Hodgson takes a pop at Rijkaard and defends his record as Rovers boss
Published 23:00 23/10/10 By Simon Mullock
Roy Hodgson has insisted he can cope with the pressure of being Liverpool boss – and has ridiculed suggestions that Frank Rijkaard should replace him at Anfield.
The Merseysiders, without a win in seven matches at home and abroad, face their manager’s former club Blackburn today ensconced in a relegation battle and with Hodgson under intense scrutiny after New England Sports Ventures’ takeover.
Rijkaard, the Dutchman who guided Barcelona to two La Liga titles and the Champions League, is being linked to Liverpool following his sacking by Galatasaray this week.
But Hodgson is not prepared to walk away from the Reds without a fight, saying: “I had two-and-a-half years of this kind of thing when I was at Inter when, every day, there would be stuff in the newspapers that someone was going to get my job.
“If I took two and a half years of that in Milan I can take two and a half years of it here.
“It ended up with my being offered a new contract by Inter when I left for Blackburn.
“The doom and gloom that surrounds us is not coming from within the club, not from me and not from the players – it’s coming from people outside who are having a field day and delighting in the fact we are having a bad time.
“Rijkaard has just been sacked from Galatasaray - he must be a great manager to have been sacked by Galatasaray! What you are talking about is Frank Rijkaard’s agent putting his name around. It is all speculation.”
Hodgson spent 18 months at Blackburn after quitting Inter in 1997, but was sacked with Rovers bottom of the table and heading for relegation.
He said: “At Blackburn, I took a team that avoided relegation by one point to the UEFA Cup when we finished sixth in the league.
“That seems somehow to be forgotten when the next season we had a lot of injury problems and found that things were not going so well. But in that first season we were being feted everywhere and I was being tipped as the next England manager, but after a poor start the following season I didn’t get a chance to follow it through.
“I am sure that if I had been given a chance to follow it through, I would have dealt with that one too. You do get bad periods and I have been lucky in having had more good ones than bad ones.
“At Blackburn, 18 months of work got judged on the last two or three months when we did poorly. But that is the business.
“So many good things have been written about me over the last two and a half years that it would be churlish of me to start complaining. But I wasn’t happy about the way my time at Blackburn was perceived.”
Skipper Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres were left behind as a weakened Liverpool team drew 0-0 in Napoli on Thursday night.
Hodgson said: “Now it is up to the players who will be fresh from not having taken part to step up to the plate.
“We have left more than two behind - there is Meireles, there is Johnson, there is Leiva; Jamie Carragher played half the game, Joe Cole only came on at the end.
“I think we won’t be taking any fatigue into the match. It doesn’t always work that way, but we won’t have that as an excuse if we don’t go on and win the game.”