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Deja vu as Hodgson takes responsibility for dismal Liverpool defeat

Roy Hodgson presided over one too many Anfield embarrassments while he was Liverpool manager. He was all too willing to accept responsibility for the latest.

There are those who believe the Merseyside club is unrecognisable from the one Hodgson left last season after a grisly six months in charge.

As the 64-year-old West Bromwich Albion manager basked in the glory of what is surely the most professionally nourishing win of his career, he wouldn't have noticed much difference.

A miserable home defeat, boos from the Kop and a recurring sense of disbelief Liverpool's stagnating league position.

This was mercilessly called 'The Hodgson Effect' when he was sat in the home dug-out. Nowadays, it's just called bad luck.

There is more to it than that, but it must be stated that if Hodgson had enjoyed as much good fortune as Liverpool's manager as he did in this game, he would most probably still be in the job.

Not only that, he'd be going for a second consecutive title and rotating his side in readiness for the Champions League semi-final.

Hodgson spent his entire Liverpool career under siege and for much of this game was on familiar ground.


The statisticians counted 27 clear opportunities for the home side, with Dirk Kuyt and Jordan Henderson hitting the woodwork for the 29th and 30th time this season.

Liverpool's attackers finish with all the poise of one of those fun-runners in the London marathon.

Luis Suarez struggles to ally individual brilliance with a consistent end product. Andy Carroll, looking slimmer and more confident, couldn't direct numerous headers past Ben Foster. Maxi Rodriguez was denied what seemed a clear penalty in the first half, presumably because of a theatrical fall which would have made Ashley Young blush.

Kenny Dalglish's regular laments about crossbars and missed chances do not excuse Liverpool's appalling league position, but as each goal-line scramble ended with the ball somehow ricocheting to safety, there was a sense of comical incredulity with how they lost such a one-sided game.

"The woodwork was not our best friend again," said Dalglish, who left out his captain Steven Gerrard as a precaution because of a tight hamstring.

"It's been like that seven or eight times this season and it sounds repetitive. It's not like there is something drastically wrong we can't identify. Every team needs good fortune."

Amid the shower of post-match number crunching demonstrating how the Gods are conspiring against Dalglish's side, others were more damning.

Hodgson won six league games at Anfield before his sacking in January last year. Here we are in April with Dalglish still trying to win his sixth of the season.

West Brom's win also takes them to within a point of Dalglish's expensively rebuilt Liverpool team. A solitary point difference is not based on one lucky away win, but 34 flawed league performances.

Hodgson, to his credit, accepted the view fate was on his side.

With debilitating predictability as far as the Kop is concerned, West Brom struck for the winner on 75 minutes. Glen Johnson gave the ball away to Youssouf Mulumbu and he slipped in Peter Odemwingie, who became the first West Brom player since Garth Crooks in 1985 to score at Anfield. In doing so, a 45-year-old winless hoodoo at this stadium ended.

Hodgson remained impassively in his seat. He'd been there throughout, seemingly unwilling to provoke any response from a respectfully ambivalent home crowd.

He suggested it meant nothing more than usual. One couldn't help feel his tongue will need to be surgically removed from his cheek this morning.

As Hodgson's name reverberated from a corner of Anfield -- something that only happened last season when he was being venomously touted for the England job by the Liverpool fans -- he must have felt he'd proven a point by collecting three.

"The Liverpool supporters gave me a terrific reception, and that was very courteous of them," said Hodgson. "I would have been disappointed if it had been otherwise, because I have a lot of respect for the Liverpool fans. But I admired their courtesy and maybe I didn't repay them too well by coming away with the win."

Hodgson's brief Liverpool reign will always be little more than a speck of dust on a mountain of debris which was accumulating before his arrival.

For Dalglish, regardless of cup success, the clean-up operation is taking longer than expected. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent