Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paul Konchesky Admits He Must Up His Game

Liverpool defender Paul Konchesky has admitted that he has struggled to settle into life on Merseyside and found it tough handling the expectations that come with playing for the Anfield club.

The full-back, who was signed by Roy Hodgson in July, accepts that he needs to lift the level of his performances to repay the faith shown in him by his manager.

"It's taken me a while [to settle in], and I got injured early on so I'm just getting back to playing at full fitness now," Konchesky told Liverpool’s official website.

"I'm getting used to the atmosphere and the people surrounding the team.

"There is a lot of pressure here but it's a good pressure. The fans want you to be in the top four because that's where Liverpool belongs.

"I've got to up my game. Where I've played before has not been as high a standard as Liverpool, but this is a good pressure."

And Konchesky acknowledged that he was at fault for Tottenham’s winning goal in their Premier League clash on Sunday as Aaron Lennon raced through to hand Spurs a 2-1 win.

"Straight after I knew that I'd have to hold my hands up, but we also had chances to win the game," he continued.

"That's part of football and we've got to try and take the positives out of the game.

"I was gutted [with the winner]. Being the last minute as well, it didn't give us any time to get back into the game.

"But that's life, we've got to put it behind us, and I've got to put it behind myself for the next game."

The former Fulham defender has also looked to reassure fans by insisting the Reds are slowly starting to adapt to Hodgson’s tactics and revealed he is expecting things to improve soon.

"I can see signs that we're starting to play in the style he [Hodgson] wants," he added.

"The more we work on it on the training ground, the more the players get used to what the manager wants.

"We're taking it into games. The performances have been of a much higher standard in the last two games.

"It's about organization and a lot of hard work. Players filling in for each other when someone's out of position.

"I think the team is becoming organized in the system."

Liverpool Tracking Lorient Forward Kevin Gameiro For January Transfer

They may not be the frontrunners in this transfer, but Roy Hodgson is making sure Liverpool won't miss the opportunity to land French forward Kevin Gameiro in January.

According to a report by givemefootball.com, Gameiro's agent is conducting preliminary talks with Arsenal, which is currently the leading destination for the talented striker. A £10 million deal is reportedly in the works.

However, should any deal fall through with the Gunners, Hodgson is tracking Gameiro's progress to create a potential landing spot at Anfield. It's reported that Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is also looking to attract Gameiro if the Arsenal transfer is a no-go.

The 23-year-old striker could be a perfect complement to Fernando Torres up front, as the up-and-comer is described as a solid attacker who is ready for Premier League competition.

Liverpool Earmark Samba Striker As Next Anfield Hero

Liverpool are reportedly after Brazilian striker Kleber as they step up their pursuit of a new striker.

According to the Daily Mail, the Reds are set to re-enter the race for the Palmeiras hotshot - who is also wanted by Everton - after previously showing an interest in his signature during Rafa Benitez's tenure.

"I have a proposal from Liverpool for 7 million euros. We are analysing [it]" Kleber said at the time.

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has made no secret of his desire to add more potency to his Anfield attack after admitting that Liverpool rely too heavily on Kop hero Fernando Torres.

And it would appear Hodgson has identified £6 million-rated Kleber as a potential target to take the goalscoring burden away from Liverpool star Torres.

The former Brazil under 20 star has an eye-catching scoring record; notching an impressive 28 times in 77 appearances during a spell with Dynamo Kiev, while he has 13 goals in 18 games for his current employers.

Kleber certainly has the ability to add an extra dimension to the Liverpool attack and his hard working nature and flamboyant attitude to win over the Anfield faithful.

Liverpool have also been linked with Roma ace Mirko Vucinic and Bolton hitman Johan Elmander as they look to bring more attacking options to Anfield in January.

Liverpool To Make January Offer For Hamburg Winger Jonathan Pitroipa

Hamburg winger Jonathan Pitroipa is in the sights of Liverpool.

The People says Liverpool are gearing up for a January swoop on £5million-rated Pitroipa.

Boss Roy Hodgson has been keeping tabs on the 24-year-old Burkina Faso international, who can operate on either flank.

Pitroipa starred in both legs of the Europa League semi-final clash with Hodgson’s former club Fulham in April.

Anfield scouts have been watching him with a view to moving in when the transfer window opens.

Liverpool Consider Shock Move For Darren Bent

Liverpool are believed to be considering a shock move for Sunderland striker Darren Bent as Roy Hodgson looks to bring in new attacking options to the club. The Anfield boss will look to new owners NESV to back him financially as he seeks to sign the England international who has been a sparkling success at the Stadium of Light.

Hodgson has been linked with a myriad of potential new signings and a need for new strikers to help share the goal scoring burden currently shouldered in the main by Spaniard Fernando Torres is plain for all to see. The club have been linked with the likes of Premier League pair Roman Pavlyuchenko and Carlton Cole as well as most recently, Roma man Mirko Vucinic.

Liverpool will turn their attentions to the 26 year old and will hope that the former Tottenham, Charlton and Ipswich man is tempted by a move to the Merseyside club. Bent has netted a very laudable 31 goals in 50 Black Cats starts but the chance to move to a club with Champions League aspirations may prove hard to turn down, regardless of their current bout of indifferent form.

Roy Hodgson has shown in recent matches he is willing to opt for a two man front pairing and no one can argue with Darren Bent’s Premier League goal scoring record.

Steve Bruce will clearly not let such a talented player leave without a fight, after all Darren Bent has proved even more important to Sunderland than Torres has been to Liverpool. The London born goal machine scored 50% of all the club’s goals last term and is a player they will not want to lose.

It would take a hefty bid to nab the £22m rated striker and Hodgson would have to hope the club’s new owners are willing to dig deep to sign such a prolific marksman.

Roma's Mirko Vucinic Linked With €25 Million Liverpool Move

Roma striker Mirko Vucinic is being pictured in a Liverpool shirt and he could disappear into the Premier League landscape as part of a €25 million move.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson admires and desires the player at Anfield and he has asked his directors to provide transportation for Vucinic.

Itasportpress.it claims Liverpool's technical staff see the 27-year-old as an ideal partner for Fernando Torres.

They are considering a €25m bid and could tempt Roma who are cash-strapped and awaiting a change of ownership.

Vucinic has been banished to the bench at times this season and has had trouble breaking past Jeremy Menez, Marco Borriello and Francesco Totti.

On Saturday he injured his ankle and missed the 3-1 loss at Palermo on Sunday night.

Sevilla Look At Lucas

Sevilla are reportedly weighing up a January move for Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva.

Reports emanating from Spain have claimed Sevilla have targeted a move for Lucas as they look to bolster their squad options in the January transfer window.

Sevilla are in the market for a new midfielder after Tiberio Guarente was ruled out for the rest of the season through injury.

Sevilla were linked with Lucas' team-mate Christian Poulsen earlier this month, but it appears the Brazil international is now on their list of targets.

Lucas' future at Anfield has been the subject of speculation for some time with the South American failing to hold down a regular place in the side.

Sevilla are believed to have travelled to England to sound out the possibility of the move and are waiting to find out Liverpool's response.

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson could be tempted to cash in on Lucas to raise funds for his own transfer plans in the New Year.

Liverpool Outcast Set For January Switch To Juventus

Juventus are set to offer Liverpool misfit Ryan Babel a January escape route.

According to reports in Italy, talks are at an advanced stage between the clubs for the sale of Babel who has struggled to hold down a first-team place since arriving in 2007.

The former-Ajax winger has made only 30 Premier League starts in over three seasons at Anfield and was heavily linked with a move to Birmingham City in the summer.

That move fell through, but Babel’s ill-fated Liverpool career could come to an end in January with Juventus keen to push through a deal.

And their Serie A rivals Lazio are also monitoring the situation and could be ready to make an offer of their own.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Match Report: Tottenham 2 - 1 Liverpool

Aaron Lennon scored deep into stoppage time as Tottenham completed another amazing comeback to beat Liverpool and stay in the Barclays Premier League title hunt.

An incident-packed game looked certain to end in a 1-1 draw after Martin Skrtel netted at both ends and substitute Jermain Defoe also missed a penalty.

Several other clear-cut chances went begging for both sides before Lennon became the hero to move Spurs to within a point of fourth-placed Manchester City and back to six of the summit.

It was the second time in eight days, and the fifth time this season, Tottenham had come from behind to win a Premier League game.

This match was the first meeting between the sides since Tottenham usurped Liverpool as a member of the top four and one of England's Champions League flag bearers, a mantle they have assumed with aplomb.

They suffered a blow early on when they lost Rafael van der Vaart to injury in the 12th minute, the midfielder having been passed fit to play after an ankle injury.

Replacement Defoe curled a left-foot volley at Jose Reina before the lively Maxi Rodriguez forced a fine fingertip stop from Heurelho Gomes, who then improvised a save to turn Dirk Kuyt's angled volley behind.

Raul Meireles was cautioned midway through the half for felling Gareth Bale in full flight and referee Martin Atkinson had his yellow card out again for Paul Konchesky on the half-hour after a brilliant 40-yard run by the Tottenham winger.

A minute later, Defoe should have put Spurs ahead when Reina spilt Luka Modric's cross to leave him with an open goal but Jamie Carragher threw himself in front of the ball to block.

It was frantic stuff and David Ngog then powered a header wide from Kuyt's cross before Spurs suffered another blow when Younes Kaboul hurt himself after being hit by a Fernando Torres shot.

Sebastien Bassong came on for the final nine minutes of the half, which saw Gomes almost fumble Meireles' speculative shot into his own net and Carragher carded for tripping Modric in full flight.

Liverpool then snatched the lead when Spurs made a complete hash of trying to clear Meireles' flighted free-kick and Skrtel pounced to prod the ball past Gomes.

Maxi and Torres could have doubled the deficit in stoppage-time but the former fell over his own feet with only the goalkeeper to beat and the latter was thwarted by a brilliant last-ditch Bassong tackle.

Incredibly, Lucas Leiva sent Torres clean through again a minute after the restart and hesitated long enough to allow Bassong to challenge.

But Spurs were unlucky not to level in the 52nd minute when Lennon's cross eventually dropped to Bale and his vicious shot somehow found the head of Meireles on the line.

Atkinson was not interested when Peter Crouch went down in the box but did penalize Carragher for a challenge on Defoe which led to a 61st-minute Tottenham penalty.

In a repeat of the spot-kick they were awarded at Arsenal the previous weekend, Bale blasted a free-kick which Ngog inexplicably handled.

Skrtel was booked for disputing the award but it did not matter as Defoe dragged the penalty wide, Spurs' fourth miss from the spot this season.

However, an inspirational run from Modric did see Spurs equalize four minutes later, the midfielder jinking his way into the box.

Skrtel tried to cut out his cross but could only turn the ball past Reina.

Kuyt was adamant he should have had a penalty following a strong challenge from Benoit Assou-Ekotto but Atkinson was unmoved.

The visitors were forced to replace Ngog with Fabio Aurelio for the final 15 minutes.

Neither side was settling for the draw and Bale saw another effort blocked when his volley crashed into a crowd of Liverpool players.

The impressive Meireles also sent a beautifully-struck left-foot shot inches wide from 25 yards before the Reds lost Carragher for the final four minutes to a shoulder injury, Sotirios Kyrgiakos replacing him.

Glen Johnson was booked after leaving Bale in a heap, with light snow beginning to fall in north London.

Defoe then netted what he thought was a brilliant last-minute winner but he was offside lashing the ball home.

But, two minutes into stoppage-time, Lennon sealed another incredible Spurs fightback when he raced onto Crouch's flick and fired past Reina.

Defoe was immediately withdrawn for Sandro and Lennon almost made it 3-1 with another barnstorming run.

Hodgson Insists He Is Happy With Fernando Torres

Roy Hodgson insists Fernando Torres' crisis of confidence has not returned despite the striker's killer instinct appearing to desert him in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

Torres twice hesitated when clean through either side of half-time while the visitors were leading at White Hart Lane in the Premier League yesterday. The delays allowed Sebastien Bassong to snuff out the danger and keep Spurs in a game that was in danger of slipping away from them.

Hodgson admitted last month that Torres was mentally "a bit low" following an injury-hit spell and a poor World Cup. He looked back to his best in Liverpool's victory over Chelsea but has now failed to score in his last three matches.

"I think 'crisis of confidence' may be too strong," said Hodgson after Torres' display yesterday. "I was pleased with Fernando Torres. Fernando himself, because he sets very high standards, will be disappointed he didn't take one of the goal chances which his good play – to be fair – created."

Hodgson also refused to be too harsh on the Spaniard's strike partner David Ngog after the latter inexplicably handled Gareth Bale's free-kick to gift Tottenham a penalty yesterday.

Ngog enjoyed a reprieve when Jermain Defoe missed from the spot and Hodgson said: "Players do these things. I don't think he jumped with his hands to actually stop the ball with his hands."

Ngog hobbled off in the second half but Hodgson's main concern was a serious injury to stand-in captain Jamie Carragher, who went off in the 87th minute with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

Roy Hodgson Confirms Defender Jamie Carragher Dislocated His Shoulder In Tottenham Defeat

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed defender Jamie Carragher is set for a spell on the sidelines after he dislocated a shoulder in his side’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

The veteran defender had to be helped from the field late on in the match and his manager confirmed it was a serious injury.

“He’s dislocated his shoulder, it’s a very unfortunate thing to happen,” Hodgson told Sky Sports after the game.

“It’s his 450th Premier League appearance today, a record of which he is right proudly and now we will be without him and Steven Gerrard for a while and they are the lifeblood of our club.”

Hodgson also admitted that defeat to Tottenham at White Hart Lane was “difficult to take” after a late Aaron Lennon goal secured a 2-1 victory for Harry Redknapp’s team.

“We haven’t played that badly this year but we haven’t got enough points, that’s the problem,” he said.

“We are still harbouring ambitions to get up closer to the top of the table and at least a point or three points would have been a big, big step but to go away with nothing sets us back once again. I suppose one can take consolation from the performance but it didn’t get us any points.”

The former Fulham boss found it hard to hide his disappointment and he bemoaned the fact his side missed chances to double their first-half lead, after both Maxi Rodriguez and Fernando Torres spurned opportunities.

“To lose it in injury time in the way we did of course is very hard to take. I’m very disappointed for the players, very disappointed that we didn’t go away from here with at least one point which would have been something we could have been proud of. Unfortunately it’s a defeat and defeats hit you very hard,” he added.

“There is no doubt about it, we missed some very good chances today. We played some good football to get ourselves in that position. But Tottenham are a very good, dangerous team and they also create chances.”

Tottenham also missed a penalty in the game after David Ngog handballed a Gareth Bale free-kick and although Jermain Defoe missed from the spot, Hodgson had no complaints about the decision.

“There were quite a few instances in the game where there controversial decisions in the penalty area, difficult for the referee,” he said.

“The penalty is quite clear, David Ngog had no right to have his hands where he had them.”

Magpies Aim To Keep Darby

Notts County manager Paul Ince is optimistic of being able to extend Liverpool defender Stephen Darby's loan until the end of the season.

Darby has impressed in making four appearances at right-back for the League One club since moving to Meadow Lane at the start of the month.

The 22-year-old is currently due to stay with the Magpies until January and Ince has praised Darby's form since his arrival at the club.

Ince is hopeful he can keep Darby for the rest of the campaign, but concedes his son Thomas is likely to return to Liverpool in the New Year.

"Darbs has not had a bad game. He has been exceptional from the very first day he came here," Ince told the Nottingham Evening Post. "He's only 22, but plays with a lot of maturity.

"He has good awareness and always puts himself in good positions. He's brave too. He will put his foot in and put his body on the line for the team.

"Thomas might have to go back, but hopefully we can keep Darbs.

"He's been schooled well at Liverpool and he's playing well at the moment. He is the type of player we want to bring into the side. We want to raise the bar."

Balmelli Confirms Liverpool's Interest

Valentin Stocker agent Marco Balmelli has confirmed Liverpool’s interest in the FC Basel midfielder.

The versatile 21 year-old has been attracting a plethora of interest around Europe this season with Liverpool, Wolfsburg, Roma and Juventus all reportedly keen in his services.

Roy Hodgson knows all about Swiss talent, having successfully managed the national side and a season with Grasshoppers and it appears he has got his eyes firmly on one of Switzerland’s brightest prospects.

Balmelli claims that he has had contact with the Merseysiders, although no formal offer or approach has been made:

“Liverpool? Yes, with the English club I have had contact. How much? Valentin is good technically, can play multiple roles, both on the wing and the centre.”

Valentin Stock recently graduated to the full national side where he has scored three goals in seven appearances to date.

Liverpool Dealt Blow As Swede Pledges Future

Liverpool‘s hope of securing a January deal for PSV’s Ola Toivonen was dealt a blow today as the striker committed his immediate future to the club.

The Swedish target man has been in superb form and has been linked with a plethora of clubs around Europe, after scoring 10 goals in 20 games so far this season.

Toivonen is more than aware of the interest in him, but has no desire to leave PSV until the summer at the earliest.

“I am set to set stay at PSV. We’re losing Afellay and I have no plans to leave,

“I know that there are clubs looking at every game so rumours are something that I have to live with.”

Manchester United Get Liverpool In FA Cup Third Round

Manchester United will face bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford in the third round of the FA Cup.

It is the only all-Premier League tie in a draw that also sees Leeds travel to Arsenal, holders Chelsea face Ipswich and Stevenage play Newcastle.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's Leicester host his former club Manchester City, while non-league York and Dover are away at Bolton and Huddersfield respectively.

The ties will be played over the weekend of 8/9 January 2011.

The stand-out tie at Old Trafford will be the ninth post-war meeting between Manchester United and Liverpool in the competition, with the Red Devils victorious in seven of the previous eight.

However, the last time they met, in a fifth-round tie in 2006, seven-time Cup winners Liverpool recorded their first FA Cup win over United in 85 years courtesy of a single Peter Crouch goal.

Newcastle's trip to Stevenage is a repeat of the 1998 fourth-round tie, when then-non-league Boro held United to a 1-1 draw at home before losing 2-1 in the replay at St James' Park.

Three other teams from outside the Football League took their places in the draw with their second-round ties yet to be decided.

FC United of Manchester will host Portsmouth if they come through their replay against Brighton, while Crawley will tackle Swindon again for the right to take on Derby.

Droylsden, of the Blue Square Bet North, face League One Leyton Orient on Monday with a trip to Norwich the prize for the winners.

St Etienne Chief Slams Comolli

St Etienne co-chairman Bernard Caiazzo has launched a bitter parting shot at former employee Damien Comolli.

Comolli was previously in charge of transfer signings at the French club but quit to become Liverpool's director of football strategy earlier this month.

The decision has been greeted with mixed response from Reds fans but Comolli is no stranger to the English game, having also worked with Arsenal and Tottenham.

However, Caiazzo has slammed his former colleague's 'arrogance, incompetence and judgement' while also claiming the Ligue 1 side are better off without his services.

"We are not crying into our handkerchiefs," Caiazzo told the News of the World.

"You need some humility in football and Damien was convinced he was right 100 per cent of the time. There was never any question of dialogue.

"Damien enjoyed total power in his first year with us. His was the last word on all transfers and that is how he wanted it.

"The manager at the time, Alain Perrin, had not even seen some of the players he was given. Damien was his boss.

"His powers were much reduced in January after the failure of his transfer policy the previous summer and he was not pleased.

"I would have fired him then but my co-chairman defended him for months, even when results were poor.

"It was a mistake bringing him back to the club."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool

Tottenham will be expected to showcase their title credentials following last week’s 3-2 derby day victory against Arsenal.

With the Premier League as unpredictable as ever, manager Harry Redknapp believes that Spurs have as good a chance as anybody to claim the ultimate prize, and given Chelsea and Manchester United’s far from convincing form of late, who could argue with him?

Up until last Saturday’s victory at the Emirates, their first win at Arsenal in 17 years, Spurs had notoriously failed to achieve a result against any of the traditional top four away from home, but the result against their North London neighbors is a perfect example of how Harry Redknapp’s team has progressed under his guidance.

The destruction of European Champions Inter at White Hart Lane in the Champions League, just two weeks prior to that derby day victory, pinpoints the fact that this Tottenham team have to be taken seriously as the season enters its crucial stage.

Liverpool has embarked on a small road to recovery in recent games following a dismal start to the season under Roy Hodgson.

The highlight of their campaign thus far was a recent victory over Chelsea at Anfield. However, they then dropped four points on their travels to Wigan and Stoke City, before a convincing victory over West Ham United at home provided three much needed points.

Consequently, they are now just six points off fourth place, and victory over Spurs could inspire the kind off run that is needed if the team are to live up to the expectations of their supporters, who have endured a torrid 18 months. The key, clearly, is to improve their hitherto tepid away form.



Rafael van der Vaart is rated at 50-50 in his bid to regain match fitness in time to face Liverpool on Sunday afternoon. The Dutch international, who has arguably been the signing of the season so far since his £8 million switch from Real Madrid, did not play on Wednesday night as Spurs eased their way into the last 16 of the Champions League.

Fellow midfielder Jermaine Jenas is considered a major doubt for Harry Redknapp’s high fliers after limping off in the 3-0 victory over Werder Bremen.

Jermain Defoe is vying for a return to the team after impressing as a second half substitute in the remarkable comeback win against fierce rivals Arsenal at the Emirates.

Harry Redknapp also welcomes back Michael Dawson but is still without long term injury victims Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Jamie O’Hara.

Probable starting XI: Gomes; Hutton, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale; Defoe, Crouch.


Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is contemplating whether to reinstate Joe Cole into his starting line-up. The former Chelsea man has missed the last five games for the gradually improving Reds.

Captain Steven Gerrard is still injured after damaging his hamstring during England’s defeat by France last week, but Fabio Aurelio is back and Brazilian midfielder Lucas returns to the fold after serving his suspension.

Jamie Carragher will make his 450th appearance in the Premier League when he captains Liverpool in Gerrard’s absence.

Probable starting XI: Reina; Konchesky, Carragher, Skrtl, Johnson; Maxi, Meireles, Poulsen, Cole, Kuyt; Torres.

Hodgson Targets Goals

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is targeting more goals from his side on their travels as he looks to push on up the league.

After a poor start to the campaign, Hodgson's side currently sit in ninth in the table with 19 points from their opening 14 games.

But the Reds have taken just five points from their seven games on the road, scoring just four goals and conceding 11, although six of those were shipped at Manchester City and United.

Hodgson is now looking for more goals from his side on the road as they prepare to face Spurs at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

The Liverpool boss said: "Goalscoring is what it is down to. We haven't scored enough goals away from home or created enough goalscoring chances.

"There have been occasions where we have played too much football in front of the opposing defence, not got behind them enough or not got enough bodies into the box.

"This is something we work on all the time and are attempting to rectify.

"But I think you need to keep faith in your plan full stop when it comes to how the team defends and attacks, which the team work on every day.

"The principles which I have seen already this season on several occasions, when things are working for us, can make us look like quite a good football team.

"Defensively, most of the time we haven't done that badly. We conceded three at Manchester City in a fairly poor performance and three at Manchester United where we were somewhat unlucky.

"Take those six goals out of the equation and we haven't been leaking goals away from home but we haven't been scoring enough either."

Hodgson's position came under intense speculation after the Reds were left in the relegation zone, with just six points from their opening eight games.

But Hodgson's side have since taken 13 points from their last six outings and the Liverpool boss wants his players to kick on.

He added: "I think Liverpool will always be harshly looked at, it is part and parcel of being at the club.

"The traditions of the club and the expectations to do well are always going to be very high.

"As a result I don't complain about harsh treatment. People want so much and every defeat becomes a private occasion for grief and we just have to accept that.

"But it is quite nice to be in the situation where, having done well in the last six games and taken 13 points, we have hauled ourselves up into a good position.

"A couple of good results between now and Christmas could see us at the turnaround period after 19 games in a quite decent position, which was about the most I could hope for after taking so few points from the first seven games.

"We took so few points (six) from the first eight games that the scenario at Christmas looked like being pretty disastrous.

"If we can get ourselves into a situation going into the New Year where we are not looking at a disaster scenario then I am hoping we will kick on and have a better second half of the season."

Harry Hails Cole Choice

Harry Redknapp has hailed Joe Cole for his courage in moving to Liverpool ahead of Tottenham in the summer.

The two sides meet at White Hart Lane on Sunday and Cole is expected to return to action having spent almost a month on the treatment table.

Redknapp admits holding advanced talks with the former Chelsea player, who was a free agent, only for the Londoner to opt for a move north.

Cole was widely expected to team up with Redknapp at Spurs but his former West Ham boss admits staying in the capital would have been the easy option.

"Maybe he felt he needed a change." Redknapp told The Independent. "Tottenham are a great club but Liverpool have been up there for years and he probably fancied it.

"It was a move in the end where the easy option was to stay in London, but he went for it.

"Maybe Joe just fancied moving out of London. Maybe he wanted to go and be completely focused on his football."

After missing out on the 29-year-old, Redknapp made a deadline day swoop to wrap up the signing of Rafael van der Vaart, who has since scored eight goals for the club.

Cole, who has had injury problems at Anfield, has just one Reds strike to his name so far, but the Spurs boss refuses to accept that his Tottenham snub has worked in their favour.

"I'm not sure what happened in the end. Joe eventually rung me up and said 'Look, sorry, but I'm going to Liverpool'.

"Joe could have come here and been fantastic for us. You never know but no, we wouldn't have taken Rafa had we taken Joe. And Rafa has been great for us."

Meanwhile, Redknapp has revealed how he once duped Daniel Levy, the chairman of the club he now manages, into avoiding the signing of full-back Glen Johnson, now of Liverpool.

Johnson was out of favour at Chelsea before joining Redknapp at Portsmouth, with Liverpool subsequently paying a reported £18million for the England international's services.

Redknapp revealed: "Daniel rang me up and said, 'What about Glen Johnson, Harry? We're interested in him. Do you think he would be a good signing for Tottenham?'

"I said: 'No, no, he's not for Tottenham. He's not good enough for you, Daniel'.

"And I signed him [on a permanent deal] the next day for Portsmouth.

"Daniel does remind of that quite often. But that's life, that's football," he joked.

Reina Issues Reds Warning

Pepe Reina has issued a warning to Liverpool that they could lose star striker Fernando Torres if they do not start winning.

The Reds goalkeeper is concerned that his Spanish international team-mate could end up leaving Anfield if the club cannot challenge for a UEFA Champions League place.

Reina, who signed from Villarreal in July 2005, has reportedly told the club's new owner John W Henry that the Merseyside giants must strengthen their squad or risk losing their big names.

The 28-year-old told the Daily Mirror: "We have to finish this season in a better position than we are at the moment and make sure we build for the next years and try to be competitive.

"If not, it's going to be difficult for them to keep these kind of players.

"We're not probably as strong as Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Tottenham can be so that's why we have to make sure we build a better squad.

"At the moment, it's almost impossible to compete for nine months against Chelsea, for example, and that is what I want. The clubs all around England are building proper squads. We have to do the same and we have to be able to compete.

"A top-four finish is possible - why not? But we have to be sure that we deliver better performances otherwise it's going to be really, really, really difficult."

Reina is refusing to get carried away by their mini-revival, which has seen them take 13 points from their last 18, and believes they must improve their away record if they wish to challenge for a top-four finish.

The Reds have won just two of their last 16 away league games as they prepare for a crucial trip to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham on Sunday.

"We're not playing well enough, especially away from home, and we have to make sure we improve this aspect otherwise we will be struggling," he said.

"It's so difficult to go anywhere and beat teams, but if we want to be up there at the end of the season, we have to."

Antonio Cassano 'Ready To Make Liverpool Transfer In January'

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson could be set to tie up a deal for Sampdoria's Antonio Cassano.

According to reports in Italy, the striker is keen on a move after a bust-up with the Genoa-based club's president Riccardo Garrone.

The Italian international is alleged to have come to loggerheads with his employer after failing to attend a club event and there have been suggestions that the rift is so severe that Sampdoria are considering tearing up his contract.

It is not the first time the temperamental star's personality has gotten in the way of his football.

He famously had a run-in with current England manager Fabio Capello, who coined the phrase 'Cassanata' in reference to him.

Italian journalists now regularly use Cassanata to describe behaviour that is considered detrimental to team harmony.

However, Cassano's talent on the football pitch is undisputed and has led to him playing for top clubs like Roma and Real Madrid, in spite of his fiery nature.

He could be just what Liverpool need to push them back into the top four and see them competing for honours again after a tumultuous start to the season.

The attacking guile that Gioiello di Bari Vecchia - the Jewel of Old Bari, as he is nicknamed in Italy - provides could be perfect for taking the pressure off Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

Worried Fernando Torres May Go

Kop legend Robbie Fowler reckons Fernando Torres will quit Liverpool next summer – if they fail to finish in the top-four.

The Spain striker has already said he wants to play Champions League football – and has attracted interest from a whole host of clubs including Barcelona, Inter Milan and Manchester City.

And former Reds star Fowler says Roy Hodgson’s men must ensure they qualify for the Champions League – or risk their star striker quitting the club.

Fowler, who now plays in Australia for Perth Glory, said: “I could see Fernando leaving.

“With Fernando, he has stated he wants to play Champions League football. He wants to play at a higher level and he has obviously missed out this year.

“If Liverpool were to fail again next year then I think they will struggle to keep him.

“He is a fantastic player. He had a tough start to the season and missed a lot of pre-season action.

“He has looked good and sharp and has been scoring some great goals and let’s hope that continues.”

Liverpool face a Spurs side who has hammered both Werder Bremen and European champions Inter Milan in the Champions League at White Hart Lane.

And Fowler says Liverpool manager Hodgson must be given the funds to strengthen in the new year if the Merseysiders are to challenge Europe’s elite once again. Fowler added: “The new owners have come in and said all the right stuff and I think the fans are quite happy at the minute.

“We will probably find out a lot more in January when the transfer window opens. By all accounts, they need to buy players.

“To build a good side you need a spine. They have a great keeper in Pepe Reina and then they have got Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

“They probably need a good centre-half. The defenders aren’t bad but they could probably do with someone a bit more dominant.

“Jamie Carragher has been there but he’s coming towards the end of his career. He has been absolutely magnificent for Liverpool and I wouldn’t say a bad word against him.

“If they can get a dominant central defender in, I think the spine of the team will look very good.”

Hodgson Has No Intention To Sell In January

Roy Hodgson has revealed he does not intend to sell one player in the January transfer window, claiming his Liverpool squad is "stronger than I realized".

Hodgson has also hinted that he will only bring in "one or two" new faces when he gets his first chance to spend the new owners' money. The Liverpool boss had spoken disparagingly of the squad he inherited from Rafael Benitez during the Reds' woeful start to the season. However, 13 points from a possible 18 in his last six league games has brightened the mood of the former Fulham manager.

"I have a very clear picture now of what we should and need to be doing and the squad is stronger and getting stronger," said Hodgson, who welcomes Joe Cole and Fabio Aurelio back from injury ahead of Sunday's clash with Tottenham.

"It was probably stronger than I realized at certain stages in the early part of the season when we were losing games. Hopefully that will mean we won't need to do too much in the January transfer window because it might be nice if we can keep all of these players fit and well and add the odd player or two who can help us.

"I have a lot of faith in the players who are playing at the moment because in the last two or three weeks we have put in some good performances."

The likes of Ryan Babel, Maxi Rodriguez, David N'Gog and Lucas Leiva have all been linked with departures from Anfield through the first third of the season, but Hodgson intends to retain his full roster.

"I don't know what is going to happen in the transfer window," he said. "We are doing a lot of work, covering a lot of matches and looking at a lot of players. We are trying to arm ourselves as much as possible with information.

"It is the work in progress which every club has to do - constantly monitoring players and what is out there, what might be useful for you because you never know what is around the corner. When push comes to shove in January none of us know as yet what transfer funds can be made available and we have no idea if there will be any guarantee the people we are watching will be available.

"I would like to continue with this squad of players until the end of the season because I have no ambitions or desires to move anyone. But on the other hand I can't give a stone certain guarantee that there won't be players moving in January, and if so we would need to know where to go for their replacements."

Liverpool Funds Habitat For Humanity Building Project In China

Liverpool is expanding its global presence in more ways than just soccer.

Throughout October and November, the Reds funded a Habitat for Humanity build in Shanghai, China. The Liverpool business community sent over a crew of volunteers to build a home for a low-income family. In just over a month, the project was complete and Ding Amao and his mother, Chen Gengen, moved into their brand new home.

"Liverpool Football Club is very aware of the tremendous work that Habitat for Humanity do, both in our own city and abroad," Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow said. "We are extremely pleased that our support will help provide a better home for this family in Shanghai."

The project undertaken by Liverpool is believed to be the first time a UK Premier League Club has funded a Habitat for Humanity build anywhere in the world.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Roy Admits Transfer U-Turn

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson insists he is now keen to keep the current squad intact ahead of the January transfer window.

The Reds chief has previously signalled his intent to bring new blood into the club after a disastrous start to the current campaign that left them marooned in the bottom three.

But Liverpool have returned to form of late and Hodgson is pleased with the current contingent in the Anfield camp.

The 63-year-old admits he has changed his opinion on players he inherited from predecessor Rafa Benitez ahead of the trip to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

"Basically I know what my best team is - the best team is more than 11 players," said the Reds boss, who accepts his view may have been tainted by poor results.

"I could have a best team and say one week it is with X and another week it is Y but it still would be my best team because the players are interchangeable.

"I have a very clear picture now of what we should and need to be doing and the squad is stronger and getting stronger.

"It was probably stronger than I realized at certain stages in the early part of the season when we were losing games.

"Hopefully that will mean we won't need to do too much in the January transfer window because it might be nice if we can keep all of these players fit and well and add the odd player or two who can help us.

"I have a lot of faith in the players who are playing at the moment because in the last two or three weeks we have put in some good performances."

Hodgson and his scouting team have been spotted at various matches on the continent in the last few weeks.

But his belief that things are improving, allied to an uncertainty of what transfer funds will be available, is likely to mean a limited amount of activity in January.

"I don't know what is going to happen in the transfer window," said Hodgson.

"We are doing a lot of work, covering a lot of matches and looking at a lot of players.

"We are trying to arm ourselves as much as possible with information.

"It is the work in progress which every club has to do - constantly monitoring players and what is out there, what might be useful for you because you never know what is around the corner.

"When push comes to shove in January none of us know as yet what transfer funds can be made available and we have no idea if there will be any guarantee the people we are watching will be available.

"I would like to continue with this squad of players until the end of the season because I have no ambitions or desires to move anyone.

"But on the other hand I can't give a stone certain guarantee that there won't be players moving in January, and if so we would need to know where to go for their replacements."