Premier League

Cole: Players behind Hodgson

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Roy Hodgson has been given the backing of the Liverpool dressing room from Joe Cole as speculation about the manager's future grows by the day.

Even a much-needed 2-1 win over Bolton - achieved by Cole's injury-time goal - did little to quieten the whispers which say the Englishman is living on borrowed time at Anfield.

The spectre of Kenny Dalglish, the club's legendary former player and manager and currently employed in an ambassadorial role, looms ever larger over Hodgson's shoulder.

Owners New England Sports Ventures are considering who is the best man to lead the club forward.

And if, as it seems, Hodgson is not to be that individual and no suitable replacement can be found quickly, there is the option of bringing in Dalglish - the last Liverpool manager to win the title - on a short-term basis.

But Cole, who tapped home from close range in added time to snatch three points against Wanderers, insists the squad are doing their best to ease the pressure on Hodgson.

"We are all behind the manager. We all want to put this club in the right direction and keep working hard," he said.

"We are out there playing for the shirt and the manager. We have all got to stick together because there is no-one bigger than the club.

"I am really happy for everyone at the club; it has been a tough week for everyone - particularly the manager - but we've got the win.

"It is not just the newspapers, none of us like losing and getting criticised but half the battle of modern day football is dealing with pressure and kicking on.

"We are pleased for the fans, the owners and the manager but we have all got to stick together and kick on from here, it can't be a false dawn."

Hodgson began 2011 on a high note having just three days earlier endured probably his lowest point since taking over in July.

Sun., May 22
Aston Villa 1-0 Liverpool | Recap
Bolton 0-2 Man City | Recap
Everton 1-0 Chelsea | Recap
Fulham 2-2 Arsenal | Recap
Man Utd 4-2 Blackpool | Recap
Newcastle 3-3 West Brom | Recap
Stoke City 0-1 Wigan | Recap
Tottenham 2-1 Birmingham | Recap
West Ham 0-3 Sunderland | Recap
Wolves 2-3 Blackburn | Recap

A home defeat by Wolves was bad enough but his post-match comments, in which he appeared to criticise fans by claiming he had never had "the famous Anfield support" was the nadir of his six-month reign.

It prompted 95% of 10,000 respondents to an online poll to call for him to be sacked, and although the win over Bolton lifted some of the gloom, Hodgson is far from secure.

But the 63-year-old insists all he can do is concentrate on his job working with the first team.

"I have been delighted by the support I have been given by the players since I came here," said the former Fulham boss.

"I get good weeks and bad weeks. The performances recently at home against West Ham, Aston Villa, Blackburn and Chelsea were very good weeks and people were talking glowingly about the organisation and the way we were playing.

"Suddenly you lose two games and everything is flipped on its head.

"There is a very thin dividing line between people saying you are a fantastic coach and people suggesting you are no good at all.

"The most important thing for me is that the players continue to work hard at their game and continue to believe in your philosophy and I have never had any doubts about that in the six months I've been at the club."

There may have been some doubts creeping in on Saturday as, after back-to-back Premier League defeats to Newcastle and Wolves, Hodgson's side fell behind to Kevin Davies' 42nd-minute header.

Fortunately that situation did not persist for too long as four minutes into the second half a flashback to happier times created the equaliser.

Captain Steven Gerrard's curling pass was perfectly weighted and aimed at the penalty spot and striker Fernando Torres, without a goal since November 10, made a difficult waist-high volley past goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen look ridiculously easy.

Liverpool pressed for a winner and, just when it appeared as though they would come up short, another Gerrard cross in the 92nd minute bounced back off Johan Elmander - under pressure from Maxi Rodriguez - into the path of Cole, who tapped in from three yards.

It was the England international's first league goal since his summer free transfer from Chelsea.

"It has been a long time coming and has been stop-start with injuries and suspension," said Cole.

"I just want to play games now and get in the team.

"You can only get fit and get your confidence by playing football."

Bolton boss Owen Coyle, coincidentally one of the names being suggested as Hodgson's successor, was frustrated by the defeat having played well but been beaten against Chelsea in midweek.

"It is important we pick ourselves up and go again," said the Scot.

"We will be fine. You do one of two things: you feel sorry for yourself or you get up in the morning with a smile on your face and look to do something about it."

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