Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hodgson Asks For More Time

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson
once again called for patience as
he waits for things to click into
place at Anfield. Having watched
his side stage a second
comeback inside a week - the
first was ultimately unsuccessful
at Manchester United - just to
salvage a point in the 2-2 draw
at home to Sunderland the 62-
year-old saw positive signs. He
was one of the few to do so as
the Reds, having been gifted a
bizarre opening goal, failed to
press home their early advantage
and almost paid the price.
Hodgson spoke about results
covering over cracks but
performances so far have been
so paper thin and the fissures so
cavernous there is still plenty of
repair work required. Liverpool
have had a tough start, playing
Arsenal, both Manchester teams
and Birmingham away, but six
points from six games marks
their worst start to a top-flight
season in 18 years. No wonder
Hodgson suggested stress could
have been one of the factors that
caused his players to miss a
number of late chances as they
scrambled for what would have
been an undeserved victory over
the Black Cats. "We missed a
couple of very good possibilities
at the end but that is partly also
due to the stress the players are
under," said the 62-year-old.
"Goal chances which you take
when you are two or three up
don't always get taken when it is
1-1 or 2-2. "I just think the
expectations at the moment that
are being piled on the team are
probably expectations they are
going to find difficult to match
up to until such time we do more
work together and they bed in
better as a team. "I am seeing
very good signs that the
bedding-in process is moving
along nicely. "But it is six games
into the season, we have a total
of 38 to play and there will be a
lot of games between the period
from game 30 to 38 which will
be decisive. "I am not prepared
at the moment to start getting
depressed over the fact we are a
few points down on the ones we
would like to have, as I think
maybe it is to be expected given
the situation. "This was a better
performance than the one when
we beat West Brom (1-0) at
home, but we got the three
points in that and that covered
over a lot of cracks. "Sometimes
as a manager you have to be
aware some results can cover
over cracks and a lack of results
can pose questions that really
don't necessarily need to be
posed. "We need to work and
play more together and the more
we do the better the team will be
become. "For me it is quite simply
the Rome wasn't built in a day
adage. We have got to keep
working at it and there are lots
of things I see in the game which
need working at." Sunderland
looked as if they could be in for a
torrid afternoon as Fernando
Torres' chest trap and volley from
Steven Gerrard's second minute
free-kick was ruled out for
offside. The Spain striker's quick
thinking, combined with referee
Stuart Attwell's interpretation of
Michael Turner backheeling the
ball to goalkeeper Simon
Mignolet as being the taking of a
free-kick, set up the first goal
three minutes later. With
everyone assuming the official, in
charge for the infamous "ghost
goal" two years ago in the game
between Watford and Reading,
would pull play back Torres
nipped in and rolled a pass for
Dirk Kuyt to slide home a shot.
The decision incensed the Black
Cats and they used that injustice
to launch a fightback which saw
Darren Bent equalise with a
penalty after Christian Poulsen's
handball before putting his side
ahead with a header just after
the interval. Liverpool looked
devoid of ideas but midway
through the second half Torres
slipped past Phil Bardsley on the
right touchline and swung over a
deflected cross which Steven
Gerrard nodded in at the near
post. There were a flurry of late
chances for the hosts, including
Daniel Agger missing the target
with a free header in the sixth
minute of injury time, but a
victory really would have been
papering over the cracks. "The
pleasing thing for me was the
way we took the ball and
dominated possession for big
periods," said Sunderland
manager Steve Bruce. "I thought
overall we thoroughly deserved it
and, on another day, we
deserved to win the match."
Liverpool are set to be without
left-back Paul Konchesky for
Thursday's Europa League game
in Utrecht and next Sunday's visit
of Blackpool after he sustained a
hamstring strain in the first half
against Sunderland.

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