Houllier told to stop spending by board

Gérard Houllier, the Liverpool manager, will not be given any more money to make signings before the transfer deadline on 31 August. He will have to go with the squad he has as the Anfield board are now keeping back funds with one eye on moving from Anfield to a new site in Stanley Park in the near future. That means Houllier's attempt to sign Valencia's Argentinian centre-half Roberto Fabian Ayala has been put on ice.

Liverpool were hoping for a cash injection, possibly from Granada, for the proposed stadium move, but now they fear they will have to find most of the money themselves, a problem that has hit Arsenal recently.

There has been a shift of club policy because of this - and not just the opening-day defeat by Chelsea - and it has blocked the move for Ayala, who was lined up to arrive this week. The deal was set up by two agents close to Houllier and the South American is being offered to other clubs.

Some of Houllier's signings have not been a success in the past couple of seasons. Harry Kewell and Steve Finnan - signed in the close season - have yet to be judged, but three of the previous year's major arrivals have disappointed. Bruno Cheyrou has failed to make an impact, El-Hadji Diouf looks over-priced and Salif Diao can go back to France. The trio cost more than £20 million and have little re-sale value.

However, despite this, the home loss to Chelsea that started their Premiership campaign and the wins for their main rivals Manchester United and Arsenal, John Arne Riise believes they can challenge for the Premiership. "We have a good enough squad to win the title, but you need a bit of luck and we've got to hope for that," the full-back said.

"A club like Liverpool should be in the Champions' League and we are disappointed we are not there."

Riise looks to the strikeforce as the reason for his continued optimism. "Michael Owen is scoring goals as normal and in Milan Baros we have someone that is good at finding goals.

"Emile Heskey took a lot of stick last term, but this pre-season he has been on fire and carried that into the first game, where he looked sharp."

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