3 October ~ As one of the most liked and respected managers in English football, Roy Hodgson would probably have expected a little more time to settle in after deservedly taking his seat at the highest profile job of his career. As it is, his Liverpool side welcome Blackpool to Anfield today in dire need of a result, and with less confidence in achieving it than might ever have been anticipated. It wasn't supposed to be this way, of course. Hodgson arrived as the reliable, steady hand to settle things after the turbulent final year of Rafa Benítez's reign.
Yet to assume his arrival would effect an instant improvement in fortunes was to overlook just how damaged Liverpool were by the preceding 12 months. As such, the optimism of a well-fought opening weekend draw against Arsenal has quickly given way to despair, with only the Europa League campaign so far offering any convincing performances.
The manager himself has, uncharacteristically, already begun to show signs of pressure in interviews, and while fans in favour of his appointment are generally still behind him, there are already murmurings of discontent on forums from those who were never convinced in the first place. There's an underlying worry, as unfathomable as it may have seemed upon his appointment, that Hodgson's time at the club may turn out to be more Blackburn than Fulham, and even the media – usually his friends – are starting to question whether he can in fact instigate the renaissance Liverpool need.
There are, at least, a few reasons still to be hopeful. While Joe Cole's Anfield career may never fully kick-start, the rather more impressive Raul Meireles looks well suited to the English game; and although Fernando Torres continues to cut a forlorn figure, it's worth pointing out that even when lacking in form and fitness he's been involved in five out of the side's six league goals so far. The lack of an immediate return on Hodgson's appointment should also be qualified by the precedent of his time at Fulham – where, contrary to the popular view of his recent history, he endured a similarly dire beginning (nine points from 13 games) before steering the club to their most successful season ever.
The problem is that at the higher-stakes table of a club whose fanbase and local media expect regular European football as a bare minimum, he may not be afforded that time. The visit of Blackpool should at least offer some respite – Ian Holloway's side may still be in that purple patch when a newly promoted side can catch those around them off guard, but manager and fans alike could reasonably expect a home win nevertheless. Failure, however, could represent a point from which confidence may never be recovered – and raise the question of whether Hodgson will still be the one given that task. Seb Patrick