Hodgson: I cannot do any more

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The Independent Football

While Roy Hodgson said that neither he "nor any manager I know" listens to a football phone-in, he would have been interested to hear the comments on the one staged by Liverpool's own television channel. When questioned by supporters, the club's owners, Tom Werner and John W Henry, argued that performances had to improve and added it was realistic to expect the Premier League trophy to come to Anfield "within three to five years".

In a month that has seen bizarre dismissals at Newcastle and Blackburn, Hodgson responded by stating that the American consortium has given him their full backing as Liverpool manager and that, if he were removed, his successor would face exactly the same problems.

"It happened to Chris Hughton, it happened to Sam Allardyce. Martin O'Neill resigned – we are all in that situation," he said. "But as someone who prides himself as a professional and who knows his job, then you would excuse me for not going down the route of 'Who can we get rid of next?' because, unless there is a major influx of cash into the club, whoever takes my place will be doing a similar job with similar players.

"The owners have made it perfectly clear they are in it for the long term. They realise it is going to take time. They realise we can't turn things round overnight and they also realise the team I am working with is not the team I put together. It [the speculation] doesn't bother me because I can't do more than I am doing. I can't work harder and I can't work better.

"People have made mileage about current results being 'unacceptable' [a phrase used by the owners] but if I were on the phone I would have been saying the same thing. I did not join Liverpool to be mid-table. I believed we could be top-four and break into the Champions League and be winning things. That's my ambition and that is the owners' ambition.

"Maybe Manchester City will prove me wrong. Maybe the way forward is getting some owner in and spending hundreds of millions of pounds on those who you think are the best players. But I still think, for a really healthy club, it has to be done on a healthy basis.

"The players who come in have to be the right ones and, ideally, you would want to do something with the academy as well, to produce more Gerrards, Carraghers, Fowlers and McManamans."

There will be some academy products on display in tonight's final Europa League group game against Utrecht at Anfield but Fernando Torres will lead the Liverpool line – a surprising decision, as they are guaranteed to top the group. However, since coming back from a World Cup in which David Villa overshadowed him in Spain's attack, Torres has played fitfully, one exceptional display against Chelsea aside.

"It would be good for Fernando to play alongside Ryan Babel for at least part of the game," said Hodgson. "He knows what a great player he is and when things are not going well for him, he is the first to recognise that.

"I have told Fernando that we believe him to be one of the best front players in Europe and the fact that he has not played at his [real] level over the past couple of months does not change that. But don't forget that goalkeepers and strikers in particular play on such small margins of error that the difference between being carried down the high street in a sedan chair and being vilified is infinitesimal."

Group K

Results so far Liverpool 4 Steaua Bucharest 1, Napoli 0 Utrecht 0; Steaua 3 Napoli 3, Utrecht 0 Liverpool 0; Napoli 0 Liverpool 0, Utrecht 1 Steaua 1; Steaua 3 Utrecht 1, Liverpool 3 Napoli 1. Steaua 1 Liverpool 1; Utrecht 3 Napoli 3.

Remaining fixtures Tonight: Napoli v Steaua; Liverpool v Utrecht.