Saturday, October 30, 2010

Liverpool Owner John W. Henry Has 'No Intention' Of Selling Top Stars

Liverpool owner John W. Henry has "no intention" of sanctioning the sale of star men such as Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina.

Reports emerged this week that the club's key players were disillusioned with life at Anfield and were prepared to head for the exit door in January.

Henry has moved quickly to allay fan's fears and promised to "build on the strength of the current squad, not undermine it" in a statement released to the club's website.

He said: "We have recently read stories about our intentions for the forthcoming January transfer window and have a sense of humour about this type of inevitable speculation.

"As everyone knows we are new to English football, but not to sport, and we are studying all options. Opportunities and value will drive spending in January and in the future.

"Our clear focus from day one of our ownership has been - and will be - to improve the club and focus on what it will take to put Liverpool FC consistently in a position to challenge for trophies. We intend to build this club the right way.

"Stories about our top players leaving are destructive and unwarranted but we realize that this kind of speculation is also common.

"We intend to build on the strength of the current squad, not undermine it. And I can reassure our supporters that we have no intention of allowing the team to be weakened going forward."

Roy Outlines Transfer Plans

Roy Hodgson today revealed plans to improve his squad in the January transfer window - and insisted Liverpool can attract top stars.

The boss is hopeful of having money to spend following discussions with new owners NESV, but he is determined the Reds won't be held to ransom in the transfer market.

He explained: "If we want the right quality, we have got to be prepared to pay the right price.

"The owners know that perfectly well. We have got to make certain that if we go out and spend £20m, we are getting a £20m player.

"We want to be attracting the players that Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter are chasing. It would be nice to think that we can shop at a high level.

"I'm like all managers in that I'm wary of the January transfer window. I think it can be dangerous as clubs try to correct mistakes.

"But, having said that, we are going to very interested in trying to improve our squad in January. There is no question about that. I am sure we will sign players."

Despite outlining his intent to dip into the market in two months' time, Hodgson's immediate concern is to guide those currently in his ranks up the Barclays Premier League table.

That way, he believes, there will be less pressure on any dealings carried out in the New Year.

"What I would hope to do is get this group of players playing well enough so we don't need to panic," said Hodgson.

"Then I can say to the owners, 'If we are going to spend a lot of money, let's get the right man.'

"I don't want to spend half the money that might be available on someone for the sake of buying when the player we actually want might not be available until the summer.

"The lucky thing is that we are rebuilding around several top-class players. We have got Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Torres, Kuyt - it's not as if we are rebuilding from nothing."

The ownership of the club was resolved earlier this month when NESV completed their takeover.

Since then principal owner John Henry and chairman Thomas Werner have outlined their commitment to winning - but Hodgson knows being clever in his transfer dealings is just as important to that end as splashing the cash.

"I think you can pay an awful lot of money for poor players and you can pay not very much money for very good ones - it is all to do with how good your scouting and your eye is," he said.

"There are a lot of things here that the club has got to get right. We have got a lot more expensive failures on our list than good players that we have brought in for next to nothing.

"Free transfers don't necessarily mean that you have got a bargain. My experience of them has been very mixed. You need to be sure that the player you get can do the job you want from him."

Reds Close On Miller Move understands Liverpool are poised to sign Gillingham starlet Ashley Miller.

Miller has been playing in Gillingham's junior ranks since 2003 and he is regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in England.

The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton have all been linked with the 16-year-old, but it appears Liverpool are set to win the race for his signature.

Liverpool's scouting team have moved quickly to arrange a deal to take the striker to Anfield with the club keen to tie up the move to ward off other suitors.

Miller is highly rated at Priestfield and the schoolboy has been called up to the first-team squad for Saturday's game at Northampton.

Miller is the latest young talent to come through the ranks at Gillingham with the club having sold 15-year-old Luke Freeman to Arsenal for a six-figure fee in 2008.

Aquilani - I Feel At Home

Liverpool misfit Alberto Aquilani says he feels at home playing for Juventus.

The 26-year-old is on a season-long loan in Turin after failing to live up to expectations with the Reds following his £20million move from Roma.

The midfielder says he is loving life back in Serie A with the Turin giants, who have an option to make the move permanent next summer.

He told La Stampa: "I like the team. I like Turin. I have found a home. I am happy."

Asked about his role at Juventus, he added: "I am more of a central midfielder. Before, I was further forward in the offensive phase.

"Now I have to have more balance and be careful also in defence."

Aquilani is relishing Saturday's clash with AC Milan, who have won four on the bounce to sit second in the Italian top flight.

He added: "Their most dangerous and important player right now is (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic.

"The problem is that they have more than one (strong player). They are a team who have many strong players: if they are all healthy, it's tough for the other teams.

"This doesn't mean we are inferior or are afraid to play against them, not at all actually.

"We are Juve and we must go out on the pitch to win. Then again in football, you win and you lose. The important thing is trying."

Hodgson Learning To Cope With Liverpool Criticism

Roy Hodgson says he is now starting to develop the thick skin needed to cope with the negative press aimed at Liverpool.

Hodgson was widely praised in his previous role at Fulham, where he secured the club's best ever league position as well as reaching the Europa League final, but he has come under heavy fire during his first few months at Liverpool.

With the club still in the relegation zone, Hodgson has found it hard to deal with the spotlight, but he says he is now developing the necessary mindset.

"This football club has a lot of players who have played for Liverpool for a long time," he said. "Every other day they've probably read or heard some nonsense about them and they seem to be a pretty hardened bunch.

"I'm relatively hardened but I've been spared too much at Fulham, where never a bad word was said. It is an interesting thing for me to get into the type of mindset Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard are so good at.

"Having heard and seen it all before, they are quite prepared to shrug their shoulders and write it off. It is part and parcel of the business of working for Liverpool Football Club. I am beginning to turn it around myself."

The latest negative stories surrounding the club have suggested Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina will walk away in January.

"It is sad these stories surface," Hodgson said. "There is no truth in them, they have no meaning. Reina and Torres are excellent trainers and their commitment to the club is as good as ever. There is no question they are anything other than committed.

"It is destructive but it depends on how you deal with it. It is fantastic so many people want to write nonsense about us because it must mean we are still a big club.

"The trick is to get on with the job, be happy and let the birds sing."

Ahead of this weekend's game at Bolton, Hodgson says he hopes his team "carry on from where we left off" against Blackburn, but he accepts there is still plenty of improvement needed.

"If we can produce the performances and results we will definitely be stronger but we do still need to do a bit of work," he said. "If I am being honest, when I came to the club there were a lot of things that needed changing.

"Not least of all the ownership issue - which was the major one - but there were a lot of things we wanted to do differently.

"Some of the things we asked to do will require the owners' permission and will cost a lot of money, so there is still a lot of work to do."

Milan Jovanovic Thanks 'Understanding' Liverpool Supporters

Milan Jovanovic has hailed the role of the Liverpool supporters in their recent upturn in fortunes.

Roy Hodgson's side claimed an impressive 0-0 Europa League draw in Napoli and followed that with a 2-1 Premier League victory against Blackburn Rovers. After a month of misery, the results hint at a brighter future as the players look to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.

Serbia international Jovanovic believes the "understanding" shown by fans has provided the platform for success.

"The fans here have been very understanding and I have been encouraged by their support," the 29-year-old told the club's official website.

"At other clubs, when the form is bad, they can start to criticise, but here they seem to try and help you even more. That's the great thing about Liverpool."

Jovanovic added: "I am sure all the players can get better and we can play as a team. Everybody is trying really hard in the training sessions to get it right.

"I don't think people can say we haven't worked hard in the games, but a lack of confidence and lack of luck can have a big impact."

Dalglish To Open New Club Store

Liverpool Football Club are delighted to announce the opening of a new official club store in Belfast.

The 2,000 sq. ft. unit will be based on Castle Lane in the heart of Belfast's shopping district. The store will carry the full range of official club products and will create at least 10 new jobs for the city.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish will officially open the store - Liverpool's fifth official club shop - at 10am next Friday, November 5.

Playwright Nicky Alt will be in attendance on Saturday, November 6 to sign copies of his One Night in Istanbul DVD.

Lee Dwerryhouse, LFC Head of Retail, said: "We are really looking forward to the store opening and would encourage all of our fans in the area to come along.

"As a city Belfast has many parallels with Liverpool and the club's fan base in the city is huge.

"Our fans in Belfast are extremely passionate and their loyalty to the club is unbelievable. I am delighted we have been able to reward that loyalty and passion with our first store outside of the north west of England.

"We considered many sites for our next store but all the signs kept pointing back to Belfast. This store signals the start of an expansion strategy that will see a host of official club stores opening outside of Liverpool over the next few years."