Hodgson looking for response

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Football News

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admits a victory on Saturday may allow him to sleep easier but will not provide an instant fix to what has been a difficult start to the season.

However, he has dismissed critics who say his squad does not have enough quality to finish in the top four, insisting regaining their Champions League status remains well within their capabilities.

Sunderland visit Anfield looking to capitalise on a tough week for the Reds which last weekend saw them claw their way back from 2-0 down against Manchester United only to concede late on.

The midweek Carling Cup exit to League Two Northampton, albeit with an understrength team, has contributed to the despondency which appears to be enveloping the club from the outside.

Liverpool are currently 16th in the table having beaten only West Brom in their opening five matches, lost twice in Manchester to City and United and drawn with Arsenal and at Birmingham.

Their next two league matches against the Black Cats and Blackpool the following weekend represent an opportunity to get things back on track - especially as they are currently only three points off fourth place.

But Hodgson knows it is what the team can do over the entire campaign which will decide whether they are successful or not.

"It will take more time than a win Saturday," said the Reds boss in response to suggestions the Sunderland game could turn things around completely.

"It will certainly make my life a bit happier and I shall sleep a bit better on Saturday night if we get a win - but we might not.

"Nothing I can say changes the result on Wednesday or repair any damage done by the poor performance.

"What will change everything is a good performance on Saturday, a good (Europa League) performance in Utrecht on Thursday and a good performance against Blackpool the following Sunday.

"Maybe then there will be a totally different atmosphere and attitude."

Hodgson accepts the team have fewer points than expected at the moment but, on closer inspection, claims the situation is retrievable.

"You don't get wins because you talk about them or want them - Sunderland need a win too," he added.

"They lost in midweek with their first team at home. They don't have many points on the board and there are a lot of teams in the Premier League that don't.

"But I think mounting a challenge on the top four is a realistic target for us.

"We haven't given ourselves the best possible start but there are still 33 matches to play and that is a lot of points to play for.

"I will retain that as our realistic goal all the time we are within points touching distance of the goal."

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