Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has issued an apology to fans after his team’s best chance of winning silverware ended with a shock League Cup exit to lowly Northampton.
Hodgson fielded virtual reserve side against the Cobblers at Anfield on Wednesday, but insisted his players should have been good enough to defeat a team from the fourth tier of English football.
However the Liverpool boss could only watch in despair as goals from Billy McKay and Michael Jacobs secured a 2-2 for Northampton who then went on to prevail in the shoot-out.
With Liverpool struggling in the Premier League — where they are languishing in 16th place with five points from five games — Hodgson admits the League Cup defeat has increased the pressure on his regime.
“We wanted to do well in the Carling (League Cup and we haven’t done,” he said after the shock loss.
“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.
“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 his share of the blame for naming a completely different team from the one beaten at Manchester United on Sunday, with regulars such as Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Jamie Carragher all missing.
However, he did not absolve the players from blame, saying they just weren’t good enough on the night.
“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 meanwhile described 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 manager and win at Anfield after only one year in the job I’m absolutely delighted, it is a particular highlight.”
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