HODGSON URGES STAR MEN TO STAY
Posted 01/07/10 14:49
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New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson admits he has to sell himself and his ideals to the club's star players but hopes they will not be tempted to "jump ship".
The 62-year-old has taken over at Anfield with much uncertainty still surrounding the futures of captain Steven Gerrard, striker Fernando Torres and midfielder Javier Mascherano.
That trio are undoubtedly the club's most marketable assets and have all been linked with summer moves following the departure of Rafael Benitez last month after a disappointing campaign saw the Reds finish seventh - their worst position for 11 years.
Hodgson knows he is not the glamour name some were maybe expecting but hopes the players will stick around long enough to judge his credentials for themselves.
The former Fulham boss was due to speak to Gerrard and Jamie Carragher after his press conference at Anfield on Thursday, when he would outline his vision.
He also plans to have conversations with other key members of the playing staff.
"It will be actions more than words," said Hodgson.
"But my talk with them will be about how much I want to work with them, how much I want them to stay at the club, how much the club and fans want them to stay and that by staying at the club we can achieve as much success as they could find by leaving the club.
"That is all I can say to them. Then of course it is a case of making certain with your actions on the training ground and match days they see you are not just talking but are practising what you preach.
"I will be trying to persuade them that their future is with the club they love and have always played for.
"They are more than just Liverpool football club players, they are the heartbeat and very much the soul of this team.
"My hope will be is that they will give me the benefit of their services, just as they have given other managers the benefit of their services.
"I hope they won't be tempted, on the back of one disappointing year, to jump ship.
"I personally can't nail their feet to the floor. I'll try to convince them that if they stay here and have a good season then it's a good club to play for.
"It's out of my hands to an extent, but I do know the club is anxious to keep the players, I'm anxious to keep the players.
"We'll do all in our power to keep them. The fans are intelligent and know the situation.
"They can't expect me to give guarantees they'll stay on."
Hodgson was flanked by chairman Martin Broughton at his press conference in Anfield's trophy room.
And the man brought in to oversee the sale of the club by co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett again reiterated players would not have to be sold to pay down Liverpool's £351million debt and he was hopeful of hanging on to their star players.
"I haven't personally had any conversations with them but conversations have taken place and we remain optimistic on that," said Broughton, who did confirm any money raised from player sales would be reinvested in the squad.
"I know there are rumours out there about the club needing to sell players.
"If I can just go on record again and say they are not for sale, we don't need the money.
"We don't have any desire or need to sell players in order to pay down the debt."
Hodgson was unwilling to discuss the transfer funds likely to be available.
"It's not the right time to talk about that," he said.
"It's a bit disappointing that the matters of money have been spoken about over football on my first day.
"I took this job because I wanted to be manager of Liverpool. I want to benefit from the huge fan base and the incredible support.
"I wanted to be part of that. I'd like to sign off on the financial part and leave that to the man sat beside me (chairman) Martin Broughton because he knows more about these things than me."
Hodgson's name had been linked with England in the wake of the national team's woeful performance at the World Cup under Fabio Capello.
But he dismissed suggestions he had been waiting to see what happened to the Italian before making his choice.
"There was never a question that I should hold on and hedge my bets for something different because I wanted to be here - it was quite simply that," said Hodgson, whose appointment came from a shortlist of two who were interviewed at the weekend.
Hodgson has targeted a return to the Champions League for the Reds.
He said: "This is a very big club, a club with enormous tradition and when the club is sold it will get stronger rather than weaker.
"My priority is to try to get the team doing better than last season and get them back into the Champions League spots."
Hodgson led Fulham into the final of the Europa League last season and felt now was a good time to make the step up to a club with greater expectation.
He added: "It is the right move for me at this stage of my career.
"I am here on merit, I know the club did their homework before asking me to be their manager and my aim is to work for the club and the people of Liverpool."
Asked if he saw the club as bigger than Inter Milan, one of the clubs he has previously managed, Hodgson was keen not to offend the Italian club's owner.
Hodgson said: "Making comparisons with Inter would be very harsh - I don't want to make that comparison because I am friends with Massimo Moratti.
"It's (Liverpool) as big, there's no doubt about that and certainly the challenge is as big as when I went to Inter."
He was grateful to Fulham for enabling him to make the move with the minimum fuss.
Hodgson said: "Fulham were good enough to let me speak to Liverpool and respectfully take the job...the conversation with the chairman wasn't pleasant from my point of view and I hope one day he'll forgive me.
"I had wonderful support there from Mohamed Al Fayed and I've said I don't want go in and raid them.
"When it comes to what players we need and how we strengthen the squad I'll leave that question until a later date because I haven't had time to sit down with Kenny Dalglish, Eduardo (Macia), Sammy Lee, the chairman and the chief executive to say 'what do we need?'.
"I need to canvass their opinions of what's been going on."
Broughton added: "We'd like to thank Mohamed Al Fayed and Fulham for being so good in the whole process.
"Being the LMA manager of the year shows the respect his (Hodgson's) peers have for him. That's been earned not just in the last year but over a long period of time.
"Roy brings experience, he's dealt with lots of international players in different teams. He's someone to steady the ship at this stage. He's got all the talents."
On a potential takeover of the club, he added: "Information has gone out to a number of people who have expressed an interest.
"There haven't been any offers to turn down but we wouldn't expect any offers at this stage.
"There is no specific deadline but hopefully a deal can get done before the end of the transfer season (August).
"But these things can take quite a bit of time. We're on course pretty well to be where we expected to be at this stage."
Broughton also clarified the situation regarding Kenny Dalglish by revealing the man who won the double for Liverpool in his first year in charge in 1986 was never a candidate this time round.
Club ambassador Dalglish was asked to advise on Benitez's successor and put his own name forward.
But Broughton said: "Kenny put his name in for the job and we appreciated the fact he wanted to do it but he was never a candidate.
"He is happy in his current ambassadorial role."