Thursday, July 01, 2010

Roy Hodgson Is The New Liverpool FC Manager

Roy Hodgson will be officially named Liverpool FC’s new manager on Wednesday.

The 62-year-old is due on Merseyside to complete the formalities of signing a contract after the Reds agreed a compensation package in the region of £2million with Fulham for his release.

Cordial negotiations have been ongoing in the past 72 hours between Liverpool’s Managing Director Christian Purslow and Fulham Chief Executive Alistair Mackintosh and they have now reached a successful conclusion.

Though Liverpool – who has remained tight-lipped throughout their search to replace Rafa Benitez – were linked with a clutch of names, Hodgson was always the number one candidate.

Other names in the frame included former Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini, Galatasary’s Frank Rijkaard and Didier Deschamps of Marseille, while Kenny Dalglish also made it clear he was desperate to take the job on.

Dalglish had initially been named as part of the recruitment process but he was desperate to have a second crack at the post he occupied between 1985 and 1991 when he felt his claims were as strong as the other candidates.

The board, though, were anxious to pursue Hodgson and Liverpool will be his 16th job in a managerial career that has spanned almost 35 years.

His first post was with Swedish side Halmstads in 1976 and he enjoyed instant success, leading them to two Swedish titles; he would later coach Malmo after a brief stint with Bristol City.

Success in charge of the Swiss national team led to him being appointed Inter Milan manager in 1995 and the highlight of his time at the San Siro was an appearance in the 1997 UEFA Cup final appearance, which they lost on penalties to Schalke 04.

Hodgson’s first crack at the Premier League came later that year, when he took over at Blackburn, but things did not go according to plan at Ewood Park – despite qualifying for Europe, he was sacked in December 1998.

Stints with Udinese, the United Arab Emirates, Viking Stavanger and Finland followed before Fulham turned to him in December 2007 and he successfully led their battle to avoid the drop, which they did thanks to a last day with at Portsmouth.

After that, his time at Craven Cottage went from strength to strength and he enhanced his reputation while transforming Fulham’s fortunes, guiding them to their highest Premier League finish and an appearance in the Europa League final.

Now he has a fresh challenge and Hodgson, the LMA’s current Manager of the Year, will meet those Liverpool players who have not been at the World Cup tomorrow when they return for pre-season training.

It had been mooted that Hodgson, who is expected to bring his trusted assistant Mike Kelly with him to Anfield, would be favourite to become England manager if the Football Association decided to sack Fabio Capello.

However, it is understood the delay in Hodgson being appointed to his new role had nothing to do with him waiting to see what happened with England.

One of Hodgson’s first jobs at Anfield will be to ratify Yossi Benayoun’s move to Chelsea after the clubs agreed a fee in the region of £6m for the Israeli midfielder.

Forward Milan Jovanovic Confirms He Will Join Liverpool Despite Inter Link

Serbian forward Milan Jovanovic has rejected reports he was set to pull out of a move to Liverpool after Rafael Benitez left the club.

Jovanovic, 29, represented his country in South Africa, grabbing the winning goal against Germany in their group stage clash. The attacker had allowed his contract at Standard Liege to run down this summer and a free transfer to Anfield was announced in the New Year.

Continued reports of unrest at Liverpool and their failure to qualify for the Champions League had put the switch in doubt, however. Benitez had been linked with bringing him to Inter, while Birmingham City were reported to be ready to hijack the deal.

Speaking to Nieuwsblad, Jovanovic declared he had no intention of making a u-turn.

"I am going to Liverpool. I have signed there for three years. I repeat: no pre-agreement - a real contract," Jovanovic said.

"And the departure of Benitez changes nothing. I have maintained contact with the executive board of Liverpool and everything is good.

"I am working to arrange my visa for England. Next week I go there to collect my work permit.

"Everything is in order since in the last two years I have played 75 per cent of the matches for my national side. Next I am looking for a house.

"On the 14th or 15th July I will join the squad for a training camp in Switzerland. But, as from Thursday, I want to start my individual training programme so I can show them immediately that I am worth a place in the side."

John Aldridge: Roy Hodgson Faces Bill Shankly-esque Challenge To Turn Liverpool Around

Former Liverpool hero John Aldridge has backed incoming manager Roy Hodgson to use all his experience to complete the "massive job" of turning his new club around.

Hodgson, 62, is expected to be named as the club's new supremo this week after Rafael Benitez left by mutual consent earlier in the summer. With the Reds spiralling into debt and finishing in a disappointing seventh place in the Premier League last season, the Fulham boss has plenty to do.

Aldridge starred on Merseyside in the late 1980s, grabbing 50 goals in 83 appearances before moving to Spain's Real Sociedad. Speaking to Sky Sports News, he insisted Liverpool had the right man in place to get the team back on track.

"He's got a massive job on his hands at Liverpool. I think this is the most important stage in Liverpool's history since Bill Shankly took over with what's happening off the field with the owners and the lack of stability at the club," Aldridge said.

"Something had to happen as soon as possible and you had to go in and test the situation about which players need to go out, what you've got to bring players in and who you can keep.

"That's very, very important as Javier Mascherano has been using the wild card about his wife and there's question marks about Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. They've got to be sorted out ASAP."

Aldridge added: "His experience is fantastic with the jobs he's done in Italy and Switzerland. A lot of people don't realize where he has been.

"He might have had a bad year or two at Blackburn Rovers, but when you've been in the game as long as he has, you are allowed a few mistakes."

Liverpool Join Chase To Complete £17.1m England Midfielder Deal

Soon to be unveiled Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is said to be looking to make former Chelsea man Joe Cole his first new signing. The Fulham manager is touted by many to be very close to being named successor to Rafa Benitez at Anfield and he is rumoured to be very keen on getting the financial backing of the board to make an offer for the out of contract England man.

The 28 year old’s wage demands appear to stretch to a three year deal that would cost in the region of £17.1m and with the likes of Arsenal and AC Milan leading the chase for the talented attacker the Merseyside club would have to be quick in registering their interest.

Any such move for the Londoner may well tempt Cole as he could presumably be guaranteed a first team spot at the club, something he seemingly could not secure at Stamford Bridge. Any concern over the player’s insistence on a £110k a week wage would be allayed by the fact that no transfer fee is needed to secure the deal.

Previous interest shown by Liverpool in Cole: Cole is now in a quandary. There will be no shortage of clubs interested in him this summer – and tentative offers are being made – with Liverpool understood to be keen.

Dirk Kuyt ‘Convinced’ The Netherlands Can Dump Brazil Out Of The Tournament

Liverpool and Netherlands forward Dirk Kuyt believes his European side is capable of defeating Brazil when they face the South American giants in the quarter-finals of the World Cup tournament on Friday, July 2.

Kuyt, who will turn 30 in July, is convinced the Netherlands hold all the necessary skills to defeat any side in the world, and is confident that his side can progress further in the tournament by defeating the Brazilians.

"We can't wait to play against them and we want to convince the world that we can beat a team like Brazil," Kuyt told the Press Association.

"I think we have a chance against every team in the world. We're always convinced of our own qualities.

"So far we've won every game in qualification and every game in the tournament, so it couldn't be any better. There's only one thing that counts now - winning games, and that's what we've done.

"We know we can improve - that's the spirit of this team. We've won four games and now we just want to win the fifth as well."

Kuyt has started all four of the Netherlands games throughout the tournament, scoring in their Group A opener against Denmark and then assisting Wesley Sneijder’s winning goal over Slovakia on Monday.

Steven Gerrard And Wayne Rooney Withdraw From Soccer Skills Event

A soccer skills showcase featuring Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney has been postponed after one of the organizers claimed the England pair had withdrawn.

The duo were due to compete in a series of head-to-head challenges alongside Cesc Fàbregas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and David Villa at an event called: "A:3K Football at London's 02 Arena".

The event, billed as a "gladiatorial skills-based challenge" featuring black Astroturf and sound and light shows, was due to take place on Saturday 17 July.

It is less than a week after the World Cup final and with five of the six participants enduring a disappointing tournament; the plan is now to run the show next summer instead.

Gerrard and Rooney were not at their best in South Africa, an injured Drogba exited in the group stages with the Ivory Coast, while Ronaldo was starved of possession in Portugal's defeat to Spain.

The Spaniards have fared better, with Villa one of the players of the tournament, but Arsenal captain Fàbregas has had to settle for a place on the bench.

Terry Byrne, director of A:3K, said: "Both Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney have made it clear they believe it would be inappropriate for them to participate in A:3K at this time.

"We fully understand and respect both players' decisions. We could have replaced them with two other players but feel the players involved are six of the best in the world – and that is what we promised we would deliver.

"Having consulted all parties involved, everyone agreed the only decision possible was to postpone the event until next summer when we intend to deliver the same six player line-up."

Babel Ignoring The Critics

Ryan Babel has shrugged off criticism of Holland's playing style.

The Dutch made hard work of a 2-1 last-16 victory over Slovakia on Monday and will have to up their game to progress past Brazil in the quarter-finals.

But Babel believes a clash against the five-time champions in Port Elizabeth will bring Holland's attacking instincts to the fore.

"I think it is always difficult to play against teams that don't want to play football, who are waiting for you," said the 23-year-old, who has yet to feature in South Africa.

"We play our better games against teams that want to play football as well and, on Friday, Brazil is not going to wait so maybe we can play better than Monday.

"We don't really take any interest in the criticism.

"At the end when we win the tournament, nobody will talk about the style of football that we have been using."

Liverpool Reserve Coach John McMahon Believes Daniel Ayala Has The Potential To Play Starring Role

Liverpool reserve coach John McMahon believes youth prospect Daniel Ayala, formerly of Sevilla, has all the attributes to succeed in becoming an important player for the club and believes the experience at having already played a role in the senior squad under former manager Rafael Benitez will prove invaluable.

The 19-year-old spent most of the season in the reserves or on the bench of the senior squad, having been an unused substitute on 10 occasions, but McMahon is confident that the professional attitude and work ethic expressed by the player will be prove integral to his permanent promotion to Liverpool’s senior side.

"For me, the main [reserve] player [that stood out last season] was Daniel Ayala," McMahon told Liverpool's website. He's helped us and in the games we lost when Ayala was out of the side you could see he had a massive impact on what we have done.

"There was the organisation he put into the side as well as the strength, the desire and the commitment. Daniel is a real athlete and looks after himself and mentally he's strong.

"He wants to do so well and he's very focused and nothing gets in the way of the work he does. He does it voluntarily and even at a tender age he's a great professional.

"He's always a winner with a great attitude and he's great around the dressing room as well. He just wants to be a professional footballer and we hope that everything he has been doing starts to bear fruit for him."

Ayala made five appearances for Liverpool in last season’s Premier League campaign, starting two of the games, a home game against Stoke City and an away tie with Burnley.