Saturday, June 19, 2010

Liverpool On Course To Appoint Hodgson Next Week

Kenny Dalglish has held talks with former Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini over the past few days, but MirrorFootball can reveal the Anfield club are still confident of landing Roy Hodgson.

The Fulham boss refused to be drawn on the subject when he appeared as a pundit on BBC1's coverage of Mexico's 2-0 World Cup victory over France.

When asked about his future, Hodgson said: I'm Fulham manager. I'm perfectly happy at Fulham. To be honest there's a lot of speculation but I can't enlighten you."

However, MirrorFootball understands that Liverpool insiders hope Hodgson can be appointed at Anfield as early as Thursday or Friday of next week.

Manuel Pellegrini's agent denied his client had met with Dalglish at Heathrow airport, but the 56 year-old was in England yesterday and is believed not just to have linked up with Liverpool's king-maker, but also to have expressed an interest in the job.

The Chilean was replaced by Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid last month after failing to secure major domestic or Euorpean honours in his first - and only - season in charge at the Bernabeu.

Liverpool Talk To Manuel Pellegrini Over Vacant Manager's Job

Manuel Pellegrini, the former Real Madrid coach, has held talks with Kenny Dalglish over the managerial vacancy at Liverpool despite Roy Hodgson remaining the club's preferred candidate to succeed Rafael Benítez at Anfield.

Pellegrini was dismissed by Real last month for failing to deliver in the Champions League or beat Barcelona to the title, although he did produce a club record 96 points during his one and only season at the Bernabéu. The Chilean's agent last night denied reports that the 56-year-old met Dalglish at Heathrow airport but Pellegrini was in England yesterday and did meet the Liverpool legend who is overseeing the search for Benítez's replacement alongside the managing director, Christian Purslow. Dalglish has told the Liverpool board that he would like the job in the absence of any superior candidates.

Negotiations with Pellegrini, who worked with the Liverpool goalkeeper José Reina during a successful five-year spell in charge of Villarreal, reveal that Anfield officials are working through a short-list of candidates to succeed Benítez, although it is understood Hodgson remains top of that list. The Fulham manager has yet to receive an official approach from Liverpool and last night reaffirmed his contentment at Craven Cottage from South Africa, where he is commentating for the BBC.

Asked about Liverpool's interest, Hodgson said: "I'm happy at Fulham. It is all speculation and I can't enlighten you. I don't know any more than you do." An official move for Hodgson from Liverpool is anticipated next week however.

Reina Worried About Stars

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina admits he is concerned over the futures of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

The star pair have been linked with moves away from Anfield this summer, as both Torres and Gerrard are reportedly considering their positions because of the problems affecting the club off the field.

Reds owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are in the process of trying to sell the club, and are unlikely to bankroll major transfer activity before the start of next season.

Reina is hoping Spain striker Torres and England captain Gerrard stay on Merseyside, and admits it would be a big blow if they were to leave.

"Of course there is concern about Fernando and Stevie," he said.

"Any team would count on them and for us it's the same. Without them, it will be really tough to be up there at the top.

"Fingers crossed, once we sort out the situation with the manager and the owners, which we hope is soon, hopefully we can focus on building a squad.

"We are all on the same boat and we want to redecorate the ship."

Former manager Rafa Benitez has recently left Anfield to take the reins at Italian club Inter Milan.

Reina was sad to see his Spanish compatriot leave Liverpool, but is now philosophical about his departure.

He added: "I've had time to think about it and I guess it's one of those things.

"Football is football, it happens, and I always say the same thing - Liverpool will remain forever, which is the most important thing."

Liverpool FC Face Fixture Congestion At Start Of 2010-11 season

Liverpool will face an early-season fixture pile up as their bid for European glory is forced to take the long route.

The Anfield outfit, who are still searching for a new manager following the departure of Rafael Benitez, will kick-off their Premier League campaign at home to Arsenal on August 14, although they will expect the fixture or kick-off time to be moved to accommodate the demands of satellite television.

Providing Liverpool have negotiated the earlier Europa League third qualifying round ties on July, 29 and August 5, with the draw made on July 16, they will play the first leg of their Europa League play-off five days after the visit of Arsene Wenger’s men on August, 19.

The European return leg comes a week later, with a trip to Manchester City sandwiched in between on Saturday, August 21.

Then, just two days after the second Europa League leg, promoted West Bromwich Albion are the visitors to Merseyside, though again Liverpool are likely to find that match moved back a day to the Sunday given their continental excursions.

If successful in the Europa League play-off, the Anfield side will qualify for the Group Stage of the UEFA competition which starts on Thursday, September 16, two days before a trip to Old Trafford.

The 214th Merseyside derby will take place at Goodison on October 16, with the Anfield return on January 15.

Jose Mourinho Considering £15m Move For Liverpool Defender Glen Johnson

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho is set to offer Liverpool £15 million for England defender Glen Johnson.

The Treble-winning manager at Inter Milan is hoping to add an elite right-back to his squad at Real and Johnson is among the candidates being considered, according to The Sun.

Mourinho’s top target is Brazil international Maicon, who was a critical contributor in the former Chelsea manager's historic season with Inter.

However, new Inter manager Rafael Benitez is keen to keep the star right-back and Mourinho could be forced to look at other options at right-back.

The 25-year-old England defender played for Mourinho at Chelsea but the Portuguese boss sold him to Portsmouth for £6 million about a month before he left the club in 2007.

Two years after leaving Chelsea, Johnson came to Liverpool in an £18 million deal with Pompey and since then the defender has cemented a place in England’s starting XI.

Javier Mascherano's Agent Reveals Inter Contact

The agent of Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano has admitted Inter are ready to begin negotiations to bring the Argentine to the Giuseppe Meazza.

Mario Piccioli revealed that he has already spoken with Nerazzurri director Marco Branca over the telephone.

"With Inter, we have been in contact, but have not met Marco Branca personally," Piccioli told "We have only spoken on the phone.

"There is nothing new to report. It is not a mystery that our player is coveted by the Nerazzurri and Rafa Benitez, but were are only at the preliminary stages at the moment.

"In the coming days we will schedule a new meeting to discuss some more details," he concluded.

Liverpool FC Owners Tom Hicks And George Gillett Branded ‘Asset Strippers’

The American owners of Liverpool Football Club have been labelled “asset strippers” by an MP in the House of Commons.

Labour’s Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton, used his maiden speech in the Commons on Thursday to claim the actions of George Gillett and Tom Hicks “threatened the club’s existence”.

In a separate Commons motion he has accused the pair of failing “to exercise responsible stewardship of the club”.

The Americans, who bought the Reds in 2007, recently announced their intention to sell the club, which is £351 million in debt.

Mr. Rotheram, an Anfield season-ticket holder, said: “England’s most successful football club is slowly being drained by the greed of two American asset strippers and this is having a negative impact on regeneration projects for the whole area.”

Gerrard: It's A Pity He's A Manchester United Fan

Steven Gerrard has spoken of his pride at the news that world record breaking sprinter Usain Bolt has requested a replica kit signed by the England and Liverpool captain. The treble Olympic gold medallist, who is a well-known Manchester United fan, is understood to have been impressed by the dynamic midfielder’s contribution to the Three Lions opening World Cup match against the USA.

Gerrard put his poor domestic form for Liverpool behind him to score England’s first goal of the tournament after only four minutes last Saturday and will now look to lead Fabio Capello’s men to three points against Algeria on Friday. The Anfield hero inherited the national team captaincy from Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand after the centre-back was ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.

Speaking of his admiration for Bolt, but showing open disdain for the sprinter’s Manchester United fanaticism, Liverpool hero Gerrard stated:

"I'd heard Usain Bolt was a big football fan and it was really flattering that he wanted my shirt.

"I'm just disappointed I haven't got his pace. Usain is an athlete I really look up to.

"It's a pity he's a Manchester United fan though. I was going to ask him to one of our training sessions when he's in England but I might not bother now.

"Seriously, as a sprinter he's the man, isn't he? He's a winner, an inspiration and someone I love watching."

Meanwhile, Gerrard’s future at Liverpool remains under a cloud with the player refusing to talk about his future on Merseyside until the end of the World Cup. Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid are all thought to be tracking the player after Rafael Benitez’s departure from the Anfield hot seat threw the club into further disarray.