Sunday, October 03, 2010

Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs Blackpool

Liverpool host Blackpool in the Premier League on Sunday looking for a major improvement following a string of lackluster displays and results.

Roy Hodgson was tipped to have a tough start to life at Anfield when he took over in the summer, but it’s turned out much worse than even the most pessimistic of supporters would have imagined.

The Reds began the season by progressing through to the Europa League group stage and rather unfortunately only drawing at home to Arsenal. However, they have only beaten West Bromwich Albion domestically since - and even that was a narrow win. In fairness to the Anfield club, though, they have suffered both of their league defeats to title chasing Manchester United and Manchester City.

Despite only losing to the Manchester clubs in the league, Hodgson is already getting criticism from sections of supporters and the media. He failed to steer his side to all three points away to Birmingham City and at home to Sunderland - where they drew 2-2 thanks to Dirk Kuyt’s controversial goal last weekend - but there can be no excuses for one of the most embarrassing results in their history as they lost on penalties to League Two strugglers Northampton Town in the League Cup.

Liverpool drew 0-0 away to FC Utrecht in the Europa League on Thursday night as their slump continued, but they will surely be able to bounce back with a win over Blackpool. At least you would think they would be able to, and if they don’t it will pile more pressure on Hodgson, Gerrard, Torres & Co.
Some were tipping Blackpool to go straight back down to the Championship following their play-off win last season, but they’ve already proved it won’t be as simple as that.

Despite predictions that the Tangerines could finish the season by beating Derby County’s league record worst points tally of 11, they already have seven points on the board. After an emphatic win over Wigan Athletic on the opening day, they have also seen off Newcastle United at St James’ Park and drawn 2-2 at home to Fulham.

However, they have had their turnovers as expected as well. The 10-man Seasiders lost 6-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates in their second game of the season before being hammered 4-0 by Chelsea, and with them already losing 4-0 at half-time in that game, Ian Holloway changed his team’s tactics, opting to switch back to his usual attacking style rather than the 4-5-1 he had gone with from the start at Stamford Bridge.

Holloway’s men were unlucky to concede a dubious late goal at home to Blackburn Rovers last time out which condemned them to a 2-1 defeat, and ended with their boss being hit with an FA charge for swearing at referee Mike Dean. But despite Brett Emerton’s winner coming after a quick break from one end of the pitch to the other from Blackburn, Holloway has vowed to stick to his attacking principles even if it means they are hit on the counter-attack just like at Bloomfield Road last weekend.



Roy Hodgson has received more injury news this week as Martin Kelly picked up a knee problem in the draw with Utrecht on Thursday.

Kelly’s likely absence means that due to injuries to Paul Konchesky (hamstring), Fabio Aurelio (Achilles) and Daniel Agger (groin), Liverpool are without a recognized left-back.

Fernando Torres is set to start against for the Reds despite poor displays of late, while Steven Gerrard will play after being rested in midweek.

Possible starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Carragher; Gerrard, Poulsen; Kuyt, Meireles, Cole; Torres.


Matt Phillips, who scored on his debut with almost his first touch in the Premier League last week, is pushing for a start.

Rob Edwards featured in a reserve game this week and is also vying for a starting place, which means Neal Eardley may drop to the bench.

Possible starting XI: Gilks; Eardley, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey; Grandin, Adam, Vaughan; Phillips, Harewood, Campbell.

Furious Roy Hodgson Vehemently Defends 'Insulting' Questions Concerning Liverpool's Start To The Season

Roy Hodgson has hit back at suggestions that he may not have the pedigree to manage a club like Liverpool.

The Reds have had a stuttering start to the season, winning only one of their six Premier League games thus far, as they were also subject to a shock defeat in the League Cup at the hands of League Two side Northampton Town.

And to make matters worse, Everton's 2-0 victory over Birmingham City meant that David Moyes' men leapfrogged their Merseyside rivals, condemning them to a spot in the relegation zone.

Ahead of the game against Blackpool, the Reds boss was quizzed as to whether his approach might be wrong when it comes to managing Liverpool as opposed to his former club Fulham.

He said: "What do you mean by that? In 35 years how many clubs have I had.

"What do you mean do my methods translate? They have translated from Halmsteds to Malmo to Orebo to Neuchatel Xamax to the Swiss national team.

"So I find the question insulting. To suggest that, because I have moved from one club to another, that the methods which have stood me in good stead for 35 years and made me one of the most respected coaches in Europe don’t suddenly work, is very hard to believe.

"Experience is an important quality for any manager.

"We have a job to do and we know what to do. We're working at it and hopefully we’ll get some joy from our work during the course of the season."

In what turned out to be a thinly veiled attack at some of his players, the gaffer suggested that some who question his methods were not even as good as those he managed at Fulham.

Hodgson added: "At the moment, arguably one of the two players that people are suggesting are very different to the Fulham players I managed aren’t playing any better than those Fulham players.

"Journalists work on names rather than performances and what happens is that a judgement is based on names rather than what those players have actually done in a game.

"You have to take each game as it comes. You can’t live in a dream world of how wonderful it would be if every time one of your players got the ball he raced past four defenders and smashed it into the net.

"That would be living in a fantasy world. It is not going to happen against the type of teams we play. I couldn’t give a monkeys whether Liverpool are 16th or 18th. What bothers me is we’ve only got six points and I’d have liked a few more."

The 63-year-old also maintained that the expectations on his shoulders can only have a positive impact on him as a manager.

"The expectations here are very, very high so having had plenty of highs and some lows in my career can only be advantageous," he said.

"Are people suggesting that we should be doing the same as Arsenal, who have had the same team together for the last six years and Chelsea, who have just won the league?

"If so I would accuse them of being unrealistic at this moment in time.

"This is a new team, there are four or five new players. We finished seventh last season so I don’t understand why it’s suggested we should be comparing ourselves every day with Chelsea or Manchester United at this early stage of the season.

"It will be nice if we can get there. We will see but I certainly don’t make that demand upon the players."

He added: "If I had still been at Fulham and we had lost three or four of the opening games, then people would have been saying were the last two-and-a-half years a flash in the pan.

"Those things don’t bother me. It is one of those things you must learn to live with.

"It doesn’t change anything. I work the same way as I did last year."

Roy Hodgson Targets £10m Ryan Shawcross

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has put Stoke City centre-half Ryan Shawcross on his wish list – if he can find some money for players in the transfer market.

Anfield spies have been tracking Shawcross recently as they look for an up-and-coming defender who could come within their price range in the January window.

Shawcross is valued at £10million by the Potters, but his former club, Manchester United, have a ‘first call’ agreement if Stoke decide to sell.

Hodgson has seen his defence leak goals alarmingly in recent weeks, even when their best players have been available.

Jamie Carragher is at the veteran stage while Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have been up and down in the last year or so – leaving a young defender as a priority capture.

Hodgson is also considering a January move for £6m French sensation Antoine Griezmann from Real Sociedad.

The Spaniards do not want to lose the winger, but their financial plight may force them to cash in.

Valencia wide man Pablo Hernandez is also on Hodgson’s radar.

Leeds Boss Lands Reds Starlet

Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has snapped up Liverpool's highly-rated goalkeeper Deale Chamberlain on a one-month loan deal.

Grayson has moved to bring in Chamberlain as cover for the injured Kasper Schmeichel.

Liverpool signed Chamberlain in 2008, beating off competition from the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland.

The 18-year-old has broken into the reserve set-up this season and he is highly rated at Anfield.

Reds boss Roy Hodgson has allowed Chamberlain to join Leeds on a youth loan until October 31 so that he can continue his development.

Liverpool FC Owners Set To Default On Loans

Liverpool Football Club’s American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will default on the £237 million-plus of loans they used to buy the club, former government business adviser Lord Sugar predicts.

The deadline for Hicks and Gillett to refinance the £237.4 million Royal Bank of Scotland loan they used to acquire Liverpool expires on October 15. The duo also owe £60 million to the US bank Wachovia.

Hicks and Gillett are understood to be struggling to refinance their loans. If they fail to do so RBS will take control of the club and is prepared to force through a fire-sale of the club.

Former Tottenham Hotspur owner Lord Sugar believes Hicks and Gillett will not be able to refinance their loans, which are secured against the club which is struggling both on and off the pitch.

“What a great institution Liverpool is, what a great football club, but my forecast is that the owners will default on their loans,” Lord Sugar told ESPNsoccernet.

Lord Sugar also warned that unless Liverpool’s finances are sorted out quickly it could suffer the same fate as Leeds, which wound up in football’s third tier due to its unsustainable debts.

“It would be a travesty if Liverpool slipped away like Leeds and ended up in the second division,” he said. “That will happen if they are not careful.”

Hicks and Gillett were unavailable for comment.

Liverpool Fans Make Hicks And Gillett Protest Film

Actors Ricky Tomlinson and Joe McGann joined hundreds of fans by starring in a film made to protest about Liverpool FC owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Screenwriter Mike Jefferies asked anyone who wanted to vent their anger over the club's controversial owners to come to the Hope Street Hotel earlier.

Many fans feel the pair have mismanaged their club, which is £237.4m in debt.

The film, featuring fans giving their point of view on camera, will be posted on video-sharing website YouTube.

Lifelong Liverpool fan Rich Davies, 31, from Aigburth, was one of the fans at the filming.

He said: "Before I went in I hadn't planned what I was going to say, but when I got in front of the camera I felt quite emotional.

"I didn't realise how much this had affected me."

He added: "As I was saying 'Hicks and Gillett get out of my club!', I realized tears were streaming down my face.

"There was a strong feeling of defiance. We all wanted to say our piece."

Liverpool FC chairman Martin Broughton, appointed in April, has been tasked by the current owners with finding a buyer, but fans claim that Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett will put their financial interests ahead of the club's in seeking a new owner.

Mr. Gillett is reported to be struggling to pay back a £75m loan secured against his 50% stake in the club in 2008 and Mr. Hicks is considering buying his partner out.

At the moment the club is floundering in the bottom half of the Premier League and failed to qualify for the Champions League last season.

A spokesman for Liverpool FC said: "The sale process continues and our priority to find a good owner remains unchanged."

Rampant Reds Derail Crewe

Liverpool U18s got back to winning ways with a superb 4-2 win over Crewe at the Academy on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds fought back from a 2-1 deficit early in the second-half to claim a well-deserved triumph courtesy of goals from Michael Ngoo (2), Conor Coady and Matty Regan.

It capped an impressive afternoon for the youngsters, leaving coach Rodolfo Borrell delighted with his side's performance.

He told "We started well and I was happy that we went in 1-0 up at the interval.

"But Crewe improved in the second half and after they had taken the lead I thought we showed great character and determination, particularly in the final 20 minutes, to come back and win it.

"They were a very good side with some talented players in both midfield and attack. They had three England internationals on the pitch so it was always going to be a tough match, but I thought we acquitted ourselves well."

Liverpool U18s: Stephens, Sama, Smith, McGiveron (Poor 80), Roddan, Ngoo, Sterling (Mukendi 75), Silva, Coady, Regan, Adorjan.