Friday, November 19, 2010

Roy Needs Results To Turn Reds Around

Roy Hodgson has struggled to meet the increased level of expectation that comes with managing a club the size of Liverpool, and even though he has plenty of valid excuses, the only thing that will lead Liverpool and Roy through their current troubles is results. Actions will have to speak louder than words over the next few months.

There is no doubt that Roy Hodgson has had a very difficult job to do at Liverpool. After all, the club was in chaos when he went there because of the ownership problem. But the fans have been on his back when chanting Kenny Dalglish's name - most recently in the defeat to Stoke City last weekend - and that is very difficult to hear for a manager. Roy will have to deal with that and accept it.

The situation at Anfield is undoubtedly complex. Kenny said he wanted to replace Rafa Benitez over the summer and for whatever reason he was passed over for the job by the board. A legend amongst the fans, he now remains at the club and his shadow looms large. Roy is an experienced manager but at big clubs you are exposed to a wider range of pressures than you would be at a club like Fulham. He may have been disappointed to hear the chants but fans are entitled to do what they want - they have paid their money. Supporters will have their say and you cannot put words in their mouth.

What you must do is win the fans over and that is the job of everyone at Liverpool FC. It starts with the owners and it runs through to Roy. The only way he can improve his standing in the long term is to secure positive results. That is how he became a favourite of Fulham fans, but what constitutes a good result at Fulham is not always the same as at Anfield. Fulham's level of expectation is lower, and managing Liverpool is another ball game entirely.

The lack of ambition shown by Liverpool on the pitch this season has also been a little bit surprising. You can't just blame Roy Hodgson - they have had this problem for a few years - but the same problems are persisting. Under Benitez they played two defensive midfielders in Javier Mascherano and Lucas, and Hodgson has replaced Mascherano with Christian Poulsen. These players are capable of winning the ball but they are not particularly gifted in terms of creativity. While Gerrard can obviously provide chances for Torres, the other important outlet is Glen Johnson and it looks as though he has had a falling out with Roy Hodgson. Liverpool's best players are up front, Gerrard and Fernando Torres, and they are the match-winners so you shouldn't have any fear in supporting them with positive players if possible.

Liverpool have a whole catalogue of players who are not any better than the ones they have replaced - they are similar players, just with different names. The Liverpool squad is full of average Premier League performers, and below average in some cases. As such, I don't foresee a terrific season ahead for my former club. Not even the most fanatical Liverpool fan is looking at finishing in the top four this season - it isn't going to happen. By Liverpool's standards they are in turmoil, and they are a long way from where they want to be, but they will still finish fairly high up the league and the fans will keep behind them, even if they will be disgruntled at times, because that's what Liverpool fans do.

Roy will need his best players fit over the season but we learned on Thursday that Gerrard will be sidelined for up to a month having sustained an injury when representing England against France. The news infuriated Liverpool's medical team, and what you mustn't do as an international manager is damage players for their clubs because they will make it difficult for you in future. The demands of club and international football do not fit hand-in-hand - when I was manager of Newcastle I would have 15 players travelling all over the world and you would be concerned about the condition they would return in - but when they are picked for England, they are England players.

The manager has to handle them how he thinks fit and as England manager you cannot satisfy everyone. If Sir Alex Ferguson rings you up and asks you not to play his player for more than 60 minutes then the next thing you know is that Liverpool hear that and make similar demands. It is farcical. If they are deemed to be fit then clubs shouldn't have any say in it, but it is a very complex and difficult situation.

Gerrard Scan Result

Steven Gerrard is facing a three to four-week spell on the sidelines after sustaining a 'significant' hamstring injury on England duty, a scan has today confirmed.

The skipper underwent tests this afternoon which confirmed the early assessment of our medical team at Melwood that the injury is a grade two tear.

Gerrard left the field after 85 minutes of England's 2-1 defeat to France on Wednesday night.

Speaking before the scan, Dr. Peter Brukner told us: "Steven injured his hamstring on Wednesday night. He's just been in for an early assessment here and it certainly looks like a significant hamstring injury.

"He's going to be out for a little while, I'm afraid. I'd imagine it could be three to four weeks."

Fans were disappointed to see Gerrard play almost 90 minutes of the friendly encounter but Dr. Brukner remains philosophical.

"If you put your hand up to play for your country, you've got to accept how long they want you to play for," he said.

"There were obviously circumstances on Wednesday night which came together to result in Steven playing for a bit longer than we'd hoped, which is disappointing but there's nothing we can do about that now.

"We'll move on and work as hard as we can to get him back playing for Liverpool as soon as possible."

Jamie Carragher Demands Liverpool Cope Without Steven Gerrard

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has urged the team to rise to the challenge of losing captain Steven Gerrard for up to a month.

Scans yesterday revealed the Reds skipper had sustained a grade two hamstring tear in England's friendly defeat to France on Wednesday, having played 25 minutes longer than agreed.

One startling statistic this season is that all the team's goals have either come from, or been created by Gerrard or Fernando Torres.

With the captain now out for a month it could easily be argued Liverpool have lost at least 50% of their cutting edge.

But Carragher, who will lead the side in the 30-year-old's absence, insists they have to adapt and cope - starting against Barclays Premier League bottom side West Ham at Anfield tomorrow.

"There is no doubt Steven will be missed whether we win, lose or draw because he is such an important player here," said Carragher, who recently described Gerrard as the best player in the club's history.

"But it is up to us to perform well and lessen the impact, like when we beat Spurs (2-0) in January without him and Fernando.

"There are a few similarities because that game came a few days after a disappointing result against Stoke when we drew 1-1 but we showed we could bounce back."

Carragher added in the Liverpool Echo: "Everyone knows what great quality Steven has and it is frustrating for everyone - though nobody more than him - that he is out because he has been in such good form.

"But the most important thing now is beating West Ham. We know we didn't perform at Stoke but if we get three points tomorrow, the league table will look much better and we can push on."

There has been some good news on the injury front, although the return of defenders Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio hardly compensates for the loss of Gerrard.

Johnson has been out for three games with an adductor strain while Aurelio, who has struggled with Achilles and groin injuries, has made just one 25-minute substitute appearance since August 26.

"It's nice to have some good news," said Dr Peter Brukner, head of sports medicine and sports science.

"Fabio's worked incredibly hard. I think we all know he's had a horrendous run with injuries in the last two or three years and he got injured again a few weeks ago.

"He's worked very hard to get himself right. He's trained for the last week or so and played the majority of the reserve game on Tuesday, and I'm happy to report that he's come through that well.

"He's available for first-team selection this week and hopefully his injury problems are in the past."

Liverpool And Chelsea Ready £10 Million Bids For Serie A Midfield Ace

Liverpool and Chelsea are reportedly set to battle for Palermo midfielder Armin Bačinovič.

The Slovenian midfielder has been in fine form for Palermo since joining the Serie A side in August, and has attracted interest from both various clubs across Europe - with Liverpool and Chelsea thought to be frontrunners for his signature.

It was reported last week that Liverpool were plotting a January bid for the Slovenian - who reportedly has a buyout clause in his contract of €12 million - but, according to Sportal, Chelsea have also emerged as contenders for the highly-rated 21-year-old.

However, Roy Hodgson and Carlo Ancelotti may have to put their interest on hold after Bačinovič's agent revealed his client needs to gain more experience in Italy.

Amir Ruznic told TMW: "Armin, in a few years, will certainly be ready for Liverpool or Chelsea, but now I know nothing.

"Just yesterday I spoke to someone asking about these rumours, of which I am not aware of. Certainly within a year, he will be a player ready for a top club."

This could pave the way for a summer move to either Anfield or Stamford Bridge for the former Maribor ace, who would fit with Liverpool owners NESV's ethos of bringing exciting young talent to the club.

However, Liverpool will face stiff competition for Bačinovič with Chelsea's renowned financial clout making them slight favourites to win the race for the Slovenia international.

Jovanovic Doesn't Want To Play

Milan Jovanovic claims he does not want to be considered by Serbia until he is playing regularly at Liverpool.

The 29-year-old forward moved to Anfield as a free agent over the summer, fresh from catching the eye at the 2010 World Cup.

He has, however, struggled to make an impression in England and has quickly tumbled down the pecking order under Roy Hodgson.

Jovanovic insists he is prepared to fight for a place in the Reds side and has no plans to seek a move elsewhere just yet.

He is ruling out a return to international football any time soon, though, with it imperative that he gives his full attention to domestic duties.

Speaking after Serbia's 1-0 win over Bulgaria on Wednesday, Jovanovic told Sport: "Did I go to the airport to wish my friends good luck before the game in Sofia? No, because I didn't want to be in the spotlight for nothing. This isn't how I do things.

"I am 29 years old and I have a career which is quite good.

"But I know when I am not playing well and that is why I told my national coach (Vladimir) Petrovic that I don't want to be called up until I am playing first-team football at Liverpool.

"This is the honest thing to do and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Fabio Capello: I'll Speak To Liverpool Manager Roy Hodgson

England manager Fabio Capello insists that he will speak to Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson about having to play Steven Gerrard for longer than he initially intended during the recent loss to France.

The Reds had requested that the 30-year-old midfielder be given no more than 60 minutes out on the pitch, but the former Real Madrid boss decided to play him until his hamstring gave way.

Now the Anfield ace will be out for up to four weeks owing to the injury, but the Three Lions boss remains unapologetic in his stance.

"I will speak with him [Hodgson]," Capello told reporters. "But I know that Steven is a really important player.

"I will speak with him to explain. When you play, like this game, with a lot of young players and you do not have a lot of old players, senior players, with experience, he is important because he is the captain.

"About Steven Gerrard, he is a really good player, captain of the team. If he played, he was OK. But sometimes injuries come when you don’t expect them."

Liverpool Eye £500,000 In Compensation From FA For Steven Gerrard Injury

Liverpool will enter into discussions with the Football Association to thrash out a compensation figure for Steven Gerrard's injury lay-off.

The FA have an obligation to reimburse the wages of players who are injured representing their country for the time they are on the sidelines.

Newcastle United received a colossal figure when Michael Owen ruptured his cruciate ligament during the 2006 World Cup and Liverpool could receive as much as £500,000 for Gerrard's absence.

Gerrard could be out for as much as four weeks after suffering a grade two tear of his hamstring during the 2-1 defeat to France at Wembley on Wednesday night.

But though Liverpool look set to benefit financially, there is still widespread anger at Anfield about Fabio Capello's treatment of the 30-year-old.

Capello remains unrepentant but Reds boss Roy Hodgson is incandescent - and no apology or money from the FA will temper the Anfield mood.

Brukner Praise For Aurelio

Dr. Peter Brukner has praised the efforts of Fabio Aurelio in getting back to full fitness ahead of our Barclays Premier League game against West Ham on Saturday.

The left-back has not featured for the first team since the Europa League win in Trabzonspor on August 26 having been sidelined with Achilles and groin problems.

However, he is now back in full training and came through Tuesday's reserve clash with Blackpool unscathed.

"It's nice to have some good news," Dr. Brukner told "Fabio's worked incredibly hard. I think we all know he's had a horrendous run with injuries in the last two or three years and he got injured again a few weeks ago.

"He's worked very hard to get himself right. He's trained for the last week or so and played the majority of the reserve game on Tuesday, and I'm happy to report that he's come through that well.

"He's available for first-team selection this week and hopefully his injury problems are in the past."