Hodgson: Players behind me after win
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson insisted his team's 2-1 Premier League victory over Bolton Wanderers here at Anfield proved he had the backing of his players. Speculation has been growing over Hodgson's position after a string of poor results since he took over on Merseyside from Rafael Benitez in pre-season.
And the doubts over his future intensified when he said he had never had the "famous Anfield support" in his six months in charge following the side's shock 1-0 midweek loss at home to relegation-threatened Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Although he apologised for those comments on Friday, reports yesterday claimed Liverpool's US-based owners were now seeking a new manager, with former Fulham boss Hodgson to be sacked if they found the right replacement.
Hodgson refused to discuss his future after Fernando Torres's volley and Joe Cole's stoppage-time goal earned Liverpool a 2-1 win over Bolton, who had taken the lead through England striker Kevin Davies. But he did say his team's performance showed he had the support of the dressing room.
"I know when players are behind their club and behind their manager and I know when they're not," said Hodgson. "Anyone who seriously suggests they are not behind me or the club after this is wrong."
Cole, who tapped home from close range in added time to snatch three points against Wanderers, insists the squad are doing their best to ease the pressure on Hodgson. "We are all behind the manager. We all want to put this club in the right direction and keep working hard," he said.
"We are out there playing for the shirt and the manager. We have all got to stick together because there is no-one bigger than the club. I am really happy for everyone at the club; it has been a tough week for everyone - particularly the manager - but we've got the win.
"It is not just the newspapers, none of us like losing and getting criticised but half the battle of modern day football is dealing with pressure and kicking on. We are pleased for the fans, the owners and the manager but we have all got to stick together and kick on from here, it can't be a false dawn."
Hodgson is now hoping Liverpool and Torres can kick on after victory saw them reach the midway point of the season by climbing into ninth spot. Torres equalised with a sublime finish, only his sixth goal of the season coming after the Spain striker had been heavily criticised for his performance in the 1-0 defeat by Wolves.
"The Fernando I saw on Wednesday and the Fernando I saw today are two totally different people," added Hodgson after yesterday's success. "Today I thought his work-rate, effort and discipline was really first-class. I saw today a player who was world-class. I think we'll see Fernando in this type of form between now and the end of the season given that we can keep him fit."
Wolves defeat now behind Liverpool
Liverpool visit Blackburn this coming Wednesday on the back of what Hodgson labelled a thoroughly deserved home win. "I was very proud of the performance," he said. "We have put the Wolves game well and truly behind us. I probably underestimated the problems of a three-week layoff. But we were back with a bang and the victory makes it sweeter.
"Anyone who begrudges us that victory after watching the game must be very churlish indeed. The supporters were outstanding. The other night I was really trying to take the responsibility and they are entitled to voice their feelings when it is not going right."
Bolton slipped to seventh after their fourth defeat in six league games, but manager Owen Coyle insisted his side would bounce back when they entertained Wigan at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday.
"It's a very cruel defeat," said Coyle. "It happened the last time we played them at our place and maybe it's a little bit of luck that Roy needs. We have to bounce back. You either feel sorry for yourselves or you hit the training ground with a smile on your face. We'll be doing the latter."