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Hodgson and the Skopje press conference.

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Roy Hodgson is 'far from confident' ahead of Liverpool debut | Football | The Guardian

Roy Hodgson is 'far from confident' ahead of Liverpool debut

 

• Manager without Gerrard and Torres for Europa League game

• 'I couldn't have envisaged a more difficult situation'

 

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* Louise Taylor in Skopje

* The Guardian, Thursday 29 July 2010

* Article history

 

Roy Hodgson Roy Hodgson said he did not consider playing Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher in the Europa League qualifying game because 'they've only been training four days'. Photograph: Georgi Licovski/EPA

 

The handful of Liverpool fans congregating at Skopje's Alexander the Great airport yesterday wore increasingly puzzled expressions as a series of red-tracksuited figures ambled through arrivals and out into the afternoon sunshine.

 

With Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole left behind in England at a time when Fernando Torres, José Reina and Dirk Kuyt have still to return to pre-season training, there are few familiar faces on Europa League qualifying duty here in Macedonia.

 

Roy Hodgson seems hardly to have put a foot wrong during his first month at Anfield but Liverpool's new manager appeared slightly terse last night, his refusal to answer questions about anything other than the game against FW Rabotnicki perhaps betraying a certain tension. Deep down he must wonder whether a scratch XI comprising reserves and academy players can avoid dissipating the considerable feelgood factor engendered by Cole's signing and the decisions of Gerrard and Torres to remain on Merseyside.

 

Defeating a battle-hardened Macedonian team sprinkled with gifted Brazilians in this gateway to the Europa League proper is unlikely to be straightforward. "We are obliged to put our fate in the hands of many inexperienced players," Hodgson said.

 

"We can only hope they come through against a side well versed in European football. I couldn't have envisaged a more difficult situation at the start of my Liverpool career than the one I find myself in: playing a European qualifier against a good opponent without 10 senior players. I'm hoping we'll be able to win but I'm far from confident that will be the case.

 

"It's especially hard to play qualifiers on 29 July in World Cup years. Everyone, most of all Uefa, knows you can't bring people off the beach, give them three days' training and throw them into a top-class match. I'm relatively confident tomorrow's team won't let Liverpool down but we'll have to be very good to survive."

 

If there was an ominous sense of a honeymoon about to come to an abrupt end, at least Hodgson had not entirely lost his sense of humour.

 

Reminded that three years ago Rabotnicki drew 1-1 here in a Uefa Cup tie against a Bolton Wanderers team then managed by Liverpool's current assistant manager, Sammy Lee, he said: "Sammy hasn't been able to tell me much; I think he's erased Bolton from his mind but he does remember they got through with some difficulty."

 

Liverpool's manager had earlier said he would discuss with his board the Europa League's position in the club's pecking order of priorities but, asked whether that chat had happened, he merely replied: "All we ever seem to do is have discussions so I'm pretty sure they'll have taken place. But this is a very important game."

 

Whatever this season's European policy, this game at a ground in the process of being rebuilt – both ends of the Phillip II Stadium are largely rubble and, of the two functioning stands, one was surrounded by cranes yesterday as final building blocks were lowered into place – could be the opportunity Alberto Aquilani needs finally to begin demonstrating why Rafael Benítez paid £17m for him.

 

Just as Skopje is a mishmash of communist-period architectural atrocities and Ottoman era gems, Hodgson's teamsheet promises to be a mix of delicate talent – Aquilani, Daniel Agger and Milan Jovanovic, a newly arrived Serbia winger once coveted by Real Madrid – and raw youth such as David Amoo. "Most people will not have heard of the players here, they won't recognise them," acknowledged Hodgson who is privately well aware that Anfield's youth production line declined on Benítez's watch. "But if you're going to be a top player at Liverpool you need to be able to handle a game like this. We'll find out if they can. It's an opportunity to swim."

 

He did not contemplate throwing seniors in at the deep end here. "Gerrard and the others never came close to playing, they've only been training four days. It would have been complete folly to play them in difficult conditions," said Hodgson it was also too late to parachute any new buys into a club boasting only five of the eight homegrown players aged over 21 now mandatory in all Premier League squads. Asked whether he was poised to sign Luke Young from Aston Villa, Hodgson typically straight-batted: "Well he's not playing tomorrow."

 

He must trust Liverpool's ersatz defence proves similarly unforthcoming this evening.

 

FW Rabotnicki (4-3-3, prossible): Bogatinov; Dimovski, Fernando, Belica, Sevlovski; Tunevski, Grigorov, Todorovski; Ze Carlos, Vandair, Fabio

 

Liverpool (4-5-1, possible): Cavalieri; Kelly, Skrtel, Krygiakos, Agger; Amoo, Spearing, Lucas, Aquilani, Jovanovic; Ngog

 

I think Louise may be overstating the facts here a tad. I can't imagine many fans hardy enough to go to Skopje would need a pub quiz huddle to recognise any of them.

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He's in a shit hole country, in a shit hole competition playing a team he knows is nowhere near good enough.

 

I'd be pissed off too.

 

Look at the match thread, people saying they'd take a draw, Roy knows what we know, the team he'll put out is far from being even our 2nd best eleven.

 

I blame Rafa.

 

Oh, hang on.............

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I don't think he said anything wrong in that press conference and don't care if he had a go at the journalists. Fuck the journalists.

 

Some of the comments would've been pulled up staright away if it was still Rafa in charge and to me that hypocrisy.

 

They'd both be in a shit country, with loads of players missing and would've had a tough time trying to get players in and out.

 

Perfectly sums up the situation, and exactly how I feel reading this thread.

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Yeah and there is a huge difference to as the circumstances both managers where in.

 

One had been there 6 years, and in the middle of one of the worst periods of football we've seen for 15 years.

 

The other has been here 5 minutes, approaching his first game with next to no first team players.

 

 

Surely you have to wait to see how we do this season, with this team, these restrictions and this manager before making that statement.

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Must be staggering, this pressure heaped upon him for a qualifying game in the Europa cup. Wonder how he managed last year?

 

I think it only shows that even an experienced person at 62 years of age can get caught a bit outside his comfort zone. However, Hodgson is intelligent, and intelligent people adapt fast.

 

The next news conferences tell us more, this is just one game. Though I think it may mean a whole lot more to Hodgson than us, he would not be there if he didn't have real ambition to succeed.

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I don't think he said anything wrong in that press conference and don't care if he had a go at the journalists. Fuck the journalists.

 

Some of the comments would've been pulled up staright away if it was still Rafa in charge and to me that hypocrisy.

 

They'd both be in a shit country, with loads of players missing and would've had a tough time trying to get players in and out.

 

Let's be honest that's an assumption for a starter. If Rafa had just come to the club and was starting out I'm betting there would be plenty of support for the statements. After six years here probably he would have taken flack and if it happened IMO that would be wrong. It's asking a lot of any manager in those circumstances ,when the press dickheads are banging on about something, to give nice polite answers that THEY want to hear

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Let's be honest that's an assumption for a starter. If Rafa had just come to the club and was starting out I'm betting there would be plenty of support for the statements. After six years here probably he would have taken flack and if it happened IMO that would be wrong. It's asking a lot of any manager in those circumstances ,when the press dickheads are banging on about something, to give nice polite answers that THEY want to hear

 

I don't disagree, but one of the hypocritical slogans of the anti-Rafa gang on here is that Rafa antagonized the press unnecessarily and Hodgson had a very good rapport with the press.

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The "Rafa haters" in 'wanting to give Roy some time' shocker.

 

The "Rafa lovers" in 'you should treat him the same as you treated the previous manager'.

 

Big whoop. Get over it, whatever side you are on.

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Shut up Cain! You've been on your jollies, i dont need your jibber jabber fool!

 

(boss pics of Canada on FB beast)

 

Cheers, Mick.

 

ps. I'm on your side, if it makes any difference!

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The journo's were dying to get Roy into saying that English football is shite as you know they would have made an headline out of that.

 

Hodgson will also have known about the fact Young was not joining so that would have fucked up his forthcoming transfer plans as well.

 

What do people want Hodgson to do skip into the press conference and start going into a stand up comedy routine.

 

Playing this early after the World Cup is stupid but we knew about this last season and the majority of the players who got us into this mess will be sat at home watching whilst the youngsters try and get us through into the next round.

 

I have sympathy for Hodgson as he has had very little time to work with what you would call the main squad and he needs to get across his idea's regards tactics, formations etc so he is bound to be pissed off with playing this game tonight.

 

I think people are making a mountain out of a mole hill with this one and any journo that is pissed off with Hodgson over the conference need to grow up and stop asking stupid fucking loaded questions in the first place.

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Playing this early after the World Cup is stupid but we knew about this last season and the majority of the players who got us into this mess will be sat at home watching whilst the youngsters try and get us through into the next round.

 

This is the very issue i have with Roy. We are going into our first game of the season, under difficult circumstances, relying on youngsters. They, and the club in general, need galvanising and lifted going into this game, and he comes accross as a mardy arse, moaning about how difficult the start has been for him, and how we are missing players.

 

Youngsters must be brimming with self confidence now.

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Surely you have to wait to see how we do this season, with this team, these restrictions and this manager before making that statement.

 

Well then it wouldn't be the same statement, it would be 16 years.

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I have sympathy for Hodgson as he has had very little time to work with what you would call the main squad and he needs to get across his idea's regards tactics, formations etc so he is bound to be pissed off with playing this game tonight.

 

He accepted the job, he knew we would be playing at this time.

 

He knew Argentina, England, Spain, Holland would've gone quite far so he knew he wouldn't have had most of his first team squad for this game. I don't see how he can be pissed off about something he knew already.

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This is the very issue i have with Roy. We are going into our first game of the season, under difficult circumstances, relying on youngsters. They, and the club in general, need galvanising and lifted going into this game, and he comes accross as a mardy arse, moaning about how difficult the start has been for him, and how we are missing players.

 

Youngsters must be brimming with self confidence now.

 

I dissagree mate and i think Hodgson has been going overboard with the praise for the youngster during the pre-season.

 

He has gone out of his way to mention how well Spearing, Kelly, Ayala, Palsso, Ince etc have done.

 

No manager is going to be happy at going into a knockout game without the likes of Gerrard, Carra, Cole, Johnson etc who would make a huge difference.

 

Some of the lads who are playing tonight are not ready for this sort of situation and hopefully they will raise their game and see us through.

 

I would have been more disappointed with Hodgson if he said he was happy with the squad as that would have showed him up to be a 'yes man' and be prepared to take any old shit.

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The journo's were dying to get Roy into saying that English football is shite as you know they would have made an headline out of that.

 

Hodgson will also have known about the fact Young was not joining so that would have fucked up his forthcoming transfer plans as well.

 

What do people want Hodgson to do skip into the press conference and start going into a stand up comedy routine.

 

Playing this early after the World Cup is stupid but we knew about this last season and the majority of the players who got us into this mess will be sat at home watching whilst the youngsters try and get us through into the next round.

 

I have sympathy for Hodgson as he has had very little time to work with what you would call the main squad and he needs to get across his idea's regards tactics, formations etc so he is bound to be pissed off with playing this game tonight.

 

I think people are making a mountain out of a mole hill with this one and any journo that is pissed off with Hodgson over the conference need to grow up and stop asking stupid fucking loaded questions in the first place.

 

Good post coop.

 

I guess my problem is not so much with the media, but the cynicism of our own fans towards Roy, always looking for an motive behind his words, always looking for that hint of discontent.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm very cynical of our board, once bitten twice shy. But we aren't going to get them out by scaremongering bullshut rumours, and we certainly aren't going to have a sense of unity when we approach the coming season.

 

I'll hold my hands up if Hodgson is trying his best to tell the fans 'The club is still fucked', but honestly. I can't see it. What I can see is a club trying to sell itself to a rich arab, with Hodgson trying to do his best with a limited budget, with Purslow, like 99% of all CEO's negotiating the transfers.

 

Although it's not under the most ideal circumstances, for the first time in a long time I am actually quite satisfied and happy at how the club had conducted it's business, and yes I include Purslow in that sentiment.

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I have sympathy for Hodgson as he has had very little time to work with what you would call the main squad and he needs to get across his idea's regards tactics, formations etc so he is bound to be pissed off with playing this game tonight.

.

 

 

In relation to this point, Ajax played a Champions League qualifiers last night with Suarez scoring! So why are Gerrard, Carragher, still not ready.

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4-4-2 died on the veld. Now Hodgson, a loyalist, perhaps feels as though he is left with nothing to have faith in. In such circumstances, few of us would feel like talking about it.

 

So because England sucked donkey's cock at the world cup 4-4-2 is suddenly dead?

 

A kneejerk reaction to rival the best post match threads on here.

 

(not quoting it as your opinion, Jim)

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Some of the lads who are playing tonight are not ready for this sort of situation and hopefully they will raise their game and see us through.

 

 

I agree some of these are probably not ready, and im sure the players will have their doubts too, which is why i don't think the manager coming out and talking about how difficult it will be is likely to help them. They need confidence boosting. Ill be honest, i have not seen him going overboard following pre season, but if he has and i have missed it, then his worrying now seems a little contradictory.

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