Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roy Hodgson Keen For Steven Gerrard & Raul Meireles To Flourish In Midfield Partnership

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is sure that in Raul Meireles and Steven Gerrard he has the partnership to lead the club back to the Champions League.

Hodgson, 63, brought in Meireles this summer to bolster the midfield in the absence of Javier Mascherano and Alberto Aquilani. The £11.5 million signing played behind Fernando Torres in Sunday's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United in a role usually occupied by skipper Gerrard.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Hodgson earmarked the players as the double act to play the Anfield outfit back to the top four spots in the Premier League table.

"They [Meireles and Gerrard] are certainly interchangeable," the ex-Fulham boss was quoted as saying by skysports.com.

"We signed Meireles and the day after he went for 10 days away with Portugal and then came back for two days and made a substitute appearance against Birmingham.

"He had two training sessions and played on Thursday night and he played again on Sunday so it is very early for me to make very strong judgements about where his best position is.

"The work we do on the training field will show me how best to use him.

"He actually went out wide right late in the United game and did okay there also.

"All I can say is he has a lot of qualities and I'm sure we'll get a lot of use out of him.

"Most importantly he is a good and talented footballer and he is capable of playing anywhere across the midfield so we will see how we box it up together."

Liverpool To Sign Multi-National Quartet In January

It is believed that Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will be given a transfer budget of £60m when the window opens once again in January, undoubtedly leading to wholesale changes after The Reds’ disappointing start to the new season.

So who are these fine young individuals who could kick-start Liverpool’s season, and more importantly, what will they bring to an ailing and disillusioned squad?


The first name on this list is a familiar one. Evidently Liverpool do not need a new free kick taker, with both Young and fellow international Steven Gerrard producing dead ball gold at the weekend, but the left side is (in the opinion of fans across several Liverpool boards) in further need of development. The emergence of Ashley Young as a target are strengthened by further rumours of midfielder Ryan Babel being released on a free, after failing to fulfil the potential he promised on arrival at Anfield in 2007.


The man who can play just about anywhere was Japan’s world cup hero as his striking credentials did for Cameroon and Denmark, sending the Samurai Blue fighting onwards to the next round. ‘Kaizer Keisuke’ had his big break in December last year after being transferred from Dutch side VV-Venlo to CSKA Moscow, and his contributions sent CSKA to the quarter finals of the Champions League in lieu of tie favourites Sevilla. Undoubtedly, his versatility would be second to none if a move to Anfield should go ahead, and the quality of his finishing is arguably far in excess of a few names in Liverpool’s current set-up.


The Bolton winger could be flying onwards to Anfield, as a move for the best South Korean footballer since Ji Sung Park is being touted as a possibility. The ‘Blue Dragon’, as he is known, had a stellar World Cup and was a handful in what many neutrals predicted to be a difficult group containing Nigeria, Greece and sure bets Argentina.

On the domestic scene, Lee’s form has also been pleasing after the sceptics doubted his ability to make a smooth transition from the K-League to the Premier League last year. In his first season, Lee’s transfer value surged as a notably potent attacking ability became evident, helping him win the Bolton’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the year awards. At 22 years old, Lee’s career is about to peak, and it is up to Hodgson to take the initiative before somebody else does.


The man who has been linked to about ten million different clubs is reportedly on Roy Hodgson’s new year shopping list. Gomez is well known for making a silk purse out of a cow’s rump, with a never say die attitude and a disquieting knack for finishing. A player with Gomez’ approach is precisely what Liverpool need right now, with play more often than not disjointed and lacking in cohesion, particularly in the attacking half of the pitch.

Gomez would undoubtedly take up a greater part of Roy Hodgson’s potential £60m January budget, but if Liverpool aspire to once more rub shoulders with the giants, then Gomez is exactly what they need. Getting on the phone and negotiating is easy – trying to prise Gomez away from the Allianz Arena will be anything but.

Daniel Agger Admits Frustration At Roy Hodgson's Style

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger has revealed his frustration at new manager Roy Hodgson's style.

Agger, 25, has struggled to seal a starting spot under the ex-Fulham boss this season. After being shunted out to left-back, the arrival of Paul Konchesky saw him confined to a late substitute's role in the 3-2 defeat to Manchester United yesterday.

Speaking to Sporten.dk, the player - who has been compared to ball-playing Liverpool defensive great Alan Hansen - declared he was struggling to adapt to the current regime.

He said: "The manager's philosophy is that we play football in attack, but not at the back. That's not my style.

“I'm not that type of player. I like to keep the ball on the ground, and that's what I'll keep doing. Time will show if he [Hodgson] doesn't want to play me because of that.

"I'll try to change myself, but I will never be a player who offloads the ball at every opportunity.

"I'll fight for my chance. I know what I stand for, and I think he [Hodgson] does too."

Cole: Judge Us In May

Joe Cole is adamant it is far too early to be casting any judgement on Liverpool's start to the 2010-11 Barclays Premier League season.

Following Sunday's 3-2 reversal at Manchester United, the Reds are currently in 16th position in the table with five points from their opening quintet of matches.

However, himself a new arrival at Anfield, Cole believes Liverpool will require time to fully acclimatize to the summer changes made at the club - and the 28-year-old is in no doubt he saw enough in the Reds' spirited second-half performance at Old Trafford to suggest they'll soon be on firing on all cylinders.

"Judge us in May," Cole said. "We have had a tough start to the season with the fixture list and with Fernando not being match fit, and also the change of personnel with the change of manager.

"We will pick up, I am convinced. If we keep passing the ball the way we did (against Manchester United) we will be fine."

He added: "We have got to try and take the positives. We passed the ball well, scored two goals and we were beaten by a great team and a player on top of his game.

"But we will be alright, we just need to keep going."

Carra Targets Home Wins

Jamie Carragher today insisted Liverpool can take heart from their second-half performance during Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.

Steven Gerrard's quick-fire brace saw the Reds level the scoreline at 2-2 after Dimitar Berbatov's double had put United into a two-goal lead at Old Trafford.

However, the Bulgarian headed home an 84th minute winner to secure victory for Alex Ferguson's side - a goal Carragher admits he was left disappointed with his own contribution to.

Nonetheless, though frustrated by the reversal, the vice-captain is confident Liverpool's display in the second period bodes well for the rest of the season.

"Any time you lose a big game, you are always bitterly disappointed," said Carragher.

"To come back from two goals down was a fantastic effort from the lads but I thought we did well for the 90 minutes.

"We were not really asked too many questions and there are not too many teams who can say that after going to Old Trafford.

"If you look at the goals they scored, it was similar in a way to what happened at Manchester City.

"Pepe (Reina) hasn't really had a lot to do yet we have still ended up conceding three times.

"The first was poor from a set piece, you have to hold your hands up and say the second from Berbatov was world class; he is capable of that.

"But for the third, I was really disappointed with myself. I should have done better with the challenge on him. It's the small details that count and it's so frustrating that (United) have been able to get the win.

"It's a funny situation, really. Last week, we were not happy with the performance at Birmingham but came away with a point; this week we're happy enough with the performance but have come away with nothing."

John O'Shea's 70th minute challenge on Fernando Torres on the edge of the United box, which resulted in the free-kick from which Gerrard netted his second of the afternoon, was a key talking point after the contest, with some suggesting the defender could have received a straight red card for the foul.

Carragher, though, was philosophical in his reaction to the incident, instead preferring to concentrate on the positive aspects of the Reds' spirited display.

"Those things (the O'Shea yellow card) can go either way," Carragher said.

"If he gets sent off, we would have more of a chance against 10 men but what happened has happened.

"There is still a long way to go. Though we have not started great in terms of results, there are a lot of things to take into account and this is a transitional time. But we have just got to remain positive.

"A few wins and everything will look different.

"We have got two home games coming up in the Premier League and we need to make them count.

"We've had a great start in the Europa League and we just have to make sure we keep on believing."

Liverpool Wonderkid Making Waves At Anfield

Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling showed his potential with a clinical brace for the U18s against Leeds.

One of the hottest properties in English football, Sterling was coveted by a string of Premier League sides back in January before deciding to join the famed Liverpool academy from QPR.

At the time the Liverpool managing director, Christian Purslow, said: "Raheem is a very exciting young English player whose progress was being closely monitored by many other leading clubs and I'm delighted he's joining us."

Arsenal were thought to be close to agreeing a deal for the player, but the winger decided to join the Reds as the Merseyside club pipped their Premier League rivals to the signature.

Roy Hodgson was clearly impressed, including the 16-year-old in Liverpool's senior pre-season tour. The youngster has continued to shine at youth level ever since.

Two second half strikes were more than enough to see off the Whites, with a 50th minute opener being consolidated with just three minutes left on the clock.

"It was a very tough game but we deserved to win because we produced a good team performance," Rodolfo Borrell told Liverpoolfc.tv.

The Liverpool U18 side remains unbeaten thus far in the 2010/11 season, and show great signs of promise for the future at Anfield.

Sterling as seen as the jewel in the crown, and the England youth international could work his way up the Liverpool ranks quicker than first imagined.

Investment Group Blackstone Refuse To Refinance Loans For Liverpool Co-Owner Tom Hicks

Investment group Blackstone has pulled out of talks to refinance loans taken out by co-owner Tom Hicks to retain control of Liverpool, according to The Guardian.

Weekend reports had claimed the American intended to cling to power by securing the cash to repay the £237 million owed to the Royal Bank of Scotland before the mid-October deadline. Without the money, Hicks and business partner George Gillett would be forced to relinquish their spots at the Anfield helm to the organisation.

Negotiations about a £280m, two-year package with GSO Capital Partners - the debt restructuring arm of the private equity group - which would have seen Hicks take sole charge had been understood to be close to reaching conclusion. However, GSO has now walked away from the Texan millionaire, with their withdrawal rumoured to be motivated by fan group protests.

Hicks and Gillett had put Liverpool up for sale in April after failing to find the funds to meet RBS' requirements. Reported interest from Kenny Huang and Rhone Capital has not led to a change of stewardship and now the Liverpool board is believed to be ready to throw out any proposal from Hicks even if it led to an investment in player transfers and stadium plans.

Liverpool Fans Plan ‘Direct Action’ Protest As Tom Hicks’ Buyout Hits The Buffers

The Spirit of Shankly fans group will lead a sit-in at Anfield after this weekend’s match with Sunderland to demonstrate “the growing anger and frustration towards the ongoing ownership saga” at the club.

Further “direct action”, including a protest march, will take place around the following weekend’s game against Blackpool, also at home.

SoS, like many Liverpool fans, want the club’s owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, as well as the other board members and those responsible with finding new buyers, to keep them better informed about what is happening at the club.

SoS have raised questions on their website about the role of BarCap in the proposed sale of the club, and will hold an EGM on Saturday before the Sunderland game.

With an October deadline looming for Liverpool to repay loans to RBS, Hicks is making increasingly frantic efforts to refinance the debt and take sole control, as we reported three days ago.

For now, he has been stymied in his efforts to borrow money from Blackstone subsidiary GSO Capital Partners, as The Guardian reports here. On the one hand, Hicks’ inability to raise finance via GSO will be greeted with optimism by some fans because it decreases the chances of the Texan’s long-term involvement.

On the other hand, there is still no viable alternative owner in the picture, certainly not one that has produced a costed bid with proof of funds.

Speaking about the ongoing struggle for stability at Liverpool and the campaign to remove Hicks and Gillett, SoS said today: “Angry at the massive debts, crippling interest repayments, and the lack of a new stadium, supporters feel that the promises made to them when the pair took over have been reneged upon.

“Supporters have actively campaigned to rid the club of the duo. However, their anger has increased significantly, following the lack of action in the supposed sale process, recent speculation that Tom Hicks is to attempt to take sole charge of the football club with further refinancing, and a document which Spirit Of Shankly has seen, showing that Barclays Capital, who it is understood are in charge of the sale process, have also been looking to refinance the existing debt.

“These recent developments have raised the temperature of supporters, and action is the only way they feel they can make their point known. Action is expected to escalate and continue in the coming weeks, with supporters looking to physically display their anger and make their feelings known.”