x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

'Torres has been unlucky'

Liverpool have won just twice away in league in 2010, but Roy Hodgson cannot explain their poor form.

Fernando Torres is one of the league’s most feared strikers, but his form this season has been poor.
Fernando Torres is one of the league’s most feared strikers, but his form this season has been poor.

LIVERPOOL // Roy Hodgson has again sprung to the defence of the striker Fernando Torres as the club aim to end their woeful away form at Blackpool on Boxing Day.

Their visit to Bloomfield Road will be the club's last away game of 2010 - a year in which their Premier League form on the road has been woeful.

The players will take the field tomorrow with Liverpool having won just two away league matches in 362 days, a telling statistic which has in no small way contributed to their current malaise.

Not all of those problems have been because of Torres, who is understandably far more prolific at Anfield than he is on opponents' grounds. Even so, he seemed to suffer from a moment's hesitation when presented with a gilt-edged chance in the 3-1 defeat at Newcastle United nearly two weeks ago.

Hodgson, however, denies that the Spaniard is struggling.

"The case all through the season is we have not been very lucky in front of goal. I don't think our goal return is a fair measure of what we have created," he said.

"We have had our chances, we have created the danger but we have not converted as many of those occasions as we should have done and it is something we have worked on."

He said his side has several goalscorers but described Torres as "one of Europe's best" scorers.

"He does not need reminding of when he misses a goal chance because I bet he can remember every chance he has missed over the last three to four months because they stay with people.

"The important thing is your players keep getting in the right positions and if we can keep getting Fernando into areas where he can score goals he will score goals."

Hodgson, who as both Liverpool and Fulham manager has won just two away league games since August 2009, has had to field numerous questions about the team's poor record away from home.

So far he has not come up with an obvious answer as to why it is so bad, although that is not for want of trying.

"As a coaching staff we are a very analytical, organised and prepared bunch of people and we analyse and discuss all the things we do," he said. "Right down to are our travel preparations: are we staying in the right hotels, are we leaving early enough, are we spending too much or not enough time away from home? It is not an exact science; people can go out ready to play with the right mental attitude and play badly."

Hodgson has found himself receiving unwanted attention from television cameras on the touchline in recent matches but cannot understand why so much is made of his demeanour and actions.

"We pay players here to give performances in 55 to 60 games a season, we don't pay them to come to training or give interviews," he said. "I constantly remind them of that duty and that they are the people that people come to see.

"Even these days, unfortunately, one finds oneself on the bench under scrutiny from TV cameras. But as far as I am concerned when I go to a football match the only thing that interests me is the players."