Saturday 21 April 2018

Hodgson's goal

Battle begins to keep Gerrard and Torres at Anfield

New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson poses for photographs during a press conference at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. Photo: PA
New Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson poses for photographs during a press conference at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. Photo: PA

Neil Johnston

Roy hodgson promised to fight "tooth and nail" to keep Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres at Liverpool after admitting that he may be powerless to stop the influential pair from leaving Anfield this summer.

Within hours of being officially paraded as Liverpool's new manager yesterday, Hodgson was making a direct appeal to his new captain's loyalty in a meeting with Gerrard.

"My job is to try and explain to him that I have come to Liverpool because I want to work with people like Steven Gerrard," said the former Fulham manager, who has signed a three-year contract, worth £3m a year.

"I'm hoping that he will have enough loyalty to the club and will be interested enough to work with me and give it some time together. It is easy to say the right things but you know as well as I do it is not words Stevie wants, he wants actions.

"He wants to see the club make strides forward, he wants to see that alongside players of his quality there will be other players of that quality being signed by the club. And, of course, he is wise enough to know that I cannot give him that guarantee."

Gerrard -- who recently turned 30 -- has been linked with moves to Real Madrid and Rafael Benitez's new club and European champions Internazionale after becoming increasingly frustrated following four barren years at Liverpool.


The immediate signs, however, are promising. Gerrard yesterday endorsed Hodgson's appointment, describing the Londoner as the "right man for the job".

"Rafa (Benitez) left a few weeks ago and I know the club were determined to take their time and get the right man for the job," said Gerrard. "Roy is hugely experienced and I believe he is the right man for Liverpool."

Hodgson's first job will be to keep Liverpool's best players rather than adding to the underperforming squad he has inherited. He has been handed around £15m to improve the team with any additional money coming from the sale of other players.

Hodgson has been linked with the Norway defender Brede Hangeland, who played under him at Fulham, but has promised Mohamed Al-Fayed, his former chairman, that he will not raid Craven Cottage.

Instead he is anxious to seek assurances from Gerrard and Torres that they are prepared to stay. Yossi Benayoun has also been linked with a move to Chelsea while Javier Mascherano, too, is keen to leave.

Torres is currently in South Africa at the World Cup with Spain, but Hodgson will have a telephone conversation with the striker in the next few days before meeting him after the tournament. Like Gerrard, Torres has also become fed up with the lack of trophies.

"You can't nail their feet to the floor," added Hodgson, "but we will fight tooth and nail to keep our best players."

Hodgson insisted that his friendship with Kenny Dalglish was as strong as ever. Dalglish had made it clear he wanted the job but was overlooked by the board.

"He was entitled to suggest to the board that he wanted to be considered," added Hodgson. "As far as I'm concerned it shouldn't affect my relationship with Kenny. There are so many roles that man can play to help Liverpool Football Club. He will out-live my tenure at the club."

Hodgson had been touted to succeed Fabio Capello, whose future with England is unclear. But the 62-year-old declared he had no intention of waiting for the vacancy once the manager's post at Liverpool became available to him.

With Liverpool up for sale, money in short supply, players wanting to leave and a club not in the Champions League, the former Switzerland boss may appear to have taken on the impossible job. Yet Hodgson, whose managerial career has spanned 15 teams, stretched over 35 years, is relishing the challenge.

"The impossible job that everyone thought that no one in their right mind should take was in 2007 at Fulham," said Hodgson. "They were virtually relegated, and had four matches against Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham away in next four games.

"There's no comparison with the job I am taking on here, which could have enormous prospects. We might find new owners coming in willing to back the club right way, making funds available, giving us a chance to get the right players, it could be fantastic." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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