Hodgson pledges to cure Reds 'fever'
Not even Roy Hodgson would deny that his first four months at Anfield have featured the steepest of learning curves.
If the summer brought a crash course in the club's transfer market freakonomics and the last fortnight offered a condensed law degree, the Liverpool manager's last few days have been spent learning all about the Merseyside rumour mill.
In barely 72 hours Hodgson has, supposedly, been told by Fernando Torres that the Spanish international no longer intended to play for him, fallen out with his own coaching staff, tendered his resignation and elicited the most impressive performance of his reign from his side in Naples.
Only one of those, of course, is a fact. Hodgson is unperturbed by reports of the remaining three reaching his door, though.
He may not have enjoyed the easiest of starts, but he is settling into his role as Liverpool manager. Such careless talk is par for the course.
"It is sad," said Hodgson. "People write the most ridiculous things on these web sites, like I'm having fights with Fernando Torres. Someone told me yesterday they had me falling out with the rest of my staff and then they had me resigning.
"I would not take it too seriously. I am here to try and get Liverpool back to where the club belongs. I am not going do it overnight, but the players are working hard and all I can do is try and get us out of (this bad period).
"It is nothing that a few victories will not change and put a different complexion on things. I am in it for the long haul. Even that would not stop websites putting ridiculous stories out every day, but I will have to learn to live with that. It probably comes with the territory of working at Liverpool."
That is not to diminish the severity of the task that Hodgson has found himself facing.
Liverpool could start tomorrow's match with Blackburn bottom of the Premier League, while the 63-year-old has produced the worst opening spell of a new manager at the club since 1928.
Several players do fear that the club's renaissance, supposedly started last summer with the dismissal of Rafael Benitez, may take rather longer to materialise than first hoped, even with the advent of New England Sports Ventures at Anfield.
Fortunately for Hodgson, though, Liverpool's new Americans are as aware of the scale of the task in hand as he is.
"They think I have inherited a really bad situation," he said, when asked what John W Henry and Tom Werner, NESV's principals, had said to him of Liverpool's start to the season.
"They think I am the man to put it right. I think I am the right man to put it right. I have not lost all confidence in myself in three and a half months. This is a difficult job at a club that needs a lot of sorting out.
"I think the owners know what the club needs. I think the owners realise that I am as good as any man to do the job because they are aware of what brought me into the job in the first place and I hope that they show the necessary patience, tolerance and backing to help us get out of it."
For all the rumours of backstage bust-ups, of quarrels and rows and resignations, though, Hodgson believes his Liverpool, now slowly taking shape, delivered their defiant verdict in the cauldron of San Paolo.
"The web sites can say what they want, but there is no iota of truth in it and you saw that in Naples," he said. "The proof of the pudding was there.
"What we need is that confidence in us and what we badly need is to win two matches in a row. If we do that then our fever will have subsided and we might be able to get well again.
"At the moment we have still got a fever, we're lying in the bed and there is no magic wand that dispels the fever. It is work, patience, confidence." (© Daily Telegraph, London)