Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Henry: Major Signings Unlikely Before Summer

Liverpool owner John W Henry has hinted that he is unlikely to splash the cash in the January transfer window, indicating instead that the squad will be rebuilt at the end of the season.

Henry challenged Liverpool's existing players and manager Roy Hodgson to make the most of what they have for now, pointing to the club's 2-0 win over Premier League leaders Chelsea as evidence of what is possible if everyone pulls in the same direction.

But he also called for patience from fans, particularly when judging Hodgson and his team, claiming it will take time to return Liverpool to the top of English football.

Speaking to fan website Red and White Kop, New England Sports Ventures figurehead Henry said: "The club has gone through a very difficult period and the period has not ended. We saw a certain team on the field against Chelsea last week that showed what they can do. We also know how competitive the EPL is this year. There are no guaranteed matches any longer for any club. This club can be better. Blaming the manager or any one particular player is simply wrong. This club needs to play up to their potential every match. If they don't, they won't win.

"That said, we have work to do and must invest in this club to improve it on the field. Can that be successfully done in January? A number of people I've talked with doubt it. Most people seem to think it will be the summer before we can really begin to improve. So the players - all 11 each week - have to be on the same page every match and have to live up to the history and respect this club has engendered - no matter what."

Henry explained that he has moved to appease concerns from players that the club can no longer match their ambitions.

He said: "I've been greatly impressed by them personally. They are all exceptionally bright and they all want to be here. The question they have had, rightfully so, is whether or not the club is going to go in the right direction. They all want to see that. I have been very forthright about our philosophy and about what we are going to try to achieve. Some would prefer a quick fix. Others prefer to focus on the long-term and that is very difficult for most players."

Henry said he is expecting Damien Comolli, the club's first director of football strategy, to help the club's long-term prospects through improved output from the club's academy.

"We need 'top four' young players," Henry said. "They will not produce a quick fix but our philosophy in football will be based on the long-term. That is what has made Arsenal and Manchester United so strong. They understand something we understand in Boston - to be consistently strong on the field you must have a consistent flow of young talent that has been nurtured and developed the right way. We will focus on that. That is also the philosophy of Damien Comolli."

Roy Hodgson Expects Joe Cole To Return In Time For Tottenham Clash

Roy Hodgson has confirmed that he expects to see midfielder Joe Cole back in action when Liverpool take on Tottenham.

The former Chelsea player joined the Reds on a free transfer during the summer, and made seven appearances in the Premier League before succumbing to a hamstring injury.

And after being sidelined for the club's last five games, the 29-year-old is in line to return to play against a team managed by his former boss Harry Redknapp.

"Joe should be back for Sunday," Hodgson told the club's official website. "We were hoping he would be back to face West Ham, but it has taken that little bit longer.

"Joe is not that far away really, so hopefully he will have recovered in time for Tottenham.

"Hamstring injuries are tricky and I'm afraid we can only rely on what the Sports Science people tell us, and if they say he needs more time we just have to wait."

Roy Hodgson Scouts Eden Hazard And Gervinho At Lille

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson travelled to France at the weekend to watch Lille defeat Monaco in order to cast an eye on Eden Hazard and Gervinho .

According to the Daily Mail, Hodgson attended the game with Liverpool's France scout Laurent Viaud. Apparently, at the end of the game, Hodgson was asked if he was watching Ivory Coast international Gernvinho and replied that he wasn't Lille's only good player. Belgian midfielder Hazard is the French side's outstanding prospect.

Gervinho is a skillful player who knows where the goal is. Using his great dribbling and speed, he can play in any forward position. Gervinho showed glimpses of his abilities at the World Cup, particularly when he came on as a substitute against Brazil.

He has scored six goals and set up two for Lille this season, following his 18 goals and two assists last term.

Both Gervinho and Hazard have been linked with Liverpool before. 19-year-old Hazard scored against Liverpool in the Europa League last season and the talented playmaker was voted as the best young player in France in 2008-9.

With the club finally under new ownership, there has been much speculation over who Roy Hodgson might add to his squad at Anfield. However, both Gervinho and Hazard are also being monitored by several of Europe's top clubs.

Spain Ace Signs Pro At Liverpool

Spanish youngster Suso has signed his first professional contract to keep him at Liverpool until 2013.

The forward - who can also play in midfield - put pen to paper after turning 17 on Friday.

The news will be welcomed by anyone who has watched the reserves this season, with Suso excelling against older and more experienced pros.

A highlight of his fledgling career to date came with a 25-yard belter against Newcastle Reserves.

Noted for his fine first touch and ability to pick out a pass, Suso featured briefly in our pre-season friendly against Borussia Monchengladbach and got his first taste of playing at Anfield in the second half of Jamie Carragher's testimonial.

Glen Johnson Tells Friends That Rafa Benitez Wants To Sign Him For Inter In January

Liverpool full back Glen Johnson has told friends he wants to join European champions Inter in January. The under-fire Nerazzurri coach Rafa Benitez is desperate to sign the England international as he aims to strengthen his squad after a disastrous start to the season.

Johnson still wants to leave Anfield following public criticism from manager Roy Hodgson, despite both men playing down the dispute.

The ex-Chelsea man knows that Benitez is preparing a January bid for him and would jump at the opportunity to make the switch and re-unite with his former Reds boss.

Tottenham are also interested in the 26-year-old but are highly unlikely to pay his transfer fee or match his current wages, which are in excess of £90,000-a-week.

The former West Ham United terzino was heavily linked with Inter during the summer but Benitez was believed to have dropped his interest after Brazilian full-back Maicon stayed at the San Siro despite interest from Real Madrid.

But Johnson, who cost Liverpool £18 million when he signed from Portsmouth in June 2009, expects Benitez to try to make another bid for him when the transfer window opens in January and will tell Liverpool he wants to make the switch.

Goal.com understands that Johnson, who has been learning Spanish, would welcome the opportunity to ply his trade in another country for personal as well as professional reasons.

“Glen thinks he's going to Inter in January and wants to leave Liverpool if he gets the chance,” a friend of Johnson's told Goal.com.

“He is more content at Liverpool than some people have suggested – but he's not happy. It's not that he has a massive problem with Hodgson, but Glen doesn't think he rates him and was understandably angry that he was criticized so publicly.

“He thinks throughout his career he has always performed best under managers who he knows have faith in him.”

Johnson has two-and-a-half years left on his Liverpool contract and believes the club would be prepared to sell him as they begin their rebuilding process under their new owners, New England Sports Ventures.

The main stumbling block to a possible transfer centres around whether Inter sanction Benitez's wish to sign Johnson. With starlet Davide Santon already a backup to Maicon, and an injury crisis in central defence and midfield, it is highly likely that these two areas will be the priority to strengthen.

Inter sporting director Marco Branca also holds more power than Benitez in the transfer market, and will have to okay the move even before president Massimo Moratti. Both Branca and Moratti are rumoured to have doubts about Benitez's past transfer deals.

There is also no guarantee that Benitez will still have a job in January, as his side are without a win in five games and are now nine points behind league leaders Milan after two successive defeats. The Spaniard has been tipped to get the sack if Inter fail to beat Twente in the Champions League in midweek.

Johnson capped an impressive individual performance with a goal in Saturday's 3-0 win over West Ham on his return from injury.

He admitted that he has himself been disappointed with his form this season, playing down the criticism from Hodgson earlier this month in which the former Fulham boss said his right-back did not deserve to be in the England squad to face France.

Liverpool is expected to be active in the January transfer market and would welcome cash to re-invest in the squad if they feel it will benefit the team.

Hodgson has recently watched Rennes right-back Rod Fanni in a clear sign that the Reds are preparing for Johnson's potential exit.

Academy product Martin Kelly, 20, is also very highly rated in the Liverpool set-up and is expected to become an England international in the future.

Christian Poulsen Believes Liverpool Recovery Will Take Another Four Months

Christian Poulsen has warned Liverpool may not reach their best form for another four months.

Despite being 14 games and three months into the campaign, the Danish international has said supporters may have to wait until February or March to see the true Liverpool.

The Reds returned to winning ways on Saturday with a comprehensive 3-0 win over West Ham, after a dire performance against Stoke the week before.

Poulsen is happy with the side’s progress, but warns they may only be playing attractive football early next year.

"I hope and I think that we will be better from game to game," Poulsen told reporters.

"If we work hard and keep listening to the things that the boss wants to do, I'm sure that we will be a much better team when we come to the games in February and March."

The 30-year-old has had a difficult start to his Liverpool career and endured the ire of the fans in recent weeks for below-par performances.

The Dane had his best showing in a red shirt against the Hammers however, and he hopes to maintain this for the coming games.

"It was good for me to play again. It has been a hard start so it was nice to be in the starting XI in an important victory," he said.

"We have struggled and I have struggled to get into the team so it was nice to play. I got my chance and I was happy but three points was most important."

In the absence of captain Steven Gerrard and Lucas who was suspended, Poulsen played alongside Raul Meireles - who admits he is happier playing centrally - for the first time.

In a game where Liverpool were rarely troubled, the two midfielders put in a commanding performance.

Roy Hodgson Says Blackpool And Northampton Defeats Have Done 'Untold Damage' To His Liverpool Legacy

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes the defeats against Blackpool and Northampton Town will stain the legacy of his side's performance this season.

Despite a comprehensive win against West Ham over the weekend, Liverpool lost dismally at Stoke the week before in a performance that mirrored their home defeat to Blackpool earlier in the season.

Now Hodgson thinks that, regardless of what Liverpool achieves this season, it will be remembered for the Blackpool loss and the League Cup exit against lowly Northampton.

The 63-year-old has had to cope with a barrage of criticism from the media and sections of the fans and he feels these defeats will be ammunition for his detractors, in spite of their circumstances.

"There are two games this year which have done us untold damage," Hodgson told reporters.

"The first was when a total reserve team - although it does not seem to have been noticed we had 14 first-team players who didn't play - lost to Northampton in the Carling Cup.

"The other was the disastrous defeat to Blackpool at the end of a three-match week when we played in Europe.

"Those two defeats were costly for us because they encouraged people to make bold conclusions but we've lost one defeat in eight."

The Reds boss hopes the victory against West Ham will give the side the confidence to kick on.

He said: "There are still a lot of things to do but what pleased me against West Ham was the shape, discipline and organization of the team.

"If we can keep that going with the quality of players we have got we can have a good season.

"Don't ask me what a good season is because I don't know but after the start we have had where we are now is making us feel pretty pleased."