Roy Hodgson apologises to Liverpool fans as he tries to establish friendlier relations with supporters.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, UK (FILE OCTOBER 2010) ITN -Manager Roy Hodgson apologised to Liverpool fans on Friday (December 31) after earlier remarks were taken as accusing fans of failing to support him since he arrived to take over from Rafa Benitez.
Things came to a head on Wednesday when Liverpool lost 1-0 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, their eighth league loss of the season and one which left the 18-times league champions just three points above the relegation zone.
The crowd chanted "Hodgson for England" and even held up banners saying "Come Back Rafa" leading to under-fire Hodgson
to say after "the famous Anfield support has not really been there ever since I came here".
He also said he hoped the fans "became supporters" which sparked angry comments on internet sites and prompted an online petition to have Hodgson sacked.
The Englishman is the favourite with bookmakers to become the next Premier League manager to lose his job.
Speaking on Friday, Hodgson attempted to build bridges with the fans before Saturday's (January 1) crucial home game against Bolton Wanderers.
"I certainly regret if I have offended them in any way. No way was it meant to be an offensive comment from my part, in fact it was purely a defensive comment," Hodgson told reporters.
"I am quite prepared to accept it on the chin that I would be the one in the firing line for the team's poor performance, and that I fully understood and empathised and sympathised with them - so I am very disappointed if that has been changed into me attacking the fans. There is no way would I want to do that and there's no way that would be justified either because everyone knows that Liverpool fans and support from Liverpool fans is the best in the country. And I am also fully aware that to get the best out of that support you've got to play well and give them something to really look forward to supporting and we certainly didn't do that on Wednesday night and I would have been very surprised if their reaction had been very different that it was," Hodgson added.
Hodgson acknowledged that his appointment had come at a difficult time. He was appointed during the tenure of the club's U.S. owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, both of whom were unpopular with Liverpool fans. New owners John W. Henry and New England Sports Ventures inherited Hodgson's services but the fans have not taken to the former Fulham manager.
"It's been an uphill struggle for me from the start and I don't think they necessarily got behind the appointment and there's no reason why they should," Hodgson said.
"They certainly were prepared to let me get the team playing well and for them to get behind it and to get the results, and of course with that not happening then I can only accept what happened, that they turn against me. But I also believe they are very much Liverpool fans, they are very much behind the club and if we start to turn things around and get the results then they will be behind us all," Hodgson said, and he went on to talk about motivation for the future after the loss to Wolves.
"They are entitled to be unhappy with the results of the last couple of weeks because they were very optimistic when we started to get some good results that we would keep flying up the table. This has been a major setback and it is up to us now to make certain the setback stops here and we get ourselves on a forward roll once again."
Hodgson was also eager to stop talk of pursuing the Champions League until the team achieved more success in the Premier League.
"I don't think it is right at this moment in time to be talking about Champions League qualification," he said.
"You know that is always the ambition of the best part of the teams that are not fighting relegation. You know that is their major goal and there is no reason why a major club like Liverpool shouldn't have it as a goal either but of course it is going to be very difficult. And our major preoccupation in the next game is to first of all get ourselves into that top half of the table and within some kind of touching distance. If we succeed in doing that then perhaps the question becomes relevant but it's not a relevant question for me at this moment in time with the next seven games coming up."