Hull City manager Phil Brown admits he needs to make some "big decisions" this week as he tries to arrest the club's alarming run of form.
Brown's side have won just two Premier League games in 2009 and, after narrowly avoiding relegation last season, are 19th. Saturday's 6-1 thrashing at Liverpool, coming after demoralising losses to Sunderland, Birmingham and Everton, has increased the pressure on Brown with some fans already calling for him to be sacked.
Brown said: "Obviously we are all suffering at the moment and people have called for change. We are still in a position higher than we have ever been in our careers in terms of the history of Hull City. We are still proud of the fact we are hosting 25,000 at the KC, have 21,000 season-ticket holders and proud of the fact we had 3,000 fans chanting my name, and Hull City, at Liverpool on Saturday – even in the face of defeat.
"With that kind of support I can't go wrong. Obviously you are going to have your critics but now is the time for strong men to make strong decisions and I am going to have to make some big decisions."
Hull host Wigan in a crucial game on Saturday at the start of an important October which also includes fixtures against Fulham, Portsmouth and Burnley.
Brown is hoping defender Anthony Gardner will be fit to return while record-signing Jimmy Bullard has been pencilled in for an appearance in the reserves next week. If he comes through unscathed, Bullard – who has played once since his £5m signing in January after undergoing knee surgery – could then feature against former club Fulham on 19 October. With Ian Ashbee on the long-term casualty list and George Boateng not assured of a regular place, Brown suggested he will name a new captain this weekend.
The Blackburn Rovers manager, Sam Allardyce, is resigned to losing 20-year-old on-loan striker Franco Di Santo back to Chelsea in January, but hopes the Argentinian can have a significant impact until then.
The Rovers manager was always aware the 20-year-old was likely to be recalled at the end of his six-month spell at Ewood Park because of the number of Chelsea players involved in the Africa Cup of Nations. However, the transfer ban imposed by Uefa after a tapping-up incident has made a Stamford Bridge return a certainty.
"We knew we would probably lose him in January but that is the process," said the Rovers manager. "There is no doubt if we continue with him and develop him it would be great for us up to January. It will be important for both of us if Franco can kick on from here, then perhaps Chelsea will benefit from there on."