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Dec 30, 2010

Hodgson hits back at Kop boo boys

Under-pressure Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has risked incurring further wrath from disgruntled fans by claiming they should be getting behind the team instead of directing their anger at him.

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Hodgson's unpopular reign hit another low point on Wednesday night as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Premier League bottom-feeders Wolves, prompting fans to boo the team off.

Since taking over from Rafael Benitez in July, Hodgson has failed to win over the Anfield faithful and there were chants for Kenny Dalglish and also "Hodgson for England'' on Wednesday. Hodgson believes the negativity directed at him is impacting on his team and called for more backing from the terraces.

"We've had to live that with quite a long time now as ever since I came here the famous Anfield support has not really been there,'' he said. "I can only hope we do have good supporters and I hope these fans become supporters as well because this is a time when the club needs support. We are not deliberately losing these matches or deliberately not playing to the best of their ability. Now is the time for people to really try to help us along because it is not through want of trying.

"My belief that I can turn around is my belief in my own ability,'' he added. "I know the players are working hard to give me and the club success but at the moment we are not succeeding. Maybe we lacked a bit of confidence and the negativity does affect confidence. Players are a little less keen to get on the ball and show what they can do for fear of making a mistake.''

Stephen Ward's first Premier League goal in the 56th minute was enough to secure Wolves' first away win since late March and inflict an eighth defeat on Hodgson's side. It leaves them just three points above the relegation zone.

"It was as bad a team performance as we have given, especially at Anfield,'' added Hodgson. "We've let the fans down and they made that perfectly clear to us and I can only empathise with them because if I was a supporter I would be disappointed with that. It is the Kop's way of showing they are not happy with what the team is doing. As manager you take responsibility for that so I have to take that criticism on the chin as well.''

Meanwhile, Hodgson has allayed fears over Steven Gerrard's fitness after the Liverpool captain was seen clutching his calf. Gerrard had not played since November after picking up an injury while on international duty with England, and appeared to struggle later on in the match, but Hodgson insists the midfielder was merely struggling with cramp and had not suffered any lasting damage.

"Luckily it's cramp, which wasn't good, but unfortunately because we were losing and because I was desperate to do something different and freshen up the team, I'd used up all my substitutes," Hodgson told the club's official website. "Had I not done so, I would have taken him off."

Liverpool host Bolton on New Year's Day, and after the busy festive schedule, Hodgson admits he may be forced to make changes to his side.

"We've got some chances to freshen the team up and we'll have to continually do that anyway because there are so many games coming up," he said. "With games every three days, you cannot expect them to play even if you wanted to."

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy felt his side, who lifted themselves off the bottom with their first away win since March, were not given enough credit for their performance.

"I think most people's perception of Wolves is that we are going down after being beaten by Wigan and being bottom of the league,'' he said. "They probably thought we would come here and sit back and get our backsides slapped and go home with nothing. We decided we weren't going to have that and we were going to come here and have a go. I guess fortune favours the brave.''

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