Rabu, 15 Desember 2010
Roy Hodgson says he has 'no concerns' over his Liverpool job
• Manager admits performances have been unacceptable
• Fernando Torres to play in dead match against Utrecht
Wednesday 15 December 2010
The Liverpool manager, Roy Hodgon, leads his team in training ahead of the Europa League match against Utrecht. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
says he retains the support of
's owners and does not fear for his future, despite sharing John W Henry's opinion that this season has been unacceptable. The process of sparking a recovery will tonight involve starting Fernando Torres in a
dead rubber against Utrecht. The inclusion of the Spaniard represents a major policy shift by Hodgson, who rested him in Europe earlier this season when under the severest pressure, and reveals the extent of Liverpool's concern over his form. Liverpool have already won their group yet the goalkeeper José Reina will also start as Hodgson fields a stronger than anticipated line-up in front of the watching Henry and Tom Werner, Liverpool's new chairman. Liverpool's new hierarchy staged a 90-minute question and answer session with supporters on the club's television channel on Monday, when Henry, discussing the "three-to-five-year rebuilding project" needed at the club, conceded: "Where we are at this point isn't acceptable." Hodgson responded defiantly, and angrily, when asked yesterday if that could be interpreted as criticism of his brief tenure. "I don't have any fears, worries or concerns," he replied. "But if you put it to me – 'You feel there is no chance whatsoever of you getting sacked' – then I would be in a minority of one in that respect. It happened to Chris Hughton, it happened to Sam Allardyce, Martin O'Neill resigned – we are all in that situation. But as someone who prides himself as a professional who knows his job, you would have to excuse me for not going down the route of 'Who can we get rid of next?' Unless there is a major influx of cash into the club and the team is going to be changed from one moment to the next, then whoever takes my place will be doing a similar job with similar players." Hodgson's position has been only one bad result from being under debate all season but he has found assurance in the pragmatic approach of New England Sports Ventures since their £300m takeover in October. "They are very good. Their vision for the club is spot on," he said. "People have made mileage about the current results being 'unacceptable' but, if I was on the phone-in, I would have been saying the same thing. I did not join Liverpool to be in mid-table. I came here because I believed we could be in the top four, in the Champions League and winning things. That's my ambition. Certainly it is the owners' ambition. I'm hoping they'll help me – especially in terms of recruitment – get the team in the top four. "Maybe the current crop can get us there. It is going to be difficult after a bad start. But I'm not saying that we have such a bad team we can't make it. All I'm saying is that I'm looking for a little bit of help along the way to improve the areas where we have got a few weaknesses." A slight injury to David Ngog, who has a cut above an eye, has influenced Hodgson's thinking on playing Torres against Utrecht but the Liverpool manager admitted the Spaniard's need for a boost, following another poor away performance at Newcastle United on Saturday, was also a factor. He added: "I am hoping that Fernando will have a good game that will improve his confidence. There's nothing to lose. I've said to Fernando, and this doesn't need to be a secret, that we believe he's a very fine player, one of the best front players in Europe, and the fact that maybe he's not played at his level over the past couple of months doesn't change that. You don't become a bad player overnight. "But don't forget, goalkeepers and strikers in particular play on such a small margin of error. The difference between being carried down the high street in a sedan chair or being vilified is infinitesimal. I'm hoping it will go well for him against Utrecht."
Liverpool (4-4-2, probable)
Reina; Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Aurelio; Cole, Shelvey, Poulsen, Jovanovic; Babel, Torres. Subs from Jones, Coady, Skrtel, Johnson, Meireles, Pacheco, Rodríguez, Kuyt, Lucas.
Utrecht (4-5-1, probable)
Vorm; Cornelisse, Schut, Wuytens, Nesu; Siberbauer, Maguire, Mertens, Nijholt, Duplan; van Wolfswinkel Subs from Sinouh, Keller, Danso, Vorstermans, Asare, Lensky, Sarota, Oar, Demouge, Mulenga.
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