Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

I'm sorry, says Hodgson as Liverpool humbled by Northampton

Northampton manager Ian Sampson during the third round Carling Cup match at Anfield, Liverpool. Septemeber 22, 2010

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has admitted their Carling Cup exit to Northampton is another setback in an up-and-down season so far.

The npower League Two side, the lowest-placed club in the competition, recovered from Milan Jovanovic's ninth-minute goal to lead 2-1 with goals from Billy McKay and Michael Jacobs with just four minutes of extra-time remaining.

David Ngog nicked a headed equaliser but the Cobblers prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.

With a Barclays Premier League title bid highly unlikely again this season the Carling Cup was seen as a trophy the Reds should be looking at winning.

That belief was increased after the exits of the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Everton but Liverpool blew their chance against a club 69 league places below them.

Combined with their poor start to the league campaign, sitting in 16th place after just five points from as many games, Hodgson admits it increases the scrutiny on everyone at the club.

"We wanted to do well in the Carling Cup and we haven't done," he said.

"We were given a kind draw against a team three leagues below us, were expected to win and when you don't you can expect to be criticised from the top downwards.

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"It is a major setback for the club. The Carling Cup is a competition we are capable of doing well in and we were playing lower league opponents.

"Whatever happens, if it doesn't result in a victory it is a very negative thing and a setback for the club, one of many we are facing at the moment."

Hodgson accepted some responsibility for completely changing his side from the one which lost at Manchester United on Sunday.

However, he did not absolve the players from blame as, even with their weakened line-up, they should have had enough to see off League Two opposition.

"All I can do is congratulate Northampton and apologise to everyone," the 62-year-old added.

"These players have to accept responsibility. I accept responsibility for changing a lot of players in the team, I did it because I honestly thought the players I put on the field were good enough to win the game and they weren't.

"The obvious conclusion to that was I shouldn't have changed that many players but we should have been strong enough to get a result.

"We must all take our responsibility. I am just bitterly disappointed that the team I had so much faith in did not repay that faith this evening with the exception of one or two performances."

Northampton manager Ian Sampson rated the win as one of his top moments in football.

"I won a play-off final at Wembley as a player for Northampton and it ranks right up there with that occasion," he said.

"To be a manger and win at Anfield after only one year in the job I'm absolutely delighted, it is a particular highlight.

"Full credit to the players, they are a young team, with the attitude and desire they showed I can't praise them highly enough.

"We regrouped quite well after the early goal and got ourselves into some good scoring positions."

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