The former England manager takes lowly Watford to Anfield knowing Jurgen Klopp’s side will be fired up by the prospect of going top of the table, if only for a few hours, despite trailing leaders Manchester City by 14 points 10 weeks ago
Image: Alan Cozzi)
Roy Hodgson goes back to Anfield insisting the Quadruple is not an impossible dream for Liverpool.
The former England manager heads for Merseyside hoping lowly Watford can “surprise the football world” by stalling the red juggernaut as Jurgen Klopp’s side begin the final countdown to an unprecedented clean sweep of major honours. In 1999, the year Watford pulled off their only win at Liverpool under Graham Taylor, Manchester United achieved the Treble, and Hodgson believes Liverpool may have the firepower to go one better.
Klopp, who has already banked the League Cup, faces Manchester City twice in a week – in a possible title shoot-out at the Etihad and the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley – and the Kop head for Portugal in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday. Hornets boss Hodgson, whose reign as Liverpool manager lasted just 31 games in 2010-11, said: “I think the Quadruple is possible. A Treble is a wonderful achievement. To win the Quadruple you’ve got to beat the best in Europe as well as in your own country but, yes, I do believe it’s a possibility.
“The teams at the top of our league are now so good that they are capable, to some extent, of wiping the board – as long as they can see off their closest and fiercest rivals at home. They will sweep everyone else aside, except maybe one or two just below them, so they have got to clear that hurdle first, and they are going to need a good slice of fortune, certainly in terms of keeping key players fit. When you are manager of Fulham, West Brom, Crystal Palace or Watford, you don’t really care about winning Doubles or Trebles – what you care about is taking a point or two off them to keep ourselves in the Premier League.”
Despite trailing title rivals Manchester City by 14 points in January, Liverpool have the incentive of knowing they will go top of the table – if only for a couple of hours – if they beat Watford in the lunchtime kick-off. Hodgson, 74, accepts the odds on denying the Liver bird a return to its favourite perch are prohibitively long, just as he recognises time is running out for the Hornets to avoid relegation.
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He admitted: “We’ve tied a chain round our neck and attached a rock to it. We’ve got to pull that with us now wherever we go because we are several points behind the teams we need to catch. Everyone knows that once you fall some points behind, and the number of games left starts to dwindle, your task to reach safety becomes more and more difficult. And there will be other games where you’re just hoping your team can pull off some sort of exceptional performance and surprise the football world by getting a result no-one expects.”
Hodgson will be boosted by the return of Senegal winger Ismaila Sarr from a hamstring injury, while striker Josh King – without a goal for Watford since November – scored a hat-trick for Norway against Armenia on international duty in midweek.