Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hodgson Demands Improvement

Javier Mascherano's departure to Barcelona leaves Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson little time to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes and so he is looking for more improvement from within.

The Argentina captain's move to the Catalan club on a four-year contract is likely to be confirmed later on Saturday after he undergoes a medical but even with the £20million banked from the transfer Hodgson may find it difficult to bring in enough new signings before the end of deadline day.

"There is only one way to get experience, one way to learn, and that is to be thrown in at the deep end and you either survive or the experience breaks you," said the Reds boss.

Fulham left-back Paul Konchesky is likely to arrive at Anfield now the Cottagers have sealed the transfer of PSV Eindhoven's Carlos Salcido, however, that still leaves a quality back-up for striker Fernando Torres to be found in four days.

Hodgson is hopeful of being successful but knows he also has to get more out of the players he has.

He was encouraged by the second-half performance of a side shorn of the likes of Torres, Gerrard, Daniel Agger, Milan Jovanovic, Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez in the Europa League play-off second leg victory over Trabzonspor.

And with the Barclays Premier League the top priority the 62-year-old feels Europe could be the ideal place for some of the squad's fringe players to prove their worth.

He added: "Hopefully you get more than one chance but every time you step into a different situation and you step up to the plate and answer the questions you feel that much better, that much stronger and it helps you about the future.

"These games in the Europa League will be very useful for us in that respect. We have a chance to give people a regular game, which they might not get if we get a stable XI together who play most of the matches.

"I am hoping we will have a strong squad this year because we are going to need it to play the Europa League and Premier League. And there were players there who did not play against Arsenal or Manchester City who then came out and did a good job in Trabzon."

Gerrard Eyes Europa Task

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is looking forward to the challenge his side face in the Europa League following the draw for the group stage.

The Reds got through the qualifying round on Thursday following a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Turkish outfit Trabzonspor, and now face ties against Napoli, Steaua Bucharest and Utrecht.

Manager Roy Hodgson has already admitted that the Europa League is not the club's priority this season, as the former Fulham boss looks to rebuild after a disappointing campaign last time out.

But midfielder Gerrard, 30, insists Liverpool want to do well in the competition even if there may be more important things to consider.

"It's a strong group and I'm certainly looking forward to the games," he said.

"The media will make us early favourites I'm sure, because of our experience in the Champions League and last year in the Europa League.

"I'm confident we can get out of the group but it will be tough. The draw has given us some difficult challenges.

"I don't think the Europa League is the priority. Everybody knows that our league position, where we finish at the end of this year, is the priority.

"But it's another trophy, it's a big cup.

"We haven't won a trophy for four years now so it's important we put a good show on in all the cup competitions and try to reward the fans with a final."

Liverpool's first group stage game is at Anfield against Romanian side Bucharest on Thursday 16th September.

Liverpool Complete £10.7m Deal For Porto's Raul Meireles

Liverpool sign Porto midfielder Raul Meireles in a £10.7 million deal to replace Javier Mascherano.

According to the guardian, the deal should be finalised over the weekend subject to a medical which would bring the 27-year-old to Anfield.

The Portuguese international, who impressed during the 2010 World Cup, is said to have agreed personal teams with Liverpool and is set to take over Mascherano's position after the Argentine completed a reported £20 million move to Barcelona.

Meireles has been heavily linked with a possible move to Anfield rivals Manchester United, however the Old Trafford owners have a policy stating a player aged 26 or over should not be bought if they have a substantial price tag.

Porto have been looking to sell Meireles as the midfielder has one year left on his contract and the Portuguese side would rather him not become a free agent.

Hodgson To Splash Mascherano Cash On New Trio

Roy Hodgson last night took a bitter parting swipe at Javier Mascherano, branding him “selfish” for going on strike.

The summer-long saga over Mascherano’s future is finally over after Liverpool agreed a £20million deal with Barcelona yesterday.

But Hodgson is still seething over the midfielder’s refusal to play at Manchester City as he forced through his move from Anfield.

The Reds boss was disappointed by the Argentina skipper’s petulant behaviour and claims players should respect their contracts.

“There are a lot of factors I don’t want to be drawn on too much, but it’s not easy to defend his actions because professionals are paid to play and when called upon to do so, they should,” he said.

“It’s a selfish situation where they want to do something and then expect the club and me, in my position as one of the leaders of the club, to bow down and accept they’re going to get their way. Unfortunately then there will be periods of time when there is a bit of unpleasantness.

“Players must understand when you sign contracts, you do so to play. If the club decides it’s going to accept an offer for you and let you go then that’s one thing. If the club say ‘you have a contract, we’re not selling,’ then they are staying.

“It doesn’t bother me as a challenge to my authority, it’s just a fact of life and one that gets exacerbated for a month in January and two or three in the summer.”

Mascherano, 26, has flown to Barcelona for his medical and will sign a four-year deal worth £85,000-a-week with the Catalans.

Hodgson will waste no time in spending his £20m transfer fee and has identified Udinese’s Swiss international Gokhan Inler as his replacement.

Hodgson will also push through Paul Konchesky’s £3m arrival from his old club Fulham and move for PSV Eindhoven striker Ola Toivonen.

Agent Reveals Liverpool Interest In Gary Medel

Boca Juniors star Gary Medel could be on the way to Liverpool to fill the gap left by Barcelona-bound Javier Mascherano, according to the Chilean international's agent.

Medel, nicknamed 'Pitbull' for his tough tackling and uncompromising style of play, can feature in midfield or defence, and Fernando Felicevich asserted today that the player is being watched by Liverpool closely as they line up a replacement for Mascherano before the end of the summer transfer window.

"We are waiting to hear something back from Gary, since he is one of the options that the coach [Roy Hodgson] is considering after Mascherano's departure," Felicevich told Radio Cooperativa in this morning's interview.

Medel is officially still part of Chilean club Universidad Catolica, but has been on loan in Argentina since June 2009.

"The subject could now be reopened, but there is still time."

As of yet there has been no official approach or comment from Liverpool regarding Medel.

Liverpool Agree £4m Deal With Fulham For Paul Konchesky

Liverpool have agreed a fee of £4 million with Fulham to sign left back Paul Konchesky with the possibility of youngsters Lauri Dalla Valle and Alex Kacaniklic heading to Craven Cottage.

According to the Daily Mail, 19-year-old Valle and Swede Kacaniklic have been requested by Fulham who may leave Anfield on a loan deal.

While Konchesky looks to be added to the Liverpool squad, Lucas Leiva sets to make his way out of Anfield after reports suggest his family hasn’t settled on Merseyside.

Fulham Line Up Reds Pair understands Fulham are in talks to sign Liverpool youngsters Lauri Dalla Valle and Alex Kacaniklic.

The Reds duo is currently in London to have talks with the Cottagers over possible moves, where they will have medicals if personal terms can be agreed.

Striker Dalla Valle, 18, has been on the books at Anfield since January 2008 but the Finland Under-19 international has failed to break into the first-team squad.

Swedish left winger Alex Kacaniklic, meanwhile, arrived at Liverpool from Helsingborg in the summer of 2007 and has been fighting it out in the reserves.

Fulham were thought to be interested in Dalla Valle back in January, but a deal for the forward never materialised.

Cottagers boss Mark Hughes has targeted the youngsters as possible stars for the future, and former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson has allowed them to leave Anfield.

Ayala Heading For Hull

Liverpool centre back Daniel Ayala will head to Championship side Hull City on loan for the season.

The 19 year old Spaniard has made a handful of appearances for the Reds and has looked comfortable when called upon but will now gain regular first team experience with Nigel Pearson’s men.

Liverpool and Pearson appear to have a good relationship, he took Jack Hobbs initially on loan as boss at Leicester before making his move permanent, and late last season gave Jay Spearing a chance as they pushed for promotion.

Pearson took over at The Tigers this summer and is looking to give the Yorkshire side an instant return to the top flight.

Ayala made his debut for Liverpool on the opening day of last season when he replaced Martin Skrtel against Spurs. He then impressed against Stoke and has made 3 appearances since. He signed a new contract at the end of last year which runs to 2012. He impressed against Burnley at the end of last season.

Liverpool has a host of centre backs with Jamie Carragher, Daniel Ayala, Martin Skrtel, Sotirios Kygriakos and new signing Danny Wilson all ahead of Ayala.

Roy Hodgson Blasts 'Selfish' Javier Mascherano For Angling For Barcelona Move

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has blasted Javier Mascherano for his "selfish" strike actions that have forced through his move to Barcelona.

Mascherano, 26, sat out the games against Manchester City and Trabzonspor after demanding to leave the club for personal reasons. After UK revealed a £17.2 million fee had been agreed between the sides, the Argentina skipper was given a parting shot by his manager.

Hodgson said: "It is not easy for me to defend the actions [of Mascherano] because professionals are paid to play and when they are called on to play, they play.

"We had a player at Blackburn, Graeme Le Saux, who was very agitated when I joined the club because he was determined to go to Chelsea and that caused a lot of problems in pre-season.

"Tim Sherwood was wanted by Tottenham and that caused a lot of problems because he wanted to get back to London.

"These situations do occur unfortunately and we have to live with it.

"I don't think they [the players] mean it as a challenge to your authority or a challenge to the club's authority.

"It is just a selfish situation that they have got something they want to do and they just expect the club, and therefore you as one of the leaders of the club, to bow down and accept that they are going to do it.

"Unfortunately there are going to be periods of time when there will be some unpleasantness because players must also understand that when you sign contracts you sign contracts to play.

"If the club decide they are going to accept an offer for you and let you go that is one thing, but you run the risk the club might say 'I'm sorry, you've got the contract and we aren't selling you so you are staying'.

"It doesn't bother me as a challenge to my authority it is just a fact of life.

"But it is a fact of life which gets exacerbated in a one-month period in January and between July and August when it is a time of year when a lot of people are trying to do their business."