Roy Hodgson yesterday joined his new paymasters in rebuffing any notions that Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres will be leaving Liverpool in January and is also comfortable with the idea that he will have to justify any proposed spending to the club's owners.
Reports earlier this week indicated that Reina and Torres were both likely to invoke get-out clauses in their respective Liverpool contracts to release them from a club that continues to struggle on the pitch despite new-found stability off it.
On that point, Liverpool's new co-owner John Henry, who heads the New England Sports Ventures company that bought Liverpool for £300m earlier this month, released a statement underlining that they did not buy Liverpool in order to turn Anfield into a shop window.
"We have recently read stories about our intentions for the forthcoming January transfer window and have a sense of humour about this type of inevitable speculation," Henry said. "We are new to English football, but not to sport, and we are studying all options.
"Our clear focus from day one of our ownership has been -- and will be -- to improve the club and focus on what it will take to put Liverpool FC consistently in a position to challenge for trophies.
"We intend to build this club the right way. Stories about our top players leaving are destructive and unwarranted but we realise that this kind of speculation is also common.
"We intend to build on the strength of the current squad, not undermine it, and I can reassure our supporters that we have no intention of allowing the team to be weakened."
The landscape at Liverpool has changed so dramatically over the last fortnight that agreeing with the utterances of the board is no longer akin to professional suicide for the club's manager and Hodgson was more than happy to reiterate Henry's stance.
"I'm not concerned about it at all," Hodgson said, regarding the speculation. "There is no way the club is interested in selling those players or will be looking to sell them at any time.
"The owners have been perfectly clear in their statement that they do not want to sell, they want to keep the good players we have and add other good players so we become stronger.
"I can tell you Torres and Reina are training very well and if they are unhappy and if they are wanting to get away they are making a damn good job of disguising it, because in training every day and in the matches their commitment seems to be as strong as ever.
"I would be very surprised, they are great favourites with the Liverpool fans and I can't imagine for one minute they would insult Liverpool fans by suggesting, 'we are unhappy, and we are only here for the good times'. Both of them, I'm sure, are as committed as I am to making sure the good times start again."
Hodgson also appears more than happy to stand in front of Liverpool's new owners and describe how and why he wants to bring in the players he has targeted for January. Henry has made it crystal clear that there will be no blank cheques for Hodgson.
"They haven't explained in great detail how they envision the club will operate," Hodgson said. "I do know they want a very active role and I think they should have a very active role.
"They have spent an awful lot of money to buy this club and it would be absolute folly, in my opinion, if they weren't to back that up with wanting to know the whys and wherefores.
"I don't think their taking an active interest means they're going to give me a list of players and say, 'I think you should sign these'. It's quite the opposite, in fact.
"I would be surprised if they didn't want us to justify our suggestions, justify why the players are worth the sort of money being asked for them and the sort of wages they are asking for." (© Independent News Service)
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