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.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice