Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers: Preview

29 December 2010 12:54
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson hopes to sign off a disappointing 2010 on a high note as he looks to a prosperous new year. The last 12 months have been eventful both on and off the field for the Merseysiders.

Results have been on the slide ever since the Reds began 2010 with a third round FA Cup exit to Championship side Reading. Having finished a disappointing seventh in the Barclays Premier League manager Rafael Benitez was dispensed with and Roy Hodgson drafted in as his replacement.

In the wake of intense speculation about the futures of star players Fernando Torres, Jose Reina and Steven Gerrard - and on the back of a World Cup - the new appointment did not produce the expected bounce back in terms of performances.

However, since the £300million sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures in October a degree of stability as returned to Anfield. And while Liverpool are still a long way off the pace of Champions League qualification Hodgson is hopeful the worst is now behind them.

"I get the feeling every day the players are committed to the club and will work hard to do a bit better in 2011 than they have done in 2010," said the manager, whose side face Wolves at Anfield on Wednesday.

"They are capable of it and I am really anxious to work with them and help them with it. I have no fears in that respect. Everyone is anxious to make 2011 a better year than 2010.

"The club - the players and the staff - dealt with the takeover situation very well. We didn't use it as an excuse, although I'm not certain we needed it as an excuse because I don't think we were playing as well at that stage.

"We have got better as a team with all the work we are putting in and we are getting better but it is results that count. Every day is exciting for me. Every day I realise I am privileged to be in the position of football manager and even more privileged to be manager of one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

"I would hope that I would never be found guilty of not saying it is a privilege. I am really looking forward to the challenge of 2011 with this team, who I feel are capable of much better things than in 2010."

One stumbling block to Liverpool's sustained recovery this season is that they have not been able to put together a long run of good results. Captain Steven Gerrard returns against Wolves after more than six weeks out with a hamstring tear while defender Daniel Agger could be in the squad, having last played for the Reds on September 25 because of a complex calf problem.

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy insists he is under no pressure from club owner Steve Morgan despite his side propping up the Barclays Premier League table.

McCarthy saw Wolves slide into 20th position after being beaten 2-1 at home by fellow strugglers Wigan on Boxing Day. Now they face a testing clash with Liverpool at Anfield. But McCarthy is adamant he retains the backing of Morgan and Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey.

He said: "Am I feeling the pressure at all? It is always the same from outside. I don't worry about that at all because I have a good relationship with everyone at the club.

"A huge amount of faith and trust has been placed in me - and by me in them (Morgan and Moxey). That doesn't concern me at all. I just carry on and keep trying to get results.

"We are all concerned about it, of course we are. No-one is happy with the position we are in. But to start worrying about things I can't do anything aboutthat is not the case. I don't think I have any need to worry about that."

McCarthy will have to keep faith with the 18 players on duty against the Latics. In addition to Doyle, Henry and Craddock, he will again be without Steve Mouyokolo and Michael Mancienne through injury.

But winger Kevin Jarvis and striker Steven Fletcher are in contention to start after only being fit enough to be on the bench against Wigan because of a knee injury and illness respectively.

Source: DSG

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
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