Friday, December 24, 2010

Roy Hodgson Dismisses Talk Of Wanting Revenge Against Blackpool

Roy Hodgson insists Liverpool’s Boxing Day clash with Blackpool is not about revenge following his side's 2-1 loss at Anfield back in October.

The Reds suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ian Holloway’s newly-promoted side, but revenge is not on the cards for the Reds' boss. Hodgson believes after the low point of the defeat his side’s performances have seen a marked improvement.

"You [the media] can use the word revenge," said Hodgson.

"Having lost at home we would want to make certain that they suffer a similar home defeat and we get our share of points with them.

"But I don't talk about revenge. I talk about what we need to do to win the game and how we need to play.

"The word revenge does not come into my vocabulary but it will come into a lot of other people's when they are talking about the game.

"I think revenge is a word which belongs in mafia circles rather than football circles.

"It [the Blackpool defeat] was a low point. We were expected to waltz all over this newcomer but not only did we not do it we actually ended up losing the game after a very good performance from them.

"I don't know if that was anything like a watershed as far as we are concerned but I do think over the course of time we have improved our play.

"I don't think it will be as easy for Blackpool to get three points on Sunday as it was for them in that game when we gave them a two-goal head start."

Hodgson wants Liverpool to bounce back quickly following defeat in their last match at Newcastle United, and insists his side can use that defeat to spur them on.

"I don't think you should put things out of your mind very quickly," added the 63-year-old.

"My job is to analyze and make decisions and of course I watched the [Newcastle] game again as I tried to make certain my initial feelings and reactions after the game were backed up by the video evidence of the match.

"There is no doubt that defeats affect you longer than victories but I am very conscious of the need to make sure that you don't get too euphoric after victories and allow that to change your priorities.

"By the same token it is important you do not allow your mood to sink so low that it affects what needs to be done.

"What needs to be done is that training sessions after victories or defeats need to be the same quality and same focus and the only way that can be done is if you get your mind back into some sort of equilibrium."

He added: "You dwell for a day or two and then you have to put things behind you.

"If you had the type of players who dwelt for weeks on end on bad and good results you would find it difficult to complete the 55 to 60 matches in a season.

"Every now and again we will play games where we are dissatisfied and we have to put that into context with the matches where we are satisfied.

"We were pretty satisfied after playing well and beating Aston Villa but against Newcastle it was a different feeling."

Liverpool will boosted for the trip to Blackpool by the return of captain Steven Gerrard from a hamstring injury sustained back in November.

Hodgson To Target Quality Rather Than Quantity

Roy Hodgson says he will put Liverpool’s long-term health before his need for immediate results in next month’s transfer window as he admitted the club must learn from their wasteful strategy of recent years.

Next month will provide the first test of New England Sports Ventures’ largesse in the transfer market since buying Liverpool for €415 million in October. The manager is adamant top-class additions are needed for the club to regain a place in the Champions League and is under pressure to prove to NESV that he can deliver a top-four finish.

Hodgson, however, believes Liverpool’s predicament owes much to a short-term, expensive transfer strategy that existed before his arrival and is anxious to avoid repeating those mistakes, even if a lack of spending invites further criticism of his tenure. “When you get a job like this, should you be working for the long-term good of Liverpool or trying to get an extra result or two for Roy Hodgson?” he asked. “I’d like to think I am big enough and confident enough to take the long-term view, even though it might work against me.

“I might even prefer that in some ways because I would be very disappointed if I went out in January and spent a lot of money on the wrong players and then, come the summer, we are no better off. All we would be doing is adding a few more players who we don’t think are good enough for the roster. I would be disappointed if I did that. I can’t guarantee it won’t happen but it is not my intention.”

Hodgson admits NESV have not provided unlimited resources for next month and that he and Damien Comolli, the club’s director of football strategy, must convince John W Henry and Tom Werner, Liverpool’s owner and chairman respectively, their targets are sound investments.

But he says the calibre of player Liverpool need – such as Aston Villa’s Ashley Young – may not be available and he will not flood the squad with average talents.

That was a criticism often levelled at Hodgson’s predecessor, Rafael Benitez, whom NESV has no intention of inviting back to Anfield should a managerial vacancy arise.

“There’s no doubt I and Damien are pushing the owners to back us if we come up with the right people,” Hodgson said. “I think they probably will. The big question is will those players become available? Quite frankly we are targeting players that other clubs don’t want to lose.

“I realize we need better players to become a top-four team again but those players are not easy to find and it would be a mistake to buy just because we have had a bad start to this season.”

Liverpool Consider £9 Million Deal For Injured European Hot Shot

Utrecht striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel is back on Roy Hodgson’s transfer wishlist despite being injured, according to reports.

The Dutch striker has 11 goals in 18 games in the Eredivisie for a mid table side and eight more in 12 cup and European games.

Van Wolfswinkel, though, endured a torrid game at Anfield last week playing as the lone front man and being marked out of the game then sustaining a broken collarbone in an innocuous looking challenge.

The injury is likely to keep him out until after the January transfer window so Liverpool will have to either take a calculated gamble or wait until the summer.

Hodgson has made a striker his top priority next month in order to give Fernando Torres some much needed respite.

The Liverpool board is unlikely to sanction the £9 million signing if he fails his medical but Tuttomercato are claiming they will offer that amount nonetheless.

The 21-year-old has been linked with a switch to Anfield since the summer but no move materialized and Liverpool have struggled for goals so far this season.

Other strikers to have been linked with Liverpool include Mario Gomez, Carlton Cole and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Liverpool In Top Flight Fight For Out-Of-Contract 'Next Vieira'

Liverpool face stiff competition from Aston Villa and Chelsea in the race to sign French starlet Gueida Fofana.

The 19-year-old Le Havre midfielder is set to leave the Ligue 1 outfit with his contract expiring in the summer, and Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is one of the managers who has taken an interest in the player.

Reds boss Hodgson was linked with the player in the summer after his late Anfield arrival, and the appointment of Damien Comolli as the Director of Football strategy at Liverpool has done nothing to prevent the rumours of a move for the French starlet.

The Daily Mail reports that Villa are in the strongest position for the player though, with Gerard Houllier reportedly in discussions with Les Ciel et Marine as a potential bargain January deal is attempted to be struck between the two parties.

Liverpool were thought to be keen on waiting until the summer, or in a best-case-scenario signing the player on a pre-contract agreement in the opening month of 2011.

Captain of the French U19 side, Fofana is seen as the starlet of a promising Les Bleus crop, and his signature would be seen as a coup for Liverpool could they prize him away from the Villains' grasp.

Hodgson is thought to have money to spend following the arrival of NESV on Merseyside, and Liverpool could also look to buy the player in a further effort to beat off Barclays Premier League competition.

Liverpool Lining Up Move For Robert Huth

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is looking to end the club’s defensive injury crisis by signing Stoke City centre-back Robert Huth in January, according to The Mirror.

The 26-year-old has become a permanent fixture in the Potters’ back line since joining for £6 million from Middlesbrough at the start of last season.

Hodgson is now believed to be willing to test Stoke’s resolve with a £5m bid in January for the defender, but may have to pay more if he is to eventually land his man.

Liverpool have struggled for numbers defensively this season and Jamie Carragher is not expected back from his shoulder injury until February at the earliest.

Daniel Agger has missed much of the campaign with a calf problem, while Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio have also suffered with injuries this season.

Huth's team-mate and central defensive partner Ryan Shawcross has also been linked with a move to Anfield in recent times.

Liverpool Plan £8m Move For Manchester City Midfielder

Liverpool are reportedly lining up a move for Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson. The Eastlands midfielder has spent the best part of two seasons out injured or off form and it appears that Roberto Mancini sees the youngster as very surplus to requirements and Roy Hodgson is interested in bringing the former Everton youth team player back to Merseyside.

Johnson has not started a Premier League match since August 2008 but the Anfield boss believes the former England Under 21 has enough potential to forge a top tier career and hopes to persuade Man City to sell the player to Liverpool.

Roy Hodgson is under instructions to bring in additions that have suit the club’s long term plans and with the help of Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli Liverpool have begun constructing a list of preferred targets and Michael Johnson is a player that reportedly interests both parties.

A move for the 22 year old midfielder would cost around £8m and given that Mancini has been told to cut back on unnecessary costs the Eastlands club may well listen to offers for a player who appears to be very low down the Man City pecking order.

Lucas Leiva Admits He Used To Be Scared Of Anfield Boo Boys

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has admitted that he used to prefer playing away from Anfield at the start of his career in English football.

The Brazilian international was seen as something that encapsulated former manager Rafa Benitez's final season in charge, one of the bad buys the Spaniard had apparently left the club with. But he has since won over the Liverpool fans and is now a huge part of the first team, with more responsibility on his shoulders since the departure of Javier Mascherano.

However, Leiva admits it was difficult at the start when the fans at Anfield got on his back.

"I liked to play there because we had the supporters, of course, but when you do not have their full confidence, sometimes you prefer to play away," Leiva revealed to the Telegraph.

"Then you hear things but you can blame the away fans.”

The 23-year-old said the fans booed him “only once or twice”, adding: “The rest of the time the fans have been very good with me and now I can see they believe in me. I feel comfortable, and when you feel comfortable, you play better.”

In the summer he was told that if a suitable offer was received for him then Liverpool would let him go, and his name was linked to European champions Inter after Benitez took the reins in Italy.

But Leiva is glad he stayed: "When they told me, I said I will try to find a club, but that I would not go just anywhere.

“[I said] I think I can be at a good club, since Liverpool is a good club and I had been here for three years.

"But I also said I would fight for my place, I will train, that I am a professional. It was not easy, but sometimes you have to be calm.

"A few offers came, but Liverpool did not accept them. I am glad that I stayed, because I am playing well, helping the team, and I am more important now than I was a few months ago.”

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson revealed earlier this month that Leiva would be handed a new contract.

Special Fitness Plan Revealed

Liverpool's Head of Sports Science and Medicine Dr Peter Brukner has revealed the special plans he and his team have in place to keep the players fresh for a hectic schedule of five games in 15 days.

With plenty of points to play for an and FA Cup tie looming at Old Trafford Roy Hodgson will need his squad 100 per cent fit and ready for action.

Brukner and his staff have managed to get inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger available for selection again, and more intensive work behind the scenes is going on at Melwood in a bid to keep everyone sharp in this crucial period of the season.

"It's enormously challenging for us if all of the games go ahead, weather permitting," Brukner told

"We play five games in 15 days and that is a very challenging time for us all - the coaching staff, the medical staff and the physical staff.

"It's all about recovery and preparing for the next game. We are putting a lot of things in place from a nutrition point of view, from a recovery and treatment point of view, to allow the players to recover as best they can for those games every three or four days.

"The players who haven't played obviously have to train as well. We have a balance with different groups of players doing different things during this 15 day period."

While the task of keeping the players in the best physical condition for the whole of this hectic period is by no means an easy task, Brukner is confident his team have made all the right preparation for the task ahead.

"When I was with the Australia national team but in World Cups and Asian Cups we are used to playing so many games in a few days so we are used to the challenge of that.

"We've already had this season three games in seven days when we played Chelsea, Wigan and Stoke, so that gave us a taste of things to come, and to be honest it didn't finish well with the Stoke game so we'll have to a bit better this time around.

"Our players are very professional and we don't need to speak to them about overindulging over Christmas with food and alcohol but we did give them a talk about nutrition, and particular in reference to recovery and what nutritional things we can do to help the players recover for those five games in 15 days.

"There was a lot of emphasis on carbohydrates and why it is important immediately after the game. We need to make sure their carbohydrate stores which are their energy stores are fully replenished by the start of the next game.

"With a normal diet that doesn't really happen and you need longer than the three days, so we are doing specific things with their diet to enable their carbohydrate stores to be fully replenished.

"That's our job to get the players in the best possible condition on the field as they can, and after that it's up to the coaches and the players.

"We are working very hard and are trying everything that we can possibly can to get them right and we are confident we are doing everything possible."

Hodgson and his team will have a short training session on Christmas Day morning ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Blackpool.

"We will train on Christmas Day ahead of the Boxing Day game," he added.

"We will bring the players in fairly early probably for a normal session which is not a big session anyway, so we'll have a short meeting about the opposition which we always do the day before a game.

"We will travel up to Blackpool on Boxing Day morning and be ready for the game."

Brukner also gave the latest recovery updates on Jamie Carragher's dislocated shoulder and Jay Spearing, who cracked a small bone in his ankle.

He added: "Jamie is making good progress, and as you can imagine he is pushing things to the limit to get back but we are still on target for a February return.

"It still takes time for the surgery to heal and for him to get strong enough around the shoulder, but he's already working on his fitness and when he does come back he should be able to slot straight back in.

"Jamie is desperate to play and if it was up to him he would throw the sling away and get out there, but we are pushing as hard as we can to help Jamie but it does take time for these tissues to heal.

"Jay Spearing is running again and he's got another couple of weeks of building up exercises to go through and we hope he will be available again for selection in the new year.

"Everyone else is in full training."