Sat, Jan 01, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Hodgson says sorry to Liverpool fans

MERSEY MISERY:The Liverpool manager said supporters were perfectly entitled to their views and accepted he and the team had to do more to improve their enjoyment

AFP AND REUTERS, LONDON AND AFP, LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has apologized to the club’s supporters after criticizing them in an angry outburst following Wednesday’s shock 1-0 defeat against struggling Wolves at Anfield.

Hodgson was furious after sections of the Liverpool support showed their displeasure at his reign with a sarcastic chant of “Hodgson for England” before calling for Reds legend Kenny Dalglish to be installed as manager.

Liverpool are just three points above the relegation zone after their worst start to a Premier League season and Hodgson is facing a fight to save his job.

The former Fulham boss, who only replaced Rafael Benitez as boss in June, said after the game he had never had the “famous Anfield support” in his six months in charge.

That was seen as a clear attack on his critics in the crowd but, with fans said to be angry at his comments, Hodgson yesterday moved to quell the unrest.

“Things have been misinterpreted,” Hodgson said. “I’m afraid people have taken one small comment where I was describing my situation.”

“I was responding to a question about how it felt to be jeered by fans, making it clear it hurts me and I was disappointed by it because no-one wants to feel they are unpopular,” he said. “I understand it is up to me to take it on the chin but it’s not been an easy ride for me.”

“It’s been an uphill struggle and I was not the first choice appointment with a lot of fans. But if I have offended them in any way I deeply regret that,” Hodgson said. “All I can do is apologize and make it perfectly clear there was nothing offensive in my comments.”

Hodgson said supporters were perfectly entitled to their views and accepted he and the team had to do more to improve their enjoyment.

“Fans always have the right to show their anger and disapproval — we’ve got fantastic fans but you have to give them something to be passionate about and we didn’t do that on Wednesday,” he said.

“I don’t think they were happy with anyone and as manager you are first in the firing line,” Hodgson said “The Anfield support will always be there and what’s more it’s better in times of crisis.”

Meanwhile, Premier League leaders Manchester United hope Nani will be fit as they try to improve their away form at West Bromwich Albion today. The Portuguese winger has been sidelined with a hip injury and manager Alex Ferguson was due to assess his condition yesterday.

Ferguson said he may “freshen up” his side for the visit to West Brom although Paul Scholes is still missing with a groin injury. However, he does not envisage an active transfer window.

“We have no plans to bring anyone in when the window opens,” Ferguson said in a news conference yesterday.

Arsenal will have captain Cesc Fabregas available for the trip to Birmingham City after the Spaniard was suspended for the 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic on Wednesday. Wenger made eight changes at Wigan but will select his strongest available side for another testing away match, although Abou Diaby is sidelined with a calf injury.

Joint leaders Manchester City have the squad to take the title race to the wire, according to assistant manager Brian Kidd as they prepare to face surpise side Blackpool.

“We’re in a good position, but it isn’t done in January, it’s done in July,” Kidd told City’s Web site.

“You don’t want to be too far behind teams at this stage of the season. There’s five teams up there. The top four has been the priority but I believe with the manager and the players we’ve got, we can go the distance,” he said.

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