Club Focus – Liverpool – Hodgson on the offensive over Reina rumours

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson was criticised by fans last week for admitting that Fernando Torres could be on his way to Manchester United. Some supporters suggested that the Liverpool boss should instead have issued a hands-off warning to any potential buyers and declared that the Reds’ star striker is not for sale at any price. The former Fulham manager may have got it wrong last time, but he has certainly learnt his lesson and came out firing on all cylinders when speaking about Sir Alex Ferguson’s reported interest in Pepe Reina.

Reina, one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers, has been linked with a move to Liverpool’s arch-rivals after a particularly poor start to the season which has seen the Anfield side drop into the relegation zone. The 28-year-old, who was signed by Rafael Benitez for just £6m, has endeared himself to Reds fans over the years, not only for his quality but also for his admirable loyalty to the club.

And now, Roy Hodgson has insisted that the Spaniard is unavailable, saying: “We do not want to sell him. He is a lifeblood of this team.” The Reds boss also added: “We have heard nothing from Manchester United and, more to the point, we don’t want to hear anything from Manchester United.

Hodgson also praised Reina’s presence in the dressing room and described him as being ‘first class’ in training. The Englishman’s comments are bound to attract a more positive response from Liverpool fans, who are in no mood to accept that their star players may leave, especially for bitter rivals Manchester United.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s new owners, New England Sports Ventures, will not be looking to sign any big-name players for the club in January. The news may worry some fans, who will fear an exodus of key players, however Roy Hodgson will still have money to spend, albeit very wisely.

Owner John Henry said: “We have to be more efficient. When we spend a dollar it has to be wisely. We cannot afford player contracts that do not make long-term sense. We have to be smart, bold, aggressive. It’s a great challenge.

The NESV group are doing the right thing in some ways. With UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Rules soon to kick in, the new owners are working to ensure that the club are spending money more efficiently. Talented, young players will be looked at more favourably than older, higher profile stars. As long as Hodgson can identify quality players at the right price, Liverpool should not have much to worry about.

As for matters on the field, Liverpool face Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium this weekend and the Reds will be looking to build on their victory against Blackburn Rovers last time out. Hodgson’s side certainly looked more comfortable last week and a similar performance should gain them another three points, providing Fernando Torres is supplied well from midfield. Liverpool have won their last seven league meetings against this weekend’s opponents and they will be looking to continue that winning streak against Owen Coyle’s men.

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