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Hodgson pleads for time

Roy Hodgson has issued a heartfelt plea to Liverpool's owners to grant him the time and money he requires to construct a squad in his own image before deciding if he is the right man to lead the club forward.

John W Henry and Tom Werner, the principal backers of the club's parent company Fenway Sports Group, have lost patience with the 63-year-old and intend replacing him -- initially by installing a caretaker before making a permanent appointment in the summer -- provided they can find the right candidate for the temporary role.

Hodgson, though, believes it would be unfair to judge his troubled reign at Anfield based on his results with a squad largely bequeathed to him by Rafael Benitez.

Instead, he has urged Henry and Werner to back him in the January transfer market, providing him with the funds to build his own squad, before making a decision on his future.

"Being honest about it, I am hoping that one day I will get a chance to stamp a little more of my authority and philosophy on the team by choosing some more of the players," said Hodgson.


"It is not often mentioned, but I have not been that active in the transfer market since I have been here.

"The players who are playing are the ones you have watched playing for the past few years.

"They have done exceptionally well for me in accepting a new manager, with a new style and a new training method, and giving the performances they have given, albeit that unfortunately we have been guilty of inconsistency."

The structure introduced at Anfield by FSG suggests that Hodgson's wish is destined to be a forlorn one.

The controversial appointment of Damien Comolli as director of football strategy -- the first made by the Americans after their takeover in October -- means the Frenchman will be handed overall responsibility for recruitment, regardless of who is manager.

That, in turn, allows FSG to make a decision on Hodgson's position regardless of the obvious need to bolster Liverpool's resources in the next four weeks.

The group are thought to be concerned by the former Fulham manager's failure to inspire his side to improved form after a poor start to the season, while the breakdown of his relationship with fans is also a concern.

So determined are Henry and Werner to bring an end to Hodgson's regime that they have abandoned their initial hope to make their first managerial appointment since their £300m takeover a permanent one.

It is believed that an interim candidate is now preferred to give the club time to conduct a thorough search for a long-term successor.

It remains unclear when such a decision will be taken, though only an improbable upturn in form would now save Hodgson. Even then, he would not survive beyond the end of the season.

More likely is that FSG are simply waiting for the right moment to end his tenure in a month when the club face four games in the next 11 days.

Liverpool face Blackburn at Ewood Park tomorrow night before travelling to Old Trafford for an FA Cup third-round tie against Manchester United.

The rearranged league game at Blackpool is on January 12, before the second Merseyside derby of the season brings Everton to Anfield on January 16.

FSG will be well aware that going into such an exacting period with a new manager in place is hardly ideal, especially given Hodgson's admission that he -- or any replacement -- cannot rely on either Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres to play three times in a week.


"If we are going to win games it is the Torreses, the Gerrards, the (Pepe) Reinas, that are going to be the ones to get us up the table and lift us above the rest," said the Liverpool manager.

He added that he would have to rest them at times this month, "and we will have to hope that the fans understand that.

"Fernando had a very serious knee injury, which -- touch wood -- seems to be in the past, but when you have had an injury there is always the little risk of recurrence.

"And Steven, of course, is susceptible to muscle injury if he plays too many games one after the other.

"I have just got to hope that the ones who just seem to keep going -- the Duracell bunnies like Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva -- can keep us going and give me a chance of giving a rest to the others.

"But it is the same for all the teams in the league. We have got a couple of matches (rearranged), which doesn't help, but a lot of teams do.

"But going into it our squad seems quite big and we probably have a little bit more chance of changing things around than some other teams do." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent