Sunday, October 31, 2010

Premier League Preview: Bolton Wanderers vs Liverpool

The feel-good factor under Coyle has revitalized Bolton, while Hodgson finally had a week to enjoy since he took over at Liverpool.

Although disappointed to grab just a point against Wigan, the hosts' eighth spot in the table has been well earned, with the bitterness from Gary Megson's reign now just a memory.

Liverpool would kill to be in the same place after a disastrous beginning under Hodgson condemned them to 18th. But following a draw in Napoli and a win against Blackburn, the slow climb up the standings could continue if all three points are claimed.

Bolton will be looking to reverse recent history after having become Liverpool's whipping boys.

The Anfield outfit have enjoyed a six-match winning streak against their weekend opponents after they previously traded results in the early part of the decade. Coyle will be keen to arrest the slide to continue the push into the upper echelons of the table.

What the Scot will not target is the disappointment of last season's 3-2 defeat at the Reebok under Megson. Bolton failed to follow up taking the lead twice and fell to a late Steven Gerrard strike.


Bolton Wanderers

Manager Owen Coyle is able to call on all his big hitters for the visit of Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

Despite the hot-tempered draw at Wigan Athletic last weekend, no fresh injuries have reared their heads. Squad men Ricardo Gardner (thigh), Andy O'Brien (hamstring) and Jlloyd Samuel (calf) still remain sidelined for the coming weeks, with Joe O'Brien (knee) and Sean Davis (knee) out for lengthier periods.

Ivan Klasnic has been named in the matchday squad after his arrest and bail this week.

Stuart Holden will most likely be in his now familiar role in the middle of the pitch for Bolton.

Probable starting XI: Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson; Lee, Holden, Muamba, Petrov; Elmander, Davies.


The Reds travel to the Reebok with a midweek reserves defeat to Huddersfield Town having had an impact on boss Roy Hodgson's options.

A knock to Ryan Babel (ribs) that demanded hospital treatment has put his place in jeopardy. More positively, Fabio Aurelio (Achilles) enjoyed a 60-minute run out.

Daniel Agger (illness) is believed to be back in contention, with Glen Johnson (hamstring) has been handed an outside chance. Dirk Kuyt (ankle) is still a week away from a return.

Probable starting XI: Reina; Carragher, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Konchesky; Maxi, Gerrard, Lucas, Cole, Raul Meireles; Torres.

Roy Hodgson Demands Repeat Display From Liverpool At Bolton

It’s little wonder that Roy Hodgson had a spring in his step at Melwood yesterday. By his own admission his first four months as Liverpool manager have been “traumatic” but he’s just enjoyed the best days of his short reign.

Last Sunday’s vital 2-1 victory over Blackburn lifted spirits and since then he’s enjoyed the rare luxury of a full week on the training ground to help ensure the Reds’ improvement is maintained at Bolton on Sunday.

Owner John W Henry’s public declaration yesterday to rubbish rumours that top stars could be sold in January was music to the boss’ ears.

“This week has been very nice,” he said.

“When you have a midweek game it does impact on what you can do training wise. You’re always concerning yourself with ‘can we do this?’ because it’s either too close to the next game or too soon after the last one.

“It’s advantageous having a free week as it gives you extra time to work on things. It means you can give the players Monday off and get a nice rhythm to the week.

“Training has been very good this week and hopefully we carry on from where we left off last Sunday.

“Against Blackburn we had more incisiveness around the penalty area – there was more devil in us.

“It was a good team performance and a good victory.

“It’s important from the first minute at the Reebok that we are as committed as we were in the 90 minutes against Blackburn.”

The win over Blackburn may have represented Liverpool’s best display of the season but Hodgson knows it’s far too early to be talking about turning corners.

For the manager it simply represented the final chapter in a miserable first quarter of the campaign.

Nine games have yielded just nine points, but Hodgson insists the Reds, who remain in the relegation zone, will start the second quarter of their league fixtures at Bolton in much better shape than they were in back in August.

“I’m wary on the back of one good result to say our problems have all finished as we’re still in a poor situation in terms of our league position,” he said.

“The first quarter of the season hasn’t been good for us in terms of the league and the next three quarters are going to be very important.

“When I came there were a lot of things that needed changing here and there’s still a lot of work to be done at the club.

“But going into the next quarter I’m hoping it won’t be quite as traumatic as the first quarter.

“Hopefully by the halfway stage we will start to see a bit of light. In January, with one or two transfers to improve the team and with the work the players have put in every day, we’ll be a stronger team.

“I’m looking for a good second half of the season but the next quarter, starting at Bolton, is important to continue the stabilization process and move us up the table.

“I’m not believing naively that we’re going to win seven out of our next nine and fly up to the top.

“But I want us to move away from the relegation zone and give performances that make us hard to beat and ask plenty of questions of the opposition with our attacking play.

“I believe in the team and I believe we’re capable of doing better in the next quarter of the season.”

Eighth placed Bolton are only three points better off than Liverpool but have only lost once so far this season and that was at Arsenal.

The Reds’ record against the Trotters is impressive having done the double over them in three successive seasons but Owen Coyle’s side are unbeaten at the Reebok since April and Hodgson is wary.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Bolton,” he said.

“They are a very good club and have been successful for a number of years.

“Sam Allardyce started it off and it was carried on by Gary Megson and now Owen Coyle.

“They are a very stable Premier League team and hard to beat. We will have to be at our best to get a result.

“They have had a lot of draws so far this season but that’s been the same throughout the league and is why so many teams are bunched together from bottom up to 10th spot.

“It’s strange because you get teams like us who have had a poor start and are disappointed with everything that has gone on, while there are teams like Bolton and Fulham on a similar number of points who are happy with the way they’ve done so far.

“They’ve drawn a lot but from what I’ve seen I don’t think Bolton are a defensive team. They like to go forward and have a lot of attacking players.”

One player tasked with halting the Trotters will be Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

The Greek defender has grabbed his chance to shine in recent weeks and produced a man of the match display against Blackburn last weekend.

With Glen Johnson still sidelined by injury, Kyrgiakos is set to continue at the back alongside Martin Skrtel as the Reds look to combat the aerial threat of Kevin Davies.

“I’m very happy with Soto and he’s certainly done a good job since he has come into the team,” Hodgson said.

“He didn’t have many chances here last season but he got his chance this season partly due to injuries to Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson and has taken it with both hands.

“He’s a whole hearted player who defends well and causes problems in opposition penalty areas. He has scored some good goals for us and it’s a good weapon to have.

“In the games so far he has been one of our better players.”

Kyrgiakos rose in front of the Kop to thump home a header from Steven Gerrard’s corner against Blackburn and Hodgson believes that combination with the skipper will bring plenty of rewards.

“We all know about the importance of set-pieces,” Hodgson said.

“It’s not just about movement and position, you need quality from the delivery and someone who is desperate to get their head or foot on the end of it.

“We have someone who can give us excellent delivery. There aren’t many better kickers of a dead ball than Steven Gerrard.

“Having someone like Soto to attack them is great. Long may it continue.”

Roy Hodgson At Ease Alongside Liverpool Ambassador Kenny Dalglish

Roy Hodgson insists he does not consider Kenny Dalglish a threat, despite the former Liverpool player and manager putting himself forward as a potential replacement for Rafael Benítez during the summer.

Fans even pointedly chanted Dalglish's name during the 2-1 defeat by Blackpool earlier this month but Hodgson considers the ambassador's work with the academy and scouting departments crucial to the future of the club and believes the days of in-fighting at Anfield are over.

"I'm not prepared to pass up on quality people who can help because of a fear the day may come the club decides they want Kenny as manager," Hodgson said.

"That wasn't the case in the summer, but that's not to say it won't be the case forever. I don't know. I have no fears in that respect because I know my qualities and I'm not a political person.

"He is doing a great job alongside us and we involve him in our scouting while he still works at The Academy and plays an ambassadorial role. That's what he's good at.

"You cannot find a better person for that than Kenny Dalglish. I told him I was disappointed he went for the manager's job because for me he should be working for Liverpool on a permanent basis, long after I leave for years to come assisting all future Liverpool managers."

Niko Kranjcar 'Set For January Liverpool Transfer'

Niko Kranjcar could be given the chance to kick-start his career with a January transfer to Liverpool.

The Croatia midfielder has indicated he is keen to leave Spurs after falling out of favour at White Hart Lane because of the form of Gareth Bale and summer signing Rafael van der Vaart.

According to the Times, he could get his wish to move on after Liverpool asked about his availability.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson has made it clear he intends to add to his squad in January and is looking for players capable of slotting into a Premier League side straight away.

Kranjcar, 26, fits that profile having played in England since 2006, initially with Portsmouth before making a £2 million switch to Tottenham in 2009.

However, a move for Kranjcar would test the commitment of Liverpool's new owners, as Spurs are believed to value him at around £7 million.

Newcastle United and Everton are also interested, but Tottenham's asking price is likely to prove too expensive for both clubs.

Masch Explains Anfield Exit

Javier Mascherano says he quit Liverpool because of a lack of investment by Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The Argentinean ace moved to Anfield in February 2007 and made 139 appearances for the Reds before switching to Barcelona in a £18million transfer this summer.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson questioned Mascherano's professionalism for failing to make himself available to play against Manchester City before his move but the 26-year-old insists he had to get out of Anfield because of a lack of investment from the then owners.

He told The Sun: "While Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United were spending big money, Liverpool couldn't because they had no money.

"The situation is clear to me. When you want to fight for big things, titles, you must have a big team to win.

"But, at Liverpool, that wasn't the case.

"That was the main reason we didn't qualify for the Champions League and all players want to test themselves at that level."

He added: "It is not easy to leave a team when you have been there almost four years.

"The Liverpool people and fans treated me very well. I cannot say anything against them and they will always be in my heart.

"But, though it was difficult, I knew my time there was over. Finished. I needed to go."

Liverpool have since been taken over by New England Sports Ventures and Mascherano believes the Reds can now push on.

He added: "I try to watch all of Liverpool's games on TV. They have had a tough start but I'm sure they'll get much better.

"There have been a lot of problems with the owners and this has affected things on the pitch.

"Now this has been sorted out, I think things will get better for the team."

As for his Barcelona career, Mascherano has made six appearances so far and believes he is settling in well.

He said: "We are fighting for three titles this season and have started fairly well.

"I feel I have settled in OK. After only two months here I already feel at home and the people are treating me very, very well.

"I try to improve every day and adapt to the team - but La Liga is totally different to what I have been used to.

"The Premier League is much more physical but, here, they prefer to play more tactically and technically.

"Coming here is a step forward for me and I am trying to do better."

Mascherano admits he would love to see Fernando Torres join him at Camp Nou but believes it will be hard for the Spanish ace to quit the Kop.

He said: "Torres is so good, he could play for any club. I'd like to see him at Barca but don't know if that would be possible.

"Liverpool's fans love him so much and he loves them so much too that I don't know if they would be able to part."

Roy Hodgson Not Under Pressure To Sell Players In January

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has received a welcome boost after new owner John Henry insisted he will not be weakening the squad by selling any players in the January transfer window and will look to bring in reinforcements.

The American owner’s statement comes on the back of reported interest in Liverpool’s key Spanish duo Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina.

Both players have been linked with moves away from Anfield, with Reina reported to be attracting the interest of Manchester United.

But Hodgson, who has been in regular contact with the New England Sports Ventures group since their take-over, has been reassured that he is not under pressure to sell players.

However, he admits things could have been different had former co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett still been in charge.

He said: “The statements were totally self-explanatory and in line with everything John [Henry] and Tom [Werner, co-owner] have told me all along," Hodgson said.

"It is very much in line with our aims for the club.

"One of our aims for the club is to rebuild and restructure and get much stronger. The way we hope to do that is keeping our strong base of top players and adding more players to it.

"There have never been any discussions of the need to sell or get rid of players. All the talk has been of how we are going to make the team stronger.

He added: "It is a very different situation to the one I found myself in at the beginning. There was talk then of staving off administration and having to let players go.

"But the new owners coming in has completely changed the face of things and, as far as we are concerned, their statement is perfect. It is just what everyone wants to hear."

Stadium Decision May Take Some Time

Since NESV’s takeover of Liverpool earlier this month there has been much discussion on whether they will continue with the club’s current plans to build a new stadium at Stanley Park, or instead redevelop Anfield.

It is a situation they inherited when they took over at the Boston Red Sox, where they – eventually – chose redevelopment of the famous ballpark. Therefore some have assumed John Henry and his partners will choose a similar route for Liverpool.

However, Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy insists no decision has been made and that NESV will take their time to make a calculated decision for the long term future of the football club.

“The idea that any decision has been made about Anfield is inaccurate,” Kennedy says in an interview with the Daily Mail’s Des Kelly. “Henry has built his businesses on having the benefit of all of the information before he makes a call.”

“Nothing is going to be done in a rush. I understand why people draw a link but, frankly, when NESV took over the Red Sox at the end of 2001, we didn’t know what to do — build a new facility or redevelop here?”

“It wasn’t until 2005 that we gave the commitment to stay at Fenway for the next generation. We’ll do the same at Liverpool, listening and learning about what the employees, the council and supporters want before making any move, for however long it takes.”

“At Fenway we wanted to preserve one of the most important ball parks in the country,” Kennedy explains. ‘But if we didn’t think it could work economically we would not have pursued it. We have the expertise for building new and renovating old, and both options are definitely still on the table.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Liverpool Owner John W. Henry Has 'No Intention' Of Selling Top Stars

Liverpool owner John W. Henry has "no intention" of sanctioning the sale of star men such as Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina.

Reports emerged this week that the club's key players were disillusioned with life at Anfield and were prepared to head for the exit door in January.

Henry has moved quickly to allay fan's fears and promised to "build on the strength of the current squad, not undermine it" in a statement released to the club's website.

He said: "We have recently read stories about our intentions for the forthcoming January transfer window and have a sense of humour about this type of inevitable speculation.

"As everyone knows we are new to English football, but not to sport, and we are studying all options. Opportunities and value will drive spending in January and in the future.

"Our clear focus from day one of our ownership has been - and will be - to improve the club and focus on what it will take to put Liverpool FC consistently in a position to challenge for trophies. We intend to build this club the right way.

"Stories about our top players leaving are destructive and unwarranted but we realize that this kind of speculation is also common.

"We intend to build on the strength of the current squad, not undermine it. And I can reassure our supporters that we have no intention of allowing the team to be weakened going forward."

Roy Outlines Transfer Plans

Roy Hodgson today revealed plans to improve his squad in the January transfer window - and insisted Liverpool can attract top stars.

The boss is hopeful of having money to spend following discussions with new owners NESV, but he is determined the Reds won't be held to ransom in the transfer market.

He explained: "If we want the right quality, we have got to be prepared to pay the right price.

"The owners know that perfectly well. We have got to make certain that if we go out and spend £20m, we are getting a £20m player.

"We want to be attracting the players that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter are chasing. It would be nice to think that we can shop at a high level.

"I'm like all managers in that I'm wary of the January transfer window. I think it can be dangerous as clubs try to correct mistakes.

"But, having said that, we are going to very interested in trying to improve our squad in January. There is no question about that. I am sure we will sign players."

Despite outlining his intent to dip into the market in two months' time, Hodgson's immediate concern is to guide those currently in his ranks up the Barclays Premier League table.

That way, he believes, there will be less pressure on any dealings carried out in the New Year.

"What I would hope to do is get this group of players playing well enough so we don't need to panic," said Hodgson.

"Then I can say to the owners, 'If we are going to spend a lot of money, let's get the right man.'

"I don't want to spend half the money that might be available on someone for the sake of buying when the player we actually want might not be available until the summer.

"The lucky thing is that we are rebuilding around several top-class players. We have got Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Torres, Kuyt - it's not as if we are rebuilding from nothing."

The ownership of the club was resolved earlier this month when NESV completed their takeover.

Since then principal owner John Henry and chairman Thomas Werner have outlined their commitment to winning - but Hodgson knows being clever in his transfer dealings is just as important to that end as splashing the cash.

"I think you can pay an awful lot of money for poor players and you can pay not very much money for very good ones - it is all to do with how good your scouting and your eye is," he said.

"There are a lot of things here that the club has got to get right. We have got a lot more expensive failures on our list than good players that we have brought in for next to nothing.

"Free transfers don't necessarily mean that you have got a bargain. My experience of them has been very mixed. You need to be sure that the player you get can do the job you want from him."

Reds Close On Miller Move understands Liverpool are poised to sign Gillingham starlet Ashley Miller.

Miller has been playing in Gillingham's junior ranks since 2003 and he is regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in England.

The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton have all been linked with the 16-year-old, but it appears Liverpool are set to win the race for his signature.

Liverpool's scouting team have moved quickly to arrange a deal to take the striker to Anfield with the club keen to tie up the move to ward off other suitors.

Miller is highly rated at Priestfield and the schoolboy has been called up to the first-team squad for Saturday's game at Northampton.

Miller is the latest young talent to come through the ranks at Gillingham with the club having sold 15-year-old Luke Freeman to Arsenal for a six-figure fee in 2008.

Aquilani - I Feel At Home

Liverpool misfit Alberto Aquilani says he feels at home playing for Juventus.

The 26-year-old is on a season-long loan in Turin after failing to live up to expectations with the Reds following his £20million move from Roma.

The midfielder says he is loving life back in Serie A with the Turin giants, who have an option to make the move permanent next summer.

He told La Stampa: "I like the team. I like Turin. I have found a home. I am happy."

Asked about his role at Juventus, he added: "I am more of a central midfielder. Before, I was further forward in the offensive phase.

"Now I have to have more balance and be careful also in defence."

Aquilani is relishing Saturday's clash with AC Milan, who have won four on the bounce to sit second in the Italian top flight.

He added: "Their most dangerous and important player right now is (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic.

"The problem is that they have more than one (strong player). They are a team who have many strong players: if they are all healthy, it's tough for the other teams.

"This doesn't mean we are inferior or are afraid to play against them, not at all actually.

"We are Juve and we must go out on the pitch to win. Then again in football, you win and you lose. The important thing is trying."

Hodgson Learning To Cope With Liverpool Criticism

Roy Hodgson says he is now starting to develop the thick skin needed to cope with the negative press aimed at Liverpool.

Hodgson was widely praised in his previous role at Fulham, where he secured the club's best ever league position as well as reaching the Europa League final, but he has come under heavy fire during his first few months at Liverpool.

With the club still in the relegation zone, Hodgson has found it hard to deal with the spotlight, but he says he is now developing the necessary mindset.

"This football club has a lot of players who have played for Liverpool for a long time," he said. "Every other day they've probably read or heard some nonsense about them and they seem to be a pretty hardened bunch.

"I'm relatively hardened but I've been spared too much at Fulham, where never a bad word was said. It is an interesting thing for me to get into the type of mindset Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard are so good at.

"Having heard and seen it all before, they are quite prepared to shrug their shoulders and write it off. It is part and parcel of the business of working for Liverpool Football Club. I am beginning to turn it around myself."

The latest negative stories surrounding the club have suggested Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina will walk away in January.

"It is sad these stories surface," Hodgson said. "There is no truth in them, they have no meaning. Reina and Torres are excellent trainers and their commitment to the club is as good as ever. There is no question they are anything other than committed.

"It is destructive but it depends on how you deal with it. It is fantastic so many people want to write nonsense about us because it must mean we are still a big club.

"The trick is to get on with the job, be happy and let the birds sing."

Ahead of this weekend's game at Bolton, Hodgson says he hopes his team "carry on from where we left off" against Blackburn, but he accepts there is still plenty of improvement needed.

"If we can produce the performances and results we will definitely be stronger but we do still need to do a bit of work," he said. "If I am being honest, when I came to the club there were a lot of things that needed changing.

"Not least of all the ownership issue - which was the major one - but there were a lot of things we wanted to do differently.

"Some of the things we asked to do will require the owners' permission and will cost a lot of money, so there is still a lot of work to do."

Milan Jovanovic Thanks 'Understanding' Liverpool Supporters

Milan Jovanovic has hailed the role of the Liverpool supporters in their recent upturn in fortunes.

Roy Hodgson's side claimed an impressive 0-0 Europa League draw in Napoli and followed that with a 2-1 Premier League victory against Blackburn Rovers. After a month of misery, the results hint at a brighter future as the players look to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.

Serbia international Jovanovic believes the "understanding" shown by fans has provided the platform for success.

"The fans here have been very understanding and I have been encouraged by their support," the 29-year-old told the club's official website.

"At other clubs, when the form is bad, they can start to criticise, but here they seem to try and help you even more. That's the great thing about Liverpool."

Jovanovic added: "I am sure all the players can get better and we can play as a team. Everybody is trying really hard in the training sessions to get it right.

"I don't think people can say we haven't worked hard in the games, but a lack of confidence and lack of luck can have a big impact."

Dalglish To Open New Club Store

Liverpool Football Club are delighted to announce the opening of a new official club store in Belfast.

The 2,000 sq. ft. unit will be based on Castle Lane in the heart of Belfast's shopping district. The store will carry the full range of official club products and will create at least 10 new jobs for the city.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish will officially open the store - Liverpool's fifth official club shop - at 10am next Friday, November 5.

Playwright Nicky Alt will be in attendance on Saturday, November 6 to sign copies of his One Night in Istanbul DVD.

Lee Dwerryhouse, LFC Head of Retail, said: "We are really looking forward to the store opening and would encourage all of our fans in the area to come along.

"As a city Belfast has many parallels with Liverpool and the club's fan base in the city is huge.

"Our fans in Belfast are extremely passionate and their loyalty to the club is unbelievable. I am delighted we have been able to reward that loyalty and passion with our first store outside of the north west of England.

"We considered many sites for our next store but all the signs kept pointing back to Belfast. This store signals the start of an expansion strategy that will see a host of official club stores opening outside of Liverpool over the next few years."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hodgson Hopes To Keep Duo

Roy Hodgson has told Manchester United and Arsenal that Jose Reina is not for sale and is hopeful of convincing Fernando Torres to remain with Liverpool, despite both Spanish internationals having release clauses in their Anfield contracts.

Reina only signed a six-year deal with Liverpool in April while Torres, who is under contract until 2013, pledged to stay at Anfield following extensive talks with the club’s then managing director, Christian Purslow, in the summer.

The pair have get-out clauses in their existing contracts but, although Reina and Torres are concerned over Liverpool’s ability to return to the Champions League, the club are unperturbed at claims the clauses could be invoked in January.

New England Sports Ventures’ €340 million takeover has removed pressure to sell players and the new owners are adamant they will improve the squad, not diminish it, during their first transfer window in charge.

Hodgson conceded last week that his club could be vulnerable to a January bid from United for Torres, albeit before Wayne Rooney signed a five-year contract. But the Liverpool manager also said: “I don’t believe we will lose him. We will do our best to ensure he stays.”

United are looking, too, for a replacement for Edwin van der Sar and Arsenal are keen on the €23 million-rated Reina but the Liverpool manager has insisted the 28-year-old will remain.

“Pepe is fantastic here, he is lifeblood of this team,” Hodgson said. “Everything he does around the club is excellent. He is always lively in the dressing room, he is always first class in training and he always wants to do more to improve. He demands better from those around him, he is always pushing people on. He is a player who we hold in the highest esteem.

“We have heard nothing from Manchester United and, more to the point, we don’t want to hear anything from Manchester United. If (Alex) Ferguson is looking around at the end of the season and he has got lots of money to replace Van der Sar, he might very well want Pepe Reina because he is the best around. But we do not want to sell him. I would like to think we are going to become a successful club once again and Pepe is crucial to that.”

Dirk Kuyt could be fit for Chelsea’s visit to Anfield on Sunday week, having made good progress in his recovery from an ankle injury. The Dutch forward feared he could be sidelined until January but Hodgson said: “He shouldn’t be as far advanced as he is but he’s looking good. I don’t think he’ll be fit for the weekend (at Bolton Wanderers) but maybe the weekend after.”

Glen Johnson has an outside chance of returning for Sunday’s trip to the Reebok Stadium following a thigh strain.

Liverpool Ready To Raid Roma For Wantaway Striker

Liverpool are ready to offer Roma's wantaway striker Mirko Vucinic an escape route in January, according to reports in Italy.

Montenegro international Vucinic, 27, has reportedly clashed with Roma manager Claudio Ranieri in recent weeks and reacted badly to being substituted after only 57 minutes of the goalless draw against Parma at the weekend.

Vucinic, who recently hit the headlines with a bizarre goal celebration where he took his shorts off and put them on his head after scoring on international duty with Montenegro, is contracted to Roma until 2013.

He is currently valued at around £16.5m but reports in Italy have suggested that Vucinic is available for a cut-price £13m because he is unhappy, with Liverpool interested in the striker.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson has been short of options up front this season and is bidding to buy a forward in January to ease the burden on Fernando Torres.

Liverpool Boss Keen On Move For Charlie Adam

Liverpool are rumoured to be lining up a January move for Blackpool star Charlie Adam. Roy Hodgson has reportedly been scouting the former Rangers man this season and after the 24 year old put in a great performance to help his side to a famous win at Anfield the chances of a bid from the Merseyside club have significantly increased.

The attacking midfielder has also apparently fallen out with his Bloomfield Road club over unpaid bonuses which could give the talented Scot the excuse he needs to leave the club he helped to a surprise promotion to the Premier League last season.

Charlie Adam clearly realizes that he has become the focal point for Ian Holloway’s side but also knows that the chance of a move to high profile club such as Liverpool does not come around very often and his unhappiness with the club’s attitude towards a £20k owed payment could spark his desire to leave the club.

Roy Hodgson has been looking for ways to add creativity to his brittle side and could well feel that the in form Dundee born midfielder could be just the man for the job. Adam netted 17 goals last season and helped create just as many and his vision and flair appear to have led to his being placed on the under fire Liverpool boss’s transfer wish-list.

Liverpool Offered Argentinian Lopez

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is being offered Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez.

Lyon may be willing to allow the Argentinian forward to leave and clubs are being sounded out.

Hodgson is eager to strengthen his strike force and give his squad more options as they are relying heavily on Fernando Torres.

But it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will be afforded transfer cash by the club's new owners to go and buy new players.

Former Porto striker Lopez's agent Fernando Hidalgo said: "He is happy in Lyon but a big offer could change that."

Liverpool Youngster Jonjo Shelvey Can Learn From Steven Gerrard

Roy Hodgson has given Liverpool youngster Jonjo Shelvey a boost by likening him to captain Steven Gerrard.

The Reds boss believes the starlet has the perfect role model at Melwood in his quest to become one of the country's top midfielders.

And the experienced Hodgson says that Shelvey should look at Gerrard and learn from him in training.

Liverpool signed the 18-year-old from Charlton Athletic in the summer and he has impressed fans with his dynamic style during appearances against Northampton Town and Napoli.

He has also become England Under-19 captain and Hodgson doesn't believe there is any danger of the youngster resting on his laurels.

"He's very good. He's a player who's come here with the right attitude and humility," he told the club's official website.

"He realizes it's a massive step from getting in the Charlton first team early on and receiving a lot of plaudits.

"Those things earned him a move to Liverpool and he's come in and worked very hard.

"He's got a lot of players around him who can help and be an inspiration to him. With the way he likes to play, the level of his passing and technical ability, I'm sure he's looking at Steven Gerrard and thinking, 'Could I become as good as that?' It's nice to have that kind of role model.

"Jonjo is also a team player, as he has shown on several occasions by playing in different positions."

Roy Hodgson Confident Raul Meireles Will Get On Scoresheet For Liverpool Soon

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is confident Raul Meireles will soon show his worth to the fans as the club look to climb the Premier League table.

Hodgson signed the Portuguese international from Porto and Meireles arrived with a big reputation as an all-action midfielder.

He has yet to score for his new club but Hodgson insists it's only a matter of time before he hits the net.

The Reds boss told the club's official website: "Meireles is a very good player and is a good striker of the ball.

"I'm sure his first goal for the club won't be too far away.

"He will get goals for us and he is a class act that gives this team something different.

"Meireles is the type of player we need to bring more of to this club in the future."

'We Want World's Top Starlets'

It's fair to say a lot has happened at Liverpool Football Club since Rodolfo Borrell breezed through the Academy entrance in the summer of 2009.

A new first-team manager and a change in ownership represent just two of the seismic ripples in the club's timeline; the result, an altogether different environment for the former Barcelona man.

The dawn of a new era is very much underway in L4, but while all around him seems to have shifted, Borrell has remained a constant, tirelessly applying the principles that served him so well during his time in Catalonia.

And few could argue with a CV that boasts the names of Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta; testament to the Spaniard's innate knack for moulding players into first-team stars.

Alongside Frank McParland, Kenny Dalglish and Pep Segura, he has spearheaded a new approach to the club's youth system, one that has already begun to pay dividends.

Last season Jack Robinson became the youngest player in Liverpool history while this year the likes of Tom Ince and David Amoo have had brief flirtations with Roy Hodgson's starting XI.

Borrell admits he is pleased with the progress they have made so far but insists there is still much work to do if Liverpool are to achieve their goal of having one of the best youth systems in Europe.

"When you look at the level of the Academy when I arrived here and the level at Barcelona then you can see that it takes time to get anywhere near that," he told when we caught up with him at the Academy earlier this week.

"In the 15 months we have been here players have developed. That is obvious, everyone is talking about that.

"The new owners will have plans for the first-team and that is a priority, but my own opinion is that if we got a little bit more investment we could make the squad more competitive and ensure the very best young talent is found in Kirkby."

Borrell clearly has well defined ideas on how to take Liverpool's Academy to the next step, but that's not to say he underestimates the strides they've made so far.

"We have been working very hard," he continued.

"It's not just what myself and Pep Segura have done. Frank McParland and Kenny Dalglish have been massive in the progress since I arrived and, on a personal note, they have been tremendously helpful in helping me to settle into life here.

"That's important because all of the people involved in our youth set-up must share a vision. That is essential if we are to develop young players that are of the quality that Liverpool's first-team demands. It's impossible if there is a division.

"I think you can see the unity here and the result is the great progress we have made. All of the teams play with the same style, the same philosophy.

"This ensures continuity from team to team and coach to coach."

The summer departure of Rafael Benitez, the man who tasked Borrell with revamping the U18s, could have resulted in a complete change of emphasis.

However, the charismatic Spaniard has been delighted by the input of Hodgson and feels that the youth system in place will continue to improve under the new regime.

"Obviously Roy's main focus is the first-team and the majority of his time is spent planning with his squad," said Borrell.

"But I do speak to him regularly. Sometimes here, sometimes at Melwood.

"He knows we've got some good players coming through.

"Andre Wisdom is showing big standards and then there are the likes of John Flanagan, Jack Robinson and Tom Ince. There are several players making progress towards the first-team. Of course, I'm pleased about that because my main target is to develop players.

"That is what I have been doing all of my life and that is why Liverpool brought me here."

Under the leadership of Borrell, Liverpool's U18s have emerged as one of the most stylish sides in the FA Premier Academy League.

An unbeaten 10 match run at the end of the 2009-10 season was followed by a bright opening this time around.

Such success inevitably leads to call-ups to the international scene and the prospect of a lull in results, a situation that the Reds coach sees as a double-edged sword.

"Sometimes we are struggling because we have had players called up. This does not mean that those that come in aren't very good," he said.

"It just means you have younger players and the opposition are much stronger physically. It was the situation we faced at the beginning of last season and the one we have had over the last few weeks.

"When you are Liverpool, the other teams put everything into it. In the last league game versus West Brom, they included a reserve goalkeeper as one of their over-age players.

"This was the first time he featured for them - why? Because they are playing Liverpool.

"It's not an excuse, it's just the reality we face when players are called up for the international team.

"The more success we have and the more we bring through talented players, then the more call-ups we will have. This is something for the club to be proud of, great for the players and myself, but not so good for the squad.

"You are losing these players and still being asked to play league matches. That is not the case at first-team level, so I do not understand why we do it with the Academy teams.

"If we are helping the national team then I think the FA must protect them. In Spain you have the right to postpone the game. I think this makes sense and I would like someone to think about implementing a similar system here."

The cosmopolitan nature of the modern game means that the search for young talent has taken on a global scale.

However, Borrell believes that the successful ingredients Liverpool are looking for are more likely to be unearthed nearer to Southport, rather than South America.

"I don't know all of the players across the country, but I admire the characteristics of a Scouse player, he has something special," he said.

"He is a player that learns quickly, is very competitive, aggressive and disciplined. He is always ready to fight for his team. I don't think that is the case for every player in England, I think there is something different about Scouse players.

"We are investing a lot more in players from around Liverpool.

"I am happy with all of our Scousers - but if you ask me if I see players with that extra special talent, like Lionel Messi, then I have to be honest. I do not see anyone of that calibre.

"But we have players with some good ingredients that with the right focus and hard work, will go through and be competitive for the first-team of Liverpool."

Borrell's passionate analysis of what he feels makes the archetypal Liverpool player shows he has a clear affinity with the club, one that has seen him immerse himself in the local culture.

His track record and success on the pitch is well documented but what of his life away from football?

"Sometimes if I have two days off - which doesn't happen often - I like to get out and see some of the country," he said. "I've been to York, Conwy, the Lake District...

"Many years ago I visited Britain for 25 days and went to the Isle of Sky, Glasgow and Inverness among other places. It was me and three friends who drove here in a car from Barcelona.

"As you can see, I'm not a typical Spaniard. I don't desire to go home when I have time off. Last season, I only went home for one week to see my family over Christmas. I think that shows how happy I am here.

"I have recently had a son and I wanted him to be born in Liverpool so that I will always remember my time here. I'm really proud I have a Scouser as a son!

"I spoke with my wife and we did discuss the possibility of him being born in Barcelona. But we finally decided to have him here. It was more my decision I suppose but I am really happy with it.

"I want my son to always remind me that I have been a part of a club that has one of the greatest histories in football."

Such words are expressed with endearing enthusiasm and it is obvious Borrell seems more than content with life on Merseyside - both on and off the pitch.

But what of the future? Does he see himself at Liverpool further down the line?

"I hope so," he added.

"I love Liverpool and want to ensure the future is bright for this great club. I hope I can help to bring through players that the fans are going to appreciate and, most importantly, lead the club to more trophy success."