Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool's Roy Hodgson on high at Fernando Torres vow

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said yesterday that he had received an indication from Fernando Torres that the Spaniard was ready to commit himself to Liverpool for another season and resist the temptations of a move to Chelsea or Manchester City.

Though Liverpool will only know on Monday, when the World Cup winner will return from holiday to training, precisely how Torres feels about his club future, Hodgson gave his first clear indication that the player's discussions with the club had convinced him to stay.

“He has told me he is looking forward to Monday, getting back to work and playing for us next season,” Hodgson said.

“That’s what we know and as far as I am concerned all other reports are erroneous.”

Hodgson confirmed that Javier Mascherano had informed him on Monday that he wishes to leave the club, with a £25m move to be reunited with Rafael Benitez the most likely move, though he expects the Argentinian professionally to honour his contract — he has two years outstanding — if a deal is not secured with Inter, or the other possible interested parties Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Hodgson was clearly disappointed but Mascherano's decision did not take the gloss of a day which seemed to mark a new era at Anfield, on which Joe Cole, Serbian Milan Jovanovic and 18-year-old Scottish centre back Danny Wilson were unveiled in a Liverpool trophy room, to which Hodgson is seeking to add something after four barren years.

The journey begins in earnest early today when an inexperienced side — minus Cole and Steven Gerrard though with Jovanovic, signed as a free agent from Standard Liege and impressive in the World Cup for Serbia in the squad — fly to Skopje to face Macedonian side Rabotnicki in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Hodgson said he hopes for several more new signings and with more vestiges of the Rafael Benitez era likely to be on the way — Real Sociedad are interested in Daniel Paceco, the young Spanish striker Benitez set much store in, and Argentinian Maxi Rodriguez may also be out — the money raised by Mascherano's sale may not be all at the new manager's disposal.

A left back is the priority and with Hodgson not interested in pursuing talks about the Tolouse left back Cheikh M'Bengue, Wigan Athletic's Maynor Figueroa remains a prospective acquisition.

Hodgson cut a witty and commanding figure among his new signings, first picking up on two mentions of Everton at his press conference (“not an Everton fan are you?” he asked the reporter who tackled Wilson on the Goodison loyalties of Walter Smith) and bringing more much needed levity when Joe Cole committed the cardinal sin of talking about winning the title before a Liver

pool season has even started.

“You've done a great job of building us up,” Hodgson said, seemingly at the assembled press rather than Cole.

“We've gone from seventh place [last season] to winning the league. We've not spoken about the Champions League yet. That

might take a year, I suppose. We've been elevated as high as Jupiter — which is the highest.”

It was a certainly an antidote to the torturous ambiguities of Benitez as his own tenure ran out and Hodgson suggested the Spaniard had left him with a big rebuilding job. “Rome was not

built in a day,” Hodgson said.

Sitting among images of Liverpool's glorious 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, the £90,000-a-week Cole later said it was his mission to leave a mark on his new club.

“Look at all the pictures around this place and you want more of that,” he said.

“The whole club is built on success. I can feel the hunger and the desire here, and that's a great base to come from. I am convinced we will do better than last season.

“I left a mark at Chelsea, being part of great teams that won things — and I am proud of that.

“Now I want to leave my mark at a massive club like this as well. All I need is time and patience because I've not even played a minute's football for them yet.

“The last time I played 90 minutes was February and I need to be able to do that week in week out, and I will do that.”

New teenage defender Wilson is looking forward to trying to establish himself in Hodgson's first-team plans.

“Since I have come to the club everyone has been so positive with me,” he said. “It is exciting for me to come to a club this size and now I just want to get on with it.”

Belfast Telegraph


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