play the same dysfunctional midfield again.

Liverpool are currently on target to finish the season with just 46 points, which would be an embarrassing finish for a club with such a rich history, however the view of many fans is that Hodgson’s days are numbered and his Liverpool career is certainly hanging by a thread.

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