Liverpool must ride out the criticism following their mid-week League Cup loss to League Two outfit Northampton, manager Roy Hodgson said on Friday.
An understrength Liverpool side lost on penalties to Northampton on Wednesday, compounding a difficult start to the Premier League that sees them standing 16th, albeit only three points adrift of fourth place.
“I’ve had many disappointments,” Hodgson said ahead of Saturday’s match against Sunderland.
“You can’t work at 35 years at the level I have without having disappointments.
“Any criticism which comes my way and the team’s we have to accept because it is not acceptable to have a home game in the Carling Cup against a team several divisions below you and not come out with a victory.
“Wednesday was a really bad result for the club, it has knocked us backwards, and has put us in a situation where we are heavily criticised — perhaps rightly so.”
But Hodgson stressed that the situation at Anfield was not as bad as was being portrayed.
“Everyone predicted the start of the season was going to be difficult looking at our programme, players leaving and coming in and discussions about the future of the club,” said the 62-year-old.
“That is how it’s proved to be. We’ve had some good moments, with five straight Europa League victories, but also some bad ones, like the (3-0) defeat at Manchester City and the one in the Carling Cup.
“It’s been pretty much a mixed bag but we’ll live through the bad moments and over the course of the season we’ll do well.
“We are reading an awful lot into a bad result.
“If we’d had a positive result on Wednesday this would have been quite a positive press conference as people would have been talking about Manchester United (last weekend), how well we did in the second half, but all of that flies out of the window.”
Hodgson admits a victory against Sunderland 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.
Liverpool have beaten only West Brom in their opening five matches, having lost twice in Manchester 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.
“I think mounting a challenge on the top four is a realistic target for us,” Hodgson insisted.
“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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