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Hodgson plays down bottom three blow

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson insists he's not fazed by the club's current position in the Premier League relegation zone, although he has conceded the season targets may now have to be lowered.

Ray Clemence: Roy not to blame.

• Adams: Where do Liverpool turn?
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The team were booed off after Sunday's 2-1 home defeat to newcomers Blackpool and the name of Reds legend Kenny Dalglish, overlooked as a replacement for departed boss Rafael Benitez, was chanted by the Kop.

Hodgson has yet to win over those fans and even a win - however unlikely it may seem at the moment - in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in just under a fortnight will do little to change opinions. Only a sustained improvement which lifts the club out of 18th place will bring a thaw in the frosty relationship between manager and fans.

But Hodgson does not think having to spend the entire international break looking at a Premier League table which has Liverpool in the relegation zone is as bad as some people perceive.

"I don't think it matters we will be in the bottom three for the next fortnight,'' he said. "The psychological blow of being in the bottom three after seven games is a damn sight less damaging than being there from game number 18 to game number 36, as I experienced at Fulham. I had 18 games in the bottom three - that is psychological damage, especially when you see games running out and the number of points you need getting bigger and bigger.''

Hodgson took over a struggling Fulham side in December 2007 and eventually guided them to safety that season. Although his appointment as Benitez's successor in July came with its own set of problems - lack of finance and the on-going sale of the club the main two - it was never expected to be as bad as this. The club have made their worst start to a campaign since 1953-54, when they were relegated. Hodgson does not envisage a repeat, but acknowledges they may struggle to hit their targets this year.

"With 31 games left to play I am absolutely convinced Liverpool will not be in the bottom three after 38 games,'' he said. "Whether or not this bad start is going to affect us in our ambition to be nearer the top of the table that is another matter. That is something you can accuse us now of not being able to do. But I think to suggest, especially after seeing what we did in the second half against Blackpool, that we are a relegation candidate would be stretching credulity to the limit.''

Former Liverpool players Ray Clemence and Gary Gillespie have called for Hodgson to be given the time he needs to turn things around. Clemence believes the situation will not change significantly until the Tom Hicks-George Gillett ownership position is sorted out.

The former England keeper said: "I can't believe after two to three months that people are questioning the man (Hodgson). He has managed and coached at the highest level. He got Switzerland to over achieve with his organisation and tactical knowledge. He has coached in different places in Europe. He made Fulham into an excellent side, took them to a situation they've never been in their history.

"Why wouldn't he be the person to be given the opportunity at Liverpool? But he is in a situation which is not ideal by a long stretch of the imagination at the moment.''

Clemence added: "I am sure Roy knows better than I do the changes that need to be made there but his hands appeared to be tied at this moment and will be until Christmas. Until the get the club sorted out in terms of who is going to own it, where the money is going to come from, then it is going to be a difficult three or four months. The problem is that the fans are confused as well. They've been having a go at the top people for so long, the top people still don't appear to want to move, so where do they go now? We'll have a go at the manager.

"It is sad because Liverpool fans over the years have been, and are in mind, are still the most loyal when you consider the number of managers over the years compared to other clubs. The man should be given a chance and three months is no time at all to make the changes that need to be made.''

Clemence admits he is hurting personally over Liverpool's current plight.

He said: "I loved my time at Spurs, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. I had 12 great years there as a player and coach, learnt a lot, and probably wouldn't be in this position today if I hadn't gone to Spurs. But if someone nails you to a post and says 'what is the club' then it is Liverpool.

"I had a fantastic time playing-wise there, the fans were always fantastic to me and still are when I go back. I love the place, I love the club, I hate to see where it is at the moment and I want to see them back up there as soon as possible in the position I believe they should be in.''

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