Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hodgson Is Told Results Must Improve As Owners Target Title Within Five Years

During a 90-minute fans’ phone-in on the club’s official television channel on Monday night, Werner, appointed Liverpool’s chairman this month, insisted the Anfield board “believe in what Roy is doing” but “certainly feel like the performance has to improve”.

More telling, though, was the description of Liverpool’s current standing offered by Henry, the principal backer of the Fenway Sports Group consortium which owns the club.

The defeat at Newcastle, which prompted Hodgson to call an impassioned team meeting on Monday, left his side ninth in the Premier League, nine points adrift of a Champions League place.

“Where we are at this point is not acceptable,” Henry said. “When [FSG talk about] rebuilding the club, we mean building for the top of the table. That is something that is going to be really difficult to do this year and a real challenge for next year.”
Both Henry and Werner were keen to illustrate FSG’s long-term commitment to the club they purchased for £300 million in October, insisting that they saw returning Liverpool to a position to challenge for trophies as a “three to five-year” project. That does not mean, though, that there is either time to waste or room for error.

“We are certainly looking at it as a three to five-year project,” said Henry, who added that Kenny Dalglish would be offered a more substantive role at the club than he currently enjoys as an academy ambassador. “It would not have made sense for us to get involved if we did not think we could win the Premier League in three to five years.

“There has not been a Premier League title here since it was created [in 1992], so that is our largest goal. I do not know if it should be a larger goal than winning in Europe but those are our two main goals. We have to be in a position within three years to do that.

“Over the last two years there have been some short-term decisions that have really hurt. It is up to us to help turn the tide and move on. We have to be patient and have a long-term vision.”

That FSG are determined to shape Liverpool to that vision will not preclude spending in the January transfer window, with Werner admitting they are prepared to take “risks” if they are in the best interests of the club.

Both he and Henry, though, insist they will not repeat the mistakes of the past. If Werner’s assessment that some previous transfer “decisions were focused on nice PR work” was not sufficiently damning, then his partner’s assertion that some Liverpool players could be described as “overpaid” certainly was.

“This is our first transfer window,” said Henry. “There is no doubt that this season and the last half of last season were unacceptable for Liverpool. We are in sync with fans for what it is going to take going forward.”

Comolli Instructs Hodgson To Get Rid Of Five And Swoop For One

Damien Comolli has it appears delivered his latest instruction to Roy Hodgson as the power struggle at Anfield continues and the management plot thickens. Comolli’s latest piece of ‘Football Strategy’ has seen him approach French hotshot Sylvain Marveaux, a playmaker by trade who will be out of contract at the end of the season and is currently playing for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Marveaux, only 24 and can play in a variety of attacking and wide positions, can be persuaded as of January but will become available on a Bosman next summer. Should Roy act and pay the money now or wait until mid-2011 and risk a transfer scrap with Europe’s elite?

With Marveaux seemingly coming to Liverpool, reports suggest that as many as five players will be shipped out in a bid to cut costs and rebuild a floundering squad. Ryan Babel, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio and perhaps most significantly Joe Cole will be sold to free up funds for Comolli’s foreign invasion.

Is this the right move? Can Liverpool afford to offload so many players with Premiership experience? Is Marveaux what the fans really want?

And most importantly, is the Hodgson-Comolli structure what fans really want? Or is Dalglish the ideal Christmas present?

Kuyt Hoping For Europa Reunion

Dirk Kuyt is hoping to feature against former club FC Utrecht in Wednesday's Europa League clash.

With qualification to the last 32 of the competition already secured, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is expected to utilize fringe players at Anfield.

The 30-year-old spent five years with Utrecht in his early career before moving to Feyenoord and then on to the Premier League.

Kuyt now faces a wait to see whether he will be included in the midweek squad ahead of a crucial weekend league clash with Fulham.

"I am a player who always wants to be involved in every game and if the manager needs me I will be there for him on Wednesday," Kuyt told the club's official site.

"I have missed a few games through injury this season and I hope I can feature against my former club.

"We play a lot of games in a season and obviously you can't play in every game but it would be nice to play against Utrecht at Anfield.

"We have done really well in the Europa League and it would be nice to finish the group stages with a good performance at home.

"I had some good times at Utrecht and a lot of people are still there at the club who I am good friends with."

Roy Draws Up Shopping List

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has targeted as many as four new signings in the January transfer window, skysports.com understands.

Hodgson is keen to reinforce his squad in the New Year after a disappointing start to the new season.

The Reds chief is now thought to have drawn up his shopping list as to what the club need in the transfer window if they are to challenge for a top four spot.

Liverpool are believed to be keen on bringing in a new right-back, central defender, forward and winger if the right players become available in January.

The Anfield outfit is tracking a number of right-backs across the world as doubts continue to surround the future of Glen Johnson with the England international understood to be interested in a move abroad.

Hodgson is also looking to bring in a new central defender to provide cover for the injured pair of Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger.

The former Fulham manager has also earmarked a new winger to help add to Liverpool's attacking options with Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia mentioned as a possible target.

A new targetman has been sought since last summer as the club are short of options up front and Hodgson wants to bring in a new striker to partner Fernando Torres and help ease the goalscoring burdern on the Spaniard.

Liverpool Target Shock €16m Swoop On Barca Strike Wonderkid

Liverpool are being linked with a shock swoop for Barcelona wonderkid Bojan Krkic.

The 20-year-old striker, who can also play in the wing positions, has failed to earn a regular starting spot at the Nou Camp, leading to speculation that he could leave the club in the summer.

His agent, Zoran Vekic, revealed that the player will not be making a Catalan exit in January, but admitted Bojan would consider his options at the end of the season. Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is thought to be one of the interested parties in the player.

"Next summer we will analyse it and we'll see, but at the moment he is happy at Barcelona. He's not having many minutes but every time he has a chance he's playing quite well," Vekic told Sport.co.uk.

The agent also dismissed the possibility of a January loan move, something Liverpool have been linked with in relation to the player in the past.

Spurs, Juventus, Inter Milan and Arsenal are also thought to be keen on the player's services, news that could lead to a major battle for Bojan's signature in the new year.

Liverpool's new owners, NESV, have promised a transfer war chest to Hodgson in the region of £35 million, and the Reds boss is reportedly searching for an attacking foil for Fernando Torres as his number one priority.

The Anfield board reportedly wants attacking young talent added to the Liverpool squad, and Bojan would certainly fit the bill were he to be available.

A fee in the region of €16 million is thought to be enough to persuade Pep Guardiola to sell the starlet, but Liverpool will have to move fast when the opportunity arises if they are to beat off the string competition for the player.

Liverpool Target Shock Serie A Swap Deal For New Torres Partner

Liverpool will let Glen Johnson join Juventus, but only if the Italians include striker Amauri in any potential deal.

According to the Daily Mail, the Merseysiders have reluctantly accepted Johnson wants out of Anfield and Juventus are ready to pounce for the England defender.

However, Liverpool will reportedly attempt to get as much out of the deal as possible by demanding Juve offer Italy forward Amauri plus cash if they are to sign Johnson.

The 30-year-old has allegedly been identified by Roy Hodgson as a potential partner for Fernando Torres and his name was reportedly raised during a meeting between Juve technical director Fabio Paratici and Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli.

Liverpool are understood keen to add more potent attacking options to their squad in January and have been linked with numerous names in their pursuit of more goals.

Ajax captain Luis Suarez and Bolton star Johan Elmander are both reportedly in the Liverpool radar, while Belgian youngster Eden Hazard and Japan sensation Keisuike Honda have also been mentioned regarding moves to Anfield.

Hodgson is expected to have money to spend in the New Year as Liverpool owners NESV prepare to make their mark on the transfer market.

With the departure of Johnson looking increasingly likely, the Liverpool boss is also expected to be in the market for defensive reinforcements when the transfer window opens.

Henry Wants Dalglish To Have More Significant Role At Liverpool

Liverpool owner John Henry says he wants ambassador Kenny Dalglish to have a more pronounced role within the club.

The former Reds superstar was close to being installed for a second stint as manager of the Anfield club before Roy Hodgson took the reins in the summer so instead was given an ambassadorial role.

But with the club failing to reach the heights they should be, Henry wants Dalglish to be more significant around the place.

“We actually met a couple of times to talk about things,” Henry said.

“He needs to have a more substantive role within the club and that’s something we are working on with (director of football strategy) Damien Comolli.”

Mark Lawrenson: Time For Liverpool FC Players To Sort Out Their Ownership Issue

The takeover at Liverpool came as a relief to everyone – finally some clear leadership and direction to bring an end to the turmoil.

Now how about a similar thing happening on the field?

John W Henry took ownership, now it’s time some of the Liverpool players did as well.

What struck me about the game at Newcastle was that the team appeared rudderless.

When Fernando Torres missed that great chance to make it 2-1, they should have built on that moment and sensed the game was there for the taking.

But nobody was prepared to step up and really grab it by the scruff of the break.

Newcastle got a fortunate break and closed the game out quite easily.

Helped by some awful, basic defensive errors it has to be said.

All of which leads to the obvious conclusion that Liverpool are missing Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard badly.

But Gerrard’s absence didn’t affect the side too badly at Tottenham and certainly not in the home game with Aston Villa.

In fact, at St James’ Park Liverpool played quite well for the most part and made a decent start.

And in the central midfield area, Raul Meireles and Lucas have actually been thriving without Gerrard and taking some responsibility.

But it’s when you’re up against it, especially away from home, that you need more players to take responsibility as leaders.

Even with Gerrard and Carragher back in the team, those players can’t just be looking for them to provide the inspiration.

Everyone has to start putting their necks on the line.

As it is, the past week has summed up Liverpool’s season for me.

At home everything is absolutely fine. They have shaken off those early jitters that saw them lose to Blackpool at Anfield, and that remains their only home defeat of the campaign.

Victories over Chelsea, West Ham and Aston Villa have shown that they can find their groove and smash teams into submission in front of the Kop.

But what Roy Hodgson has to somehow instil is the ability to be mentally strong enough to respond to adversity and bounce back when you’re under the cosh.

If they had that they would have won at Spurs and at Newcastle, never mind drawn.

It could come from him it could come from within the players.

But either way, if it doesn’t happen soon then I won’t be changing my early season opinion that Liverpool are a top 10 side – but not a top six one.