Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Harry Redknapp Is Shock Target For Liverpool

Harry Redknapp has emerged as a shock target to become Liverpool’s new manager. Standard Sport understands that the Merseyside club are considering making a move for the 65-year-old having sacked Kenny Dalglish last week.

Redknapp is believed to have shot up their wish-list after Frank de Boer, Jurgen Klopp, Didier Deschamps and Brendan Rodgers ruled themselves out of the running.

Liverpool still have some candidates interested in the job, including former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, ex-England boss Fabio Capello, Wigan coach Roberto Martinez as well as former Reds manager Rafael Benitez.

However, their desire for Redknapp, who has just one year left on his contract at Tottenham, is a stunning new development.

It is believed Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, have been impressed with the job Redknapp has done at White Hart Lane and the style of football he plays.

Spurs only missed out on qualifying for the Champions League because Chelsea — who also has Redknapp on their list of candidates for the manager’s job at Stamford Bridge — won the competition.

But there has been speculation that the relationship between Redknapp and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has been deteriorating.

Redknapp’s link with the England job following Capello’s resignation in February sparked a major slump in the team’s form and a run of one win in nine games ensured they slipped from third, which would have seen them make Europe’s premier club competition, behind Arsenal into fourth.

Significantly, Redknapp has yet to sign a contract extension and while he insisted last week that he wanted to stay at White Hart Lane, he also confirmed that no talks with Levy had been planned.

However, should Liverpool pursue their interest in Redknapp, they will be aware that Levy will demand compensation for the 12 months remaining on his contract.

Another stumbling block would be whether the former West Ham boss would want to manage a club in the north of England.

Redknapp lives on the south coast and that was the main reason he rejected the chance to manage Newcastle in 2008.

Spurs have already begun working on securing their transfer targets, including Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, Marseille striker Loic Remy and trying to agree a permanent deal with Manchester City for Emmanuel Adebayor.

But despite seeing a number of approaches rebuffed, Liverpool’s owners still feel that getting the chance to take over at Anfield will be tough for anyone to turn down. The summer is set to be a tense one for Spurs as they struggle to keep hold of their best players now its the Europa League instead of the Champions League.

Standard Sport revealed earlier in the season that Luka Modric had been promised a £100,000-a-year contract should the club finish in the top four and secure Champions League football.

Chelsea’s unexpected triumph, though, means that the Croatia international, who had a transfer request rejected last summer in the light of three bids from the Blues, is now expected to quit White Hart Lane.

Spurs will demand over £40million for his signature and would prefer him to move abroad. Real Madrid is interested while Chelsea, Manchester United and City will not be put off.

Gareth Bale is also a target for Barcelona and Real and hinted he would consider leaving if Spurs failed to secure a place in Europe’s premier club competition next season.

There are also doubts about Jermain Defoe’s Spurs future. The England striker started just nine Premier League games this season and wants to be more involved.

He told talkSPORT today: “It’s a difficult one, I’ve never said I want to leave the club, I’ve just said I want to play.

“As a forward you just want to get some sort of rhythm and a run in the team. That wasn’t the case towards the end of the season.

“I’m just going to see what happens. I’m going to concentrate on England and Euro 2012. The most important thing for me is scoring goals.”

Defoe also stressed the importance of Spurs retaining their star players.

He said: “It’s always important to keep hold of your top players but in football you never know what will happen. But Luka and Gareth, they’re top players who you can’t replace, so we have to keep them.”

Capello To Meet Reds Owners

Fabio Capello has held talks with Liverpool and has been invited to meet with owners Fenway Sports Group.

Roberto Martinez and Andre Villas-Boas have also held meetings with Liverpool and are on the list speak to the owners, and it is expected that they will be joined by at least one other candidate.

A source told ESPN: "The long list of candidates is now narrowing down to a workable number who are likely to go to Boston, although there is of course a chance that the owners will come over here to see the candidates."

Capello, who still has a home in West London, had ideally sought the Chelsea job, but the Blues have made no contact with the former England boss and the Italian has now ruled himself out of the Chelsea equation.

However, an agent representing Liverpool did approach Capello before the Champions League final to enquire as to his interest in the position. He has since held preliminary talks, at which he expressed a desire to be considered, and will now hold a more formal discussion.

Several coaches on Liverpool's 'long list' have ruled themselves out of the running, including Frank de Boer, Jurgen Klopp and Brendan Rodgers, while Didier Deschamps has said he expects to stay at Marseille.

Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly, which led the protests against former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, has written to Fenway Sports Group to express its concern over the way the club is being run.

"It may be that yourselves and the board of Liverpool Football Club have a vision you are working towards," SOS's letter read. "It may be that you have implemented a strategy to deliver that vision and decisions are being made to work towards this.

"However, from the outside, where supporters find themselves once again, it looks like a football club in disarray. Confusion and chaos seems to reign and no one is coming out of this with much credit, particularly the football club's image and brand.

"We need clear and pro-active communication, a confident message about the club's plans that breeds confidence amongst supporters that we are moving in the right direction. Instead, we have silence and a lack of information or understanding on decisions being made.

"As supporters we have seen all too clearly what a lack of communication from absentee owners leads to. Ultimately supporters remain in the dark once again about the plans for this football club moving forward.

"We find ourselves experiencing deja vu, where boardroom decisions lead to more questions than they answer. We ask that you speak with supporters - engage with a true representative cross section of supporters and work with supporters to provide solutions to our current problems."

Louis van Gaal In Line For Managerial Position At Liverpool

Louis van Gaal is in line for a senior managerial role at Liverpool. The Dutchman was linked with a move to Anfield in the wake of Damien Comolli's dismissal as director of football in April. However, while it has since been decided to change the management structure at Liverpool, Van Gaal has remained under consideration for a revised role and is the leading contender to become the club's first sporting director.

He is understood to be keen on a move to Merseyside and his appointment could herald the arrival of several new faces at Anfield, including the successor to Kenny Dalglish. The club are also set to name Billy Hogan, currently the managing director of Fenway Sports Group, as their new commercial director. FSG are conducting an extensive search for a manager since sacking Dalglish last week and their ideal criteria of a young coach with title-winning experience would fit alongside a sporting director of Van Gaal's experience and expertise. That plan led to approaches for Jürgen Klopp of Borussia Dortmund and Ajax's Frank de Boer, both of whom declined the opportunity to meet John W Henry and Tom Werner, Liverpool's principal owner and chairman respectively, and to interest in the former Porto and Chelsea manager, André Villas‑Boas.

Villas-Boas and Roberto Martínez of Wigan Athletic are among several candidates for the manager's post and whoever is chosen will, it seems, have to accept working with Van Gaal, who has won league titles with Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich, plus the Champions League with Ajax in 1995.

The 60-year-old was due to return to Ajax in a director's capacity this year until a legal challenge from long-time adversary Johann Cruyff derailed the move. His last managerial role was at Bayern, who he led to the Bundesliga title and the Champions League final in 2010 before being sacked in April 2011.

Van Gaal's work with Ajax and Barcelona undoubtedly appeals to Liverpool's owners as they conduct an overhaul at Anfield and look to imprint a playing philosophy throughout every level of the club. That strengthens his claims for the proposed sporting director role, although Van Gaal has not yet called time on his managerial career and was linked with PSV Eindhoven before their recent appointment of Dick Advocaat.

FSG's method of replacing Dalglish has attracted criticism due to the number of rejections it has prompted. Brendan Rodgers was the first to decline the offer of an interview but it is understood the Swansea City manager would not reject an offer of the job if it was forthcoming.

England Call For Kelly

England coach Roy Hodgson has added Liverpool defender Martin Kelly to his squad for Saturday's friendly away to Norway.

Hodgson, who was recently appointed as the long-term successor to Fabio Capello, named his 23-man squad for Euro 2012 last week.

However, three of the seven out-and-out defenders selected in that squad have been given extra time off following Chelsea's UEFA Champions League win over Bayern Munich at the weekend.

Former captain John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill will not join up with the England squad until next Tuesday, leaving Hodgson short of options for the game in Oslo.

To provide cover in his ranks, Hodgson has decided to turn to his old club Liverpool by drafting in Kelly for the match with the Norwegians.

Kelly has made 12 appearances in the Premier League this season and has featured 47 times for Liverpool in all competitions since making his debut against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League in 2008.

The 22-year-old has won six caps for the Under 21s, scoring three times and was also a member of England's squad at the Under 20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009.

The Football Association has confirmed Kelly will return to Liverpool after the Norway fixture, with England then facing Belgium at Wembley on 2nd June.

Cole Still Holds Liverpool Hope

Joe Cole insists he has unfinished business at Liverpool despite being linked with a return to boyhood club West Ham this summer.

Cole has made a big impact in Ligue 1 this term on a season-long loan at Lille from Anfield and the French club are thought to be open to taking him back for another 12 months.

The 30-year-old has also been tipped for an emotional homecoming at Upton Park, where he came through the youth ranks before spending five years as a senior player.

However, the midfielder has not given up hope of rectifying his career on Merseyside, with the club currently searching for a new manager following Kenny Dalglish's sacking.

"When I signed for Liverpool, it startled me a bit,' Cole, who joined Anfield from Chelsea two years ago under former boss Roy Hodgson, told the Daily Mail.

"I don't know if I felt the pressure but the city is so in love with football. It's a religion. If I go back, I will be more prepared for it this time.

"I can see why people say (joining Liverpool) is a culture shock. It is a small place but it has this great buzz. How can there not be in a city that has produced five Prime Ministers and The Beatles? The people are so sharp, quite a bit like Londoners really.

"There is still a part of me that would really love to make it work there and I don't want to have a bad spell at Anfield on my CV. But it is out of my hands now.

"At the minute I can't rule anything in or out. We have got to speak to Liverpool and see what happens there."

Cole admits Ligue 1 has a slower tempo than the Premier League but is confident he can readjust to life in the English top-flight if given the chance.

He added: "I will have to do extra work because it will be going back to that 100mph pace but I'm sure it will be okay."

Cole's form in France this year had prompted speculation he could be a surprise call-up to Roy Hodgson's England squad for Euro 2012 but he failed to make the cut after two years away from the international scene.

The midfielder has shrugged off that disappointment and turned his attention to the London Olympics, where he is hoping to represent Great Britain as one of three over-age players in coach Stuart Pearce's party.

He added: "I haven't played for England for two years. I know there is a new manager but I was never contacted. I heard there were strange things going on with the odds of me being cut to make the squad and that made me think "maybe".

"But I have got my eyes on the Olympics now. I am in the mix and it would be amazing to play in that but, again, it is out of my hands.

"We will just have to wait and see what happens. Whatever is the case, it has been a great year and it has been a great season. I am delighted with how things have gone."

Lille Boss Still Wants Cole

Lille coach Rudi Garcia says he would like to keep on-loan Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole for another season.

Cole has returned to parent-club Liverpool after spending the 2011-12 campaign with the Ligue 1 side.

Any permanent deal is complicated by the fact that the Reds are currently without a manager since sacking Kenny Dalglish last week.

But Garcia is keen to strike a deal for the England international, who scored four goals in 27 appearances for his Lille team.

"From a sporting angle we would like to keep him," said Garcia, who is resigned to losing his Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard.

"But he does not belong to us and he has not discussed matters with Liverpool.

"It is a very fluid situation. The only certainty for the moment is that he is returning to Liverpool, the club to which he belongs."

Cole joined the Reds on a four year contract in 2010 on a free transfer from Chelsea but failed to impress in his first season and was sent out on loan by then-manager Dalglish.

Liverpool Set To Miss Out On Midfield Target

Liverpool look set to miss out on Wigan midfielder Mohamed Diame, who will instead head to Spain and join up with Malaga, according to the Daily Mail.

Diame’s contract with Wigan expires next month, with the 24-year-old attracting interest from numerous Premier League clubs including Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.

However, according to the Daily Mirror, Diame has decided his future is not in the Premier League, with Malaga leading the hunt for his services.

Liverpool were said to be extremely keen on landing the midfielder ahead of a summer in which they are expected to seek out lower value transfer targets.

With the Reds searching for a new manager and director of football following Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli’s departure, it is likely that the pursuit of transfer targets at Anfield has been put on hold for the time being.

Manchester United were previously in the running for the Senegalese international but were reportedly scared off by his heart condition, which Wigan were aware of when they signed him from Rayo Vallecano for £3 million three years ago.

Gold Doubts Cole Return

West Ham co-chairman David Gold has played down suggestions Joe Cole could make a 'romantic' return to Upton Park this summer.

Liverpool midfielder Cole's future looks set to be discussed again this summer following the end of a season-long loan at French club Lille.

The 30-year-old insists he has unfinished business at Anfield amid speculation linking him with a second spell at the recently-promoted Hammers.

However, Gold is unsure whether boss Sam Allardyce is interested in Cole as he plots their return to the Premier League next season.

"It's going to be a busy summer," Gold said. "Joe Cole moving to West Ham would be a fantastic and romantic thing to happen but I would be very, very surprised.

"He didn't come up on Sam Allardyce's list of players he wants to sign a couple of months ago.

"Whether that's still the case, only time will tell."

Cole made 150 appearances for the East London club before leaving for Chelsea in a £6.6m deal in August 2003.

Liverpool Signs Three-Year Contract Extension

Liverpool Football Club has signed a three-year sponsorship extension with international tyre brand Maxxis. Having joined Liverpool in June 2009 as part of a three-year deal, under terms of the new agreement Maxxis will continue to serve as an official sponsor of the Anfield-based Premier League club until 2015.

As part of the deal Maxxis will continue to engage will Liverpool fans and enjoy a significant brand presence at Liverpool's 45,000-capacity home ground. Financial terms of the extension were not released.

Liverpool Football Club managing director Ian Ayre said, "As with all our partnerships, we have taken time to form a relationship with Maxxis so we can support mutual goals more effectively and provide significant brand visibility. I am delighted to announce the extension today and we look forward to working with Maxxis over the next three seasons.”

Maxxis Tyres Derek McMartin added, "It’s fantastic news that we’ve extended our partnership with Liverpool Football Club until 2015. We’ve built a strong relationship with the club and fans over the last three years, and we look forward to expanding our successful partnership over the coming seasons.”