Friday, September 10, 2010

Roy Hodgson Won't Worry About Premier League Table Until After 10 Games

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is unconcerned about the club's current position in the Premier League table as he looks to build momentum at the start of his tenure.

The former Fulham boss insists that the league table is an irrelevance in real terms until at least 10 games have been played, and it is then that he will start to pay it some attention.

"I know how many points we have but I don't know what that means in terms of the table," he told the club's official website.

"I think tables are of no interest until at least 10 games have been played. Then you start looking to see how big a gap there is between yourself and the top teams or between yourself and the bottom teams. I don't think you worry about that after three games.

"The program plays a big part in that and we've already played Arsenal at home and Manchester City away. Injuries play a part as well when teams don't have their best team available early on but will do soon.

"After 10 games I will start worrying about the table but until then I'll worry more about performances and results."

'Stevie Relishing New Role'

England boss Fabio Capello believes Steven Gerrard is relishing his new role as a more traditional midfielder under Roy Hodgson.

The skipper has often featured as a second striker in recent seasons - but Hodgson has already shown a willingness to utilize him in a deeper position.

Capello's decision to field Gerrard alongside Gareth Barry against Switzerland on Tuesday night suggests this could also be his future in international football.

"For a long time Steven Gerrard has played for Liverpool as a second forward but this year he is playing as a midfielder," said the Italian.

"In this position Steven is playing fantastic. He is strong in every moment and always good. He wins back the ball and then when he does, his passes are really important passes."

Meanwhile, new Manchester City signing James Milner admits he is learning a lot whenever he teams up with Gerrard on England duty.

He said: "When you've got good players they are going to shine through. You know Steven Gerrard is another top player that we are lucky to have. He has shown his leadership skills.

"Not everyone has to be a shouter. He will do that, he'll have a word and shout at you when it needs to be done.

"But he leads by example on the pitch, without or with the ball, and we are lucky to have a player like that.

"I'm lucky to be able to look up to a player like that and learn as much as I can off him."

Ryan Babel Ready To Revitalise His Liverpool FC Career As A Striker

Ryan Babel is ready to revitalize his Liverpool career as a striker after being given assurances by Roy Hodgson of more regular appearances in his favoured role.

Babel has reiterated his belief that the arrival of the new manager has given him another – and perhaps final – chance to realize his full potential.

And while acknowledging Fernando Torres will be first-choice, Babel is determined to make the most of the improved openings he has been promised by Hodgson.

“The manager has told me he would like to use me up front more than normal, so hopefully that will give me enough chance to show how much I like that position,” he said.

“I was very pleased to hear this. I have always said my ambition was to play in that position, but at the same time I am very realistic.

“Fernando is very important for the club and he will always be our No9, but you know you can also be very important for the club too if you are used well.

“It will be a long season and we will need every player. Hopefully I can give the confidence and the trust back to the club that they have shown in me.”

“I think the way of playing has been changed a little bit and the new manager has a bit of a different vision to the former manager,” he added. “I think that is maybe what Liverpool needed – a different change. It’s very positive.”

Madrid Leading Liverpool And Spurs In Chase For Turkey Star

Atletico Madrid plan to scupper Liverpool and Tottenham’s attempts to land Arda Turan by making an increased bid for the Galatasaray playmaker in January.

Turan, who has previously claimed it would be a ‘dream’ to wear the red of Liverpool, is highly rated on Merseyside.

talkSPORT also understands Tottenham were interested in the Turkey international but Harry Redknapp’s signing of Rafael Van der Vaart suggests Turan is no longer on his radar.

Atletico made a deadline day move for Turan and planned to pay £11m in three installments but Galatasaray wanted more money to be paid up front.

Madrid failed to come back with a better offer but they plan to return in January with a bid of around £14m, talkSPORT understands.

The news will be a blow to Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson – who has also been tracking Hamburg’s Dutch starlet Eljero Elia, as talkSPORT revealed earlier this week.

Hodgson is not prepared to bid as much as £14m for Turan, leaving Madrid in the clear to land the 23-year-old when the transfer window re-opens.

Liverpool Target Milevskiy Has £10m Clause Put In Kiev Contract

Liverpool target Artem Milevskiy has signed a three-year contract extension with Dinamo Kiev - but has a release clause of just under £10m written into the deal.

Roy Hodgson was reportedly keen on the Ukranian striker in the summer, only for the 25-year-old to commit his immediate future to Kiev.

But Milevskiy can go if any club pays the €12m release clause written into the deal.

That works out as £9.91m, and Hodgson could well rekindle his interest next summer if the 25-year-old keeps up the impressive form that seen him named Kiev captain.

Milevskiy has 29 caps for his country and was the player that Robert Green brought down when the goalkeeper was sent-off in England's 1-0 defeat to Ukraine in October last year.

Reina Concerned By Mascherano Exit

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina claims the departure of Javier Mascherano is a "big problem" for Liverpool.

Argentina captain Mascherano left for Barcelona last month after telling new Reds boss Roy Hodgson of his desire to move on after three and a half years at Anfield.

Hodgson banked £17million from the sale and signed Christian Poulsen and Raul Meireles in a bid to bolster his midfield options.

However, Spain goalkeeper Reina is concerned at the departure of the combative South American.

"The departure of Mascherano is a big problem for Liverpool because he is one of the best players of his type on the pitch," he said in the Daily Mirror.

"Javier is very competitive, very Argentinian and he always offers his maximum in every game.

"For Barca this is a good new thing, but it's not for us.

"Mascherano will be a positive surprise in La Liga. He is a footballer who works, works and works.

"Also, personally, he is a good character. He is quiet but very friendly."

Tom Hicks & George Gillett’s Liverpool Reign Could Be Over In A Month

Tom Hicks and George Gillett's reign as owners of Liverpool could have as little as a month to run, according to the Guardian, after the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) placed the club's loans with them into their toxic assets division.

This is the strongest signal yet that the loans will not be restructured. The deadline for the refinancing of the loans is October 6.

The report claims that the pair tried to refinance the debt in June, securing it against their personal assets. However, the attempt was overruled by the club's board, led by the chairman, Martin Broughton.

With the debts having been moved by RBS to its Global Restructuring Group a far more hardline attitude is set to come into force from the bank.

The bank may now apparently move to sell the club, more than likely at a knockdown price, within the next few weeks or as soon as possible after the October 6 deadline.

According to the club's accounts to July 2009 Liverpool's owners owe £237.4 million to RBS. The real figure could be much higher than that though, with Hicks and Gillett also reported as owing £145.3m due to commitments to the club and its lender.

That figure is apparently a mixture of cash, mainly injected through equity, and guarantees to the RBS loans.

Although RBS would apparently be reluctant to take direct control of the club or to force it into administration by placing the club's holding companies into liquidation.

They may want to sell the club in a cut-price deal though, with Broughton and the investment bank, Barclays Capital, advising him, maintaining that the club's debts must be paid as a minimum sale price.

The club's co-owners are said to value the club at £800m and have given signs in the past that they would be unwilling to accept any cut-price deal. It seems that their options on that score may be running out, however.

Roy Hodgson Warns More Players Could Go

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has warned more fringe players could leave the club as he streamlines his squad.

Since taking over from Rafael Benitez, Hodgson has seen Albert Riera, Alberto Aquilani, Emiliano Insua and Diego Cavalieri among others leave the club.

And the 62-year-old said players who do not feature in the first team nor offer future promise could exit Anfield.

"We were unbelievably over-staffed when I came and, if the truth be known, we still are over-staffed," he said.

"It was just as big a job making sure some of the players who never feature for the first team move on and that we limit our squad to players who are either in the frame to play first-team football or who have a bright future who are still anxious to play academy and reserve team football.

"We don't want that middle group who are too old for reserve football but are not serving any purpose for the first team because they never feature."

Hodgson has made a number of high-profile signings since taking over in July, adding England internationals Joe Cole and Paul Konchesky, along with goalkeeper Brad Jones and Scottish defender Danny Wilson.

The former Fulham and Inter Milan boss has also signed Denmark's Christian Poulsen and Portugal international Raul Meireles.

But Hodgson has balanced the new additions by presiding over the departures of Philipp Degen, Nabil El Zhar, Krisztian Nemeth and Damien Plessis, while midfielders Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun left the club despite the manager's intentions for both men to stay.

"We should be very happy. A lot of hard work has gone in and you have to mention Christian Purslow (managing director) and Eduardo Macia (chief scout)," said Hodgson.

"Both worked really hard during the transfer window to do the deals I wanted to happen but also to do deals for quite a few players to leave the club.

"It was important to sign a quality midfielder when we lost Javier.

"We had half-prepared for his departure by jumping in to sign Christian Poulsen when he became available, but it was important for us to keep strong in that area.

"We loaned out Alberto Aquilani and so we are pleased to have been able to bring in Meireles.

"He is experienced in the Champions League, in international football, has had proven success at Porto and is an all-round midfielder who is capable of playing in all three of the central midfield positions.

"He has a pedigree which we researched, followed and studied. I followed him at my previous club so it was good when I heard he could be available and that we could do the business quickly."

Hodgson said he was particularly delighted to sign full-back Konchesky, who forced Fulham to sell him once Liverpool made their approach.

"It was difficult because Fulham were anxious to keep him and were against letting him go," he added.

"Our good fortune was he was in the last year of his contract and he made it clear that if they didn't let him go he wouldn't sign a new contract.

"That was useful for us because otherwise it would have been very difficult to get him.

"There aren't many quality left-backs around in the world, never mind in England, so to find an English one who can go straight into the team without any adjustment problems is a big advantage.

"He is a player I know and have worked with and he knows the way we try to play and the things we try to do.

"That's another little advantage, but the main reason for bringing him here is because we think he's a good player and he's the right man for the job."