Agger denies Hodgson rift over ‘long ball’ tactics

LIVERPOOL defender Daniel Agger insists he has no issues with manager Roy Hodgson’s tactics and will continue to fight for his place in the team.

Reports in Agger’s homeland of Denmark appeared to suggest the defender, who has had to fill in as emergency left-back on occasions with Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel the preferred central pairing, did not agree with the style of play under the new Reds boss.

However, the 25-year-old claims his comments, given to Danish TV after Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United, were misrepresented by Danish newspapers.

“I am very disappointed with the papers in Denmark for the way they have done this story,” he said.

“I spoke to Danish TV after the game on Sunday and answered the questions that were put to me. I didn’t speak to the papers.

“The problem was the questions never appeared on TV, only the answers did, and then the newspapers put their own questions in. What came out was 100% wrong and that is why I am very disappointed.”

The reports suggested Agger was at odds over a long-ball policy which was being implemented by Hodgson.

But the centre-back said it was his interviewer — not his manager — who had put forward the idea of pumping passes forward.

“The TV journalist asked me what I needed to do to get back into the team and suggested I should start hitting more long balls,” he added.

“I said I wouldn’t do that because I’m not that kind of player. That’s where that quote came from. I actually think we play good football and that we showed that against Manchester United and against Arsenal.”

Hodgson has every faith his second-string players will step up to the mark after being handed the responsibility of getting past Northampton in the third round of the Carling Cup tonight.

Goalkeeper Brad Jones and defender Danny Wilson make their debuts as the vast majority of the Reds’ stars are rested.

Hodgson is likely to give other fringe players a run-out, although he has also urged the likes of David Ngog — the club’s top scorer with six goals this season — Ryan Babel and Dani Pacheco to further their claims for more first-team action.

But despite the rotation, which has already been effectively used in the Europa League, the manager insists he is taking the competition seriously.

“It’s a strange game for us in a sense,” he said. “It’s one where we need to rotate the squad, having played so many games and having to play so many more before the international break. But on the other hand it’s a competition I take very seriously and I want to have a good run in the competition. We are bothered.”

Hodgson’s predecessor Rafael Benitez last night hit out at the Liverpool hierarchy, claiming they “understand nothing about football”.

The Spaniard, who left in the summer for Inter Milan, spent his last two seasons at Anfield dealing with in-fighting and internal politics.

His relationship with American owners Tom Gicks and George Gillett was strained throughout and he has now criticised them and other high-ranking officials for their lack of knowledge about the sport.

Asked about his relationship with Inter president Massimo Moratti he said: “It’s good. He is a man who knows football. He might get angry when the team doesn’t win and this is normal, but at least you can talk about football with him.

“In my last year at Liverpool I had (club) executives who understood nothing about football and you couldn’t talk to them about football.

“You can with Moratti.”


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