Monday, May 28, 2012

Martinez To Decide On Liverpool Offer

Liverpool's hunt for a new manager could be over after it emerged that Roberto Martinez is set to announce his future plans on Tuesday.

Press Association Sport understands Wigan will hold a press conference this week in which Martinez is expected to announce whether or not he will stay at the club.

The 38-year-old met Liverpool's owners in Miami to discuss the vacancy and was not put off by the huge challenge that would face any new manager.

However, it is understood Martinez has not made up his mind completely whether to accept that challenge and has given himself until Tuesday to do so.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan claimed the Spaniard had received an offer from Liverpool's principal owner John Henry after the meeting in Miami.

Doubts emerged over Whelan's interpretation of the situation, with the Reds refusing to comment amid the general belief no formal offer had been made.

Martinez's appointment would doubtless divide opinion among Liverpool supporters, some of whom may have been expecting a bigger name to be recruited to replace the sacked Kenny Dalglish.

Throughout the process, Whelan insisted it was not a foregone conclusion he would lose his manager to the club's North West rivals, claiming there were still some issues - mainly surrounding working under a technical director - to be overcome before Martinez would even be in a position to accept.

Liverpool, which has also been linked with former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas and Swansea City's Brendan Rodgers, is looking to finalize the technical director post, with which Dutchman Louis van Gaal has been linked.

Fenway Sports Group Sounding Out Louis van Gaal For Senior Role

Liverpool have made the first steps towards appointing Louis van Gaal as sporting director after meeting with him in Portugal last week.

There are, though, complications as to whether the Dutchman’s methods match the way the Fenway Sports Group are seeking to restructure the club.

Van Gaal has been spending the summer at his house near Albufeira in the Algarve and it is understood that Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s managing director, flew out to meet him last week.

There are very few available candidates that possess Van Gaal’s pedigree. He has been out of work since falling into dispute with Ajax and Johan Cruyff.

While Van Gaal wants to be a head coach or manager, and has had plenty of offers, he recognizes that Liverpool is a unique opportunity for him, even if it means working in a different role.

He has won titles in the Netherlands, Spain and Germany with Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively and wants to test himself in English football.

The difficulties lie in Van Gaal being able to adapt to how Liverpool want their new structure to work. The first issue will be how comfortable the new manager would be working with Van Gaal, especially if it is a young manager like Brendan Rodgers or Roberto Martínez.

Rodgers and Martinez are the leading contenders to succeed Kenny Dalglish. Martinez met John W Henry, the principal owner, in Miami last week while Rodgers is thought to be back in serious contention after initially declining a meeting with Liverpool.

Such is FSG’s admiration for Martínez that, after sacking Damien Comolli in April, they considered approaching him for the role of director of football. At Wigan he has had a lot of control about the way the club works and he will be reluctant to cede too much influence to a sporting director at Liverpool.

Van Gaal has a reputation for setting the highest standards and being forthright to the point of arrogance. When he was technical director of Ajax in 2004, his demands caused him to fall out with head coach Ronald Koeman. Van Gaal ended up resigning.

Another issue is that, in all his previous jobs, Van Gaal has taken a substantial staff with him, made up of coaches and analysts. It is understood that he would want to bring key people with him to help infuse his football philosophy.

Andries Jonker, his former assistant at Bayern, has announced that he will be leaving Munich this summer, giving rise to speculation that he will be joining up with Van Gaal again. Van Gaal would also want to bring Frans Hoek with him, the innovative goalkeeping coach who Pepe Reina credits with developing his distinctive style at Barcelona.

Liverpool, though, have apparently refused to accept Steve Clarke’s resignation as first team coach, and only appointed Kevin Keen as a coach last summer, so may seek some continuity in this area. Then, of course, any new manager is surely going to want to bring some trusted coaching staff along with him.

To add to this complicated picture, FSG are also contemplating appointing a technical director as well as a sporting director. They felt that Comolli was taking on too much as director of football and want to divide the responsibilities into two jobs. Pep Segura, the technical manager of the Liverpool academy, is the favourite for the technical director role.

The next step for the owners is to decide whether to meet Van Gaal personally and find a way to resolve the issues that his appointment would bring, or whether to look for a candidate who, while not having Van Gaal’s track record, would prove a more straightforward fit for the way they want to run the club.

Reds Still Keen On Rodgers

Liverpool are still trying to speak to Brendan Rodgers as doubts surround Roberto Martinez taking over at Anfield.

Martinez has held talks with Liverpool's American owners and an offer has been made to the Spaniard but Wigan chairman Dave Whelan says there is a big question mark over whether he will take the job.

The Spaniard is reluctant to work under a Director of Football, with Louis van Gaal expected to be given the job, and that could be a deal breaker.

Martinez has said he will think about the move and a decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

In the meantime, John W Henry and FSG are weighing up other options and reports are suggesting they are doing all they can to set up a meeting with Swansea boss Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman has already turned down one approach from the Reds but FSG will make one last attempt to open talks before a final decision is made.

Andre Villas-Boas Snubbed After Angry Liverpool Fans' Revolt

Andre Villas-Boas has told pals he has ‘no chance’ of getting the Liverpool job.

The Portuguese coach, sacked by Chelsea in March, held talks with the Reds earlier this month about replacing sacked Kenny Dalglish in the Anfield dugout.

But after being installed as the bookies’ favourite to assume the Kop reins, Villas-Boas, 34, has dropped down the pecking order in the last 24 hours.

And with Liverpool seemingly now intent on luring Roberto Martinez from Wigan instead, AVB is resigned to missing out on what he considered a great opportunity to repair his damaged reputation.

A source close to the ex-Porto boss said: “Andre doesn’t think he’s got a chance of being offered the Liverpool job any more. That’s what he is saying to friends.

“He really wanted it – so he’s very disappointed. But he will now look to find another club.”

Villas-Boas arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer hailed as one of the brightest, most forward-thinking coaches in Europe.

That stemmed from his remarkable success with Porto, where he won four trophies, including the Europa League, in his one and only season there.

But AVB found life at Chelsea a great deal tougher, especially when he fell out with a number of the club’s senior stars, including Frank Lampard.

And a disastrous run of league form, which ultimately cost the Blues a top-four place, led to Roman Abramovich firing him following a 1-0 defeat at West Brom.

Villas-Boas’ advisors later put his name forward to the Liverpool board as the best man to bring back the glory days to the club.

However, while initially convinced he would be asked to fill the vacancy, AVB has since realized that is not likely to happen.

And that seems down to a backlash from fans strongly opposed to any suggestion of his appointment.

The Kop revolt seems to have been the final nail in the coffin for him in the thinking of the club’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group.

Boudebouz - Liverpool Want Me

Sochaux midfielder Ryad Boudebouz has revealed that Liverpool is one of the clubs chasing his signature.

The highly-rated Ligue 1 winger has told reporters he has attracted interest from the Merseysiders as well as a host of French clubs understood to be Lyon, Lille and Marseille.

The 22-year-old was part of Algeria's 3-0 win over Niger in Saturday's friendly and after the game Boudebouz revealed that his agent has been in discussions with clubs across Europe over a potential summer switch.

"Certainly, my agent is in talks with some clubs, particularly in France, but there is still nothing concrete," he said.

"There is also Liverpool, who have initiated discussions with my agent, but at the risk of repeating myself, everything is in the discussion stage, no more."

QPR To Rival Liverpool For Jermaine Defoe

QPR are ready to rival Liverpool for the signing of Tottenham striker Jermaine Defoe, according to The People.

Defoe is tipped to leave White Hart Lane this summer and Liverpool was believed to be interested before the Anfield club’s recent sacking of Kenny Dalglish.

It is claimed Rangers boss Mark Hughes wants to form a new-look attack by capturing Defoe and Andy Johnson.

Out-of-contract Fulham forward Johnson is said to be close to moving to Loftus Road, with Hughes keen to offload Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell.

The Daily Star on Sunday say Joey Barton could join West Ham, whose manager Sam Allardyce signed him for Newcastle.

Despite recent reports that it could cost QPR around £11m to sack Barton, the Sunday Express suggest he is unlikely to be entitled to any compensation if he is fired and that his most likely destination would be Qatar.

Liverpool Given Matias Suarez Warning

Liverpool must move quickly or risk missing out on long-term target Matias Suarez, with Bayern Munich reported to be readying a bid for the Argentine striker.

Anderlecht hitman Suarez has been on the Merseyside club's shortlist for some time and they had looked set to lure him from Belgium to Anfield this summer.

But Champions League runners-up Bayern are believed to have joined the transfer battle and have seemingly taken up pole position in the race to sign Suarez, ahead of the manager-less Reds.

'Bayern Munich is the most concrete team for now. My agents are dealing with it at the moment. They asked me whether I was interested and I have obviously given them the green light. I'm open to a move to Germany,' Suarez stated.

Liverpool, who look likely to appoint Roberto Martinez as manager in the coming days, are hoping to recruit further strikers this summer to add competition for Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Matias Suarez has confirmed he will leave Anderlecht, despite their plea for him to stay to play in the Champions League qualifiers. He is insistent that he will play in a more prestigious league next season.

But he could choose the Bundesliga over the Premier League unless Liverpool moves quickly to change his mind.

Gerrard - No Injury Scares

Steven Gerrard has played down any fears about his own fitness after playing just a half for England in their friendly with Norway.

The Liverpool skipper has endured a stop-start season both for club and country mainly because of a hamstring injury and in Saturday's international match, the midfield talisman played just 45 minutes of the 1-0 win in Oslo.

However, after the game the 31-year-old was sure to allay any fears of being injured, saying it was agreed that he would come off at half-time in Roy Hodgson's first match in charge.

"It was always the plan for me to play 45 minutes. I had a bit of a tight hamstring towards the end of the season," said Gerrard.

"I missed a couple of games towards the end. But I'm fine, I've come through 45 minutes and I'm raring to go next week."

The England captain was full of praise for the side's solitary goalscorer Ashley Young and believes the Manchester United winger - who has now scored four goals in as many appearances for his country - can be their lethal weapon in next month's Euro 2012 finals.

"Ashley is a good player and when he plays that withdrawn role off the front man and gets in between the lines, he is very dangerous and skilful," said Gerrard.

"Opposing defenders and midfielders don't know how to pick him up because he finds the space so well.

"He is in good form for England and is scoring a lot of goals at the right time with the Euros coming up.

"We are really pleased with Ashley's performance and I thought him and Andy (Carroll) look decent together."

Adam Out To Impress New Boss

Charlie Adam has admitted he was shocked to see Kenny Dalglish sacked by Liverpool, but is determined to prove his worth to whoever is the new manager.

Dalglish was axed earlier this month after 18 months in the job at Anfield with the Reds icon paying the price for their eighth-place finish in the Premier League.

Adam, who was signed by Dalglish last summer from Blackpool, admits the former Reds boss played a big part in his decision to move to Liverpool, but he knows the club has now got to move on.

"Dalglish was a key factor in me going to Liverpool - but he's gone now so we have to move on. I was surprised when he left but the owners make these decisions," Adam told the Sunday Mail.

"They have been first-class since they came in and have put a lot of money in to the club.

"Now we have to look to the future. Whoever comes in will be a top manager who is used to working with top players.

"It's one of the best jobs in English football so it will be very attractive to a lot of people."

Adam missed the last two months of the season with a knee injury, but he is confident he will be fit in time for pre-season as he looks to impress the new man at the helm at Anfield.

"The most important thing is just getting back on the pitch and playing again," added Adam.

"I missed eight weeks toward the end of the season and the Cup final.

"I couldn't help the lads when they needed it. So I need to be fully fit to show the new man what I can do.

"I was back working at Liverpool last week getting fit so I'll be fine for pre-season.

"I'll be all geared up for that and trying to impress the new manager.

"We're one of the best clubs in the world and I feel extremely fortunate to be at Liverpool."