Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hodgson Finally Defends Torres, Admits Being Soft

Liverpool FC manager Roy Hodgson has hit back at Sir Alex Ferguson by insisting Fernando Torres is not a cheat.
And he admits he should have immediately jumped to the defence of the striker.
Manchester United manager Ferguson caused a stir in the wake of Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford last Sunday by accusing Torres of attempting to get John O’Shea sent off after being fouled for the free-kick from which Steven Gerrard scored their equaliser.
Hodgson neglected the opportunity to rubbish the comments in the immediate aftermath by refusing to become embroiled in a war of words.
But, with Torres set to resume up front against Sunderland at Anfield this afternoon, the Liverpool manager insists it was wrong for Ferguson to question the integrity of the striker.
“Fernando Torres is not a cheat, he has proved that time and time again,” said Hodgson, who could welcome Dirk Kuyt back to the fold today. “He is a very respected player, he is strong and takes players on and not easy to stop and he is going to get fouls like he did for their equalising goals.
“I don’t think anybody thinks that was not a foul on the edge of the box. I can understand the penalty as well because it is a bit unlucky on the player because he slides but unfortunately that is a stonewall pen when you slide and take somebody out of the game.
“Alex is a good friend of mine and knows how to use the mass media and he’s used it very well there and he might have used it to deflect from Nani who, certainly on one or two occasions, was playing for fouls in our opinion.
“There is no danger of us cheating. The players here have had years and years of criticism and crisis management every time they have not won a game or things have not gone their way and I think Torres will shrug those suggestions off just as I shrug them off.”
Many Liverpool supporters were perturbed Hodgson missed the opportunity to instantly defend Torres, something the Anfield manager accepts was a mistake.
“Possibly I’m learning as I go along,” he said. “I wouldn’t have thought it was necessary but seeing the way people exaggerate almost everything and want to hype everything up, maybe I should have said something there and then.”
With Liverpool still smarting from their embarrassing Carling Cup exit to League Two minnows Northampton Town on Wednesday, Hodgson will revert back to his first-choice team for the visit of Sunderland.
The Anfield boss is expected to change his entire starting XI and is likely to include Kuyt (shoulder), who returned to training this week after missing three weeks.

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