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Jan 6, 2011

Liverpool luminaries back Hodgson

Former Liverpool stars Kevin Keegan, John Barnes and Steve McManaman have backed manager Roy Hodgson to ride through the storm and keep his job as manager of Liverpool.

Keegan and Barnes speak to ESPNsoccernet

• Pressure builds on managers
• Blog: The Liverpool comedy club

Wednesday's dismal 3-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers leaves Liverpool in 12th, just four points above the relegation zone with hopes of European football next season fading fast.

And with the pressure intensifying on Hodgson, even from his own fans, Liverpool travel to Old Trafford on Sunday for a crunch FA Cup third round date with arch-rivals Manchester United.

But while it would seemingly be difficult to think of a worse game for the Reds to face on their current form, Anfield hero Keegan - speaking at an ESPN event at Stamford Bridge ahead of this weekend's FA Cup fixtures - believes that the United game could be the perfect fixture for Hodgson to bounce back.

"People always think you're one game away from the sack as a manger but you're also one game away from turning it around," Keegan told ESPNsoccernet. "If Roy can get his boys up for it, get them all together rowing the boat the same way, they can get a result. People say it's the worst game they could have but I think it's a great game, an opportunity to turn the season around."

And while Keegan says he understands the current frustrations of Reds fans, the former Newcastle boss thinks that the blame for Liverpool's decline in fortunes cannot be placed firmly at Hodgson's door.

"[Liverpool fans] have seen some great players, they've seen some great teams and had some great times and they want some more of it. You can't blame that for that and your job as a manger is to provide that. It's not easy but Liverpool have been in decline for a number of years and I think Roy Hodgson is just picking up the tab.

"Where are all these youngsters they signed? None of them have come through. I think there are a lot of questions that need to be asked way beyond Roy Hodgson. There are new owners but very little has happened since they bought it. The players too have to take responsibility - they are the ones going out and putting in the performances. They've got to get together and turn the season round and they can only do that by getting results.

"I'd like to think that Liverpool is a club that gives people time so I'm hoping he will get it but truthfully I don't know. 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.''

Former Reds winger McManaman, who was a fans' favourite during his nine-year stay at Anfield, echoed Keegan's sentiments, insisting that Liverpool's players are capable of reversing the slide and saving Hodgson's job.

"The fans will voice their displeasure if the team are not winning and if the team are not performing to the best of their ability," McManaman told ESPNsoccernet. "The fans will be unhappy with Roy Hodgson but the only way you change that is to win games.

"If they beat Manchester united they won't be chanting 'Roy Hodgson out'; if they beat Everton a week later in the league they will start to galvanise and get behind them. If they went on a run, they could easily finish in the top eight and that would be fine for Hodgson's first season.

Liverpool legend Barnes added: "As much as Liverpool aren't doing well now, if they put some results together, beat Manchester United in the FA Cup, hopefully, and then do well, things change. But in football, generally speaking, if you lose, you're going to be under pressure, particularly at a big club."


ESPN's Kevin Keegan, Steve McManaman and John Barnes weres speaking at the kickoff of their live third round coverage and the launch of the ESPNsoccernet "Cup of Dreams" Fan Poll, where fans can log on to select their ultimate FA Cup dream team and enter a competition to win tickets to the FA Cup Final.

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