Thursday, June 17, 2010

Liverpool Must Realise That Roy Hodgson Will Not Wait Forever

If Liverpool do want Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, to be the long-term replacement for Rafa Benitez, as is looking increasingly likely, then they have a strange way of showing it.

Sources at Anfield have insisted for almost a fortnight that Hodgson is the preferred candidate to succeed Benitez, who has since moved to Champions League winners Inter Milan where he was unveiled as new manager this morning.

Hodgson, so the theory went and the sources suggested, was the perfect man for the Anfield hotseat for several reasons.

Firstly, he would not interfere with Liverpool's catastrophic boardroom situation in the same way that chief agitator Benitez did and Hodgson was also deemed to be dignified and calm enough to bring an element of stability to the club.

With £350m worth of debt and with co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks desperate to sell up, Liverpool certainly require a figurehead who will quell the unrest among the fans as well as get Liverpool playing winning football again and Hodgson appeared to tick all those boxes.

He was still being pushed forward as the first choice even after club legend Kenny Dalglish revealed last week that he would love another go at the Liverpool managerial post, 11 years after his last day-to-day job in the game.

For Hodgson to still be ahead of King Kenny just goes to show how desired the Fulham manager is by the Liverpool hierachy.

Or is he?

Because, as of yet, Liverpool have hardly been falling over themselves to woo him.

A Fulham spokesman has confirmed that nobody from Anfield has been in touch and the man himself is currently said to be frustrated that his future remains uncertain.

Hodgson wanted any deal with Liverpool to be agreed before he left England for a spot of punditry at the World Cup but that has not happened and Liverpool's reticence may just come back to haunt them.

Why should Hodgson, at 62 and with 25-years of managerial experience behind him hang around forever for Liverpool to approach him?

Hodgson is adored by Fulham's fans, he has a chairman inMohamed Al-Fayed who has admitted he will give him "anything he wants" in order to try and keep hold of him and the job Hodgson has done at Craven Cottage has been widely saluted throughout the Premier League, indeed throughout Europe.

If Liverpool are not careful, he may just start thinking he is too happy in London, too old to be messed about and too sensible to get embroiled in the current continued drama on Merseyside.

Liverpool Expect Star To Leave Club This Summer

Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun is expected to leave Anfield this summer but the club have yet to receive an approach for the Israel international.

Reports suggesting the Reds have agreed a £6million deal with Chelsea are premature but the Merseysiders are resigned to the fact the 30-year-old will leave and accept it is only a matter of time before an offer comes in.

Benayoun signed an improved contract only last year but even before the departure of manager Rafael Benitez earlier this month he had already dropped several hints he wanted to leave.

Back on May 2, after the 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Anfield, the Israeli said "he couldn't say for sure" whether he would be at Anfield on the opening day of the new campaign.

Chelsea are believed to see the former West Ham star as a direct replacement for Joe Cole, whose departure from Stamford Bridge was confirmed when the two parties failed to agree terms on a new contract after his current deal expired.

Reports claim Benayoun has already agreed in principle a four-year deal with Chelsea.

Liverpool are still continuing their search for a new manager but do not feel there is any rush to appoint Benitez's successor and have given themselves a loose timeframe until the end of the month to finalise matters.

Beardsley: Dalglish Key To Keeping Star Duo

Liverpool legend Peter Beardsley is confident Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will stay with the club if Kenny Dalglish is re-appointed as manager.

The two players' futures with the Merseyside outfit are uncertain after a hugely disappointing 2009/10 season at Anfield and boss Rafael Benitez's departure by mutual consent earlier this month.

Dalglish - who is widely regarded as Liverpool's greatest ever player and enjoyed a successful spell in charge from 1985 to 1991 - is believed to be interested in succeeding Benitez, and Beardsley feels the Scot's return to the helm would be enough to persuade Gerrard and Torres to stay.

"I'm not saying he would be a massive success straight away because there are a lot of problems at Liverpool," Beardsley told Press Association Sport.

"They are not Kenny's problems but they need to be resolved - the Steven Gerrard issue, the Fernando Torres issue - and I think you would have more chance of keeping those players if you had a hero like Kenny in charge of the team.

"You look at Torres and he probably came to Liverpool on the strength of watching Dalglish as a player, and Gerrard grew up watching that team.

"So I would think you'd have no problem keeping both of them if Kenny Dalglish was your manager."

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is another name being strongly linked with the post, but Beardsley - who played for Liverpool between 1987 and 1991 - has no doubts that Dalglish is the man for the job.

"Roy Hodgson is obviously a great manager and has proved that with Fulham and all over the world, but I wouldn't look further than Kenny," said Beardsley.

"I played for four years under Kenny and won the league twice and the FA Cup. He gave me his number seven shirt and to wear it for Liverpool was special.

"We were not able to play in Europe in those days, so what he did in my time at the club, and winning the double before I even arrived, was sensational.

"I can't speak for the people of Liverpool but I know the fans would love him and when I look at him, his football knowledge and his football mentality, he loves the game.

"What he means to Liverpool is sensational and I would have no qualms about giving him the job."

Kenny Dalglish Still Believes He Is The Best Man For The Vacant Liverpool Job

Kenny Dalglish's doubts over the calibre of candidates to succeed Rafael Benitez as Liverpool manager appear to have been exposed after the Anfield legend's son, Paul, admitted his father was convinced he is the best man for the job.

Dalglish, the last manager to win the title with Liverpool, in 1990, who returned to Merseyside last year to work as an ambassador for the club’s academy, was named in an official communique as the man leading the search for Benitez’s replacement when the Spaniard left Anfield by mutual consent this month.

Liverpool identified Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, as their ideal candidate because of his experience in the Premier League and in Europe, as well as the perception that his understated manner might herald an end to years of internecine politicking under Benitez.

But no formal offer has been forthcoming and, judging by comments made by Paul, Dalglish is far from impressed by Hodgson’s claims to become his latest heir and believes the most viable option for the club is to appoint him as manager at least until the search, led by chairman Martin Broughton and Barclays Capital, for new owners bears fruit.

“I do not think he is the best person for the job, but he is the best person of everybody available,” said Paul, now manager of the MLS side Tampa Bay Rowdies, of his father.

“It is not as though Jose Mourinho is going to come and do the job. It is not as though Fabio Capello is going to leave England to be the next manager of Liverpool.

“My dad wants to do the job and he feels he is the best person available to do the job. If Jose Mourinho was available and wanted it, my dad would not have any interest in the job, because all he ever does is act in the best interest of Liverpool.

“If new owners come in to invest money in the team and they can attract a Mourinho or a Capello, he would happily step aside if it was in the best interest of the club. My dad wants to do the job because he feels it is the best thing for Liverpool at this time. If that were to change, he would happily step aside.”

Benitez himself, meanwhile, revealed that “95 per cent” of his former players at Anfield, including captain Steven Gerrard, had been in touch to wish him luck after he was unveiled as Inter Milan’s new manager.

“Of course it was difficult to leave Liverpool,” said the Spaniard, who has signed a two-year contract at the San Siro. “I had been there for many years. But this was a perfect opportunity. I spoke with many of my players and they wished me luck.”

Benitez will return to Anfield in the coming weeks to secure the £30 million signature of Javier Mascherano, the Argentine international captain who confessed this week he is learning Italian, after Massimo Moratti, the Inter president, promised him the defensive midfielder as his first purchase.

The former Liverpool manager faces an almost impossible task to improve upon the work of his predecessor, Jose Mourinho, even if he manages to stave off the Portuguese’s determination to sign two of his key players from last season’s treble-winning campaign, Diego Milito and Maicon. Benitez, though, is not one to aim low.

“Mourinho did a tremendous job here,” he said. “But I am different and I want to do my own work. After his great year we have the chance to win six trophies and we will try to do so.”

Jan Molby: Serbia’s Milan Jovanovic Would Be An Excellent Signing For Liverpool

Former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby believes Serbia and Standard Liege forward Milan Jovanovic has all the attributes necessary to be an ‘excellent’ signing for Liverpool.

The Serbian forward, whose contract expires on June 30, is expected to join the Anfield club in the summer, and started Serbia’s opening World Cup 2010 game against Ghana. The match ended in a 1-0 defeat for the Serbs, and the Liverpool bound man was substituted late on for Neven Subotic.

“I did manage to see him and I felt as though he fell into how Serbia played on the day - they were really disappointing and I'd expected a lot more from them,” Molby told Liverpool’s official club website when quizzed about the player.

"I am confident they [Serbia] are better than their display against Ghana and I also know Jovanovic can play.

"He's got real pace and he'll be an excellent signing if we get him.

"I am not worried - there is much more to come from him [in the World Cup]."

Jovanovic, who turned 29 in April, scored five goals for Serbia during the qualification phase for the World Cup 2010 tournament.

New Barca Regime Targets Ibrahimovic Swap For Liverpool's Torres

New Barcelona president Sandro Rossell has met with coach Pep Guardiola to agree the Catalan giants' transfer targets. A swap deal to sign Liverpool's Fernando Torres in part exchange for Zlatan Ibrahimovic is top priority, according to Spanish daily 'Sport'.

Guardiola reportedly would not heavily object to seeing Swedish striker Ibrahimovic leave the Nou Camp. On paper, he enjoyed a good first season in Spain, scoring 20 goals in 41 appearances for Barcelona since his high profile move from Inter Milan last summer. However, his performances have been criticised by the notoriously harsh Spanish media.

Rossell and Guardiola both understand though that there are few clubs willing to part with the estimated 50 million euros Barcelona would demand for Ibrahimovic and therefore a part-exchange deal has become a priority, with Liverpool's Torres the main target.

There has been heavy speculation over the future of Torres at Liverpool after the Merseyside giants failed to qualify for the Champions League next season. The frustrated Spanish striker has recently made it clear that he wants Liverpool to show ambition and sign some top players. The Anfield departure of compatriot Rafa Benitez and the ongoing financial uncertainty at the club will likely further complicate Torres' position at Liverpool.

'Sport' speculates that if Barcelona fail to agree a swap deal involving Torres, they will turn their attention to a similar deal involving Ibrahimovic and Manchester City's Robinho .

Liverpool's Javier Mascherano Will Almost Certainly Join Inter - Agent Claudio Pasqualin

Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano will join Rafael Benitez at Inter, Italian agent and transfer market expert Claudio Pasqualin has told

Benitez will be unveiled at the club officially on Tuesday and he will get to work on shaping his new team. Mascherano was his key pupil at Anfield, and he is likely to be his first new signing.

"Liverpool's financial situation is not the best and so it's inevitable that they will sell some of their best players. Mascherano will almost certainly be wearing the Nerazzurri shirt next season," Pasqualin, who is not the player's agent, told

"As for [Fernando] Torres, no one knows. And for [Steven] Gerrard, he is the symbol of Liverpool so he is likely to stay there."

With the picture on possible arrivals painted, Pasqualin said Maicon will be sold to Real Madrid if they upscale their offer.

The Brazilian's agent Antonio Caliendo has already said there is a gap that needs to be bridged between demand and offer.

Pasqualin said: "I think he will go because the player wants to join Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho.

"But Real don't seem like they are in the mood to spend big this year. Therefore they could land the player for around €20 million, no more."

Rafael Benitez Admits Decision To Leave Liverpool FC Was Hard

Rafael Benitez has admitted the decision to quit Liverpool was a tough one but insists he leaves with good memories.

The Spaniard was officially unveiled by Inter as their new manager yesterday after agreeing a severance deal with the Anfield side to end his six-year reign.

Benitez’s position in the Liverpool hot-seat was coming under increasing pressure after a disappointing season which saw the side finish seventh in the Premier League, fail to qualify from the group stages of the Champions League and Reading dump them out of the FA Cup third round.

With speculation mounting Benitez’s relationship with the club’s American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett was becoming ever more frayed and the likelihood the manager’s ambitious summer transfer plans would not be matched, the 50-year-old opted to agree to a departure.

Though ending his tenure in far from glorious circumstances, Benitez will be remembered for the famous Champions League and FA Cup triumphs he brought to the club.

Speaking to the assembled Italian media, Benitez talked fondly of his time at Anfield but refused to discuss his relationship with Liverpool’s owners.

Instead he reflected on the positive times on Merseyside and his aspirations to repeat those successes at the San Siro.

“It was difficult to leave Liverpool after six years working there, I had amazing times there”, said Benitez.

“Also my daughter is seven, she lived most of her life there.

“It’s not easy but things changed so I needed to move and I had the perfect opportunity to come to Inter.

“I hope it will be perfect for me and perfect for Inter.

“The club (Liverpool) was fantastic, the fans amazing so it was a really sad day when I had to go but things changed so it was obvious I had to do it.

“The owners are the owners. Now I’m in a different club and I’m very happy to be here.

“My relationship with Liverpool fans was great from the beginning and I hope it will be so here. I think the fans will be happy.”

Naturally, Benitez’s move to Inter has sparked rumours that he will raid his old club for new players but the Spaniard was refusing to comment on speculation linking him to, in particular, Javier Mascherano.

“I have been in contact with the majority of players and the majority said thanks for everything and all the best”, added Benitez.

“I talked to Gerrard when it was his birthday and he’s fine. He wants to talk about the World Cup now, not anything else.

“I wished them all good luck for the World Cup. Now they’re all focused on that.”

Liverpool’s Philipp Degen Linked With Olympique De Marseille Switch

Currently on the hunt for a right-back, Olympique de Marseille are ready to make a move for Liverpool’s Philipp Degen, according to Le Parisien.

The Ligue 1 champions are ready to part company with Laurent Bonnart, who was their regular in the full-back slot last year. Les Phoceens have been unable to come to an agreement over a new contract for the former Le Mans player, who seems set to depart the Provence outfit imminently.

Already the rumours have been flying with regards to potential replacements. Albin Ebondo (Toulouse), Rod Fanni (Rennes), Abdoulay Konko (Sevilla), Juliano Belletti (Chelsea), Francois Modesto (Monaco) and Mathieu Debuchy (Lille) have all been associated with the Didier Deschamps-coached outfit, but now Swiss international Degen is the latest name.

Experienced in the Bundesliga and the Premier League, 27-year-old Degen has struggled to make an impression since moving to Anfield in 2008, hindered by injuries and an inability to break into the first team. Indeed, he played only seven league matches for the Reds last term and could see a move to France as an attractive way to close the book on a poor spell in his career.

No transfer fee has been mooted, though Liverpool’s well publicised financial problems may mean they are willing vendors.

Rafael Benitez: Give Kenny Dalglish The Liverpool Job

Inter manager Rafael Benitez has backed claims that Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish should replace him as manager at Anfield.

Benitez left Liverpool following a reported £6 million severance package agreed upon by both parties and although the Reds are strongly linked with a move for Fulham coach Roy Hodgson, the Spaniard believes they should look in house and towards Dalglish for the most suitable candidate.

"I think they should look at Kenny Dalglish," Benitez told the Italian media in his first press conference as Inter boss.

"He is the best man for the job. The owners should listen to the fans because they are unhappy.

"No one knows the club better than Dalglish, and he wants the job and in my opinion he should get it."

The former Valencia manager spent six years at Liverpool, winning the Champions League and FA Cup in his first two seasons.