LIVERPOOL // Roy Hodgson expects Gerard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager, to receive a warm welcome on his competitive return to Anfield tonight.
But he hopes that is all he gets as the Englishman is keen for his side to continue their recent improvement, even taking into account last week's injury-time defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
Houllier sat in the Liverpool dugout alongside the man who now has his old job for Jamie Carragher's testimonial in September. Tonight he will sit on the opposition bench where he will try to get one over on his former club, with whom he won the Carling Cup, FA Cup and Uefa Cup treble in 2001.
Houllier and Hodgson share many similarities and are close friends but that will count for nothing as Liverpool look to extend a four-match winning run at Anfield in all competitions.
"I have known Gerard for many years, since I went to Switzerland in 1990," said Hodgson.
"We have been friends for over 20 years, we've done a lot of work together in Europe for Uefa in the technical study groups and Fifa as well for that matter. I am delighted he is back in English football and I am certain he will get a very good reception when he comes back to Anfield.
"We know his team will be hard to beat, well organised and have some very good individual players. I am hoping we will carry on where we have left off in the last couple of games, particularly against West Ham [a 3-0 home win] and Tottenham [a 2-1 away defeat].
"If we can play at that level for the rest of the season, I have high hopes we will do well."
Hodgson is without the injured Steven Gerrard (hamstring) and Carragher (shoulder).