Age concern for Anfield skipper

Age concern for Anfield skipper

Published Jan. 12, 2013 7:15 a.m. ET

Fulham manager Martin Jol has reiterated his plea for Brede Hangeland to sign a new contract and has called on his captain to 'put the money where his mouth is'.

Hangeland is out of contract at the end of the season and the 31-year-old has been linked with a move to Fulham's local rivals Queens Park Rangers.

The Norwegian defender has made over 220 appearances since joining Fulham from FC Copenhagen five years ago and Jol hopes the signings of the likes of Dimitar Berbatov will have convinced Hangeland of the club's ambition.

"We will try to do everything that we are capable of to keep him," said Jol. "There is a contract and the only thing for him to do is sign it.


"Players like Brede, if they have a decent history and are playing well for their clubs, then there will always be an interest.

"I thought he was quite happy to stay here. Of course, he wanted to know the mission of the club, who is coming in because there were quite a lot of players going out.

"Then Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega came in and he was quite happy, but now it is three months on.

"There is still five months left and hopefully he will put the money where his mouth is, show everyone he is happy again and sign the contract."

Laudrup has made no secret of his desire to bring in some new faces to try and maintain Swansea's impressive start to the season, which has seen them climb into the top half of the Barclays Premier League and reach the last four of the Capital One Cup.

Real Betis midfielder Jose Canas, Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas and Stoke forward Kenwyne Jones are all on the Dane's wanted list.

Betis are thought to be holding our for a fee of around ?1million for Canas, who is out of contract in the summer, while Aspas is understood to have an ?8million buy-out clause.

Stoke are also reported to be keen to recoup as much of the ?8million they paid for Jones if they are to allow him to leave the Britannia Stadium.

But Laudrup says he will be happy to wait until the summer to complete any deals, rather than pay over his own valuation now.

He said: "From the end of this month, we will be only playing at weekends, although obviously I hope there will be one midweek game because that will mean we are in the Capital One Cup final.

"But it means we don't need a player at the end of January. It might be that we just say we can wait until the summer.

"We don't need desperately for someone to come in on January 31 because from that date we will only be playing weekends.

"It is possible something can happen but I will not be the one who is saying we have to get somebody in with only two days left.

"We have some plans but if they don't come now they will wait until the summer."

Following their stunning Capital One Cup semi-final first-leg success at Chelsea in midweek, Swansea return to Premier League action at Everton on Saturday.

The Toffees triumphed 3-0 when the sides met at the Liberty Stadium in September, and Laudrup is keen for his side to make amends at Goodison Park.

"The first 30 minutes was very bad against Everton," he said.

"I remember I said to the players, 'don't give away any fouls' because with free-kicks they have (Marouane) Fellaini and (Leighton) Baines, but we gave them seven in the first 12 minutes. I will give the players the same message this time.

"We know what Everton will do. They will put us under pressure from the beginning.

"We have to find a motivating factor for every game and the motivation for the players who played in the home game is not to repeat that first half hour.

"If we do that then we will lose the game and we don't want to lose."

Torres was hailed as the club's saviour when he arrived at Stamford Bridge two years ago for a whopping ?50million fee, but he has struggled to live up to even the most mild expectations.

Part of the reason behind Benitez's appointment as Blues interim boss was to get the striker back to his best, but despite a slight improvement, Torres still looks a shadow of the hitman who tore the best defences in Europe apart while at Anfield.

Chelsea's fans had been patient with Torres up until Wednesday night, when he was sarcastically applauded off after 81 minutes following a poor display in which he touched the ball just 19 times and barely threatened the Swansea goal.

Benitez, who revealed illness had prompted Torres' poor performance, still thinks the former Atletico Madrid hitman can win the Blues faithful round, though.

"The fans loved Torres when he was scoring and giving everything," Benitez told a press conference.

"They will love him again when he starts scoring goals again. They will appreciate the effort."

Chelsea's supporters had called for the introduction of Ba, who scored twice on debut at Southampton last Saturday, for almost the entire second half on Wednesday, but he did not come on until nine minutes were left.

Benitez revealed on Friday he had delayed bringing Ba on as he was struggling with a hamstring injury. The Spaniard also confirmed Torres had been struggling with a stomach bug prior to kick-off, which explains his poor showing against the Swans.

"He (Torres) had a bug, a virus and needed tablets from the club doctor," Benitez said. "The other day he was sick on the bench (at Southampton). That was why he didn't play.

"He is feeling better now but he had the problem for a week or more. He was trying (against Swansea).

"He was there and making an effort just in case. Fernando concentrated on trying to do his job (despite his illness) and that is the sign of a great character."

But Lambert concedes he does not have the ?6million paid to Celtic for Petrov's signature six years ago to bring in any potential replacement and will have to "box clever" in the transfer window.

Petrov is currently in remission as he battles to overcome the illness which first became public nine months ago.

Lambert knows making a recovery health-wise is the priority for his former team-mate and close friend from their time together at Parkhead.

But he acknowledges how Villa have missed the presence in midfield of Petrov.

Lambert said: "You know something, I was with Stiliyan last night. The loss of him to this club has been more than people can imagine.

"The loss of him has been huge. His health is the most important thing. I was with him for a few hours last night, and that puts everything in perspective, hearing what he was saying.

"He's a top character. Even when he comes in here now, he's full of energy. He's a major loss to this club, major.

"We need those type of people in the dressing room. Whether young or not, you take that responsibility on yourself and you have to be loud in there."

When asked if he now has the kind of money to spend on a player that Petrov cost Villa, Lambert said: "It's probably fair say we've not got that.

"That type of player costs money so you have to box clever.

"A lot of things get dominated by finance. Petrov cost ?6million and the value of him to this club was incredible, the way he performed and the way he is as a guy.

"I know him because I played with him for eight years at Celtic so I know what type of a young guy he was."

Lambert added: "We need some strength in the side, especially in the middle of the pitch (midfield and defence), we need a bit of strength.

"The injuries we've had to people like Ron Vlaar have been too long. Richard Dunne has been out as well all season. We need to try and address that.

"We're trying to do something at this minute. We need to try and do something in this window. We have to try."

Villa owner Randy Lerner has continually offered financial support to a string of managers and two years ago spent a club record ?24 million on Darren Bent to stave off the threat of relegation.

But Lambert concedes that fans are in dreamland when expecting a player of the quality of Joleon Lescott or Scott Parker to be signed because of the finance that would be involved.

"Are fans in dreamland (regarding Lescott and Parker)? Yes, money, I think that's the reality of it. We can't do it."

One option would be for Lambert to off-load any players he thinks are surplus to his requirements.

But he said: "You can't do nothing if the phone doesn't go. It's not something where you pick up the phone to someone and say he's for sale or he's for sale.

"You don't do that. If a phone call comes in, then you deal with it."

Meanwhile, Lambert confirmed that winger Marc Albrighton could be out of action for up to two months with the broken metatarsal suffered against Ipswich in last weekend's FA Cup tie.

He said: "Marc has broken his metatarsal. It could be another eight weeks or so that he is out."

Hughes lost his job as Rangers boss in November after no wins in their opening 14 matches saw them prop up the Barclays Premier League.

His replacement Harry Redknapp has so far found victories easier to come by. Wins over rivals Fulham and Chelsea has moved Rangers to within five points off safety and Mbia is at a loss to explain why they could not register positive results under the previous incumbent.

"Should the players feel guilty about Mark Hughes' sacking? Yes, I think so," Mbia told the Daily Mail.

"He gave everything for everybody at this club. I think it's the players' fault. I think if the players had the same mentality under Mark Hughes they have now, we would not be in this position.

"The manager was never the problem. Mark Hughes has quality, Harry Redknapp has quality.

"Harry Redknapp gives the players confidence, but Mark Hughes is the same. But the players didn't want to give their best for Mark Hughes.

"I don't know why it's like that. We should have done the same when the previous manager was here. Maybe they are more afraid of Harry."

Since Rodgers' arrival in the summer the Reds have opted to sign young players with the likes of Joe Allen, Fabio Borini and Daniel Sturridge all yet to celebrate their 24th birthdays.

Gerrard, 32, is unsure whether that is the right policy to ensure Liverpool, currently eighth in the Premier League, get back to challenging for the Champions League places again.

The England midfielder cited the signing of Gary McAllister - who arrived at Anfield as a 35-year-old in 2000 - as crucial to his own development and believes balancing the age of the squad is imperative.

"I disagree with the policy to be honest," he told various newspapers.

"I've seen many signings throughout the world who have gone to clubs at the age of 28, 29 or even older and done fantastic jobs. Gary McAllister when he came here, for one.

"I can understand the policy that everyone wants young, bright, British players - but I don't agree 100% that that should be the only way.

"I learned bucket loads from Gary McAllister."

Liverpool are not the only club who have focused on youth this term with Chelsea yet to offer new deals to elder statesmen Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, while Aston Villa's fight against relegation is being undertaken with a vastly inexperienced squad.

"The main example at the moment is if Chelsea don't keep Frank Lampard. Someone is going to get a bargain. What is he, 34?" Gerrard said.

"It's not my business what Chelsea do but if they don't renew Frank's contract someone else is going to get a really good player for a few years."

Liverpool's most obvious transfer success in recent years has been the signing of Luis Suarez - who arrived from Ajax as a 24-year-old in 2011 - and Gerrard believes he has surpassed Fernando Torres and England team-mate Wayne Rooney as the best striker he has teamed alongside.

Suarez has put the controversies that have followed him since his arrival in England aside to be the second leading Premier League goalscorer this term, with 15 strikes.

"Luis is the best centre forward I've played with," he said.

"He probably won't get the credit he deserves after everything that's happened and everything he's been through but he will from me. He's a fighter and he's a winner."