Monday, July 05, 2010

Roy Fears For Fergie Friendship

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is concerned that he may have placed his 'excellent relationship' with Sir Alex Ferguson in jeopardy by moving to Anfield.

The former Fulham boss is fretting over making a first phone call to the Manchester United chief since being unveiled on Merseyside on Thursday.

Liverpool and United are arch-rivals and Hodgson fears that it could put a strain on his friendship with Ferguson.

The Reds boss said: "I know Sir Alex is not really a Liverpool man so I'm a bit concerned about my excellent relationship with him.

"I hope he forgives me for moving north and, hopefully, we can have a glass of wine together, maybe in secret.

"I hope that's how he is going to see it but he is one of the people I intend to ring to find out.

"When I rang the Fulham chairman to say I wished to move to Liverpool, that was one call I had to get out of the way and Alex might be the next one.

"I must say I've always believed you don't have battles with other managers.

"Football teams have battles with other football teams, clubs have battles with other clubs and I've never subscribed to that theory that it's me and you.

"I used to find it quite ridiculous in Italy when they used to compare your record against another manager. It's nonsense.

"If you happen to be manager of a club who is fighting for survival against a club which wins the title every year, the chances are that in the battles you've had he's won one and you've won five. That's the way it goes."

Meanwhile, Hodgson has indicated that he will be prepared to offer fringe players in his inherited squad the chance to impress.

He said: "Whenever a new manager comes in, players who have been on the periphery start to see it and maybe think, 'this could be my chance, I'll have a go'.

"You'd be foolish as a manager not to give them that chance."

Inter Wait On Mascherano

Inter Milan sports director Marco Branca has seemingly dismissed the suggestion that the club would need to sell in order to buy Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano.

The Argentina captain, who played in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against Germany, seems set to leave Anfield and he has been persistently linked with the European champions.

Mascherano's arrival at Inter has increased in probability after the Italians appointed former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez as their new boss earlier in the summer as a successor to Jose Mourinho.

It has, though, been speculated that Benitez would have to sell members of his squad in order to raise funds to meet the asking price of the defensive midfielder.

But Branca has played down these reports, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport when quizzed on the subject: "It is not said that someone will leave.

"We are waiting in a long market with long negotiations. Without a serious offer (for a member of the Inter squad), we will stay as we are."

Roy Hodgson Will Make Newcastle United's Steven Taylor His First Signing

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has targeted Newcastle United centre-back Steven Taylor as the man around which to rebuild the Red's defence.

According to the Sunday Mirror, the new Anfield boss will attempt to make Taylor his first signing since taking over, with a £5 million bid believed to be in the offing.

Early negotiations are already thought to have taken place between Taylor's representatives and the Merseysiders.

With Newcastle having gained promotion back to the Premier League this season, Taylor is believed to be waiting to hear future plans from the Toon hierarchy before making a decision on his future.

United have previously stated they do not intend to splash out lavish amounts of money this summer, something that Taylor is believed to be concerned about by their lack of ambition.

It's thought the 24-year-old defender would favour a move to Liverpool, despite interest from several Premier League clubs including Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Taylor has just one year left on his current deal and Newcastle may be forced to listen to offers to avoid losing him for nothing next summer.

The Magpies' youth product could begin pre-contract talks and agree a deal with Liverpool in January should Newcastle fail to tie him down.

It is also speculated that Hodgson is attempting to prise Brede Hangeland from his former employers in a £7m bid.

Hodgson believes his close relationship with the Norwegian should rush through a move and having taken Phillippe Senderos to Craven Cottage before his departure, the Cottagers may be willing to listen to offers.

Kop Eye Ivory Coast Star As Benayoun Replacement

New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is weighing up making a move for Ivory Coast star Gervinho now that Yossi Benayoun has completed his £6million move to Chelsea.

The ex-Fulham manager is looking to strengthen his squad and was keeping tabs on the pacy winger during the World Cup.

He is considering making a bid for the Lille man, though the French club will have to lower their asking price of £10m.

Hodgson would not be willing to pay more than £8m for the 23-year-old, who cost Lille £6.5m just a year ago.

But Gervinho would fill the gap left by Benayoun if the Israeli does, as expected, complete his switch with the clubs reported to have agreed a deal before Hodgson’s arrival.

Villa Winger Young Tops Hodgson's Liverpool Target List

The inevitable speculation over Roy Hodgson's first Liverpool signing has begun with Aston Villa's Ashley Young reportedly top of the list.

24 year-old Young has impressed at Villa Park since arriving from Watford in 2006 and enjoyed another good season, scoring five goals and contributing eight assists for Martin O’Neill’s side. Young has already won seven England caps and was considered an outside bet for Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad.

The Mail on Sunday speculates that winger Young is at the top of Hodgson's most wanted list, particularly given that he is an English player.

The new Liverpool boss hinted that he will prioritize bringing English signings to Anfield, saying, "We would be foolish not to be aware of the importance of homegrown players with the way UEFA and Premier League rules are going. Otherwise we're going to struggle to get our squad numbers together.

"I think the club has been trying to do that already with younger players like Jonjo Shelvey and Raheem Sterling but it takes time for them to come through so we might have to go into the transfer market."

Young has previously been linked with a move to Manchester City and even Barcelona. Although Aston Villa enjoyed a good season, it remains unclear whether O'Neill will have to sell players before he can make significant summer purchases. Hodgson himself would likely be forced to sell players before being able to bring the likes of Young to Liverpool.

Liverpool Boss Hodgson Set To Offload Mascherano For Transfer Fund

Roy Hodgson is likely to have to sell before he is able to make significant signings at Liverpool with Javier Mascherano the likeliest big name Anfield exit.

According to the News of the World, Hodgson has been given £12million to spend but will have to raise funds from future sales in order to add to his kitty. Apparently, the £5.5million received by Liverpool from Chelsea for Yossi Benayoun will not be reinvested in players, but will instead go towards paying off former manager Rafa Benitez and compensating Fulham for Hodgson's departure.

Albert Riera is likely to leave Liverpool, having repeatedly criticized the club and failed to so far return to pre-season training. However, the Spanish winger is unlikely to attract big money offers.

The News of the World claim that Hodgson will do what he can to keep Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres at the club, with the pair prepared to remain at Anfield for the coming few weeks in order to see what progress Hodgson makes.

Argentina captain Mascherano is therefore the most likely star to leave Liverpool in order to raise funds. The midfielder is rumoured to be a prime transfer target for Barcelona, especially given that Yaya Toure has just finalized a move to Manchester City, leaving room for another defensive midfielder at the Nou Camp.

Steven Gerrard Calls On Fifa To Reopen Goalline Technology Debate

Steven Gerrard has called for the introduction of goal line technology in the wake of England's World Cup exit at the hands of Germany. England were wrongly not awarded a goal in their last-16 match, when Frank Lampard's potential equalizer was ruled out despite clearly crossing the line – although they were eventually well beaten by the semi-finalists.

During the Europa League, Uefa experimented with extra officials behind the goals and the England captain, Gerrard, who experienced the system with Liverpool, believes that is the minimum that should have been in operation in South Africa.

"It was a success then," he said. "Why not use the same system at the World Cup? If there had been a linesman behind the German goal then maybe England would still be in the World Cup."

Gerrard believes players should have more influence in rule changes. "When these decisions are made they are always made by officials," he said. "They don't play the game, do they?

"The decision not to award Frank's goal was a shocker. I was 25 yards out and I could see clearly that it was over the line, so I can't understand why the linesman didn't give it. He was a good 20 yards behind play, which is disappointing at this level, and I hope it opens the debate up again about goal line technology.

"Fifa have to look at it now because what happened with us was scary. It just isn't good enough. My opinion is that goal-line technology should be brought in and I know I'm not alone in thinking that.

"We have seen a lot of rule changes over the years – most of them good – but I can't understand why there is so much opposition to this technology because we are talking about decisions that can decide things as big as the World Cup.

"What will happen is the decision will be made by people who don't play the game and who aren't affected by these mistakes. Why aren't the players ever asked? I'm sure that most of them would vote for goal line technology to be introduced."

Jamie Carragher: I'm Focussing On Liverpool

Jamie Carragher has confirmed his return to the England set-up for the World Cup was a 'one-off' as he plans to focus all his energies on Liverpool for the coming season.

The Reds vice-captain was coaxed out of international retirement by manager Fabio Capello for the South Africa tournament.

However, Carragher admits he is unlikely to figure for the Three Lions again and will instead strive to do all he can to help new Anfield boss Roy Hodgson bring success to Anfield.

"This was a one-off thing," said Carragher. "The manager said he had a few injuries and I came into the squad and helped.

"I was delighted with the opportunity to play in a World Cup and work with Capello but I have always said the most important thing for me is Liverpool Football Club.

"We have a new boss now in Roy Hodgson and I want to do everything I can to help him and help the club get back up where we belong."

Spain Still Counting On Seeing Best Of Torres

Spain is still hoping to see the best of out-of-sorts striker Fernando Torres at the World Cup, according to coach Vicente del Bosque.

Torres returned from knee surgery shortly before the tournament in South Africa and turned in another lacklustre performance for the European champions in Saturday's 1-0 win over Paraguay before being substituted shortly after halftime.

Strike partner David Villa again overshadowed the Liverpool forward, scoring an 83rd-minute winner to set up a last-four clash against Germany, whom Spain beat 1-0 in the final of Euro 2008 with a Torres goal.

"He (Torres) is in good shape physically and in his defence you have to say that the team didn't really string together their attacks well," Del Bosque said at a news conference after his side kept alive their hopes of a first World Cup triumph.

"We are satisfied with his work and his attitude and we are hoping for the best of him in our next matches," he added.

While Torres has yet to find the net in any of Spain's games, Villa took his tally to five in five for the tournament and now has 43 goals in 63 appearances, one short of Raul's national scoring record of 44 in 102 matches.

Looking ahead to the match against Germany in Durban on Wednesday, Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas said Joachim Loew's prolific side, who thumped Argentina 4-0 in their quarter-final after thrashing England 4-1, were the best at the World Cup.

"They proved that against both Argentina and England and I think we have to show them maximum respect," Casillas, who saved a Paraguay penalty in a dramatic second half at Johannesburg's Ellis Park, told reporters.

"It won't be an easy match and they will be out for revenge after the European Championship," he added. "But we'll stand up to them."

Torres added: "I am a great follower of German soccer and always have been.

"For me, they are a great side and we'll have to be prepared as we haven't had a match as tough yet."

Pepe Reina Told Me Where Oscar Cardozo Was Going To Shoot - Casillas

Hailed as one of the heroes of Spain's triumph over Paraguay following some crucial saves, including stopping a penalty, Spanish goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas has deflected the credit, instead dedicating his save to second-string 'keeper Pepe Reina.

"Reina told me where he [Cardozo] would shoot. He is phenomenal", said the Real Madrid 'keeper of his Liverpool counterpart.

Shortly after saving the spot-kick, San Iker could be seen pointing to the sideline, presumably at Reina, in appreciation of the tip-off.

The Spanish captain praised his team for their hard-fought win against Paraguay, but also remained cautious ahead of the semi-final tie against Germany. "This team has a lot of quality and can go very far. But we have to be careful because Germany has a great team and we need to have respect for them".

Living in the moment though, the euphoric Casillas emphasized the importance of Spain's historic progression to the semi-finals, especially for Spanish fans.

He continued: "We have superseded a psychological barrier and now we are going for it all."