Thursday, December 30, 2010

Match Report: Liverpool 0 - 1 Wolves

Liverpool's lack of match practice cost them dearly as they lost an eighth Barclays Premier League match of the season as bottom side Wolves won away for the first time since late March.

Snowy weather had forced the postponements of games against Fulham and Blackpool, meaning the Reds had not played in the league for 18 days.

That showed as they lacked invention and energy - even with the return of Steven Gerrard from six weeks out - but the visitors did have that spark and ended a run of six successive defeats away from home thanks to Stephen Ward's first Premier League goal.

The last time Wolves won at Anfield was 27 years ago next month when Steve Mardenborough scored the only goal of his Wanderers career.

But there could be no complaints from the home side who did not do nearly enough to extend a six-match unbeaten home record stretching back to their fateful loss to newcomers Blackpool on October 3.

Those were the dark days of the Reds' campaign, when they were lingering in the relegation zone after their worst start for 57 years.

Roy Hodgson cannot afford a return to those times with his side 12th in the table and owners New England Sports Ventures still deciding how much money they are willing to give the manager to strengthen the squad in next month's transfer window.

All but Martin Skrtel, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Dirk Kuyt, had not seen any competitive action since the 3-1 defeat at Newcastle on December 11.

The aforementioned trio had played small parts in the goalless Europa League draw at home to Utrecht but the rest had spent the last two and a half weeks training at Melwood.

It was not apparent from this display as there was a lack of cohesion and fluidity which Wolves were only too happy to take advantage of.

The minute's applause for former Liverpool defenders Avi Cohen, who died aged 54 after a motorbike accident, and Bill Jones - grandfather of Reds right-back Rob Jones - who passed away aged 89 - had barely faded away before Raul Meireles had a chance to put the hosts ahead.

Maybe the lack of match practice contributed to his failure to open the scoring after just seven minutes but it was a poor excuse if so.

Fernando Torres' quickly-taken free-kick left George Elokobi floundering but the Portugal international shot straight at goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and Richard Stearman cleared the loose ball.

Liverpool's strikers fed on scraps throughout - Torres did not have one opportunity - as Wolves pressurized the man in possession and defended solidly.

David Ngog's left-footed shot from 25 yards was easily claimed by Hennessey as Liverpool struggled to break down Wolves, who were enjoying plenty of possession themselves.

With the visitors finding room on their left it prompted a tactical switch, with Gerrard moving to the right and Meireles returning to the centre where he had enjoyed his best performances.

It lasted only until half-time as Gerrard reverted to the middle.

Again the Reds could have taken an early lead as Dirk Kuyt's pass to Glen Johnson inside the penalty area set up Ngog but he hooked wide from six yards.

Wolves defender Ronald Zubar was slightly closer with his shot on the turn as he at least forced Jose Reina, on his 200th Premier League appearance, into a low save.

It was an omen of things to come as in the 56th minute the visitors took the lead after a mix-up between Skrtel and Kyrgiakos allowed Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's through-ball to squeeze between them.

Ward raced in behind to poke home the first goal conceded at Anfield in 478 minutes in all competitions.

Ngog was replaced by Ryan Babel just past the hour, a decision met with derision by the Kop - who not for the first time this season briefly chanted the name of Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool was wobbling and only a last-gasp block by Johnson prevented Jarvis making it 2-0.

Hodgson's final two substitutions sent on Joe Cole and Fabio Aurelio for Meireles and Paul Konchesky.

Two minutes from time Skrtel headed in Gerrard's free-kick but he was well offside.

Wolves fans sang "How bad must you be? We're playing away" and on the night it was difficult to argue with that.

The Kop appeared to be in agreement, responding with "Hodgson for England".

Hodgson Hits Out At Anfield Crowd After Liverpool Loss

Under-fire Roy Hodgson has blasted Liverpool's supporters for not supporting the team after his side suffered another humiliating defeat at the hands of Wolves.

Mick McCarthy’s Wanderers heaped further misery on the Anfield club after Stephen Ward’s goal condemned them to their eighth defeat of the season.

The home fans were understandably angry about the loss to the side who, before the match, were bottom of the Premier League, and made their feelings known during the game and at the final whistle.

Chants for Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish rung around Anfield and a chorus of boos greeted the defeat but Hodgson insists it is nothing new and asked the fans to keep supporting the club in the bad times.

He said: "I'm getting used to the negativity. Kenny [Dalglish] was a rival for the job and it was given to me. He's a Liverpool legend.

"But I don't like it. It's the Kop's way of showing they are not happy with what the team is doing. We've had to live with negativity ever since I came here.

"The famous Anfield support has not really been there – there were problems with the owners and they have been singing for Kenny.

"I can only hope these 'fans' become 'supporters' as well because this is a time when the club needs support.

"The negativity does affect confidence."

Hodgson revealed he was disappointed with how his players reacted after an extended break because of the winter weather disruptions.

"Disappointing is the buzzword at the moment. There is not a stronger word than that," he added.

"We came here hoping we would fly around the field and play well but we did the opposite. It's as bad a team performance as we've given, certainly here at Anfield.

"Rather than a disappointing 0-0 we let them in to score for an even more disappointing 0-1. That compounded the problem.

"Credit to Wolves, their gameplan was good. They won challenges. I don't think we had the tempo to our game to say we deserved anything more than we got."

Despite the lackluster defeat the former Fulham boss insists his side are desperate to show the fans they can move up the table.

He added: "It's a sad way to end 2011. We were desperate to show the supporters we can move up the table and we let them down.

"They made that perfectly clear to us. I can only empathize – if I was a supporter I would be extremely disappointed.

"But I've seen times like this. I have belief in my own ability, the players are working hard to bring me and the club success.

"It's going to be picking them up after they didn't do the job last night."

Liverpool Set To Sack Roy Hodgson And Turn To Frank Rijkaard Within Days

Liverpool are set to be sack Roy Hodgson and replace him with Dutchman Frank Rijkaard after the current Anfield boss was left bemoaning yet another limp display as his side lost to a struggling Wolves side at home. The club’s are ready to axe the 63 year old former Fulham boss and will do so within the next 48 hours.

Hodgson’s cause will not have been helped by his slamming of Liverpool supporters after last night’s game and owners New England Sporting Ventures will act fast to prevent the club from slipping further into the mire. The Merseyside club are now just three points from the relegation zone having lost an unprecedented eight matches out of their opening 18 fixtures.

Bookmakers William Hill have cut their odds on Frank Rijkaard becoming the next permanent boss to just 8/15 and Liverpool owner John W Henry will know that handing January transfer funds to embattled boss Hodgson makes little sense if he is then removed from his post shortly after so therefore the club will look to swing the axe in the very near future.

With the games coming thick and fast during the busy holiday period, with games against Bolton and Blackburn on the 1st and 5th of January respectively, the board at Liverpool will decide whether to wait until after those fixtures are completed or look to act in the next 48 hours. Their main fear being that having no one at the helm for the crucial upcoming games could be even more damaging than sticking with Hodgson.

Therefore it appears that the club is in deep deliberation as to whether tp wait until those two games have been played and then act to replace the former Fulham manager with former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard who is on the look out for a new post having been sacked by Galatasaray earlier in the season, or instead axe Roy Hodgson within the next 48 hours, which currently appears to be the more likely scenario.

Liverpool Make Ashley Young Their Top January Target

Liverpool have made Ashley Young their top target for the January transfer window and are confident they can land the Aston Villa winger, UK can reveal.

The Reds face stern competition from Manchester United and Tottenham for the England international, who will cost around £14 million as his contract at Villa Park runs out in 18 months' time.

Manager Roy Hodgson has been driving the interest from Anfield as he looks to add British talent to the squad but Damien Comolli, the club's director of football strategy, also supports the move for a player who will add much-needed pace to the side.

Liverpool are ready to meet Young's wage demands of £75,000-a-week – or £3.9m a year – and will make an official approach to Villa when the transfer window opens. Insiders at Anfield claim the club are confident the former Watford man is keen on a move and they believe Villa may feel compelled to sell because of his contract situation.

Young, 25, currently earns £65,000-a-week but has refused to sign a new deal at the Midlands club and there have been suggestions that he would be prepared to run down his contract and leave for nothing in the summer of 2012.

Gerard Houllier, the Aston Villa manager, insists it would take “crazy money” for the Premier League strugglers to sell their prize asset – but owner Randy Lerner may feel differently as Young's value plummets as he runs down his contract.

Liverpool will press ahead with plans to sign Young despite being on the verge of signing Rennes winger Sylvain Marveaux, who was in the director’s box for the 1-0 defeat to Wolves on Wednesday night.

That defeat exposed the lack of wide options at Hodgson's disposal as Dirk Kuyt and Raul Meireles were forced to play out of position in an embarrassing defeat that leaves the former Fulham boss fighting for his job.

But Villa are also having a woeful season and Young – who was the subject of a bid worth £20m from Spurs last summer – has all but decided that his future lies elsewhere. He was on the verge of signing a new five-year contract in October but turned his back on the deal at the last minute and is refusing to return to the negotiating table until next summer.

The former Watford man has made a huge impact at Villa since his £9.6m move from Watford in January 2007 but has been inconsistent this season in an unfamiliar role behind the main striker.

He has been sidelined with a knee injury during the Christmas period but is expected to be fit for the trip to Chelsea on Sunday.

Hodgson On Agger Rumours

Roy Hodgson has dismissed rumours linking Daniel Agger with a January transfer away from Anfield.

The centre-back has been the subject of press speculation recently, but the boss insists he's going nowhere.

Hodgson said: "Daniel Agger has not been 'offered' to anybody. Daniel Agger is a Liverpool player and there's a good chance he'll be in the Liverpool team on Saturday (against Bolton).

"So if ever you hear Daniel Agger is being 'offered', it's not by Liverpool Football Club - it's by unscrupulous people who are second guessing and looking at players who have not been in the team in the last couple of weeks and suggesting they might be available.

"But anytime you read that, it is untrue."

Hodgson Renews Interest In West Ham United's Cole

Liverpool has revealed that have renewed their interest in West Ham United striker Carlton Cole, according to Sky Sports News.

It is understood that an Anfield representative was at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day when Cole netted twice to give West Ham a much needed 3-1 victory over Fulham.

Reds' boss Roy Hodgson originally attempted to sign Cole - who has five goals to his name this season - in the summer, but a deadline-day deal could not be completed in time.

Hammers' manager Avram Grant has made it clear that he has no intention of letting transfer target Cole - or any other of his top players like Matthew Upson and Scott Parker - leave Upton Park as he bids to avoid relegation.

However, this decision could be taken out of his hands by the board.

David Sullivan and David Gold, the owners of the Hammers, have revealed that it would be difficult not to listen to offers in the region of £7 million to £9m (€8.2m-€10.5m) for Cole, as the club look to ease their financial troubles.

Hodgson has already stated that he wants to bolster his attacking options to take the pressure off the Reds' Spanish talisman, Fernando Torres, and sees the 27-year-old Hammers striker as an ideal candidate, along with PSV Eindhoven forward Ola Toivonen.

On the other hand, Hodgson has also said he does not plan to sign any ‘first-team material’ until the end of January.

Reds Teenager Joins Vitesse

Liverpool's teenage striker, Nikola Saric, has joined Eredivisie club Vitesse Arnhem on loan.

The 19-year-old was viewed as a potential star of the future when he first moved to Anfield from Danish club Herfolge in the summer of 2008 and he had been linked with Barcelona.

But Saric, who was born in Bosnia but has represented Denmark at Under 16, U17 and U18 level, has suffered with a succession of unfortunate long-term injuries in Liverpool's reserve team.

The forward will now join Vitesse at their Eredivisie winter break training camp on 8th January as he aims to rebuild full fitness and confidence in order to get his career back on track.

When Saric arrived at Liverpool he was compared in style to Sweden international Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Vitesse will hope the additional attacking option can help the club climb the Eredivisie table.

Ince Says Son Deal Is '50-50'

Notts County manager Paul Ince believes it is '50-50' whether his son Thomas extends his loan at Meadow Lane for the rest of the season.

The teenage midfielder has made six appearances for the Magpies since joining on loan from Liverpool, but his current deal expires next week.

Magpies boss Ince believes the 18-year-old is benefiting from first-team football and hopes to convince his Liverpool counterpart Roy Hodgson to agree to an extension.

"It's 50-50 at the moment," said Ince in the Nottingham Evening Post. "I've spoken to Roy and will speak to him again to try to sort out a deal to keep him here until the end of the season.

"At this moment Thomas is at the best place he could be and he needs to stay here.

"He was training with the first team but not playing games so he needed to get out on loan. That is why he is here, and he's doing very well.

"He's a flair player and he needs to be pushed to express himself. I think he is now starting to express himself here.

"He feels accepted by the players and fans, and they want to see him produce a moment of magic, which is a big thing for an 18-year-old."

Liverpool FC Mourn Loss Of Title Winning Defender Bill Jones

Liverpool mourned the passing of two title winning defenders last night.

Bill Jones, 89, and Avi Cohen, 54, were remembered in a minute’s applause before last night’s Anfield clash with Wolves.

Jones passed away from natural causes at the Countess of Chester Hospital on Boxing Day. Bill, whose grandson Rob Jones also played for Liverpool, stacked up 277 appearances and 17 goals during the 1940s and 1950s.

Capped twice by England he joined Liverpool in 1938 from Derbyshire club Hayfield St Matthews but immediately saw some of the prime years of his career wiped out by the war.

By the time the Football League resumed ‘normal service’ on the last day of August 1946, Bill was 24 years old. He immediately made up for lost time by helping his club win the First Division championship, playing in 26 of the 42 league matches, including the title ‘decider’ at Wolves.

Bill was a regular member of the side for the next seven seasons and was a versatile man who could play well in several different positions.

He played in Liverpool’s first-ever Wembley FA Cup Final against Arsenal in 1950.

In 1953-54 which proved to be Bill’s last season at Anfield, the relegation which had been narrowly avoided the previous season became a reality.

Bill’s 256th and final league appearance for Liverpool came on a day when relegation had already been confirmed; the Reds went down 3-0 at Blackpool, marking a sad end to a fine Anfield career.

Speaking proudly about his grandson Rob in the 1990s, he said: “We are very proud of his achievements and I have to admit he is a better player than I was. He is a lot faster for a start!”

But former Reds captain Don MacKinlay paid Bill Jones a stirring tribute in 1955.

“One of the finest centre- halves I have ever seen,” he declared. “I would have loved to have played behind him. What a tragedy it was he was moved about such a lot. Why Liverpool let him go this season I just don’t know.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

If the Premier League was to be decided by home form alone, we would be looking at Liverpool having a serious shot at the title. But of course, things don’t work that way.

The Reds have been very strong at home, losing only one of their eight games to date at Anfield. This should give manager Roy Hodgson a lot of confidence ahead of this encounter, as he is currently under pressure. This is because the Merseysiders are threatening to remain in a consistently inconsistent state to finish in an anonymous mid-table position.

But it could be argued that with little football in recent times - their last two league games were postponed – the idle mind of the rumour mill could have turned into a devil’s workshop with speculation mounting over the former Fulham manager's future.

Still, after ‘missing’ two games, the players will likely be rearing to get out there and get down to business.

The return of talismanic captain Steven Gerrard should prove to be the catalyst that is necessary to help the club embark on a positive run of form, having secured contrasting results in an alternating win-loss-win pattern in recent weeks.

Wolves are in a sorry state of affairs since their recent defeat in a six-pointer with Wigan Athletic saw the Molineux outfit plunge to the very bottom of the table.

With only a mere 15 points on board after 18 games, it is little wonder that Mick McCarthy’s men are embroiled in a serious fight for survival.

The Yorkshireman’s worries are compounded by the fact that his side have a six-pointer against West Ham after the encounter against the Reds, and would want to go into that game with some semblance of confidence.

And what’s worse, Wolves have Chelsea, Manchester City and the reverse fixture against Hodgson’s men that follow after the clash against Avram Grant’s side.

With all this in mind, the travellers will want to take away something from this game to boost their chances of survival before things get out of hand.

But their form curve - on away days - has shot straight down to the basement, as McCarthy’s charges have drawn one and lost seven of their last eight trips away from Molineux.



The Reds will be glad to get back onto the pitch after their last two Premier League games were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

Skipper Steven Gerrard has returned from a hamstring injury sustained whilst on international duty, and should start the game playing just behind striker Fernando Torres. This would see David Ngog drop to the bench.

Jamie Carragher (shoulder) and Jay Spearing (ankle) remain sidelined.

Possible starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky; Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi; Gerrard; Torres.


Despite having no new concerns ahead of this game, Wolves still have a long list of injuries.

Jody Craddock and Kevin Doyle (both thigh), Michael Mancienne and Karl Henry (both knee), and Adlene Guedioura (broken leg) are all sidelined.

Possible starting line-up: Hennessey; Zubar, Berra, Stearman, Elokobi; Foley, Edwards, Milijas, Hunt; Ward; Ebanks-Blake.

Roy Hodgson Believes Liverpool Will Fare Better In 2011

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes that his charges will do better next year, after experiencing an underwhelming season to date.

The Reds began the season in ignominious fashion, and fell into the relegation zone early on. But they mounted a recovery of sorts to rise to a mid-table position as their campaign began to improve. However, recent weeks have seen the side once again display an inconsistent form that has seen their recovery come to a temporary standstill.

However, the former Fulham boss believes his players are working hard to right their wrongs, and envisions better prospects in 2011.

"I get the feeling every day the players are committed to the club and will work hard to do better in 2011," Hodgson said, according to The Sun.

"They are capable of it and I am really anxious to work with them and help them with it.

"We didn't use the takeover as an excuse [by new owners NESV], although I'm not certain we needed it as an excuse because we weren't playing as well at that stage.

"But we've got better as a team with all the work we are putting in, although results are what count."

The Merseyside club now locks horns with rock bottom Wolves at Anfield on Wednesday, and the manager added: "We know Wolves are bottom but from eighth down to 20th, the points difference is not that great.

"It means we have to be very careful as we might be against the bottom team but, in three weeks, they might be eighth.

"We know they'll be scrapping for their lives but, if we perform, I'm sure that we will cause them problems."

Liverpool Leading The Chase For Inter MIdfielder

So, they woke up and got rid of Rafa Benitez, they rode the storm and came through the worst of it, and are now hopeful of making their way back up the league table to their rightful place among the big boys; and they’re going to make sure of that by making wholesale changes to a largely inherited squad come January.

No, I’m not talking about Liverpool; I’m talking about Inter. Having replaced the Spanish tactician and brought in Leonardo, Inter will certainly find themselves very busy next month; not only will they have to re-enforce their own squad, but they’ll also have to fend off interest in several of their top players.

Wesley Sneijder is already being linked with a big-money move to Chelsea, and fellow midfielder Sulley Muntari is reportedly on the radar of quite a few clubs in Europe, with Liverpool leading the chase.

Muntari is another one of those players who managed to impress pretty much everyone except former boss Benitez: just as Champions League hero, Diego Milito, was dropped by the Spaniard. Muntari has also found himself languishing on the bench for much of this season, having started only 3 games.

Now, fair enough, he may not be quite as good as Sneijder or Milito, but when Jose Mourinho couldn’t bring Frank Lampard with him to the San Siro, his only other choice was Sulley Muntari: ‘nuff said, really!

Italian publication TuttoMercato reports that Roy Hodgson is lining up a £10m move for the 26-year-old Ghanaian, who can play as a standard central midfielder or in a more defensive role.

A possible replacement for Christian Poulsen, Lucas and/ or on-loan Alberto Aquilani?

However, Hodgson will first have to pre-empt a bid from Harry Redknapp, who is a known admirer of Muntari having worked with him previously at former club, Portsmouth. The Tottenham boss was loath to sell Muntari to Inter originally, and only did so to ease Portsmouth’s increasing financial burden.

Now with money to burn at Spurs again, Redknapp is thought to be keen to have Muntari in his squad once more.

Hodgson will need to act fast.

Reds Reject Babel Bid understands Liverpool have rejected a loan offer from Birmingham City for Ryan Babel.

Birmingham have been long-term admirers of the Holland international and tried to sign Babel during the last January transfer window.

A summer move to St Andrews was again mooted for the attacker, while Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United were also showing an interest in the 24-year-old.

Babel has continued to struggle to make an impression at Anfield and has started only one Premier League game for Liverpool this season.

With the transfer window set to reopen, Babel's future has again come under scrutiny, with Birmingham making a fresh attempt to sign the former Ajax youngster.

Blues boss Alex McLeish is keen to add a more incisive element to his squad next month and tried to bring in Babel on a temporary basis.

However, it is understood to have been rejected by the Reds as McLeish's counterpart Roy Hodgson seeks to keep his current squad intact.

Ngog To Be Offered New Liverpool Deal

David Ngog is set to be rewarded for his progress at Liverpool this season with a new contract.

Ngog is entering the last 18 months of his current deal that was signed on his arrival from Paris Saint-Germain in July 2008.

The French forward has become a first-team squad regular under Roy Hodgson and is Liverpool's top scorer this campaign with eight goals.

And the Anfield outfit are poised to recognize the development of the 21-year-old by offering an improved deal.

Ngog will be hopeful of retaining a starting role this evening when Liverpool resume their Premier League program after a weather-enforced break with the visit of rock-bottom Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Hodgson's men are aiming for a fifth successive home top-flight win and the forward is confident they can give the club's supporters something to cheer at the end of a difficult 12 months.

“Winning is always really important and we want to reward our fans by ending the year with a victory,” said Ngog.

“We are at home and we need to continue our good recent record at Anfield. We are always confident when we play at Anfield, especially with our crowd who are always pushing us to victory.

“Wolves are a well-organized side and they defend very well but we need a win and we will give it our best to try and achieve that.

“We know teams sometimes when they come to Anfield sit back and defend but we are well prepared for that and we will do everything we can to beat them.”

Hodgson - Shelvey A Prospect

Roy Hodgson believes Jonjo Shelvey is showing promise at Liverpool, but feels the teenager will have to wait to become an established Premier League player.

Shelvey joined Liverpool at the end of last season from Charlton Athletic and has been involved in the first-team squad this term.

He has gained experience in the Europa League and has also appeared four times as a substitute in the league under Hodgson.

However, while Hodgson has been impressed by the 18-year-old's contribution so far, the Reds boss has urged Shelvey to use his more senior team-mates as an example to follow.

"I haven't thought when Jonjo Shelvey plays a good game that it lifts him above Raul Meireles, Lucas Leiva or Christian Poulsen because they are good players too," said Hodgson.

"What is good to see is that a young player we have invested money in is proving to be worth his money and is proving to be the future prospect we think he is.

"He is a confident young man but he's modest and he knows there is a lot of work to be done before he can hold his hand up and say 'Look at me, what a good Premier League player I am'.

"In players like Steven Gerrard, in particular, and also Poulsen, Meireles and Lucas he has people he can look at and say 'That's the benchmark'."

Hodgson has used the Europa League to blood some of the more inexperienced members of his squad and has been pleased by the way the fringe players have stepped up.

He added: "I have been delighted by the way our young, inexperienced players have stood up to the test.

"Being able to use the squad has been very useful as it has allowed us to have a fresher team at the weekend.

"It has also given me a chance to have a look at Shelvey, Dani Pacheco, Danny Wilson and Martin Kelly - it has been vital for us to learn about younger players."

Reina - Gerrard Is Reds Legend

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has rated Steven Gerrard as one of the greatest players he has been able to call a team-mate.

Captain Gerrard is set to return to lead his side against Wolves on Wednesday night after recovering from the hamstring injury sustained in England's defeat to France in November.

Reina has indicated the return of his colleague will come as a welcome boost and the Spaniard ranks his skipper alongside the likes of former Barcelona team-mates Rivaldo, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, and international star David Villa.

"I agree with that," said Reina in the Daily Mirror when asked if he concurred with Jamie Carragher's recent assessment of Gerrard as the leading player in Liverpool's history.

"So far Stevie is one of the best team-mates I have ever played with.

"He is up there with the best and I have played for not bad teams, like Barcelona and the national team, so it's a great compliment and a big truth as well."

Hodgson Fumes At Hull Over Ayala Injury

Roy Hodgson has taken a swipe at Hull over the injury picked up by Daniel Ayala and suggested any future loan approaches to Liverpool will fall on deaf ears.

Ayala spent a productive couple of months at the KC Stadium, but picked up a hamstring injury towards the end of his spell.

Liverpool's medical staff expected Ayala to make a swift return to Anfield, but he remained at Hull and Hodgson has claimed the central defender aggravated the problem while on the east coast.

"We wanted to bring him back for the last three weeks of 2010 to get him fit, because he wasn't fit there, and to cover Jamie Carragher," Hodgson told the club's official website. "Hull totally refused and said, 'No, under the loan agreement he's here until January 1 and we're not prepared to allow him to go back.'

"We then said, 'In that case you can forget about loaning him in January.' We'd done them a great favour loaning him to them for so long and we couldn't believe that when we were in need of him, they said 'No'.

"Then (after Hull said 'No') we wanted him here at least until such time that he got fit from his hamstring injury, which we thought would be the middle of December, but they refused that as well and insisted he went back there. And then with the treatment he has been given there his injury has now been aggravated.

"Our fitness people were under the impression when he was here that they'd have him fit for about the 15th or 16th of December - now he won't be fit until the end of January because his injury has been exacerbated by going back to Hull City."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pacheco Inspired By Gerrard

Dani Pacheco believes Steven Gerrard's passion for self-improvement sets the perfect example for younger members of the Liverpool squad.

Reds youngster Pacheco recently committed his future to the club by penning a two-year contract extension that ties him to Anfield until 2014.

He recognizes that it will be hard to secure a regular first-team place, especially when established stars such as Gerrard are always trying to better themselves.

But Pacheco has been inspired by his skipper's work ethic and is determined to do everything in his power to fulfil his potential.

"Everyone can improve. Every day," Pacheco said in the Christmas edition of LFC Weekly.

"When you're 19 and you see Stevie trying to improve himself in training - with his left foot for example or maybe heading.

"If a player like him tries to improve, you realise how far you have to go if you want to reach the top."

Pacheco accepts that it is far too early in his development for comparisons to be made to Gerrard but he hopes to prove himself to be similarly versatile.

"We are completely different physically and I am not comparing myself to him because he is one of Liverpool's greatest players," Pacheco pointed out.

"But I know I can play a role in the team - try to help them - from that position (behind the striker).

"I have played a lot on the left and right for both Liverpool and Spain over the last few years and I will always play wherever the manager wants me to play.

"I understand Stevie has been everywhere for Liverpool - right-back, left-back, across the midfield and further forward.

"He is as complete as you can get now and there is so much I can learn from him."

Kop To Battle With Fulham Over Young Palace Hotshot

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is ready to battle with old club Fulham for Crystal Palace’s exciting young striker Wilfried Zaha.

Kop chief Hodgson wants to take the young Eagle as part of the club’s long-term planning - with Kenny Dalglish also involved in the recruitment of top talent for the future.

Zaha has been a hit for Palace since making his breakthrough this season and Liverpool want to snap him up after landing other prospects like Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling this year.

Hodgson’s spies have been checking on Zaha, who will ironically face his team in the FA Cup, while other calls have been made to register their interest.

However Hodgson’s old employers at Fulham are also on the hunt for Zaha, who may be sold by George Burley’s club if they need to raise funds to bring in new faces to beat the drop.

Palace would want around £2 million for Ivory Coast-born starlet Zaha, who is still just 18. But in their ideal world he would be left with them for the season.

Hodgson will be given cash for new recruits who will stand the test of time at Merseyside - and may be there beyond his period in charge.

And the fact that there is growing interest - with Fulham also prepared to splash out now - means that Zaha may be one of the surprise movers in the window.

Liverpool Hope To Persuade Hatem Ben Arfa To Make Anfield Move

Liverpool are reportedly considering a move to bring Hatem Ben Arfa to Anfield and will attempt to beat Newcastle United to sealing the French winger on a permanent deal. The 23 year old is currently on loan at St James’ Park but is sidelined with a long term injury after breaking his leg against Manchester City early in the season and Roy Hodgson is hoping to pip the Magpies to securing a deal to bring the Marseille man to Anfield in the summer.

Alan Pardew’s side are hoping to seal a £5m deal to bring the French international to the club on a permanent deal but Liverpool may hope to be able to persuade the speedy winger to move to Merseyside but clearly any hope of doing so would depend very much on what kind of finish Hodgson can get out of his team.

If Liverpool have secured European football come May and the Toon Army have not then perhaps Hodgson can convince the talent flair player to turn his back on Newcastle United.

Ben Arfa looked very impressive before a Nigel De Jong tackle left him out injured but the Clairefontaine academy graduate is expected to be back by mid February. Liverpool had been linked with a move for the player during the summer before he sealed a season long loan switch to the north-east.

Liverpool Officially Table €12.5m Bid For Gervinho

The Reds have reportedly identified the Ivorian as their prime target in January.

Liverpool has turned their well-known interest in Lille ace Gervinho into an official offer in the region of €12.5m, according to

French outfit Lille were believed to be demanding €15m for the player, but due to good relations between the two sides, it appears they have now lowered their asking price.

The Ivorian international, who has been doing exceptionally well this year, has so far contributed seven goals and four assists to Lille's league campaign.

Liverpool Join Tottenham In Race For Jose Antonio Reyes

Liverpool have joined Tottenham in the race for Atletico Madrid winger Jose Antonio Reyes, according to

Although he had problems adapting to life in the Premiership with Arsenal, there is no denying Reyes' talent.

When on song, he can do just about everything - shoot dribble, pass or cross - although his decision making has room for improvement.

The 27-year-old forward/left winger scored three and set up seven for the La Liga outfit last term, and has a goal and an assist to his name so far this season.

He has a contract until 2014 with Atletico, and is valued at €10M-15M.

Former Juventus Star Rules Out Liverpool Move

Liverpool target David Trezeguet has ruled out a move to England in the transfer window.

The French striker has reignited his career at Hercules in La Liga after falling out of favour at Italian club Juventus.

Liverpool had reportedly been linked with a move for the striker but, in an interview with Argentinean newspaper La Nacion, he has distanced himself from a move to the Premier League.

"It would have been an important experience in my career to have been able to play in the Premier League but there were complications," he said.

"My move to Hercules has gone really well, even learning the new language. I also like Alicante, the city has the sea, the sun, the good temperatures and the good people. Plus, my wife and part of her family are from there."

The forward spent 10 years at Juventus but he felt he needed a fresh challenge and he has found that in Spain where he scored six goals in his first eight league games.

"My first objective, after playing in Juventus, was to find a team that had confidence in me. The fact I signed on the last day of the transfer window meant possibilities were very few, but I feel at Hercules I have returned to my best form and we have shared ambitions."

A move to England has virtually been ruled out with the striker hinting that the only place he would consider ending his career would be in Argentina, where he started out with Club Atletico Platense.

French striker Trezeguet, whose father is from Argentina, added: "I think I would be able to return to play in Argentina. I am still in love with Argentine soccer and I like the rivalries, because they are something you can never forget."

Liverpool Defender Chris Mavinga Set For Genk Loan Move

Liverpool defender Chris Mavinga is set to move to Belgian club KRC Genk on loan until the end of the season, according to French sources.

The 19-year-old arrived at Liverpool in the summer of 2009 from Paris Saint Germain FC.

The Frenchman is deemed a good prospect, and has impressed for Liverpool reserves, but is yet to make a first-team appearance and has accused Reds boss Roy Hodgson of bias toward English players.

Mavinga is a tough tackling defender, who gets about well using his pace, energy and determination. He is also quite comfortable on the ball and possesses good passing abilities.

He has been playing chiefly at left-back this season but he can also be utilized in the centre of defence.

Injury Cuts Short Ayala Loan Spell

On-loan Hull defender Daniel Ayala has returned to Liverpool due to injury.

The 20-year-old centre-half, whose three-month deal was due to expire on January 1, has been absent for the last five games with a troublesome hamstring problem.

The Spaniard made 12 appearances for Nigel Pearson’s men and scored one goal, coming in the 2-0 win over Derby in September.

A club statement read: "Everybody at Hull City would like to thank Daniel for his efforts during his time at the KC Stadium and we wish him well for the future."

Liverpool FC And Everton FC Harnessing Power Of Football To Help Men’s Fitness

An innovative health program is harnessing the power of football to encourage young men to pay closer attention to their fitness.

Premier League Health (PLH) has been adopted by 16 Premier League clubs - including Liverpool and Everton - in an attempt to reach out to over-18s.

The £1.6m of funding from The Football Foundation allows the clubs with PLH status to implement programs designed to raise men’s awareness and help them adopt healthier lifestyles.

A Premier League spokesman said: “An increasing proportion of young men are overweight or obese, leading to a significant risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and fat-related cancer, amongst other health problems.

“Smoking, excessive alcohol intake, low physical activity levels and other risk-taking are estimated to account for over 14 years of lost life.”

The spokesman added: “Currently there is limited provision for tackling the health needs in these vulnerable groups of men.”

Hansen: Stadium Is Key

Alan Hansen played for Liverpool Football Club for 14 years. He is now one of the most respected pundits in the game and says exactly what he thinks. But he still has LFC at heart.

This week, in his exclusive LFC Weekly column, Hansen reveals what he believes needs to happen both on and off the pitch in 2011 at Liverpool FC.

The former Reds skipper passionately believes that building a new stadium - or redeveloping Anfield - is absolutely central to our hopes of future success.

"Everyone has an opinion on what needs to be done to restore Liverpool FC to its former glories. For me, the big thing is the stadium situation.

"It is over 10 years since a move from Anfield to the new LFC stadium on Stanley Park was first suggested and we are still waiting for it to happen.

"I played at Anfield for 14 years. I love Anfield but, in all honesty, when I go to there now it is like being in a 1960s stadium.

"The seats in the Main Stand are old, wooden and rickety. It was a stand built for the 1960s and 1970s, not 2011, and we need to do something about it.

"We were all promised a lot by the previous owners and because they failed to deliver, particularly as far as the stadium goes, we have fallen further and further behind where we should be.

"I do not think Liverpool Football Club will get back to where it belongs until the stadium situation is resolved."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hodgson - No Magic Wand

Roy Hodgson insists Liverpool fans cannot expect him to wave a magic wand and fix his side's problems.

The Reds, whose Boxing Day clash against Blackpool has been postponed due to the cold snap, currently sit mid-table having struggled in the Premier League this season, winning six out of their 17 games played so far.

A top four finish remains in under-pressure Hodgson's sights, but he has called for a sense of reality from the club's supporters.
"Fans are waiting for a man with a magic wand that can turn all of the ills that everyone has seen into something different," Hodgson said in the Sunday Mirror.

"Those of us who work in the game and have been working in the game a long time know that magic wand doesn't exist.

"Two years ago people were suggesting Arsene Wenger had had a good run at Arsenal and it was time to bring in the man with the magic wand. That's what we have to live with."

Hodgson succeeded Rafa Benitez at Anfield in the summer having guided Fulham to the Europa League final last season.

And the manager feels his success at Craven Cottage has not helped the unreasonably lofty expectations placed upon him.

He said: "I know that I am capable of doing this job, but maybe the expectations and ambitions of the club were too high and weren't lessened by the fact that I came off the back of such a good season.

"People may have thought I would turn it around and unfortunately that's not been the case and we have to battle in the same way that Rafael Benitez had to in the latter part of his time at the club.

"Maybe what we have realized is that there is plenty of work to do here, but I am certainly very satisfied with the job I have done here.

"The fact that it hasn't gone as well as I'd have hoped results-wise is just the nature of football. I haven't worked any differently here than I did in the last six months at Fulham.

"Yes, it's been topsy-turvy in the sense that having defied people they have started to crucify me, but that's part of the business and the way things are.

"Pedestals are built to put people on then knock them off and I have a fairly mature attitude to that. I can't do more and the players can't do more so we hope that work will turn our fortunes around and we get some batter results."

Regardless of his halting start to life on Merseyside, Hodgson remains hopeful of guiding the Reds back to UEFA Champions League football.

He added: "We still haven't given up the hope of finishing in the top four and reaching a Champions League spot and will not until it's mathematically impossible.

"I didn't inherit a top four team but I inherited some good players and I believe in them and the club. A bad start is always difficult to overcome."