Monday, December 13, 2010

Liverpool FC Away Form Causing Roy Hodgson Sleepless Nights

Roy Hodgson admits Liverpool’s dreadful Premier League away form is leaving him with sleepness nights.

Hodgson’s men’s travel sickness continued at the weekend when they slumped to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Newcastle United.

It was Liverpool’s sixth defeat in nine away league games this season with the Anfield outfit having taken just five points from a possible 27 on their travels – their worst tally at this stage of a campaign since 1962.

Liverpool was on course for at least a point after Kevin Nolan’s first-half strike was equalized by Dirk Kuyt shortly after half-time.

But poor defending at a set-piece allowed Joey Barton to restore Newcastle’s advantage with 10 minutes remaining before Andy Carroll slammed home a third during injury time.

And Hodgson, for whom the injured pair Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were both sorely missed, reveals that the decisive second Magpies goal will keep him awake in the early hours.

“It will be great to have Steven back next week, but even he could not have done anything about the second goal,” said the Liverpool manager. “And that is what is going to haunt me when I ride home, and when I wake up in the middle of the night.

“That has cost us any chance of getting anything.

“I came into this job to try and win every game and I can’t say it’s harder or easier than I thought - I just need to keep working hard. It’s the job I signed on to do.

“Do I wake up in the middle of the night often? You find me a football manager who’s worthy of his sword, who doesn’t wake up in middle of night after matches, and I’ll give you a good headline.”

Hodgson admits Barton’s goal dealt a massive psychological blow to his players and warns there is no magic formula to repair their fragile mental strength away from Anfield.

“The major problem was the second goal, which was an unbelievably bad goal to give away,” said the manager. “That’s the bottom line.

“When you concede a goal like that, it’s going to have a major effect on the team’s confidence.

“We weren’t looking that troubled at 1-1, we weren’t exactly being smashed or bombarded.

Newcastle had not put us under massive pressure but when you concede like that, you can almost see in the faces of the players, ‘Whoops, here we go again’.

“How can we change that? You’ve just got to win, it’s as simple as that. There is no magic formula.

“You have to play better than we did in the second half – if we had played for 90 minutes in exactly the same way, and passed the ball in the same way, and kept our shape as we did in the first half, we would have had a good chance.”

Newcastle had endured a week of turmoil after popular manager Chris Hughton was surprisingly sacked to be replaced by Alan Pardew.

There were demonstrations outside the ground before the match against Magpies owner Mike Ashley, but the home supporters departed all smiles following Liverpool’s heaviest defeat at St James’ Park in 17 years. But Hodgson does not believe his team missed a chance to make the most of Newcastle’s predicament.

“I don’t think in those terms or go into that type of analysis,” said the manager. “Thinking about the opposition’s state of mind is not my business, I just prepare my team in the best way I can and never allow myself to think in those terms.”

David Ngog is likely to miss Wednesday’s Europa League dead rubber against FC Utrecht after receiving stitches in a cut just above his eye on Saturday which forced him to leave the field to be replaced by Ryan Babel.

“Hopefully David will be okay for the Fulham game,” added Hodgson.

“It might be difficult for me to play him on Wednesday against Utrecht but I don’t think it will keep him out of next Saturday’s game.”

Dalglish Does Not Expect Reina Or Torres To Leave Reds

Kenny Dalglish does not expect any of Liverpool's star players to leave in the foreseeable future, insisting: "I don't think there's anybody trying to get away".

Liverpool slumped to ninth in the Premier League table after their 3-1 defeat at Newcastle, which leaves them with just six wins from 17 league games. The Reds finished the weekend nine points adrift of a Champions League qualifying spot, and they have won one away game all season.

Such a poor run of form has seen the likes of Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina linked with a move away from Anfield, and both players have fanned those flames at times by warning the club that it must show signs of improvement.

Dalglish, a Liverpool ambassador, is not concerned about the future though, pointing to the fact that the Reds' key players all recently signed long-term deals. Reina penned a six-year contract in April, Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard both extended their agreements in 2009, while Torres is tied in until 2013.

"I wouldn't see that as a problem," Dalglish said when asked by Sky Sports News of his fears over a player exodus. "I don't think there's anybody trying to get away.

"They've all committed themselves to the club for a long time, we were delighted when they did, and I can't see any reason why they would change their minds."

Dalglish does admit that results need to improve under Hodgson, but he called for calm, insisting the former Fulham boss is guiding the club through a tough time.

"It's a transitional period for the club, Roy came in very late on in the summer, his players were away on international duty, he took a while to assess the staff, and by the time he did that he had run out of time in the transfer market.

"Through no fault of Roy Hodgson's, it is a transitional period. The takeover rightly took precedence over everything else. The club has settled down a lot more now and has some stability. Now we need to get results on the pitch.

"Roy Hodgson will decide if he needs to improve the squad. If he sees a weakness I'm sure he'll ask the owners for finance."

Liverpool Prepare Bid For €6 Million Next Anfield Hero

Liverpool is ready to formalize their reported interest in FC Basel midfielder Valentin Stocker, according to The People.

The 21-year-old Swiss sensation has been linked with a move to Merseyside for some time and it would now seem the Reds are prepared to table a bid in order to fight of interest from other suitors.

It had been reported last month that Liverpool had commenced informal discussions regarding the youngster – something which was later confirmed by his agent Marco Balmelli.

Balmelli told TMW: "Liverpool? Yes, with the English club I have had contact. How much? Five to six million euro.

"Valentin is good technically, can play multiple roles, both on the wing and the centre."

Stocker has caught the eye of a host of European clubs since bursting onto the scene two years ago, and has since gone on to represent Switzerland - scoring three times in just six appearances thus far.

A fleet-footed attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, Stocker would certainly fit with the ethos of new Liverpool owners NESV in their quest to invest in young talent to develop a squad for the future at Anfield.

Liverpool are slowly building a young and talented squad at Anfield with exciting Spanish starlets Suso and Dani Pacheco already making waves in the Liverpool reserves - and Stocker would certainly be worthwhile acquisition.

Liverpool have also been linked with January moves for French youngster Mamadou Sakho and Israel prodigy Omri Altman as Roy Hodgson looks to continue the rebuilding job at Anfield.

Liverpool Make £12.5m Bid For Ajax Striker Luis Suarez

Liverpool have made a €15m (£12.5m) bid for Ajax striker Luis Suarez, but the Dutch side are holding out for closer to €25m (£20.9m), according to media reports.

Italian publication Tuttomercato comments that the Reds want to pair the Uruguayan with Fernando Torres at Anfield, and have made initial enquires to bring Suarez to the club in the January transfer window.

Ajax is not currently in a position where they can reject a substantial offer for their star asset, but will attempt to hold out for a bigger fee from the Premier League side.

The likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Tottenham have been linked with Suarez in the past, but Liverpool has now emerged as one of the main contenders for the player’s signature.

The 23-year-old struck 49 goals in an incredible season last year, and has managed 11 goals in 22 matches for the Amsterdam club this season.

M'Vila Admits To Interest

Rennes star Yann M'Vila has confessed his love for the Premier League with a number of top clubs reportedly tracking the midfielder.

Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa have all registered interest in the 20-year-old who has recently broken into the senior French national team.

This catapulted the Frenchman of Congolese descent into the eyes of Europe's elite clubs despite being contracted to Rennes until the summer of 2014.

Manager Frederic Antonetti is likely to command a fee in the region of £13million for his man once the January transfer window opens.

M'Vila recently said he would like to remain at the club in 2011, but that 'it doesn't matter when I leave as I feel ready for anything'.

The anchorman admitted to L'Equipe: "Which league do I watch on TV? The Premier League! It matches my game.

"It is a warrior's game, where you have to show plenty of fighting spirit.

"I like to watch Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, but also Manchester City.

"I'm a big fan of the English state of mind and tackling.

"You can't leave for a big club to be a substitute. I prefer to stay at my club to improve. I want to work more on the attacking aspect of my game - scoring and assisting."

Larsson - Blues Future Unclear

Birmingham City midfielder Sebastian Larsson admits his future at the club is still up in the air.

The 25-year-old winger has forced his way into the Sweden set-up this year with a string of impressive performances at St Andrews, including scoring a penalty in Blues' Carling Cup triumph over Aston Villa.

But the former Arsenal trainee has yet to agree a new deal in the Midlands with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

And Larsson has warned Birmingham fans that there are no guarantees that he will stay at the club next summer.

Larsson, who has been linked with Liverpool and Everton, confessed: "By no means am I not signing, but I couldn't promise anyone that I will sign either.

"I am just being honest about the situation.

"My contract is running out, we have not agreed anything. We'll keep working hard, and I'll see what happens.

"I would like more talks, but at the moment I don't know if any dates are planned."

That means that boss Alex McLeish risks losing one of his brightest stars for nothing, and he will want Birmingham's Chinese owners to up their offer to keep Larsson.

But the player insists it is not only money that will decide his future, adding: "I'd like to stay if we can find an agreement where everybody is happy. This season I am enjoying my football more than ever and the manager has been a big help to me.

"I am 25 and of course my next contract is a big one for me. It's an important part of my career. I am just being honest.

"It is not just financial, it is a lot to do with where the club wants to go, and if we can match each other.

"You just want to know the club is going forward. I've no idea how much the owners want to spend. For me you just want to be as successful as you can."

Hodgson Says Liverpool Are Losing Confidence As Speculation Mounts About His Future

Roy Hodgson is worried after yesterday's defeat at Newcastle and says that his Liverpool team is losing confidence.

Hodgson could be losing more than that soon as speculation is starting to mount that Anfield's new owners are going to make a change in time for the opening of the January transfer window.

"Confidence is obviously a factor because the longer you go without winning away from home it plays on your confidence.

"We didn't produce a good enough performance to win the game. If you want to win a game away from home against a team like Newcastle you have to play at least as well as we did in the first half for the full 90 minutes.

"We didn't do that in the second half. We gave the ball away far too often and we kept giving the ball away. We didn't get anywhere near as good enough quality balls into their half like we did in the first half, and we gave away two very bad goals."

Hodgson continued on the Newcastle game: "This is a major setback and a major blow because we have been on a good run recently and played well.

"I thought we played well in the first half - we had most of the ball, asked a lot of questions of their back four and got into some good positions. I had high hopes we would continue to play well but I was disappointed with our second-half display.

"We let Newcastle back into the game and we conceded a second goal - the like of which you don't want to see as a manager. The ball should have been cleared on at least three occasions before Barton scored."

Next up for Liverpool is Hodgson's old club Fulham at Anfield on Saturday. Hodgson will be hoping that his old club doesn’t end his reign at his new one.

Reds To Make Germany Visit

A party of Liverpool supporters will make their fifth consecutive 'friendship visit' to Moenchengladbach in Germany in 2011 and enhance a very special friendship that goes back over 30 years.

Fans of the Reds and Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach established strong links following the teams' meetings in European competition during the 1970s.

Since 1992, a group of Borussia fans have travelled to Anfield every winter to support Liverpool, and Kopites, led by organiser Graham Agg, have journeyed to Moenchengladbach annually since 2007.

The 2011 Liverpool FC Supporters Friendship visit to Moenchengladbach will take place from Friday, 18th March to Monday 21st March 2011.

This will as usual include guaranteed match tickets to watch Borussia Moenchengladbach in Bundesliga action, and we are taking in the clash with Kaiserslautern at the 54,000 capacity Borussia Park.

All match tickets for the visiting LFC supporters are guaranteed by the Borussia Moenchengladbach Fan Projekt.

Every year since 2007, the Liverpool supporters have been invited on to the Borussia Park pitch shortly before Borussia's home match to unveil a specially commissioned friendship flag that they unveil each year and the Borussia "Nord Kurve", Borussia's equivalent of the Liverpool Kop, sing a moving rendition of "You'll never walk alone".

Commentating on the special relationship between the two sets of supporters, Agg said: "The friendship and hospitality shown to us during our previous four friendship visits since 2007 has been truly awe-inspiring and it really is a friendship that is absolutely unique in world football.

"I do not believe there are two other clubs in the world that has a friendship as strong as Borussia Moenchengladbach with Liverpool Football Club.

"It is something to which both sets of supporters and clubs should be truly proud to uphold."

Also on the 2011 LFC Supporters Friendship visit itinerary this year will be, as usual, a guided tour of the impressive Borussia Park, where they have a suite called the "Liverpool suite"!

We will also visit the many pubs and bars in the Moenchengladbach Altstadt (Old Town) and a visit to the Borussia Moenchengladbach "Fanhaus", the official BMG Supporters Club who have a whole corner dedicated to Liverpool FC.

Organiser Agg wishes to remind all travelling LFC supporters that they will be once again be acting as ambassadors for Liverpool FC and the City of Liverpool.