Friday, July 02, 2010

Roy Hodgson 'Honoured' To Be Appointed Liverpool FC Boss

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admits he is "honoured" to have been given the job at Anfield.

The 62-year-old has impressed at Fulham and when the club decided to part company with former boss Rafael Benitez a month ago the Englishman was their first choice.

Following a couple of weeks of negotiations Hodgson has finally been confirmed as manager on a three-year contract after Liverpool agreed to pay the Cottagers somewhere in the region of £2million to release him from his 12-month rolling contract.

Hodgson arrived at the club’s Melwood training ground this morning to meet those players who had returned for the first day of pre-season, although many of the club’s stars are still on leave after playing at the World Cup.

He will then give his first press conference at 1.30pm at Anfield this afternoon.

"This is the biggest job in club football and I’m honoured to be taking on the role of manager of Britain’s most successful football club," said Hodgson.

"I look forward to meeting the players and the supporters and getting down to work at Melwood."

One of the new manager’s first major tasks will be to persuade the likes of captain Steven Gerrard and star striker Fernando Torres that they can have a successful future under him.

The pair, along with midfielder Javier Mascherano, are the three big names who have all been linked with moves away this summer.

Torres and Mascherano are still at the World Cup while Gerrard returned home a few days ago after a dismal campaign with England and all three are not expected back at training for some time yet.

Hodgson has less than a month to get to know his players and prepare them for a Europa League third qualifying round first-leg tie on July 29.

He is at least familiar with the prospect, having guided Fulham from that starting point all the way to the final last season, eventually losing to Atletico Madrid.

The former Inter Milan and Switzerland manager then has to begin the task of strengthening a squad, severely lacking strength in depth, on a restricted budget - much as his predecessor had to do in the last couple of seasons of his reign.

Roy Hodgson Can't Guarantee Keeping Steven Gerrard And Fernando Torres At The Club

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson refused to guarantee keeping Reds stars Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard at the club as he took over as manager on Thursday.

Hodgson hinted that he and the club would be doing their utmost to ensure that Gerrard and Torres would stay at the club amid rumours linking the pair with big-money exits from Anfield, but stopped short of promising the duo would stay.

"It's important, of course. I don't think there's anybody here at the club who would welcome losing them. Certainly the fans wouldn't welcome losing them and us as a club I'm sure will do everything we can to make certain they stay with us," he told Liverpool's official website.

"I'll be trying to persuade them that this is the place to be. I'll ask them to give me a chance to work with you and give us a chance to improve on last season.

"They're all disappointed, I'm sure, after last season's results and I'll be doing my level best. It would be foolish to give guarantees that it's going to happen because I can't speak for the players themselves, but I'll be doing my best to keep them."

With the disappointment of last season, which saw the Reds fail to qualify for the Champions League, Hodgson is keen to get back into the top four.

"The ambition initially is to do better," he added. "For Liverpool the ambition always has to be to try and achieve a Champions League place and that's what we'll be trying to do as soon as possible. There's no point in setting low goals to make yourself look a bit better if you get beyond that goal.

"I don't think any of the players or staff wants anything other than a successful Liverpool year and we want to hit the ground running. You can't do more than work for that.

"There's no point throwing out empty promises. Words are words and actions are actions and we have to show by our actions first of all on the training field and then at Anfield and other stadiums that we're ready and good enough. That's my task, to work with the players and ensure we are good enough."

The 62-year-old has signed a three-year contract with the Reds, and has already begun thinking about what shape the future of his side might take, but does not want to stray far away from what have been the guiding principles of the club since the days of Bill Shankly.

"It's very important you have that as a manager. At Liverpool it's highlighted really because the traditions here are so great, but even if you go to a smaller club it's still important that you're aware of what the club has done in the past and what the club means to the people," Hodgson said.

"There's nowhere more keen on what a club means to the people than the city of Liverpool.

"It'd be foolish to compare [with other jobs] but it'd also be dishonest to say anything other than it's going to be a highlight of my career. I have worked long and hard to reach the level I have reached.

"I'm extremely proud. The club's tradition in terms of its football and its managers is really second to none and it was an opportunity which was absolutely impossible to turn down. I am both proud and excited at the prospect of working as the Liverpool manager."

Hodgson is well aware of the 'Liverpool style' having observed the club since its rise to prominence from relative obscurity in the 1960s.

"What we picked up was the Liverpool style. On paper it was a relatively simple style but in actual fact simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve," he explained.

"Working in Sweden, as I was at the time, they were all very impressed with the quality of the passing, the quality of the movement, the way players were always available for each other. Of course the quality of the players they produced at that time, firstly Toshack and Keegan and then Dalglish and Rush, and then the great partnerships at the back with Smith, Thompson, Hansen and Lawrenson; we were brought up on that.

"When I was at Malmo I brought a group of coaches over and Bob Paisley was great. Graeme Souness was the coach but Bob was still around at Melwood and I remember having a cup of tea with him. He was a really interesting man to meet.

"You can never turn the clock back and live those times again, but it would be nice if we could fashion an image again which in some way represents what these people pioneered so many years ago."

Reds skipper Gerrard and stalwart defender Jamie Carragher have backed the new boss already and Hodgson is pleased that the news of his appointment has been well-received.

"That was really nice and I am looking forward immensely to meeting them. I bumped into Jamie in Port Elizabeth but had no chance to really speak to him and that would have been too soon anyway," he added.

"I am looking forward to speaking to those two in particular today, but also getting in touch with the other players who are either on holiday or still at the World Cup."

As for his priorities now that he has been appointed, Hodgson is ready to set about creating a positive environment to work in, and then move on to establishing the size of his transfer budget and any potential new signings.

"It's important to get started straightaway, working with the players, trying to create an environment which will give us a chance to become better and hopefully improve upon the last season," he asserted.

"I'll see the ones who are here today. There are a couple of meetings this afternoon with senior players, in particular Steven and Jamie, and I'll contact the rest by telephone.

"I will make certain that before the end of the week I have had a conversation with all of the players to tell them I'm here and am looking forward to welcoming them back when they come.

Hodgson was coy when it came to revealing the identities of any possible new players though, adding: "We haven't really had a lot of time to talk about that as yet.

"It was only on Tuesday it was finalised that I would be the new manager. I've had very little time to sit down with the chairman and chief executive and in particular the chief scout to see what avenues he's been pursuing.

"Of course I know players and I've got ideas, but it'd be very wrong for me at the moment to start talking in detail about that. It's a major area of work."

He also hinted the board would allow him to reinvest any money raised from sales back in the team.

"One thing they made clear to me is we have to work within whatever restraints are in place at the club, but they've also made clear that if we were unfortunate to lose somebody then that money would be made available," he explained.

"I'm hoping that won't be the case because I don't want to lose anybody, but we haven't gone much further than that. The Chairman is here today and I'm sure that during the course of the day, when I've spoken to the players, there will be meetings and discussions along those avenues as well."

The former Inter coach also had a clear message for the Reds supporters.

"The message is thank-you for having me here. I'm really looking forward to working with your team and looking forward to getting your support, which I've seen so many times throughout the years," he stated.

"I said recently that this is one of those clubs where your motto 'You'll Never Walk Alone' is really lived by the fans. It's a club where you feel you're not alone. I shall need lots of help and lots of support and I sincerely hope you make sure I never walk alone.

"That would be my message. Help me to do a good job and I'll do my best to do it."

Roy Hodgson Hoping To Bring In Brede Hangeland, Danny Murphy, Gilberto Silva & Rafael van der Vaart

Roy Hodgson is believed to be targeting Brede Hangeland, Danny Murphy, Gilberto Silva & Rafael van der Vaart.

The former Inter boss had a sensational campaign last season with Fulham, guiding the London club all the way to the final of the Europa League.

England's failure in the 2010 World Cup had seen him linked with a potential move to take over the reins of the national team, but recent reports point towards the gaffer being unveiled as the latest to take to the helm at Anfield. UK had previously revealed that the Fulham manager would not join the Merseyside club, unless he had some semblance of a transfer kitty at his disposal.

Now The Daily Mail claims that he will be handed £15 million to go shopping, with the £25m sale of Javier Mascherano to Barcelona and a £6m injection from Yossi Benayoun's move to Chelsea to make up his transfer budget.

It is said that Hodgson will look towards bringing in Panathinaikos' defensive midfielder Gilberto Silva as a replacement if the Argentine should push through with a move to the Catalan club, with an Anfield return for Danny Murphy also reported to be under consideration.

Additionally, to strengthen a Reds that looked shaky on more than a few occasions last season, the 62-year-old is believed to have cast his eye on raiding his former club for Brede Hangeland.

It has been speculated that the success achieved under Hodgson will be convincing enough for the Norway international to switch allegiances and move to Merseyside.

Hodgson is also reportedly interested in bringing in Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart to Anfield, amidst claims that the now manager of the Spanish club, Jose Mourinho, will let go of the player.

Barcelona To Launch £25m Swoop For Liverpool's Javier Mascherano Once Yaya Toure Completes Manchester City Move

Barcelona has been reported to be in line to swoop with a £25 million bid to secure the services of Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano.

The Argentina skipper has for some time been linked with a move away from Merseyside, with reports pointing towards his wife being unhappy in England.

And the recent managerial movement that saw former boss Rafael Benitez leave Anfield for the San Siro, saw the player being linked with a move to Inter Milan.

However, the president of the Italian champions, Massimo Moratti, recently admitted that it was "unlikely" that the 26-year-old would make a move to the European champions.

Now The Sun reports that the Catalan club are set to make a bid for the midfielder, once the sale of Yaya Toure to Manchester City reaches fruition.

Toure's agent has previously admitted that his client is in search of regular football, while maintaining that he expects Barca to accept a bid from City because of the financial pluses while dealing with the Eastlands club.

Deschamps Considered Reds

Marseille boss Didier Deschamps has confirmed he considered Liverpool's approach before agreeing a contract extension with the French champions.

The Reds contacted the French champions over their interest in appointing the former France World Cup-winning captain as a successor to Rafa Benitez.

But Deschamps swiftly ended speculation over his future by signing a contract extension which keeps him at Stade Velodrome until June 2012.
Deschamps said: "I have been contacted by a great club, and of course it leads you to think.

"It was not a money matter. I have always favoured the sporting aspect.

"I have extended, and I am pleased with it. The chairman wanted it. I am always asking for respect from the players, I had to fulfil my commitment."

The coach also confirmed his desire to keep captain Mamadou Niang, even if the club will be forced to cut their wages to get reinforcements.

He added: "I wish him to stay. Mamade is fine here, I have no worry about that case. I know I already have a competitive team."

Deschamps added his summer recruitment campaign will be quieter than last year with four targets at most, with one of them, wing-back Cesar Azpilicueta, having already been snapped up.

He said: "The players achieved something amazing last term (the championship and league cup double), and it will be difficult this season.

"The priority will be to finish among the three top teams to get new qualification for the Champions League.

"It is essential for the club. Then, we would reach a new step by getting though the Champions League group stage."

Brede Hangeland Transfer Battle Begins As Arsenal Take On Liverpool

Former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson faces a battle to sign top-rated defender Brede Hangeland for his new club Liverpool, with Arsene Wenger about to lodge an audacious move to tempt him to Arsenal.

The Gunners are putting together a £10million transfer package in the hope of taking Hangeland to north London, where he will provide an experienced partner for Thomas Vermaelen at the heart of the defence.

Hodgson's unveiling at Anfield on Thursday will pave the way for the 62-year-old to begin putting his own stamp on the squad he inherits from Rafael Benitez.

And he will begin by restructuring a defensive line that gave up too many soft goals last season, especially late in games.

Hangeland has been attracting interest from several top clubs in the last 12 months, including Manchester United and Tottenham, as well as Arsenal.

He showed his unswerving loyalty to Hodgson when he signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract last November, but now the former Inter Milan boss has gone to Liverpool the centre-back's future remains shrouded in doubt.

Arsenal hold high hopes of signing the Norwegian ahead of Hodgson as the 29-year-old is now settled in London and is reluctant to move north.

However, the lure of the English tactician could still prove too much - especially as he has already hinted he intends to build his defence around the well-regarded stopper.

Roy Hodgson Is The 'Right Man' For Liverpool, Says Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard has praised Liverpool's appointment of Roy Hodgson as their new manager, saying the club had appointed the "right man".

"The club has made a good appointment in Roy Hodgson," the captain told the Liverpool website. "[The former manager] Rafa [Benítez] left a few weeks ago and I know the club were determined to take their time and get the right man for the job.

"Roy is hugely experienced and I believe he is the right man for Liverpool. I think it's been worth the wait and I'm sure he's just keen now to get on with it and start to quickly put in place his plans for the new season."

Gerrard's future will be one of Hodgson's most pressing concerns over the next few days, with the captain – along with other key players such as the midfielder Javier Mascherano and the striker Fernando Torres – having been linked with a move away from the club.

Carra Relishing Hodgson Era

Jamie Carragher is relishing the prospect of working under Roy Hodgson.

The former Fulham boss was announced as the 18th Liverpool manager after agreeing a three-year deal.

He will become the fourth coach to preside over the Anfield hotseat during Carragher's playing career following Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez.

Even at 32, the vice-captain is always eager to learn and improve - and he cannot wait to team up with a manager whose CV boasts success in both domestic and international football.

Carragher told "I'm really looking forward to the opportunity of working with Roy Hodgson as he's got such a great reputation in the game and is one of the most experienced managers in world football.

"After this period of uncertainty, his appointment has given us all a lift."

Fans On Roy Hodgson

Fans on the official Liverpool FC message boards have today been leaving their thoughts on new Reds boss Roy Hodgson. We've compiled the best of your thoughts and messages of support below:

I'm very optimistic about Hodgson. He is a great student of the game, he knows his football and he knows how he wants the game to be played. I see him as a good man manager who gets a lot out of what he has to work with, he doesn't put square pegs in round holes and he organizes his teams well but not at the expense of playing football.

Hodgson was my number one choice to replace Evans in 1998. I have great faith he'll bring us back some pride, passion and enjoyment when watching our team next season, and we can then take it from there. I'm sure he can win a trophy, too, as getting Fulham to a major cup final is no mean feat.

When I have seen him being interviewed he reminds me of Bob Paisley - he's not flash, doesn't engage in these ridiculous slanging matches and mind games, and just concentrates on the job at hand.

I will be very happy when Hodgson is appointed and we can settle down with an experienced wise old head in charge so that some stability can be brought to the playing side of the club.

He is well liked and respected throughout the game.

Look what he did with Fulham; he is a good motivator and man manager, not to mention his experience in world football in Italy, England, Norway, Germany etc...

Let's be fair, he plays the game the right way.

Roy's been managing a lot longer and has achieved some incredible things as well; the way he can turn teams around is astonishing.

The man is talented, experienced, can speak six fluent languages, has a cool temperament and is a thoroughly nice bloke who is ready for a huge job many believe his career deserves. In my opinion, I think it's fantastic we are giving a talented and experienced English manager a chance to manage a giant of European and world football. I think most level-headed fans realise our squad isn't an entirely true reflection of our seventh-place finish last year and that Roy will have plenty to work with.

Roy Hodgson, who I respect very much, has vast experience in Europe and England and we all know about his most recent exploits. I believe he would do well with the Reds and lift us out of this current quagmire.

He is a fantastic tactical manager, and a very good motivator. What he did with Fulham in the Europa League was superb, just look at who they beat along the way.

I think you would have to look long and hard to find someone in the game that has a bad word to say about him. He is a professional to the end and far above mind games, instead preferring to concentrate on his players and his job. Whenever I have seen him interviewed or when he has given his opinion on 'footballing matters', he comes across as intelligent, wise and thoughtful, not rash or instinctive. It is exactly what we need at our club at the moment and I for one am thankful we seem to be appointing a man who will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge of the game, as well as the dignity, intelligence and professionalism a Liverpool manager should possess.