ROY HODGSON faces a torrid day at Anfield tomorrow when he returns for the first time since being sacked.
Liverpool fans never wanted him as manager and finally got their wish for Kenny Dalglish to be appointed when Hodgson was dismissed 15 months ago.
It was one of the low points in Hodgson’s distinguished 36-year managerial career. He lasted only 191 days and 31 matches as Liverpool slipped towards the relegation zone.
But Hodgson has re-established his reputation with West Brom, keeping them safe from relegation last season and now booking them a third successive year in the Premier League.
He has met Liverpool twice since leaving, beating them last season and losing this, but this will be the first time he has got on the team bus and headed up the M6 back to Anfield.
“There is no reason to give me a good reception because a lot of them didn’t like me when I was there, so I can’t see they are going to like me now,” said Hodgson.
“I’d like to think I didn’t do the club any harm or damage it in any way. I’d be disappointed if the reception is a bad one. But if it is I’ll have to come to terms with it.”
Dalglish, who has been under big pressure himself with poor league results, has come to Hodgson’s defence.
“It was a difficult time for Liverpool, the same as what the league run has been recently,” said Dalglish.
“I have the utmost respect for Hodgson as a person, a football coach and a manager. He always conducted himself in a dignified manner, we always got on very well and that won’t change.
“I’m sure the people will respect the fact Hodgson served Liverpool and I’m sure they will give him a warm reception.”
Warm it might be. Enjoyable it might not.
“I came to Liverpool at a time of great transition,” said Hodgson. “It was a time when the people in charge of the club were handing over to a new group of owners.
“Certainly, I don’t have anything negative to say about Liverpool, quite the reverse. But I can’t control what people at Liverpool say about me. I’ve no regrets about taking the job, my only regret is I wasn’t able to keep it for longer.”
West Brom have not won at Anfield for 45 years and if they pull off a shock result, it would put more question marks against Dalglish.
“He has iconic status at Liverpool and has the backing of everyone at the club,” said Hodgson.
“Whenever you go to a club and there is an icon in the background it’s not easy to fight that off.
“Somewhat naively, I’m not in favour of the Johnny-come-lately mentality, the person who won the last three games being better than the person who lost the last three.
“People’s ability to do jobs should be judged over a longer period of time than a few months of so-called failure.
“It should be based over a career and a large body of work.”
By John Wragg