Monday, November 15, 2010

Liverpool Job May Be Too Big For Hodgson

Roy Hodgson's appointment at Liverpool was greeted by a great deal of skepticism from supporters, but the national media, never too quick to criticize his predecessor Rafa Benitez, were purring.

The Anfield faithful were assured they were taking on a man of dignity, a man with class, and a man that would play the attacking football they craved. Claims that the job was too big for him were laughed off - this is, after all, a man that has managed Inter Milan and two separate national sides.

But Liverpool are a different proposition altogether. One of the two great sides in English football, one of the five biggest clubs in the world and one whose supporters DEMAND success.

The fans probably need to lower their expectations in truth - Liverpool are after all nothing like the force they were - but they have every right to expect more than what Hodgson's men served up at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

And the Londoner's post-match comments hardly screamed out 'class' or 'dignity'. "It was a triumph for Stoke's way of playing," he said.

A backhanded compliment if ever there was one, but he is right of course. It was a triumph for playing with two wingers, it was a triumph for playing with two strikers and it was a triumph for 11 players that fought to the death for their manager and their shirt.

It was a defeat for a side that set up to defend, a side that were disjointed, dispirited, despondent, a side that were clearly not fired up for the task.

The players themselves deserve criticism for that - they proved what they are capable of against Chelsea - but every ship needs a captain and perhaps Hodgson is just not that man.

It has been claimed he does not have the universal backing of the dressing room and that appeared clear as day at the Britannia - Steven Gerrard apart, there was no player that looked willing to fight for the shirt and the manager.

Hodgson hardly has an embarrassment of riches to choose from in fairness, but he is famed for getting the most out of players and that knack seems to have deserted him at Liverpool.

Take Fernando Torres for example - excellent against Chelsea at Anfield, but completely isolated at Stoke. Did Hodgson honestly believe the Spaniard could turn countless long balls into goalscoring chances? Against Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth?!

Torres never had a kick, but it was hardly his fault and he must have been upset with the way his side was instructed to set up - the poor bloke never stood a chance.

Most bizarre of all is that Hodgson does not appear to see any great problem. He declared himself happy with the performance in the derby defeat at Goodison last month and was similarly unperturbed by the showing at Stoke, claiming "I thought we did very well for 55 minutes."

I'm sorry Roy, but you need to clear your desk right away if you think that was good enough for Liverpool. His side was on the back foot from the first whistle and was remarkably fortunate to go in level at half-time but it appears Hodgson would have been pleased with 0-0. Is 'hanging on' at Stoke acceptable for Liverpool these days?

They went to Stoke to defend, to frustrate and to avoid defeat. They were so comprehensively outplayed that a 2-0 loss flattered them. It could easily have been far worse, yet Hodgson accepts it.

"Stoke are a very difficult team to beat here," he argued. True, but would Sir Alex Ferguson accept a Manchester United defeat there? Of course not, and as manager of the other great club in England, neither should you Roy.

Stoke deserve an enormous amount of credit for their performance - they pressed high up the pitch, got the ball wide, gave the front two plenty of service and were full value for their win.

Yes, they scored from a Rory Delap throw, but they also added a fine second and played the better stuff throughout at the Britannia. They were the only side set up positively trying to win the game and there were a good number of their players - not least former Red Jermaine Pennant - that looked a class above their contemporaries.

This was the great, great Liverpool and they were utterly, utterly dreadful. They didn't play "very well" for five minutes Roy, never mind 55 and you need a serious reality check if you think they did.

Hodgson said the chants for Kenny Dalglish do 'not help anybody' but who can blame the fans? They will not accept performances like Saturday's and neither should the manager.

But he does, and for that reason he must be on the thinnest of thin ice.

Liverpool Set Sights On £6m Rated Midfield Starlet

Roy Hodgson is clearly looking to the future, as our new owners NESV who have apparently made it clear that they have a policy to invest in youth which shows a commitment to the future which is of course very laudable but perhaps the club should also be looking to the here and now, especially given the poor start to the season.

Whilst Liverpool have shown a marked improvement of late clearly the Merseyside club is still some way short of the kind of squad that can clinch a top four spot and therefore Hodgson will surely look to bring in some established players to sign in January.

That said, Adam Barton is by all accounts a player with great potential. The 19 year old is a talented central midfielder who would cost Liverpool around £6m though one could argue Hodgson would do better to invest the money in players who are Premier League ready.

Fernando Torres Ankle Injury Doesn't Keep Him Out Of Spain Squad

Liverpool have confirmed striker Fernando Torres will still report for international duty with Spain this week despite suffering an ankle ligament strain against Stoke.

The Reds striker required treatment during the second half of the 2-0 Premier League defeat at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday but still completed the 90 minutes.

Torres will now be assessed by Spain staff ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Portugal in Lisbon.

An injury to Torres, who had hit form with four goals in four games prior to the weekend, is the last thing Liverpool need.

The defeat at Stoke also saw Brazil midfielder Lucas sent off late on after he picked up a second booking.

But manager Roy Hodgson insists his side is not back to square one after their six-match unbeaten run came to an end.

Ricardo Fuller and Kenwyne Jones did the damage with second-half goals for Stoke but Hodgson said: ‘I don’t see why it should give us enormous reason to doubt what we are doing or doubt what we are capable of doing.

‘I find it hard to have to explain that every time you win a game things are flying forward and when you get a bad result they are flying backwards.

‘I’m a 38-to-55-game-a-season man and I make my judgment over that period.

‘I don’t think I need to fear one setback in six is going to throw us back into a bad situation.’

Christian Poulsen To Leave Liverpool For Sevilla In January

Christian Poulsen could be set to end his Anfield nightmare by leaving Liverpool for former club Sevilla, according to reports. Spain comments that the Dane is unsettled at Merseyside and craves a move away from the Reds, with los Nervionenses emerging as front-runners to secure his signature.

Poulsen only joined the English Premier League side from Juventus during the summer, but has been unable to secure a first-team place under Roy Hodgson, who wants to make funds available to restructure his team in the winter market.

Sevilla coach Gregorio Manzano has demanded new signings be brought in, with central midfielder Tiberio Guarente ruled out until next season with a knee injury while winger Jesus Navas will be missing until the new year as a result of an ankle problem. reported earlier this week that the Primera Division side will look to add at least one new signing in January, with more new names arriving during the summer.

Hodgson Apologises For Comments On Johnson

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has apologized after his comments about Glen Johnson's form were interpreted as a criticism of the England defender.

Johnson has struggled to find any rhythm during an injury-hit start to the season and has missed the Reds' last three matches with a groin problem.

After Liverpool's midweek draw with Wigan, Hodgson said Johnson had not yet reached the level which made him a regular in Fabio Capello's side over the last year.

Reports then emerged claiming Johnson is unhappy at Anfield and that his relationship with the manager has deteriorated.

Hodgson responded after Saturday's defeat at Stoke by insisting he didn't mean to cause Johnson any offence.

"We all want Glen Johnson to find his England form, but that has nothing to do with him being injured at the moment," he said. "That was just a general comment that I think I was entitled to make.

"We have a player with ability and we are hoping he is going to bring that ability to the team because we want to use it help us win matches.

"It is no good being a player with great ability if you are not bringing that on to the field of play.

"We know Glen can and will do that but first and foremost Glen has to get fit and I'm hoping that will be the case by next Sunday (at home to West Ham) because he has made good progress.

"He as well as I knows this season he hasn't reached that form very often - it amazes me that when you make a statement of such obvious voracity people want to make headlines out of it.

"Everyone is saying what I am saying. I hope I am honest and I hope the players are honest.

"I didn't realize I had been accused of criticizing him; I don't normally criticize my players and I'm sorry if that has been suggested."

Kelly: I'll Play Anywhere

Martin Kelly has admitted he is still not sure what his best position will be in the future.

Liverpool's No.34 has earned rave reviews for his performances at right-back in the first XI but he is also equally adaptable at centre-half having began his career in that role at the Academy.

He has also played left-back in the Europa League this season.

"I'm still not sure what my best position is," he told

"I have played at centre-back for England U21s but at the moment I'm playing right-back for Liverpool which I'm enjoying and I am working as hard I can to adapt.

"It doesn't matter where I play for Liverpool and I just look forward to each game and give my best."

It has been a season of major progress so far for the Warrington-born defender. He has been a regular member of Roy Hodgson's squad and also made his England U21 debut.

He was part of Stuart Pearce's squad that qualified for the U21 European Championship finals which take place in Denmark in June 2011, and he is hoping to get the call come the end of the season.

"It's going to be a great summer and we've got a good squad and I am just hoping I will be involved," said Kelly.

"We have got a friendly against Germany this week so hopefully I will get the chance to show the manager what I can do."

Looking ahead to the summer's main event, Kelly added: "Playing in the U21 European Championships would be a fantastic experience for me.

"Being in the set-up with Stuart Pearce is also good for my development and I can learn a lot from him.

"I always enjoy it when I go away with the England U21 squad and I can't wait for Denmark."

Starlet's Anfield Dream

Liverpool record breaker Jack Robinson has revealed how he dreams of starring as a first-team regular at Anfield.

The tough-tackling full-back became the Reds' youngest ever player when he appeared as a substitute on the final day of the 2009-10 Barclays Premier League season at Hull City, aged just 16 years and 250 days.

Robinson is now an established member of John McMahon's reserve squad - but he's hoping to progress sufficiently over the coming seasons to achieve a lifelong ambition of running out in front of the Kop on a regular basis for the senior side.

The 17-year-old told "Having had that little taste of the first team, it's definitely where I want to be. That is my goal - to try and get back there in the next three or four years.

"Hopefully it's a realistic aim. I'm in the reserves now and if I can keep progressing and have a full year with the reserves, then maybe I can be involved in pre-season with the first team next summer.

"Then, if I do well, hopefully I might get a few chances next season."

Robinson was included in Liverpool's first-team pre-season preparations in Switzerland by Roy Hodgson during the summer.

He also figured as a substitute in the friendlies with Grasshoppers and Kaiserslautern.

Robinson added: "A lot of first-team players were there and they helped me a lot, telling me what to do. Even if I did something wrong, they'd pat me on the back, tell me to forget about it and to carry on.

"Roy was very helpful. He was always talking to me and letting me know whether he thought I was performing well or not so good.

"It was a great experience for me."

Liverpool Confirms Five New Directors

Following the termination of the Hicks and Gillett from the Anfield board – the reds have confirmed to the UK authorities the five new directors sitting on the Anfield board. All of whom are members of the NESV consortium.

We reported four of these as confirmed 10 days ago but the paperwork has now been completed and a further director has been appointed.

A company called UKSV (United Kingdom Sports Ventures) has been created to own Liverpool FC. This is a subsidiary of the American group.

John W Henry

Everyone is aware of the front man of the bid from NESV. The 61 year old first took a step in sports club ownership 21 years ago but it was the creation of NESV in 2002 and the purchase of the Boston Red Sox baseball team that has been the most well documented involvement in sports.

Tom Werner (Chairman)

The 60 year old made most of his personal wealth through his job as TV producer. He was a co-founder of NESV along with John Henry, and is currently the Chairman of NESV, Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC.

Jeffrey Vinik

The 51 year old current owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, a Florida based Ice Hockey team. After owning his own hedge fund he bought the Ice Hockey team in February this year. He described the purchase of the Lightning as ‘a dream come true’.

David Ginsberg

He is one of two vice-chairmen at NESV. His relationship stretches back a long time as he used to work for John Henry as a fund manager.

Michael Gordon

Described as an investor in the group. He is a former business partner of Jeffrey Vinik from their days running an asset management fund.