As he faced up to Liverpool's catastrophic start to the Premier League season, Roy Hodgson said it would "defy credulity" if they were to be relegated. Not for 26 years has the club dipped into the bottom three and not since 1964 have they finished a round of matches in the relegation zone.
However, Hodgson was defiant when asked if he thought a club that has won 18 League titles was in danger of dropping out of the top flight. "I have to accept that we are in the relegation zone after seven games," he said. "But if you asked me whether we will be [there] after 38 matches, I would say that defied credulity."
Nevertheless, Liverpool, with six points from seven games, have made a similar start to Blackburn's in 1998, when Hodgson's side picked up five points from the same number. He was sacked in November and Rovers went down six months later.
"My concerns are not about relegation," Hodgson said. "But the fact that we are not fulfilling our potential from minute one to minute 90. I have theories as to why Liverpool are not starting games well, but it is not because players are not going out there with the right attitude. But we should not need to go one or two goals down before we have a reaction.
"We almost did get a draw but it is a bad day and a bad result. It is a fantastic achievement for Blackpool but their dream result is our nightmare result. It has been a very strange situation. The early part of my time here was not that bad – we had some good results in Europe but the luck we had in the League has deserted us.
"Everything I say is conditioned by the last couple of weeks. We have been knocked out of the Carling Cup, held at home by Sunderland and now beaten by a promoted side. There are a lot of things to sort out but I know the spirit is still there."
Liverpool have now won just one of their last seven matches and in only two of those games have they kept a clean sheet. And at both Birmingham and Utrecht they were fortunate to come away with a goalless draw.
At Utrecht on Thursday night, Fernando Torres went straight to the physio on the final whistle, and came off with a groin strain after less than 10 minutes yesterday. Hodgson said he did not know how long the striker would be missing but it seems inconceivable he will feature for Spain in their upcoming European Championship qualifiers.
Unlike on Thursday, when he responded aggressively to questions about Liverpool's start to the season, Hodgson seemed downcast when discussing what he saw as an unacceptable performance before the interval that let Blackpool go two goals up.
"I suppose this is a game I would rather not think about," he said. "We were correctly punished for a lacklustre display. In the first half we had a lot of the ball but we did not do anything with it to satisfy my demands or the fans' demands. Blackpool would feel they were worthy of their win.
"It is a bad result for us, a very bad day for Liverpool. We were unable to lift ourselves and no words, nothing I can say, will change that situation."Reuse content