Club Focus – Liverpool – Hodgson hosts Reds at West Brom as owners look to the future

It is safe to say that when Roy Hodgson was appointed as Liverpool’s new manager back in the summer, he would have expected to see out at least one season with the club. However, this weekend the former Fulham boss will lead his West Bromwich Albion side out against the club he was forced to leave in January. Of course, Kenny Dalglish is now in charge of the Reds and this fixture may give Hodgson an opportunity to see how fans expected Liverpool to play under his watch.

Indeed, no result is ever a given in football, particularly in the Premier League this season. However, such is the gulf in class between these two sides that it is difficult to see where exactly West Brom will pull the win out from. Having said that, the Baggies have improved somewhat since Hodgson took charge at the Hawthorns – they are unbeaten in their last five games, though the majority of these have been draws.

And those points are proving important as they are keeping West Brom out of the relegation zone, albeit by a single point. For many, Hodgson has already done a good job at his new club by steadying the ship and making them hard to beat. Whether this newly-found confidence will help them get something against Liverpool remains to be seen.

Though Dalglish has been keen to highlight that the Reds will treat this as any other game, some supporters will undoubtedly be eager to get one over Hodgson. The experienced manager was not exactly the most popular man at Anfield, something which the opposition crowd may well remind him this weekend. The ‘Hodgson versus Liverpool’ element to this fixture makes it all the more intriguing.

And although the Reds are five points clear of seventh-placed Bolton, Liverpool simply cannot afford to relax just yet. The Merseysiders are in serious danger of missing out on European football altogether next season – something that would surely be somewhat embarrassing for a club of Liverpool’s size and history. New Managing Director Ian Ayre has been quick to point out that Liverpool would still be able to cope financially without competing in Europe, yet the players must still try and do all they can to secure at least a top-five finish in order to enter the Europa League again next season.

Meanwhile, there has been much talk about where Liverpool will play in the future. The American owners are keen on a larger stadium, but they are still unsure of whether to expand Anfield or build a new arena altogether. There have been suggestions that the former option could see Anfield being renamed, though this is unlikely to happen, while even Dalglish has admitted that a new stadium would not dilute the identity of the club. The fact that the owners are exploring all possible avenues should be rather encouraging news for fans.

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