Despite the fact that in one poll 95% of Liverpool fans wanted Hodgson to be sacked immediately after last night's 1-0 home defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers, there appears to be no great appetite for regime change. John W Henry and Tom Werner of New England Sports Ventures are prepared to give Hodgson more time after six torturous months.
However, Henry has already labelled performances this season "unacceptable" and the next three games – against Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers in the league and Manchester United in the FA Cup – are likely to be critical to Hodgson's chances of surviving until the summer, when his position will be reviewed.
Henry and Werner, who run the Fenway Sports Group, through which NESV controls Liverpool, are understood to be concerned by the breakdown in relations between fans and the manager. A poll on the Liverpool website The Empire of the Kop drew more than 4,300 replies, with 95.5% of respondents answering yes to the question: "Do you want Roy Hodgson to be fired today?"
His win rate of 41% is almost exactly the same as that achieved by Graeme Souness during his time at Anfield and is the poorest by any Liverpool manager since Bill Shankly created the modern club. The defeat by Wolves, which Hodgson considered Liverpool's worst performance of a dismal season, was dominated by ironic chants of "Hodgson for England" and by calls for Kenny Dalglish to take over.
That latter scenario is unlikely to arise even if Hodgson is fired. Given his impassioned loyalty to Liverpool, Dalglish would be unlikely to refuse an offer to return to the job he quit in 1991. However, his candidacy to replace Rafael Benítez in the summer was rejected almost out of hand by the then managing director, Christian Purslow, and his successors are acutely aware that recalling a man who has been out of frontline football since a brief spell as Celtic's caretaker manager more than a decade ago would create more problems than it would solve.
Fenway has no desire to install an interim manager and if Dalglish were unable to pull Liverpool out of their tailspin it would tarnish his glittering reputation and that of the board. If Dalglish were a qualified success, he may block Fenway's plans to bring in a young, long-term manager.
The former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard is the favourite, although Hodgson has pointed out that the Dutchman's last job at Galatasaray ended in failure. The Marseille coach, Didier Deschamps, who was interviewed for the post of Liverpool manager in the summer, has moved to distance himself from fresh speculation linking him with Anfield. He has let it be known he would not welcome an approach while Marseille are still in the Champions League and that his long-term aim is to manage the French champions when they move into a refurbished Stade Vélodrome in 2014.
While recognising his position is precarious, Hodgson, who was voted the League Managers Association's manager of the year last season, insisted he still retained the support of a dressing-room that often failed to give Benítez its wholehearted backing. "I am lucky in that the support I have had has been from the players and from within the club," Hodgson said. "I haven't had a lot of support from the fans since I have been here. The fans have not been happy with what they have seen in the whole of 2010 and since I have come here we haven't won enough games to keep them happy.
"That is the way of football. When you take on any job, especially a big job like this, and results do not go the way you want, especially at home, you are going to be a target for disapproval."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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