NEW Liverpool manager 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 last evening, when he would outline his vision.
“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 (€425m) 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 said he would take his time to assess the squad before making decisions on what was needed in terms of recruitment.
However, suggestions he would make Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland his first signing were quickly dismissed.
“I won’t be raiding Fulham – I’ve made that commitment to the club who were good enough to allow me to speak to Liverpool,” he said.
“I’ve got great respect for the everyone there and I’ve made clear to the chairman here (Broughton) that I don’t want to go in and raid Fulham because that would not be the correct thing to do.”
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