Friday 17 November 2017

Fans call for Dalglish as heat rises on Hodgson


At the end, there was one man on Liverpool supporters' minds. As Roy Hodgson's side traipsed off the field after their fifth defeat of the season, the chant 'Dalglish, Dalglish' was heard from the away end.

Even defeating Chelsea last weekend and winning four of their last six games cannot buy Hodgson the loyalty of the Liverpool fans. Last night's defeat by Stoke at the Britannia Stadium ensured that the hostility returned, hostility from a group of supporters renowned for their loyalty.

Stoke City dominated the game and, it is a measure of how Hodgson has dragged this team down, that they were the superior team in every aspect of a clash between two mid-table sides.

"Every time you lose it's a bad result," Hodgson said afterwards and each defeat is particularly bad for him. Liverpool need a leader, not somebody no one can believe in.

If Manchester United are in decline the last thing to go will be their spirit. Despite being dominated by Aston Villa in the second half at Villa Park yesterday and going 2-0 down with 15 minutes remaining, United came back to score twice in the last ten minutes and remain unbeaten this season.

If you were being churlish, you would say that the great United teams would have won it. United have won once away from home this season and if the spirit remains, the resilience has disappeared.

They were picked off for Villa's two goals and with Dimitar Berbatov again disappointing and Chicharito anonymous, Ferguson sent on Gabriel Obertan and Federico Macheda.

"We are a club though that never says there is no way back," Ferguson said. "We brought people on and they changed the game in fairness to them.

"There was a great life and adventure about them. Macheda scored a great goal and with another five minutes we would have won the game."

Nemanja Vidic got the equaliser but there was no winner.

United had five minutes of injury-time to do find it and traditionally that would have been enough. But it had taken them 75 minutes to find their purpose.

In midweek, Manchester City took most of the flak for a dull game but yesterday proved that United were responsible too.

Without Paul Scholes, United had little adventure in an appalling first half and they could do nothing except look a little shocked when Villa went for them in the second half.

If Gerard Houllier was disappointed with Villa throwing away a two-goal lead, he didn't show it. Houllier might use this as a rallying cry for his defensive approach, if that's not a contradiction in terms.

Roberto Mancini might have rationalised Manchester City's draw with United, but it was harder to explain yesterday's result.

Again City failed to score at home and Mancini's decisions baffled the home crowd, particularly when he took Carlos Tevez off seven minutes from the end and replaced him with Gareth Barry and then remarked afterwards that "since the start of the season it has been the case that if Carlos Tevez doesn't score, no-one does".

Mancini denied he was under pressure even if a section of the home crowd ended the day chanting Craig Bellamy's name.

The home crowd at Portman Road ended the day booing. Roy Keane's Ipswich had lost again, their sixth defeat in nine league matches. Despite being only three points off the play-off positions and working off a tight budget, Keane is under pressure with key games against Hull and Norwich to come in the next two weeks.

He has a Carling Cup quarter final to look forward to after that but Keane always knew it was pointless looking to Cups for consolation.

Sunday Independent

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