Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ray Clemence Blasts Talk Of Early Exit For Manager Roy Hodgson As 'Crazy'

Liverpool legend Ray Clemence has slated talk of an instant dismissal for under fire manager Roy Hodgson as "crazy".

Hodgson, 63, has come under intense criticism following Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Blackpool which left his side in the Premier League relegation zone.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Clemence - who racked up 665 First Division appearances for the Anfield outfit - stated: "Roy Hodgson said yesterday was disappointing - that is probably an understatement at the moment.

"No-one expected them to be where they are in the table, although everybody expected a transitional year.

"It's crazy to talk about getting rid of him - they've got an excellent manager who will get things right given time and patience.

"But his hands are tied and the thing is nothing can be sorted lower down until the top end of the club is sorted out.

"It's time to stay together and be patient, keep feet on the ground and make sensible decisions. I'm sure they will be able to climb again.

"The decision on the manager has been made and everyone should stick behind him."

Kenny Dalglish 'Poised For Liverpool Job As Hodgson Given Until Christmas'

Under-fire manager Roy Hodgson looks set to be given until Christmas to reverse Liverpool's fortunes - but public opinion already looks to be turning towards appointing fan favourite Kenny Dalglish, it has emerged.

Sunday's shock home defeat by Blackpool at Anfield was arguably a new low in a 12-month period which has seen the famous club go through one of the most turbulent times in recent history.

And it prompted the famously loyal Kop, already disgruntled by the ownership situation, to chant for the sacking of the former Fulham manager - just two months into his tenure - and demand the appointment of Dalglish.

The former boss would be a popular appointment in owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett's attempts to stem the tide of public opinion against them and their under-achieving team.

And he could be called upon within a matter of months - if the Reds' form continues to leave them in or around the Premier League's bottom three.

Hodgson, though, says the reaction of the fans to Sunday's home defeat and is 'understandable' but vowed to commit himself to turning the dire season around after just six points from their first seven games.

'The fans are frustrated at the moment - there are a lot of things happening and it's understandable they are frustrated,' he said.

'I am the manager, I am the one who has to take responsibility and I have to accept their right to aim their frustration in my direction.'

Dalglish was manager of Liverpool the last time the club won the domestic title in 1990, which would make the former Scottish international a nostalgic choice as manager.

But Hodgson, who got the job at Anfield despite board member Dalglish admitting he had applied to be Rafa Benitez's successor, says he has confidence he can change things for the better.

'After 35 years in football I don't think that I have suddenly lost my ability as a manager. I have faith in my ability to handle this situation,' he continued.

'I don't think you go from being viewed as positively as I was in May to losing your ability by now.'

Reds Eye French Starlet

Skysports.com understands that Liverpool and Lyon are keeping tabs on Real Sociedad starlet Antoine Griezmann.

The 19-year-old was a revelation as Sociedad won promotion to La Liga last season and he has carried his good form this term.

Premier League side Liverpool and Ligue 1 giants Lyon are now hoping to strike a deal to secure his signature in the January transfer window.

Griezmann's stock rose over the summer when he made a series of eye-catching displays for France in the Euro Under-19 tournament.

The youngster is tied to the San Sebastian outfit until the summer of 2015 and he is believed to command a fee in the €7million (£6m) region.

Sociedad are keen to retain the talented youngster, although the club's financial position could ultimately decide whether they strike a deal.

Griezmann had made 44 games for the club and has scored six goals while assisting 12 others.

Liverpool Plot Bid For Valencia Winger Juan Mata

Liverpool are lining up a January move for Valencia winger Juan Mata and will try to use Ryan Babel as part of the deal, Goal.com UK has learned.

Roy Hodgson has made the Spaniard one of his main targets for when the transfer window re-opens but the Liverpool manager knows his side will have to improve on their dismal start to the season if they are to tempt Mata to Anfield.

Sources close to the club have told Goal.com UK that Hodgson has given up on Dutch star Babel and has made the former Ajax man available for just £4.5 million as he looks to revitalize his beleaguered squad.

Liverpool would prefer to get Babel off their books by using the 23-year-old as a makeweight to convince Valencia to part with Mata, whose contract at the Mestalla expires in the summer of 2012.

Mata, 22, would cost the cash-strapped Reds around £12m, with the club believing they could finance the deal by cutting their losses on Babel, who cost £11.5m in June 2007.

Valencia are themselves in financial strife and could be forced to sell Mata, despite making more than £60m from the summer sales of star duo David Villa and David Silva.

Mata has stalled on talks over a new contract and is believed to be happy to assess his options as his contract runs down, with Liverpool just one of a number of clubs monitoring his situation.

Hodgson believes Mata’s pace and sweet left foot would be a valuable addition to his squad, while the Spain international has a record of scoring vital goals from his attacking midfield position.

Mata, a former Real Madrid trainee, could be tempted to link up with fellow Spaniards Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina on Merseyside.

But with uncertainty surrounding Liverpool’s ownership and management situation, the club faces a tough task in convincing Mata to leave Valencia, who are top of the Spanish Primera Division, for a side that could be in a relegation battle.

Babel could emerge as the key to the deal as he would provide the Spanish side with an instant replacement if they lose their star man, while the Dutchman’s ability to play as a striker as well as on either wing could be attractive.

Liverpool agreed a £5m fee for Babel with both Tottenham and West Ham United on the final day of the summer transfer window but the deals fell through, leaving Hodgson with a player who knows he is not wanted at Anfield.

Babel’s below-par performance in the Reds’ League Cup defeat to Northampton Town last month is believed to have been the final straw for Hodgson after his failure to impress with any consistency during his three years in the North West.

The Netherlands international arrived at Liverpool with a reputation as one of the brightest talents in Europe but has mainly been forced to accept a role as a substitute, under former boss Rafael Benitez and now with Hodgson in charge.

Liverpool And Spurs Step Up Sulley Muntari Transfer Efforts

Sulley Muntari is to be sold by Inter Milan this January after a bust-up with manager Rafael Benitez, paving the way for either Spurs or Liverpool to sign the playmaker for a cut-price fee.

Benitez publicly criticized the 26-year-old, who was linked with White Hart Lane and Anfield in the summer, for his attitude after being left out of the Inter team to play Juventus at the weekend.

The Ghanaian refused to attend the game, which ended goalless, after being dropped.

And afterwards, Benitez told the Gazzetta dello Sport: 'Muntari has to understand there are other players and that they are just as important.'

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp knows all about Muntari, having had him as a player while in charge of Portsmouth.

And Reds boss Roy Hodgson is desperate to inject his team with some guile and creativity after a woeful start to the season that sees the Anfield outfit wallowing in the Premier League relegation zone and out of the Carling Cup.

Torres Doubtful For Merseyside Derby

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is already a doubt for the most significant Merseyside derby for years after it was confirmed he had strained an adductor muscle - a similar injury to the one he sustained in the World Cup final.

The Spain striker limped off after just 10 minutes of the 2-1 defeat to Blackpool at Anfield and manager Roy Hodgson said the 26-year-old had strained his groin but did not know the severity of the injury.

Torres pulled out of Spain's squad for the forthcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers against Lithuania and Scotland on Monday and had a scan at the club's Melwood training ground.

"Fernando was assessed earlier today at Melwood and underwent a scan this afternoon," said Dr Peter Brukner, head of sports medicine and sports science. "He will have intensive treatment over the next couple of weeks but it is too early to say if he will be fit for the game against Everton."

The derby, at Goodison Park on October 17, is hugely significant with Liverpool currently wallowing in 18th place in the Premier League after their worst start to a campaign since 1953-54, when they were relegated.

Everton are just one place above their near-neighbours, on goal difference.

Milan Jovanovic Dismisses Rumours He Wants To Leave Liverpool FC

Milan Jovanovic has rubbished reports that he’s unhappy at Anfield and contemplating another move.

The Serbian international, who joined Liverpool on a free transfer from Standard Liege this summer, was quoted as saying he misses life in Belgium and is frustrated by a lack of playing time. under manager Roy Hodgson.

However, Jovanovic insists he didn’t make those comments and is determined to knuckle down and fight for his place.

“I haven’t spoken to any journalists other than Liverpool’s own club journalists,” he said.

“I am angry.

“I am new here and all I’m trying to do is work and do what’s best for the team. It’s not important that I am on the bench.

“I have signed a contract for three years and I want to stay for three years.

“I feel very good at Liverpool and better players than me sit on the bench whether it’s here or anywhere else.

“I have to learn and work to be better – it’s not a problem.

“I expected a challenge. I expected sometimes to be in the team and sometimes not.

“And also, I don’t want to speak about myself – it’s much more important to talk about the team.

Jovanovic, who is on international duty ahead of games with Estonia and Italy, insists he and his family have settled well in Liverpool.

“I have 50 Serbia channels on TV - that’s what I am doing with my time,” he added.

“My house is near a park - it’s a nice park and I like to spend time there with my kids.

“Football is my life. I haven’t got time for anything else until I finish my career.”

Kuyt Hails Club Doctors

Dirk Kuyt has paid tribute to Liverpool's medical team for helping him to recover so quickly from a recent shoulder injury.

The Dutchman picked up the knock on international duty and was supposed to be out for up to six weeks but returned against Sunderland, less than three weeks after the original problem occurred, and also featured against Utrecht and Blackpool.

"I worked very closely with the physios and the rest of the team to get back as quickly as possible and it's great to have such good professional people around you," said Kuyt in this week's LFC Weekly.

"It was initially said to me it would be four to six weeks before I was fit again but I managed to do it in nearly three weeks, so I'm very happy with that. We have a very good team of doctors, physios and masseurs at Liverpool and without them I don't think I could have hoped to have been back so quickly."

After three matches in just over a week Kuyt admits it will take a few more games before he is back to full sharpness, but with the Reds struggling for form, the Holland international is happy to play wherever he is needed.

"I still need a bit of time. An injury like this needs four to six weeks. I recovered very quickly but you also need a couple of games to get back into it.

"If the manager wants me to play up front more often, I am more than happy to do that. But if he sees me in another position in the team and I can help him with that, then that's my job and my aim is to try to help the team."

McMahon Looking For Hammers Response

John McMahon is looking for an instant response from his players against West Ham United at Prenton Park tonight after their below par showing at Chelsea last week.

The 3-1 defeat at Cobham left the reserves boss furious and he is hoping his team will show their true colours tonight in a match you can watch exclusively live on LFC TV online from 7pm.

"We certainly will be looking for a response because we were very disappointed with our overall performance against Chelsea," McMahon told Liverpoolfc.tv.

"We gave them too much respect and too much time on the ball. We have got some good players in our team but we just didn't perform on the day.

"The main thing the lads will have learnt from that in the future is how not to approach games. Having the right mentality going into games is very important. We went into the Chelsea game with the wrong mentality.

"I let the lads know that performance was not acceptable and we showed a much better attitude and spirit in the second half."

The Hammers' second string arrive at Prenton Park with a talented squad made up from the acclaimed West Ham production line that has produced players in the calibre of our own Joe Cole and Glen Johnson.

Meanwhile, McMahon will be without several of his usual squad tonight as Jonjo Shelvey, Andre Wisdom and Michael Ngoo are away with England U19s, Chris Mavinga is with France U19s and Danny Wilson is away with Scotland U21s.

"This will be another good game for us as you want to really test yourselves against different teams and players," he added.

"We will have several senior players from Melwood playing so it will be a good balance with the younger lads.

"West Ham are renowned for producing good footballers so whatever team they put out this will be a tough game for us, but hopefully we can come out winners."

Leading the line for Liverpool tonight will be Nathan Eccleston and McMahon has praised the 19-year-old for showing great courage and determination after he was devastated when he missed a penalty in the shoot-out against Northampton.

"Nathan Eccleston has shown a great attitude and he's a good lad," he added.

"He took the penalty miss personally and that would have hurt him because he felt he let everybody and the fans down.

"That will make him a better player and a stronger person in the future. He's a confident lad and he's got lots of ability."

McMahon also revealed the likes of Academy starlets Conor Coady, Toni Silva and Raheem Sterling could make the step up to the reserve squad at some point this season.

"I think they could get an opportunity at reserve level this season - they are certainly good enough," he said.

"I have regular discussions with Rodolfo Borrell, Pep Segura and Frank McParland about the players and it's about using them at the right time and for the right games.

"We are not pushing them too early at the wrong time. We will monitor the players properly and then push them at the right times.

"We have several very good players in the U18 team and we are excited about the future."