Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson has his eye on the ball

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is concentrating on football despite all the debate over who will be the club's new owners and he is eagerly anticipating what he regards as his "mini home debut" tonight.

The 62-year-old heads into his first match in charge at Anfield in the enviable position of having a 2-0 lead over Macedonians Rabotnicki from the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying-round tie. Against that backdrop individuals and groups keen on taking control at Anfield are jostling for position as they try to steal a march on their rivals in the bidding to take over from Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Hodgson, however, is purely a football man and he will be watching intently tonight as he gives some of his big names a run-out as part of their pre-season preparations. "I don't get involved, I leave it to the people who know what they are doing," said the former Fulham boss.

"I am looking forward to tonight and it would be foolhardy to say anything other than your first game at Anfield as manager will be a special occasion.

"It will be equally as special, if not more so for the first Premier League game because, with respect to Rabotnicki, it is not quite the same as Liverpool v Arsenal.

"I am lucky in that I will have a mini debut followed by a full debut and I am looking forward to it.

"But I don't think there is any danger of complacency; I'm a new manager so the players have to impress on me how good they are.

"It would surprise me if you got any complacent performances at Anfield.

"We need to be more fearful of anxiety rather than complacency and although anxiety won't be the case tonight in the future anxiety would worry me more than complacency."

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