'Sterling effort' pleases Hodgson -- but not Fowler
IT was the best performance of his time at the club, he said. So good was the display that there was not more he could have asked of his team.
These were not the words of David Moyes, basking in the glow of a derby victory so emphatic that it left the Scot wearing a grin from ear to ear. They were spoken by Roy Hodgson. Denial can rarely have sounded so delusional.
If this was as good as it has been, Liverpool's new owners must have been wondering how bad it was before their arrival.
With each and every game Liverpool plumb a new depth and only Hodgson appears to believe that things are on the up, despite presiding over the worst start to a season by any Liverpool manager since George Patterson in 1928.
The Liverpool manager flew in the face of the inescapable logic provided by the previous 90 minutes by insisting that there were positives to be drawn from the display, even though the result had been settled so emphatically and so deservedly in Everton's favour.
"It was a cruel result because we played so well," he claimed. "In my opinion, the way we played the game was as good as I've seen us play this season. I can't have any real qualms with my players with the performance they gave.
"I hope that fair-minded people see the game the same way. I think it's a bit unfortunate that, after such a good game of football, everything revolves around the fact that Liverpool didn't win it.
"The shape of our team was good, the quality of our passing was good. We didn't score goals and Everton did, but I refuse to sit here and accept we were in any way outplayed or were in any way inferior."
Hodgson added: "This was always going to be a difficult game to win. But I thought the team played well. I thought we dominated the second half totally. I think it was a sterling effort from the players.
"This would have been the ideal opportunity to really turn things around on the back of the positive entry of the new owners. To get a result here would have been Utopia.
"But I can only analyse the performance. There's no point in trying to analyse dreams -- the dream was that we would come here on the back of new owners and win the game.
"We had to play a game of football to do that and, in my opinion, the way we played the game was as good as I've seen us play this season. I can't have any real qualms with my players.
Hodgson's view contrasted sharply with that of the former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler.
"Roy Hodgson has a lot of hard work to do. It's a long season but Liverpool are in the bottom two because they are not playing well. They need to start playing better, sharpish," he said.
Fowler was also critical of Fernando Torres, who had another poor performance. He said: "He (Torres) is not playing well; it's as simple as that.
"Whether he is not happy at Liverpool, I don't know. Whether he is not happy playing with the players he is playing with, I don't know, but he needs to buck up a bit and look a bit interested."
Everton manager David Moyes, said his players had risen to the challenge to win their first Merseyside derby in the league in four years.
Moyes cited the example of Donegal's Seamus Coleman, who made the first goal and was signed for £60,000, as proof that success was not all about the wealth of a club's owner.