Liverpool 2 Rabotnicki 0 (Liverpool win 4-0 on aggregate)

LIVERPOOL manager Roy Hodgson insists speculation over the club’s future ownership will not affect his focus on football but admits the longer it takes the more difficult it makes his transfer options.

The 62-year-old enjoyed a straightforward Anfield debut as his side beat Macedonians Rabotnicki 2-0 in their Europa League third qualifying round second leg as a David Ngog header and a Steven Gerrard penalty before half-time wrapped up a 4-0 aggregate victory.

However, the club is being dominated by issues off the pitch as various factions jostle for position in the race to take over from American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Rumours yesterday suggested the Chinese government was behind a bid fronted by Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Huang, while Syrian Yahya Kirdi has claimed he is in pole position to become the new owner.

Hodgson is acutely aware what impact continued delays in a change of ownership could have.

“The interesting thing for me today was the game, that has been my total focus,” he said.

“When, and if, a takeover takes place, I’m sure I will be informed. We have made some signings so far and we hope to bring in at least a couple of other players.

“I think the danger would be in a late takeover that money would be made available but we wouldn’t have had a chance to research the players in this transfer window.

“If one day an enormous amount of money is made available like it was for Manchester City and Chelsea so be it, it would be nice.

“But we would still have to do a lot of research before we started splashing that money around.”

Hodgson had praise for the impressive Joe Cole on his home debut after starting the former Chelsea midfielder in a central role behind striker Ngog.

“Joe is desperate to play. He came here because he thought he might get the opportunity to start more games than he did at Chelsea,” added the manager.

“He is an enthusiastic and effervescent footballer and the more he plays the happier he is.

“His energy and enthusiasm meant he had a really good home debut.”

On the team performance as a whole Hodgson added: “I am perfectly satisfied; we played some very attractive football and created lots of chances, more than the scoreline suggests.

“We kept our discipline and that was important too because it is so easy in these games to lose your way and for people to start doing things you don’t want them doing.”