Dalglish: Hodgson will be himself
Liverpool's present and recent past meet at The Hawthorns tomorrow with Reds manager Kenny Dalglish insisting predecessor Roy Hodgson has nothing to prove.
The 60-year-old Scot was drafted in to replace the Englishman in early January with the Merseysiders' season in danger of spiralling out of control. In 20 Premier League matches Hodgson won just 25 points, at one stage allowing the club slump to second-bottom in the table.
A 3-1 defeat - their ninth in the league - at Blackburn Rovers on 5 January signalled the end of his six-month reign and ushered in Dalglish for a second spell as manager. Those few months in charge are regarded as among the worst seen at the club by fans in terms of football.
However, Hodgson complained yesterday he did not stand a chance because supporters' opinions had been clouded by club icon Dalglish volunteering his services to take over from Rafael Benitez last summer and subsequently being turned down.
His underachievement at Anfield appears to be highlighted by the fact Dalglish's record is almost twice as good, with 20 points accrued from ten matches. Had the team displayed similar form throughout the season they would currently be second in the table, just three points behind Manchester United.
The general feeling is that Hodgson was as much the wrong man for Liverpool as Dalglish is the right one. But the current manager said he did not expect his West Bromwich Albion opposite number, whom he regards as a friend, to be any more fired up for tomorrow's encounter.
"Roy hasn't got anything to prove to anybody," said Dalglish, who was keen to play down any hype surrounding the personal battle on the touchline. "If you say he has extra motivation then you are doubting the man's integrity and implying he never had enough motivation before.
"It's Liverpool versus West Brom and we'll face a team that has been prepared by Roy. I don't have a problem with that. It'll be nice to see him and say hello again. I have great respect for him, as I said when I came in here, and that isn't going to change because we are playing against each other. For me, whatever happens will happen on the pitch."
Dalglish has allowed Liverpool to play with more freedom than they had under Hodgson while, conversely, West Brom have tightened up since they replaced Roberto di Matteo and his brand of attacking football.
But the Reds manager said it was only natural that each stuck to the methods which had brought them previous success. "Roy brings his own style of management to the club - the same as Roberto did and the same I did here - and they have done well since he went in there," said Dalglish.
"There is no point in going into West Brom and trying to be someone else. Roy is himself and has done very well in football. Everyone knows he is an excellent coach. I am sure he had plenty of offers to go back into football [after leaving Liverpool] and I am sure he always will do. We know how they will play so it's up to us to be better than them on the day."