Ward's strike leaves Hodgson reign hanging by a thread

Liverpool 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Roy Hodgson has been waiting a long time to hear the Kop sing his name but never did he think it would be quite like this. The bitterly ironic barbs of "Hodgson for England" rained down on him last night as his Liverpool side fell to a dispiriting and justified defeat to a club which arrived with the worst away record in all four English divisions.

Wolves had registered just one away point all season and had not won away since Upton Park last March until a Liverpool side displaying all the uncertainty and lack of ambition which has characterised the Hodgson era capitulated to them. After the boos and the irony – delivered when Hodgson, his side a goal down, introduced Ryan Babel for last night's sponsors' man of the match David Ngog – came the indignity for the manager of renewed chants of "Dalglish".

For the first time last night, Hodgson addressed the spectre of Dalglish, whose name has now been chanted during three of the darkest moments of this horrible Liverpool season – the home defeat to Blackpool and loss at Stoke completing the complement. "I'm getting used to it. He was a rival for my job and I got it. He is a Liverpool legend. I'm working as hard as I can so I can't say I appreciate it."

Liverpool's new owners were preparing for the path ahead with Hodgson last night – Rennes winger Sylvain Marveaux was in the stands ahead of his anticipated arrival in the transfer window – though Liverpool's lack of ambition, as much as their lack of points, is sending despair coursing through this club. It is difficult to imagine that John W Henry is not at least weighing up an alternative to see the club through to the summer, though all the signs are that it will take a genuine threat of relegation to see Hodgson out now. Bolton's arrival on New Year's Day is, needless to say, another huge match. That FA Cup tie with Manchester United shows football's propensity for kicking a team when they are down.

The manager was puzzled by the response to his decision to remove Ngog. "I thought David was doing OK but in Ryan Babel I thought we had another player who could score a goal... unless they were suggesting Fernando should come off," he said. And why not? Torres' repeated failure to deliver for reasons the manager is thought to believe are both psychological and physical was again the elephant in the press room last night.

It has not gone without notice among some within Anfield that the only time Torres raised himself to a strong display this season was against Chelsea – a club he would perhaps like to rescue him from his strife. He has been allowed to become bigger than this club – not a situation which Avi Cohen would have remembered about Anfield.

On a night when the club remembered Cohen – the man whose goal won the 1980 league title and who died this week, aged 54, from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident – there was certainly evidence that this club does not belong in this place. Steven Gerrard's return for the first time since his hamstring removed him from the side six weeks ago also nurtured hope but Hodgson did not seem sure how best to deploy the captain.

The defensive midfield role he unexpectedly lined up in, breaking up the holding partnership of Lucas and Raul Meireles which has started to work so well in recent weeks, left Liverpool clunking through the first half. He and the Portuguese international swapped roles before the break, reverted back after it and the muffled boos which greeted the half-time whistle reflected the desperate lack of incision.

After a solitary flash of Torres inspiration – the Spaniard spotted Meireles on the right and sent a quick, 20-yard, crossfield free-kick zeroing to him only for the Portuguese to have his shot saved instinctively by Wayne Hennessey and cleared by Richard Stearman – Liverpool offered nothing.

The contrast with Wolves was unmissable. Mick McCarthy, who reflected afterwards that he knew the general expectation was that Wolves would "come here and get their arse slapped... but we weren't having that", played two up and was rewarded when a poor header by Sotirios Kyrgiakos – preferred despite Daniel Agger's return to fitness – allowed Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to thread a ball between the Greek defender and Martin Skrtel for Stephen Ward to shoot past Pepe Reina – whom McCarthy said had "run 70 yards" to get the Irishman sent off in last year's fixture here.

A predicament almost graduated into a calamity when another scramble in the Liverpool box left Glen Johnson to block desperately. As Wolves continued to press, the cheers which greeted the arrival of Fabio Aurelio, a symbol of the Rafael Benitez era, for Paul Konchesky, one of Hodgson's, were another message.

Five Liverpool players were offside when Skrtel rose to head in an 88th minute Gerrard free-kick and as Liverpool fell to their second home defeat to Wolves in 60 years, McCarthy was not in the mood for empathy. "[Criticism] comes at any club," he said. "Our fans have been brilliant but bloody hell, they get a bit intolerant when you are beaten at home to Wigan." Those visiting fans did, indeed, have the last shout. "How shit must you be," they sang to the locals. "We're winning away."

Liverpool (4-2-3-1) Reina; Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky (Aurelio, 73); Gerrard, Lucas; Meireles (Cole, 73) Ngog (Babel, 62), Kuyt; Torres. Substitutes not used Jones, Agger, Rodriguez, Poulsen.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2) Hennessey; Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Elokobi; Jarvis, Foley, Milijas, Hunt; Ward (Fletcher, 78), Ebanks-Blake. Substitutes not used Hahnemann, Edwards, Jones, Bent, Mujangi Bia, Baath.

Referee P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Attendance 41,614.

The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
newsTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone