LIVERPOOL, Oct 16, 2010 (AFP) - Roy Hodgson admits Liverpool must mark the club's takeover by New England Sports Ventures (NESV) with a victory in Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton.
Hodgson's side make the short trip to Goodison Park desperately in need of a win at the end of one of the most turbulent weeks in the club's long and illustrious history.
The 18-time English champions are stuck in the Premier League relegation zone after their worst start to a season for 57 years, but Liverpool's future finally looks brighter following the conclusion of NESV's acrimonious 300 million pounds (480 million dollars) buy-out of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Hodgson is likely to be given money to revitalise his squad during the transfer window, but before then the Liverpool manager knows he needs to build on the feelgood factor from the takeover by leading his side away from the bottom of the table.
With Everton also in trouble after a slow start of their own, the predicament of the two old rivals has added to the pressure surrounding one of the most passionate fixtures in the English calendar.
Yet Hodgson is confident that Liverpool, as well as Everton, will be challenging for Europe come next May.
"I don't think either Everton or ourselves have benefited from a great deal of luck in these opening games, so we find ourselves down there," he said.
"But we also find ourselves just two wins away from being just outside the Champions League places, so that's how ridiculously tight the league is.
"If you look at the teams in and around sixth they have 11 points - only five above us.
"So things will change very quickly and I'll be amazed if in the next derby both teams aren't higher.
"I expect both teams to be challenging for the European places by the end of the season."
Hodgson has yet to meet NESV chief John W Henry, who won't be at Goodison Park this weekend, but the two have spoken on the phone.
And although there was no discussion about Hodgson's position, the former Inter Milan coach expects to be given time to make his mark at Anfield.
"There hasn't been any talk about my position at the club," added Hodgson.
"He called me and his message was that he was hoping the deal would go through.
"He was very much looking forward to becoming the new owner and he was looking forward to working with me and the people who were here."
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is expected to start after recovering from an abductor injury, but Hodgson is definitely without Holland forward Dirk Kuyt, who injured his ankle on international duty in midweek.
Meanwhile, Everton captain Phil Neville believes Everton have a golden chance to finish above Liverpool in the table for only the second time since 1987.
The former Manchester United and England player has tasted defeat six times in nine Premier League games against Liverpool since moving to Goodison Park in August 2005.
Everton, who will be without injured midfielders Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, have not finished above Liverpool since the 2004-05 season, but Neville believes that could change this year if his side can recover from their spluttering start.
"You relish the fact they are below you," Neville said. "I don't think since I have ever been on Merseyside that has happened. It is something you would like to happen more often.
"Everton fans have been looking up to them for a long, long time. It's about time we started putting pressure to finish above them. This season gives us a great chance of that.
"Both teams are at the wrong end of the table and it is probably unprecedented for Merseyside to have two teams in the bottom four. It's a massive game."