No escape for Roy Hodgson: Liverpool boss tries to battle on, but next up is Manchester United

07 January 2011 01:41
Roy Hodgson was grimly hanging on to his job as Liverpool manager as Didier Deschamps - the man widely touted as his potential successor - appeared to rule himself out of the running.

Despite mounting calls from supporters for Liverpool's American owners Fenway Sports Group to relieve him of his duties, Hodgson was back at work yesterday reflecting on the latest setback in this demoralising season.

Writing's on the wall, Roy: Graffiti on covers the wall by the entrance to Liverpool's training ground on Thursday morning

Hodgson arrived at Liverpool's Melwood training base just after 11am and spent four hours at the West Derby complex sifting through the wreckage of the previous evening's 3-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers. The majority of his squad took a scheduled day off.

Graffiti proclaiming 'Hodgson out' had been daubed on a wall at the entrance to Melwood but there was no sign that FSG were going to bow to the wishes of fans and bring the axe down on his torrid six-month reign.

Whether Hodgson will still be in charge for Sunday's trip to Manchester United in the FA Cup third round remains unclear but there is no doubt FSG have an enormous decision to make going into a match that has assumed even greater importance for Liverpool.

Should they lose at Old Trafford, Liverpool's domestic campaign will effectively be over. They have already lost nine times in the Barclays Premier League and are lacking the consistency to mount a challenge for a European place.

Removing Hodgson and installing a caretaker - possibly Kenny Dalglish - might give supporters a lift but could disrupt preparations for Old Trafford. And there was further upheaval yesterday when it was reported that Bayern Munich have made an enquiry into buying striker Fernando Torres.

For their part, FSG had hoped to avoid making a decision about a new manager until the end of the season but Liverpool's inability to string a run of decent results together - coupled with attendances plummeting home and away - has forced their hand.

Close the door: Hodgson arrives at Melwood with talks understood to be in progress regarding his uncertain future

The vast majority of fans are sceptical that Hodgson can mastermind a win at Old Trafford but he is battling on and will face the media, as usual, today when the subject of his future will dominate the agenda. FSG have examined the credentials of candidates around Europe.

Deschamps, the respected Marseille coach, is understood to have many admirers at Anfield and impressed when he was interviewed to replace Rafa Benitez last summer.

But Deschamps has taken steps to distance himself from the Liverpool job, stating his intention to see out his contract and still be Marseille's manager when they leave Stade Velodrome in 2014 to move into a new home.

Asked in France about his position, Deschamps said: 'When I talk about being coach of Marseille in the new stadium, I mean it. It is an idea that pleases me. Now, 2014 is a very long way away in my profession but people should understand I am not a tramp. I proved it last year. I could have left.'

It has been another painful 48 hours for Hodgson, who had earned himself a stay of execution when Liverpool beat Bolton on New Year's Day. He did receive some words of support yesterday from club legend Kevin Keegan.

Feeling the heat: Liverpool fans turned on under-fire boss Roy Hodgson at Ewood Park on Wednesday night

'The opportunity comes at Manchester United to get back on track,' said Keegan. 'It's a tough one. Liverpool are a big club with big expectation but they have underperformed over a number of years - way before Roy Hodgson went in there.

'They've got to give him time but it's the one thing you don't get, as we all know. The clock ticks on the wall and managers don't get time.

'They thought he was right four months ago and he did a great job at Fulham, so they've got to back him. They chose him, they've got to back him. If you go back to when Sir Alex Ferguson took over at Manchester United, he had a tough start. The position they were in wasn't dissimilar.'

It is unlikely Hodgson will receive any kind of public backing from FSG. But the point Keegan makes about Liverpool being a failing force before the 63-year-old's arrival is pertinent and it would be grossly unfair to pile all the ills at Anfield on his shoulders.

Rover and out: Liverpool slumped to their ninth defeat of the season after losing 3-1 at Blackburn

Too many players have underperformed for too long and the farcical defending at Ewood Park -Glen Johnson, not for the first time this season, was at fault for two of the goals Liverpool conceded - shows how reliant they remain on the injured Jamie Carragher.

Only Steven Gerrard, Carragher, Lucas and goalkeeper Pepe Reina stand above criticism. And while it will always be true that managers stand or fall by their results, there are several in the current squad who have let Hodgson and the club's supporters down.

 Kevin Keegan, John Barnes and Steve McManaman were speaking on behalf of ESPN ahead of their live FA Cup Third Round games and the ESPNsoccernet 'Cup of Dreams' Fan Poll.

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 Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Jamie Carragher, Pepe Reina, Kevin Keegan, Glen Johnson, Kenny Dalglish, Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, John Barnes Places: Liverpool, France, Europe

Source: Daily_Mail