Friday, November 12, 2010

Roy Hodgson Backs Steven Gerrard And Fernando Torres To Keep Starring For Liverpool

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has accepted that he will have to rely heavily on Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to keep the club's unbeaten run going, at least until the January transfer window opens.

The duo have turned on the style at the right time for Liverpool in the last five games, with Torres adding another wonderful strike in the 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic on Wednesday night to the two that came against Chelsea at the weekend.

Gerrard, who single-handedly won the Europa League game against Napoli last week, provided an inch-perfect pass for the striker's goal against Wigan.

And apart from David Ngog's strike against Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season, all Liverpool's league goals have either been created or scored by Gerrard and Torres.

Hodgson said: "If we are going to do well this season we need those two firing on all cylinders, we need Torres' goals and Gerrard's manipulation and control of the midfield.

"We only saw it in glimpses against Wigan whereas against Chelsea and in our previous victories against Napoli, Blackburn and Bolton it was present in much larger doses."

Hodgson has had to juggle new arrivals and an ever-growing injury list since his arrival in the summer.

Against Wigan Liverpool were without defenders Sotirios Krygiakos, Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson, midfielders Joe Cole and Ryan Babel, and Raul Meireles went off due to sickness at half-time.

Hodgson hopes to strengthen in the January transfer window, with his focus up front and in defence.

He added: "Where we are badly off is if something goes badly wrong at the back, where we don't have a lot of players to cover.

"Up front if Fernando or David Ngog are not able to play we don't have options in terms of out-and-out centre-forwards.

"Those are a couple of areas where we need to look for help in the January transfer window."

Roy Admits Poulsen Struggles

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson admits summer signing Christian Poulsen is 'devastated' by the poor start he has made to his Anfield career

The Danish international has conceded he has yet to show his best form since his summer arrival from Juventus as he is still adapting to life in England.

Poulsen was withdrawn to ironic jeers against Napoli in the Europa League at Anfield last week while his late introduction for Dirk Kuyt during Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Wigan was booed by some Liverpool fans.

Since arriving as a replacement for Javier Mascherano, Poulsen has made 12 appearances for Liverpool but has not started in the Premier League since the 2-1 defeat at home to Blackpool in early October.

Hodgson admits Poulsen is struggling to reach his best form but insists the 30-year-old can handle the reaction of the club's fans.

"Unfortunately I can't do anything about the fans, but he's had one or two games in front of our crowd where he's not played well, he knows he's not," said Hodgson.

"He's devastated by that and the crowd, who aren't stupid, know he's not played well, it's a fact of life.

"But he's got quality, he's a good defensive midfield player. He's not that bad on the ball, but let's not beat about the bush and try to disguise the fact, he's had a bad start.

"When I took him off at half-time in one game he was devastated - not just because I'd made the decision (to bring him off) but because he knows he was nowhere near the level he can play.

"He knows having played in Italy, for Juventus, when you play well the crowd sing your name and when you're not playing well they boo you. He knows that.

"But I have every faith in him. We will get a lot of good use out of him over the year but he knows it will be tough to win the fans over.

"I can't wave a magic wand to do that, I can't speak for them, but I'd be surprised if the ones at Wigan said he didn't do anything for the team because he did.

"He won a lot of challenges, got us on the counter attack on several occasions, didn't miss a pass and won a few headers."

Gerrard - Reds Turning A Corner

Steven Gerrard thinks that his Liverpool team-mates are now 'producing, standing up and being counted' as they continue their resurgence in form.

The Reds star captained his side to a 1-1 draw at Wigan in the Premier League on Wednesday and the result ensured the Reds have now gone five matches unbeaten in all competitions.

Roy Hodgson's ninth-placed Liverpool have moved from the relegation positions to within one point of fifth spot in the table ahead of Saturday's difficult-looking trip to Stoke.

Gerrard is pleased with the upturn in fortunes but he is also well aware that there is still plenty of work to do if his club are to achieve their aim of a top-four finish in May.

"There's been a turnaround but we still haven't got there yet," he said. "We still haven't got fully around the corner but we're on our way round it.

"Results have improved, we're playing better so the feeling and the confidence are a lot higher than they were a couple of weeks back.

"I think that (the takeover) has helped but I think it's down to the manager's ideas coming across, a lot of hard work on the training ground and everyone pulling in the right direction.

"The players are producing, standing up and being counted and I think that is showing in our recent run of results."

As for his own psychological state following the upturn in fortunes, the 30-year-old England international said: "I feel happier.

"You're never totally happy in football. At the end of the season you get the rewards for what you put in, so we'll see what happens at the end of the season."

He added: "At the beginning of the season our target was top four and that hasn't changed but at the moment I don't want to get carried away.

Gerrard is also delighted by the renewed form of striker Fernando Torres, with the Spaniard scoring four goals in his last four games to suggest he has overcome a battle for self-assurance and fitness.

"He is certainly close," said Gerrard. "I think he said himself he can still do more. That is the way he is and why he is regarded as one of the best players in the world.

"I love playing with him. I think he is at his best but if he is telling me he can improve, fantastic."

Disillusioned Jovanovic Prepared To Stay At Liverpool

Milan Jovanovic admits he is not playing his natural game under Roy Hodgson, but he is prepared to stay at Liverpool.

Jovanovic began the season as a regular member in the Liverpool line-up, but he has recently lost his place with Hodgson beginning to find a more consistent formula. Even with Joe Cole sidelined by injury, Jovanovic has remained absent from the starting XI, with Maxi Rodriguez switched to the left for recent fixtures.

The Serbian attacker was a Rafael Benitez signing during the summer and has largely been employed as a winger by Hodgson, despite spending the majority of his career behind a striker. However, ignoring interest from Belgian side Anderlecht, Jovanovic insists he is prepared to fight for his place at Anfield.

"Since I moved to England I've done everything regarding my job the way the coach wants from me," he told Blic. "I was really focused on not making many tactical mistakes. I've not done things my way. I didn't do things my way, I didn't take risks with my moves and actions.

"I'm just thinking about Liverpool. I'll stay here because I'm no quitter or a person who doesn't fight. I know that Anderlecht rate me very highly and I'm proud about that.

"Anderlecht are the biggest club in Belgium and I respect them, but I have a contract with Liverpool and I'll stay."

Russian Sensation Confirms Liverpool Contact As Deal Edges Closer

Zenit St Petersburg striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov says he has been approached over a potential move to Liverpool.

The Russia international scored two hat-tricks in nine days for Zenit last month, and this recent goal splurge seems to have attracted Liverpool as they look to bolster their strike force in January.

Kerzhakov, 27, has since admitted that Liverpool have been in contact with his agent to express their interest in his signature, although the former Sevilla hotshot says he is content at his current club.

"The talk about Liverpool is not baseless. The British club came to my agent with a proposal but I did not give an answer. I have other things to think about and in all respects I am happy in Russia," he told told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

"My team is in first place in the national championship and I have always said that I wanted to play for Zenit.

"In the case of Liverpool I will take no initiative, but I can count the fingers on one hand for the amount of clubs I could theoretically go to.

"This is because Zenit is playing beautiful, modern football and the club is growing rapidly. And I am here, at home."

Roy Hodgson has made no secret of his desire to bring another striker to Anfield in the New Year to take the goalscoring burden away from Liverpool hero Fernando Torres, and Kerzhakov is just the latest in a long line of players to be linked with a move to Merseyside.

Liverpool Playmaker Target Drops Huge Hint To Hodgson

Liverpool target Balazs Dzsudzsak dropped a major hint to Roy Hodgson in-front of watching scouts after a brace in PSV Eindhoven's 2-1 win over FC Utrecht.

The Hungarian international has been in fine form at the Phillips Stadium this season, and produced a match-winning display at the perfect time to send his Eredivisie side second in the Dutch league table.

A versatile attacking midfielder who can play in either central or wing positions, Dzsudzsak began his career at Debreceni VSC before moving to PSV in October 2007.

After only a handful of appearances for the club in his first season, Dzsudzsak returned double figure goals in the following seasons in all competitions, and already has 12 to his name this season in just 19 appearances.

This form has alerted a string of European and Premier League clubs, with Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson thought to be one of the major parties monitoring the player.

The Reds are thought to have sent scouts to the game on Sunday, with reports in the Dutch media stating Spurs also sent representatives to watch the game.

Liverpool boss Hodgson is thought to be chasing 'five or six' players when the transfer window re-opens in January, with new owners NESV pledging to invest a sizable amount of funds into a transfer war chest.

A string of players have been linked with an Anfield move in recent weeks, with Mario Gomez, Jonathan Reis and Peter Crouch all reportedly on the Liverpool radar as the manager searches for a Fernando Torres foil.

Neither club has commented on the interest, but Liverpool will have to pay in the region of £10 million to stand a chance of landing the 23-year-old.

Reina Wants Out Of Anfield

Pepe Reina has told Roy Hodgson he wants to leave Liverpool - possibly as early as January.

Mirror Sport has reported that Manchester United, Arsenal and Inter Milan are interested in the goalkeeper and now he has made it clear to Hodgson and the Liverpool board he wants to go.

Hodgson has tried to persuade the keeper who has a £20 million buy-out clause in his contract to stay, but is now looking at possible replacements.

Top of his list are Germany international stopper Manuel Neuer, and Ajax number one Maarten Stekelenburg, who was the Holland keeper in the World Cup final.

Neuer is widely regarded as one of the best young keepers in Europe after helping steer his country to third place in the World Cup during the summer.

He was the keeper who helped con referee Jorge Larrionda that Frank Lampard’s shot had not crossed the line, during the now infamous showdown with England during the tournament in South Africa.

The keeper has little more than a year left on his current contract with his German club Schalke 04, and has already interested Bayern Munich, but it is thought he would like a move abroad.

He fits the bill perfectly for Liverpool. Anfield’s new owners NESV are keen subscribers to a more radical approach to recruitment, where they invest big money in key players who make a real difference.

They want young promising talent with a potential sell on value and the capacity to improve. They also want to pay high wages only to a handful of stars, with more reasonable salaries given to the rest of the squad.

Reina currently commands a salary of almost £100,000 a week, over the course of a contract which has four and a half years left to run. He is 28, and if Liverpool are to get money back on him, would have to sell now.

It is unlikely a bid at such a massive price - which would then invoke the clause in Reina’s contract - will materialize in January, but even if he has to wait until the summer, it seems clear the Spanish keeper will force a move away from Anfield.

He has become more distracted with life at Anfield and less satisfied in recent months.

If the Reds could fetch £20million for him, and replace him with a younger player of an almost equal level and on a third of the salary, it would offer a real bonus to the new owners, who would then be able to invest any profits in signing the top stars they feel Liverpool need in key positions.

Neuer’s fee would be only around the £7million mark, and perhaps even lower because of his contract situation, and that would leave the owners with funds to invest in the transfer market.

Carragher Wants £2 Million

The 23 Foundation aims to give local kids in Merseyside a chance to achieve their dreams through local charities, clubs and community initiatives by providing the means to make a difference.

That is whether it be helping local kids recover from illness or helping to provide a framework for achieving their goals! The Merseyside community – of which Jamie Carragher himself is very much a part of – can help develop more confident, well rounded individuals. In giving children a reason to recover from illness or the means to express their talents, we can show them there are many ways to succeed on a personal and career level by being part of a team.

“There’s no set idea of exactly where the money will go. Each year we’ll look at different causes and projects and then see where we feel the money will be best spent.”

Jamie Carragher and the 23 Foundation are aiming to raise a minimum of £2 Million pounds which once achieved will be invested and the capital will never be touched. It is the aim of the 23 Foundation to help give kids a chance in the Merseyside Local Community by only ever spending the interest raised on the capital investment.

“With an initial target of raising £2million, the plan is to use the interest gained to pump £100,000 a year back into the community to assist those in need.”

Jamie Carragher and his wife Nicola have very kindly decided to donate all the proceeds from Jamie’s Testimonial Game, Gala Black Tie Dinner and Charity Golf Day to the 23 Foundation which will go some way towards the total. There are many other initiatives running in parallel with these events which will also help. There will be a lot of work to do and it is not going to happen overnight!

“The 23 Foundation aims to give local kids in Merseyside a chance to achieve their dreams through local charities, clubs and community initiatives by providing the means to make a difference in society whether it be helping them recover from illness or helping to provide a framework for achieving their goals! We will eventually help by pumping cash into the local community but, in the meantime, where possible, we will help out in other ways”