Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has dismissed rumours suggesting he was on the verge of quitting.
On Wednesday there was a brief flurry of internet activity which claimed the 63-year-old was likely to resign after last night’s Europa League match against Napoli, which finished goalless.
If Hodgson was not under enough scrutiny after winning just one of his eight league matches, the £300m takeover by New England Sports Ventures heightened things further.
The departure of managing director Christian Purslow, with chairman Martin Broughton likely to follow in the near future, after the sale was completed means four of the five people – former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were the others – responsible for appointing Hodgson no longer hold any power at Anfield.
But despite criticism from fans, who chanted the name of former player and manager Kenny Dalglish during the Blackpool defeat earlier this month, Hodgson has no intention of walking away.
“I have heard the ridiculous rumours about me resigning, and I can tell you there is not an iota of truth in any of them,” he said. “The simple truth is that I have never considered resigning, and I never will.”
Although the team have now not won in seven matches the goalless draw achieved in Naples with an understrength side was well deserved.
With Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Raul Meireles and Lucas Leiva not even travelling, 18-year-old Jonjo Shelvey was handed his first start.
Despite a couple of scares, most notably when Paul Konchesky cleared off the line in first-half injury time, they held out for a point which kept them top of Group K.
“There were plenty of positives to come from the game,” added Hodgson. “It was a good point which many people didn’t think we would get, considering the team selection, but we’ve proved them wrong.”
The Liverpool manager also leapt to the defence of Liverpool supporters after they were targeted by Napoli’s hard-core ’Ultra’ fans while they were in Naples.
Six English fans – four of whom suffered knife wounds – and one Italian were hurt in a spree of co-ordinated attacks using a variety of weapons.
Despite a heavy police presence, there were a few other incidents with one group of about 10 Liverpool fans being pelted by missiles on the way to the game.
However, Hodgson hit back at Italian journalists who yesterday asked him what he felt about “drunken Liverpool fans coming to Naples and causing trouble”.
“These supporters have done a fantastic job; it was always going to be tough asking them to come to Naples as they know they are coming to a potentially dangerous situation,” he said.
“In the press conference yesterday a question was asked of me in Italian – and I answered in Italian – as to whether I was concerned drunken Liverpool supporters would cause trouble on the streets of Naples.
“I find that now faintly amusing that I should be defending Liverpool supporters from Italian journalists when in fact they are peaceful people who come here to watch the game and some of them end up being stabbed.”
Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri was slightly disappointed with a third successive draw but praised Liverpool’s performance.
“Liverpool are a top team and they were an amazing team on the night,” he said.