Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tom Hicks: Club Does Not Need To Sell Steven Gerrard Or Fernando Torres

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has hit back at David Moores’ criticism of his ownership of the club, insisting that they are in better shape than when he took over three years ago.

“I’m disappointed because I think we’ve done everything we can to improve the club in so many ways over the past three years from the way it had been run before,” the American told Sky Sports News.

Hicks believes that he and co-owner George Gillet have assembled a good management team during their time at the club, streamlining the club’s commercial ventures and improving hugely on predecessor Moores’ running of the club.

“I think we have a great management team now led by Christian Purslow. The commercial director Ian Ayre has done a great job. We have a strong financial director in Philip Nash.

“We’ve grown our sponsorships from £40 million annually under the last year of Moores’ ownership, to this coming year we’ll do close to £100 million, so all those extra sponsorship revenues are resources for the club to use to support the wage bill to be competitive,” he added.

Hicks went on to reassure the club that Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will not be leaving the club in the summer and that both he and George Gillet are committed to finding the right owners to move the club forward.

“We have no intention of selling any of our top players. We have a substantial transfer budget in place. There’s so much misinformation about transfer spending.

"It’s more than doubled under the ownership of George and myself from the past three years and we will make significant investment this summer, but it’s really about getting the right players.

“We will sell the club. We’re not going to sell it to the wrong group, we’re not going to sell it for the wrong price. We’re going to take our time and do it in a very thoughtful way and try to find the right steward to own Liverpool Football Club.

“We hope it gets done by the end of the calendar year. I don’t anticipate that it will be done necessarily before the beginning of the next season.

"I think £600-800 million is not an unrealistic value range but, you know, the market’s the market. We’ll see.

"We’re more concerned about finding the right next owner, somebody that can make the investment in the club to get the stadium built and let Liverpool Football Club be the best possible football club in the world.”

David Moores 'Hugely Regrets' Selling Liverpool FC To Gillet And Hicks

Former Liverpool FC owner David Moores admits he "hugely regrets selling the club" to George Gillett and Tom Hicks, calling on the American pair to "accept their role in the club’s current demise" and sell up.

Moores was bought out by the duo three years ago after several failed attempts to sell the club to more financially powerful owners.

However, in that time the current co-owners have fallen out with both the fans and each other, while prompting serious concerns over the club’s debt and overseeing a woeful seventh-placed finish in last season’s Premier League.

In a letter to The Times, Moores insists he sold to Gillett and Hicks in good faith - following assurances about their financial status - but accepts "honest mistakes" were made despite him acting "in the best interests of the club". The lifelong Reds fan admits, however, he "hugely regrets selling the club" to the pair.

In his letter, Moores said their offer "was laid out in unambiguous terms, the document pledged there would be no debt placed upon the club, and significant funds would be made available for investment in the squad and the new stadium".

He added: "I call upon them to stand back, accept their role in the club’s current demise, and stand aside with dignity."

Fernando Torres Casts Doubt Over His Liverpool Future

Fernando Torres has cast doubt over his future at Liverpool by refusing to commit himself to the club and claiming he "didn't read" quotes from his agent on Wednesday, which stated that the striker would remain at Anfield next season.

It has been widely speculated that Torres would leave Liverpool this summer following a hugely disappointing season in which the team finished seventh in the Premier League and struggled in Europe.

Such a possibility appeared less likely after José Antonio Peton, Torres' agent, told Punto Radio in Spain that his client "will continue at Liverpool next season", but the man himself was less forthcoming in his commitment when speaking at Spain's World Cup training camp this morning. Torres suggested that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the ownership of Liverpool would play a part in his decision.

"I didn't read them," said Torres when asked by the Guardian about Peton's remarks. "The most important thing for me now is the World Cup. My future is the World Cup and then we'll see later. For now and hopefully for the next two months the only thing I am thinking about and talking about is the World Cup."

Asked about the ownership of Liverpool, the 26-year-old added: "That is one of the ways we need to improve. I know the situation, I speak to the chief executive and Rafa [Benítez, the Liverpool manager] every week and I am aware of what is going on. But because I am focusing on the World Cup I don't know what the situation is right now."

Torres is confident he will recover from a knee operation in time for Spain's first match at the World Cup 2010, which is against Switzerland on 16 June.

"I feel better," he said. "I have been training on my own for five weeks with just me and the fitness coach. Hopefully next week I'll be training with the rest of my team-mates. If all goes well I'll be in normal training on Monday.

Liverpool Join In Mauro Boselli Race

Three of the Premier League's other biggest clubs - Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool - will challenge Manchester United in the race to sign Estudiantes striker Mauro Boselli.

According to reports in South America, the 24-year-old is attracting significant interest from England with several scouts keeping close tabs on the Argentinean international.

Despite having only one cap to his name, Boselli could be heading to the World Cup this summer as a surprise choice in Diego Maradona's squad after an impressive season - having scored 24 goals in 34 games.

Several European clubs - including Italian giants Roma and AC Milan - are keen to snap up the pacey striker, although the leading bids are likely to come from the Premier League.

Previously, Manchester United were heavily linked to Boselli after reports that out-of-favour Dimitar Berbatov is set to be sold off to make room for a new crop of forwards alongside star man Wayne Rooney.

United have already announced the signing of Javier Hernandez from Mexican side Chivas, and Boselli could be brought in at the same time to ease the transition of the two players from the Americas.

However, Old Trafford bosses are facing some serious competition from the Premier League's other big-hitters with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini already aware of Boselli's talent.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez and Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti are also thought to have expressed an interest, which could lead to a pre-World Cup scramble for the player.

Reports of bids from multiple clubs could also increase Boselli's price-tag, which at the moment is thought to be as low as £5million.

Yossi Benayoun Set For Surprise Return To West Ham From Liverpool

Unsettled Liverpool winger Yossi Benayoun is being linked with a shock return to former club West Ham this summer as new boss Avram Grant's first signing.

Former Portsmouth manager Grant is due to take over at Upton Park in the next few days once he has thrashed out personal terms with owners David Gold and David Sullivan.

And he has targetted Benayoun, who has been in and out of the Reds first-team since his move to Anfield in 2007, as the first signing of his new regime.

Benayoun enjoyed two very successful seasons with the Hammers following his move from Racing Santander in 2005.

And although he is well regarded among Liverpool fans, manager Rafael Benitez appears unconvinced and has been reluctant to give him an extended run in the starting XI.

The Israeli international also raised doubts over his future earlier this month, saying: 'We don't know what changes there will be [this summer].

'I don't know personally even if I will be here or not.

'A lot of things can happen, so we have to wait and see. It will be very clear soon.'

Engineering the return of Benayoun, who remains a firm fans' favourite in east London despite contract issues clouding his departure, would endear Grant to the Boleyn Ground faithful immediately.

And Gold and Sullivan, who yesterday raised their stake in the club to 60 per cent and revealed plans to enable fans to invest in future, are hopeful of bringing in more new signings to boost spirits.

Last season ended in turmoil after narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premier League, before the departure of well-regarded manager Gianfranco Zola after reports of unrest with the boardroom.

Pepe Reina: Owners Must 'Move Quickly' To Sell Up And Stop Club's Current Decline

Pepe Reina isn't totally happy about things at Liverpool at the moment, and wants to see the sale of the club sorted and some investment in the first-team.

The Spaniard told reporters on Wednesday that he was confident Fernando Torres would stay at Anfield, but added that he was "worried" about the status of the Merseyside club.

Despite focusing on the World Cup with Spain, Reina admitted he couldn't keep Liverpool off his mind at the moment.

"I'm worried about the situation at the club," he told Sky Sports News.

"We have to be optimistic but move quickly and anything that happens has to be right now.

"As long as we build a competitive squad we don't have to fear but it's looking like it's not yet so we need to be ready to be less optimistic than the last few years and get ready for setting other targets maybe.

"If we don't strengthen the squad its going to be a really tough task to be in the top four so we'll have to set different targets and that's not good for Liverpool."

I'll Keep Fernando Torres Injury-Free, Says Liverpool FC's Dr Peter Brukner

Liverpool FC’s new head of sports science Dr Peter Brukner hopes to be able to keep star players like Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard injury-free by revolutionising training methods at the club.

The Australian, who officially takes up his post after travelling to World Cup 2010 in South Africa with the Socceroos, intends to introduce new techniques when he returns to Liverpool FC.

Liverpool FC were badly hit by injuries during the 2009/10 season with Torres, Gerrard, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson, Yossi Benayoun, Fabio Aurelio, Emiliano Insua, Daniel Agger, Alberto Aquilani and Javier Mascherano all sidelined for varying lengths of time.

That undoubtedly impacted on a campaign which produced the club’s worst Premier League finish for 11 years - seventh - but Brukner hopes to be able to keep injuries to a minimum next season.

"The players will notice an immediate difference come the start of the 2010/11 season," said Liverpool FC’s head of sports medicine and sports science, who plans to divide players into groups depending on their injury history and then target them with specific work.

"Our plan is for the players to do a 15-minute session before they start training.

"This will be purely on injury prevention - working on hamstrings, groins, thighs, calves and so on.

"The other thing we’ll be doing more of is monitoring their general well-being, health and workload.

"We’ll be able to modify their programs depending on how much they play and how quickly they recover.

"You can’t stop all injuries. There are certain injuries which are inevitable - like when someone gets a kick or something.

"But I think we can certainly reduce the amount of injuries - particularly what we call soft-tissue injuries.

"Things like hamstring muscle, groin muscle, calf muscle and tears."

Rafa Considers Audacious Move For Manchester City’s Onuoha, Richards & Johnson

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is considering moves for three Manchester City players who do not appear to be part of Roberto Mancini’s long term plans. The Anfield manager is working hard to bring in new additions on a shoestring budget and has already snapped up Jonjo Shelvey and Milan Jovanovic for next to nothing and now appears ready to tempt stars Nedum Onuoha, Micah Richards and Michael Johnson.

Benitez is keen to add more ‘homegrown’ players into his squad ahead of the new regulations set to be enforced by the Premier League next season and has therefore earmarked moves for these three Englishman who have all represented their countries at various levels, with defender Richards being the only one of the trio to have earned full international honours.

The Spaniard has been linked with moves for Michael Johnson for some time now but could consider this summer to be the right time to nab a player has had a string of problems both and off the field over the past two seasons during which time he has managed just three Premier League starts.

Micah Richards has been fighting for a regular first team spot for some time now and has been linked with moves away from the club with both Tottenham and Aston Villa reportedly expressing an interest in the player who was a regular in the England set-up when Steve McClaren was at the helm. Nedum Onuoha was a player that Mark Hughes rated highly and the Nigerian born former England Under-21 international put pen to paper on a five year contract last summer but since found himself out of the first team reckoning when Mancini arrived, consigning the defender to just five starts last term.

Whilst Liverpool may not be able to afford moves for all three of the players seemingly deemed ’surplus to requirements’ at the City of Manchester Stadium, Rafa will apparently look to pounce for this £22m rated trio this summer, dependent on how much money he can make from offloading some of his squad players.