29 February 2008

Desperate Kewell goes the extra mile

Last updated at 23:48pm on 28th February 2008

Harry Kewell is doing extra training with Liverpool reserves in a last, desperate bid to earn another contract at Anfield.
The injury-plagued Australia winger is out of contract at the end of the season and has little chance of another deal at his current £70,000 a week after making only nine starts and failing to last 90 minutes in any of them this season.
He is hoping to negotiate a pay-as-you-play extension and has spoken to manager Rafa Benitez in an effort to win over the Liverpool boss.
Benitez confirmed: "It is true that Harry came to see me and that it was his idea to do extra training with the reserves to build up his fitness. He has a professional mentality and his approach is very positive. He must carry on working hard and making sure he is ready for any opportunity, but I have no problem with him at all."
Kewell, signed from Leeds for £5million by former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, faces an uphill task to stay at Anfield beyond this season after making only one appearance as substitute in the past month.
But he pushed his claims for a recall by scoring the second goal in Liverpool reserves' 2-0 win over Manchester United.
"He is a typical Aussie who doesn't know the meaning of giving up," said a close friend.
"There have been approaches from other clubs, but his only interest is winning over Benitez and staying at Anfield."
utusanLFC :
I remember the week when it was confirmed that Harry is on his way to be a Kop... I waited and I browsed the internet every 2 hours just to know that he is safely in Anfield. The anxiety over his transfer topped it all with the so-called scandal when it appeared that he got 2 mil pounds out of the 5 mil he commanded for the transaction. Still, I don't really mind. To me, Harry is a Liverpool player and that's the most important thing. However, as time passes... Harry Kewell seems to be more like Harry Houdini. He slowly disappear from the pitch either because of his injury or was not chosen in the starting line-up (most of it caused by injury though). And magnificently, he still picked by Rafa to play in the finals of Istanbul (which he dreadedly injured himself again...) And so now, with our settle wingers in Pennant, Benayoun and even Babel (he is actually better off to be one of our forwards)... Kewell seems to be not that important anymore... or is it? He has to raise his game. And still hope he can show his best abilities like he did when he was in Leeds.

Bolton vs LFC 2 March 2008 9.30pm

Bolton defender Nicky Hunt: "It's a fantastic achievement for Bolton to get into the last 16 of the Uefa Cup and everyone involved with the club are made up, but the Premier League is our main focus.
"I don't have any concerns that an extended run in Europe will affect our League form and, in fact, fitness levels are getting higher with each game.
"There is no problem with the physical side of things - it's top drawer - and there is not a problem with the mental side of things either."
Liverpool enter this round of matches just outside the top four, three points behind Everton; Bolton three points above the trap door.
The Merseysiders have won just two of their last eight league matches, and have drawn more times than any other club (11).
Bolton have lost their two and are in danger of tumbling to three on the bounce for the first time since the losing their opening trio of fixtures to the season.
Liverpool have won six away league games, as many as Bolton have mustered home and away.
This is Gary Megon's 25th game in charge of the Trotters; Liverpool are chasing a 75th Premier League victory under Rafa Benitez.
Wanderers have lost their last four North-West derbies; the Reds have lost one of the last nine, and that to Manchester United (0-1 at home on 16 December).
The Reebok Stadium was the scene of Benitez' first defeat as Liverpool manager on 29 August 2004.
Club stats
Fixtures (all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premier League fixtures, and refer to stats and sequences in the Premier League only, unless stated otherwise)
1. Won two of nine.
2. Last lost three consecutive games between 11 and 18 August, against Newcastle (h), Fulham (a) and Portsmouth (a).
3. Won five of the 17 under Gary Megson.
4. Used 30 players; only Derby (34) and Fulham (33) have fielded more.
5. Not won any of the 14 matches in which the opening goal has been conceded.
6. Holding the tightest defence in the bottom half of the table; 39 conceded in 27.
7. Won only one of the last nine against the 'Big Four'; that being 1-0, home to Manchester United on 24 November 2007.
8. On the longest current run without a score-draw of 15 matches.
9. Not scored in two home games, or 227 minutes (three hours 47 minutes) at the Reebok since Kevin Nolan's effort in the 1-2 defeat to Blackburn on 13 January. Last failed to score in three on the spin in front of the home supporters on 28 December 2004 (a trio of 0-1 defeats to Portsmouth, Manchester City and Blackburn).
10. The home and away legs against Sporting in the Uefa Cup will be played before two more North-West derbies, away to Wigan and home to Manchester City. Arsenal then visit the Reebok at the end of the month.
Club stats
Fixtures (all statistics are ahead of this weekend's round of Premier League fixtures, and refer to stats and sequences in the Premier League only, unless stated otherwise)
1. Won two of three, and lost one of 10.
2. Drawn five of the last eight.
3. Lost three times; only Arsenal have been beaten less frequently (just once).
4. Conceded 19 goals; only Manchester United (15) and Chelsea (17) have shipped fewer. Also, allowed the opposition to score first in six games; only Manchester United can better that (five times).
5. Shown 35 cards (all yellow); only Everton have a better disciplinary record with 31 cards (28 yellow, three red).
6. Registered five goalless draws. Only Portsmouth have also been involved in as many as that.
7. Scored eight in the last five minutes; only Manchester United exceed that with 10.
8. Picked up three points from the last 12 available away, and not won on the road since a 1-2 triumph at Derby on Boxing Day.
9. Lost only twice away from home; only Arsenal have a better record with one defeat. Also, failed to score in 199 minutes on the road (three hours 19 minutes) since Fernando Torres' equaliser at Middlesbrough on 12 January.
10. Two home fixtures against West Ham and Newcastle follow this, before the Champions League return against Inter Milan in Italy (Liverpool lead 2-0). Then it's home to Reading, away to Manchester United, home to Everton in the Merseyside derby and away to Arsenal at the beginning of April.
Nicolas ANELKA, now a Chelsea player, is Bolton's leading scorer with 11 goals.
The Frenchman is also the clubs' leading marksman in the Premier League with 10.
The top scorers amongst current players are El-Hadji DIOUF and Kevin NOLAN with five each.
NOLAN is leading Premier League goalscorer amongst current players with five.
NOLAN is a one shy of 50 club career goals.
Kevin DAVIES needs one to reach 100 club career goals (Chesterfield, Southampton, Blackburn, Millwall and Bolton). Jussi JAASKALAINEN is the only player to have been on the field for every minute of every one of Bolton's Premier League matches this season.
If selected:-
DIOUF will be facing a former club. The 27 year old Senegal international made 80 appearances (55 in the league) and scored six goals (three league) for Liverpool between June 2002 and his move to the Reebok three years later.
Matthew TAYLOR will be making his 150th Premier League appearance (Portsmouth and Bolton).
Fernando TORRES is Liverpool's top scorer with 21 goals, and their leading marksman in the Premier League with 15. Goalkeeper Jose REINA is the only remaining player to have been on the field for every minute of every one of Liverpool's Premier League matches this season.
If selected:-
Jamie CARRAGHER will be making his 350th career league appearance - all for Liverpool in the Premier League.
Liverpool have not won at Bolton in the Premier League since Emile Heskey scored an 88th minute winner in a 2-3 victory on 14 September 2002. That was also the last season they did the double over the Trotters.
On six of the last seven occasions when these clubs have met, the side playing at home has kept a clean sheet.
Liverpool won the reverse fixture 4-0, and the last two meetings with Bolton by an aggregate of 7-0, but Bolton took the spoils on their last clash at the Reebok with two unanswered goals.
Home and awayLeague (inc PL): Bolton 35 wins, Liverpool 45, Draws 29Prem: Bolton 3 wins, Liverpool 10, Draws 4
at Bolton onlyLeague (inc PL): Bolton 25 wins, Liverpool 16, Draws 13Prem: Bolton 3 wins, Liverpool 2, Draws 3
Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Liverpool
30 September 2006
Ref: Phil Dowd
Bolton scorers: Speed 30, Campo 51
Liverpool 4-0 Bolton Wanderers
2 December 2007
Ref: Steve Bennett
Liverpool scorers: Hyypia 17, Torres 45, Gerrard 56 pen, Babel 86

28 February 2008

John Aldridge: Why I’m backing fans bid to buy Liverpool

Feb 28 2008
by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo

JOHN ALDRIDGE today called on Liverpool fans worldwide to join him in an audacious attempt to buy the club.
The Reds legend has pledged £5,000 to buy a share in the ambitious Share Liverpool scheme set up by University of Liverpool academic and lifelong Liverpudlian Rogan Taylor.
Aldridge believes the dream of supporters owning the club can be come reality, as long as fans believe it themselves.
He said: "As someone who was fortunate enough to play for the club and who loves the club dearly, it hurts me to see it in the kind of turmoil it has been in recently.
"That's why when Rogan told me about his plan I thought it was a fantastic idea. It's all about putting power in the hands of the fans and that could only be a good thing.
"I've pledged and I would call on all Liverpool supporters around the world to do the same.
"I know £5,000 is not an insignificant amount of money but the beauty of Share Liverpool is groups of fans can get together to buy a share between them, you don't have to be rich to buy a share.
"If we get together and buy the club outright it would be a dream come true. It would put the power in the hands of the people who love the club most and it would also make the club incredibly powerful because there would be no profits or share dividends going elsewhere.
"Every penny generated would go back into the club. How many other clubs in Europe could boast that kind of spending power?"

Having played in Spain with Real Sociedad, Aldridge witnessed at close quarters how the Barcelona model helps make the Catalan giants one of the most powerful clubs in Spain and beyond.
And, even though he concedes that the Barcelona members never had to fork out hundreds of millions of pounds to buy their club, Aldridge reckons the comparison with Liverpool still applies.
"That is an important difference," he admitted. "But when you look at what a fantastic club Barcelona is it should inspire everyone who loves Liverpool to at least try and do something similar.
"It can't be a coincidence that Barcelona are always in the running for the biggest prizes. That comes down to the way the club is run, from the members upwards.
"Like Barcelona, Liverpool is a very, very special club and I've no doubt our fan base is big enough to get the number we need.
"Liverpool is one of the best supported clubs in the world, right up there with the likes of Man United, Barcelona and AC Milan.
"When you have such numerical strength anything is possible."

Aldridge concedes there are those who will be sceptical and he readily admits it is an ambitious project which could fall short of its target.
But he also believes it is worth testing the water to see if Liverpool's fans can pull it off. Having met the newly formed steering committee at the weekend his hopes were boosted that the fans really can own the club.
"The people on the committee are very, very impressive," said Aldridge, who played 104 games and scored 63 goals in a red shirt.
"I met them on Sunday and I have to say the whole set-up surpassed my expectations. I met top people from the legal, financial and marketing worlds and, most importantly, every single one of them is a lifelong Liverpudlian.
"All credit to Rogan for that because to start from scratch and come up with such an impressive set of plans and the right people to put them into practice is some achievement.
"I would urge people not to be sceptical because believing in the idea is half the battle. "It might not end up happening but there is definitely no harm in trying.”
When the Share Liverpool website was set up last month it crashed because of the sheer weight of numbers trying to register interest.
Despite that early glitch, more than 9,500 people have already pledged £5,000 with a further 9,000 asking for further information.
It is these promising early figures which have fuelled Aldridge's belief that Share Liverpool could yet reach its target of attracting 100,000 supporters to pay £5,000 each in order to raise £500m to buy the club.
"If you look at those figures you have to be impressed," he said.
"This is something that only started a month ago and already there are more than 9,000 people who are saying they want to be a part of it.
"All of that suggests to me that this is do-able and when you support a club like Liverpool you know anything is possible because we have seen enough footballing miracles to realise that this the case.
"It would be great if former shareholders got involved.
"If we all support it then we might just make it happen."
utusanlFC :
The problem for us here in Malaysia is the huge different in currency exchange. 1 pound is equivalent to RM7. That means 5,000 pounds is a bomb to us = RM35,000.00 (Though Malaysia is a fast developing country (also formerly colonialised by the Great British Empire!) , our per capita income is roughly RM2,700 per month and it means - RM35,000 to most of us is a whole year income). Can Share Liverpool organisers reduce it to may be 1,000 pounds for country like us? They are many in Asia that can't produce those money... We would love to support the effort. Though at the moment, we can't afford it.

Business backing for LFC fan bid

BBC News

The group of Liverpool fans that hopes to buy the club from its US owners has put together a team with business experience to aid its ambitions.
The Share Liverpool FC Group wants 100,000 fans to pledge £5,000 each to fund a £500m takeover move. So far it has received pledges of £47.5m.
It has now established a steering group with finance, law and marketing skills.
But there remains speculation George Gillett or Tom Hicks may sell their LFC stakes to Dubai International Capital.
Those on the Share Liverpool FC legal and finance panel include Chris Talavera, a former senior partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers and chairman of Isle of Man-based Abacus Holdings, and Barrie Baxter, chief executive of business modelling software firm Brixx.
Former Liverpool players Phil Thompson and John Aldridge have also come out in support of Share Liverpool, which is also being advised by Supporters Direct and law firm Cobbetts.
Share Liverpool is also aware, in light of DIC's reported interest, that time could be an issue for any takeover intentions it has, and has established itself on what it calls "a proper footing".
"For anybody looking to buy a football club which is valued at over £350m, and in particular one where we are asking tens of thousands of individuals to contribute several thousand pounds, we need to go through proper financial procedures," says Rogan Taylor, the founder of the initiative.
"We have brought together the different skill-sets in areas such as finance, law and marketing that are needed if we are to succeed in this venture."
The ownership model proposed by Share Liverpool is based on that used at Spanish giants Barcelona.
However, should the £500m be raised the US duo would be under no obligation to sell.
While Mr Gillett reportedly appears ready to consider the possibility of selling his stake, a spokesman for the Hicks camp has continually denied he is willing to sell.
DIC appear to be unlikely to make any firm approach at present until it is clearer if Liverpool are going to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Last month, Liverpool confirmed a £350m refinancing package, with £60m to be used as start-up money for the new ground in Stanley Park.
That repackaging deal, which also piled £105m of debt on the club, only lasts 18 months and the renewed takeover talk appears to be driven by the fact that Hicks and Gillett will soon have to start renegotiating their debts.


Paul Eaton 28 February 2008

Javier Mascherano is hoping he will finally be able to put pen to paper on a permanent Anfield deal within the next few days.
The Argentine international insists it's now just a matter of time before the formalities of the contract are finalised and he can sign a lengthy contract with the Reds.

"We are really close," he said. "Maybe this week or next week we will be able to say everything's finished. We can't say it just yet but hopefully in a few days everything will be okay.
"There are no problems with the fee or with the contract, it's just getting the papers finished.
"I have always said I want to stay here and so it hasn't been a difficult time for me. I have wanted it to be finished because I have my family behind me and I want to know what my future is going to be. I am calm and relaxed because I know that everything is almost over.
"I am very happy that in the next week I will be able to say I have signed for Liverpool. It will be the best moment of my career to be able to say I will be playing my football with Liverpool."
Mascherano's immediate focus now is helping the Reds pick up another three league points when they travel to take on Bolton this weekend.
And despite the high profile clash with Inter Milan just a couple of weeks away, he insists it's easy enough to stay concentrated on the important league games which lie ahead.
"We have to finish in the top four because we want to be playing in the Champions League next season," he added. "We have to win the games we have coming up before we go to Milan and so it's not difficult to stay focused at all. "We had a good win against Middlesbrough on Saturday and now we have to go and try to win at Bolton. We beat them easily at Anfield earlier in the season but we know it's going to be harder this weekend because they're a difficult side to play on their own pitch."
One player looking for a return to first team duty this weekend will be Xabi Alonso after his goalscoring display for the reserves against Manchester United in midweek.
Despite being out of the side at present, Mascherano is in no doubt that Alonso's quality will be needed over the coming vital weeks.
"Xabi is one of the best midfielders in the world," he said.
"He has quality and class and he knows that if he keeps training well then his chance will come again - maybe on Sunday.
"For me he is an example to everybody. He is a player who has won the Champions League with Liverpool, a player with great experience and yet on Tuesday night he had no problems in playing for the reserves."
if you notice... I always use Mascherano photo in West Ham's colour. I deliberately doing it. Just to mock how weird and funny now the decision by that club by not utilising and discovering Masherano talent. Could it caused by a simply British arrogance? Surely, Scousers doesn't have that element. hahaha....

Shock and derision for Inter

Roberto Gotta

Nothing stirs the emotions of Italians fans like the Champions League. Traditionalists may be shaking their heads at this simply statement of fact, but the buzz emanating from big Euro matches has slowly been surpassing that from domestic encounters, not least in these times of total domination by a single side on the Italian front.
Which, of course, brings us straight to Inter and their defeat at Anfield the other day.
Intriguingly, it was shaping up to be a seminal match for both sides: Liverpool may have gone through a bad spell on and off the pitch and looked at renewing their great tradition against European competition with anticipation, but the tie had taken on an enormous importance for Inter, too, for reasons that were correctly analysed by many, British newspapers included, in the run-up to the first leg.
Having again established an unassailable lead in Serie A, where despite the whiff of refereeing mistakes in their favour they are by far the best side, Inter have not tasted success in Europe for many years, their last significant trophy being the 1998 UEFA Cup.
Their best result in the Champions League has been reaching the semi-finals and quarter-finals in the last five years, but since both times it was local rivals AC Milan knocking them out it's a memory best forgotten.
The pressure on Inter and coach Roberto Mancini to perform well in Europe, perhaps even go all the way in the club's centenary year (the exact date is Sunday, March 9, but since Liverpool visit the San Siro two days later Inter had to bring forward the home match v Reggina to the Saturday) has been huge all season.
Last year, the Nerazzurri conceded a late equaliser at home to Valencia then failed to score in the return leg of the first knockout round, a disappointing development for the Serie A leaders.
This time, the urgency to do well in Europe and validate their dominant form in Serie A is even greater and this is why the 0-2 reversal at Anfield, even under the mitigating circumstances of Marco Materazzi's harsh dismissal after half an hour, was greeted by shock among Inter's faithful and derision, once again, among the many fans who have turned against Inter for the holier-than-thou attitude they displayed - correctly, by the way - during the Calciopoli scandal which broke out two years ago.
Among Milan supporters departing en masse for London on Wednesday the glee when clips of Inter's defeat at Anfield the previous evening were shown on news bulletins in the airport departure lounges was evident, and others in Italy, mostly Juventus fans, will have chuckled when Materazzi was sent off and Inter let in those two late goals, a fate compounded by the loss of defender Ivan Ramiro Cordoba, a staple of the right side of Inter's central defence, with a cruciate ligament injury.
Inter's attitude was disappointing, as even before Materazzi's dismissal they had shown little of the enterprise and sheer power that had been their traits throughout the last eighteen months.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a playmaker and striker who is probably the best creator in the side alongside Dejan Stankovic, and the fading Luis Figo, again failed to duplicate his domestic form, which has some narrow-minded observers talking of him as a possible winner of that Italian obsession, the Ballon d'Or.
And obviously Mancini's choice of Maxwell as a left-sided midfielder in a 4-4-2, not Inter's best formation, spoke of his desire to keep Liverpool under control more than take the game to them.
Which can hardly be faulted if you're playing at Anfield in a European competition. It's a plan that had worked right until the minute Dirk Kuyt's shot went past Julio Cesar; so on one hand Inter had done well with ten men, but, again, their profile in Serie A at the moment means anything less than an emphatic win everywhere they play is seen as a disappointment.
And Mancini, who may leave Inter anyway at the end of the season, may be right in believing there is an undercurrent of scepticism towards him and his side in the media which means each and every flaw is magnified. Look, and listen, closely and you will see there does seem to be a meaner streak towards them in some quarter.
There is a feeling, though, that Inter still have a chance to qualify since their home form has been so good, and hopefully there will be none of the lowlife tactics that were adopted 42 years ago when Liverpool last paid a visit to the Nerazzurri; then, as former Reds defender Tommy Smith recently pointed out in an article for the Daily Telegraph, Liverpool had to endure harsh treatment off the pitch and were on the receiving end of controversial decisions from Spanish referee Jose Maria Ortiz de Mendibil, who was rumoured to have been'convinced' by the Italians that it would be in his best interest if the Nerazzurri went through.
For the same reasons that were outlined earlier, Inter's performance was scrutinised, apparently, more than Milan's at Arsenal and Roma's against Real Madrid. There was basically a sense that the Rossoneri had managed to keep Arsenal at bay with the kind of professional, composed showing Carlo Ancelotti's side have been displaying in Europe, but then the same could have been said about Inter, who were a man down.


Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will decide on the future of defender Sami Hyypia later in the season.
The 34 year-old has been outstanding in the continued absence of Danish centre-back Daniel Agger through injury, and intimated that he would like a new contract when his current deal runs out in the summer.
Benitez had planned to use Hyypia as cover for Agger and Jamie Carragher this term but has been forced to use the Finland international 33 times as Liverpool's defensive strength has been stretched.
Agger made his comeback from a five-month absence with metatarsal injury in the reserves against Manchester United's second string last night and is almost ready for a return to first-team action.
Hyypia, linked with both Fulham and Newcastle in recent months, expressed a desire to stay at the club and complete 10 years at Anfield in 2009.
Benitez, who has also bought Slovakian 23-year-old Martin Skrtel for £6.5million from Zenit St Petersburg, insists Hyypia "has nothing to prove" - and a decision on his long-term future will be delayed until near the end of the season.
The Spaniard said: "I was talking with him, but he knows we have to wait a little bit.
"I am really pleased with him. The question now is to see how he progresses, but he knows my thoughts.
"He doesn't have to prove anything. We know him, and he knows why we have to analyse the situation. "Every year he has been a key player for us. He's a centre-back with experience who's good in the air and who can play the ball.
"He is playing more games than we maybe expected this season - but every game his performance is good."
Hyypia has spent almost a decade at Anfield after being signed from Willem II by Gerard Houllier in May 1999, and is regarded by Liverpool fans as one of the club's greatest servants.
Hyypia added: "My priority would be to stay at Liverpool, but it's not only up to me. I haven't got any offers yet from here or any other clubs, so I am just trying to focus on the matches.
"I am enjoying playing, and I have played more games than maybe I thought I would this season because of all the injuries. The only thing I can do is try to play well. It would be very nice to get to 10 years at the club, but I am just concentrating on playing well.
"Whether I stay wouldn't depend on how many games I play. I am not like that. I'm not interested in somebody promising me something.
"If we have four centre-backs then everyone fights for their place, and performances should determine who plays. If I keep playing well then it will be difficult for the manager to change things."


Fernando Torres was absolutely fantastic against Middlesbrough on Saturday and I think we can say without any shadow of a doubt that he is one of the very best strikers around.
If you look at the Premiership. The likes of Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Emmanuel Adebayor and Cristiano Ronaldo are all fantastic players in their own right but in terms of being a threat in front of goal I don't think there is anyone better than Torres at the moment.

Every time he gets the ball he looks threatening and the pace he has and the work he puts in means defenders are always on the back foot when he is anywhere near the box.

Middlesbrough knew exactly what to expect because Torres scored a brilliant goal against them when the two sides met at the Riverside last month, but they were powerless to stop him.

All three goals showed his ability to put opposition players ill at ease and that's all because of his work rate.

There is nothing that defenders hate more than a centre forward who doesn't stop working and harassing them for the full 90 minutes and that's exactly what he does.

Middlesbrough's defence has done well of late but there was nothing they could do about Torres and I'm sure there will be plenty more back fours who suffer exactly the same fate at his hands.

All three of his goals illustrated what he is about but if I was asked to pick my favourite it would have to be his third.

The first one showed how alert he is when the opposition is in possession and he latched on to Julio Arca's header because he could see it coming.

The second was a wonderful strike which gave Mark Schwarzer absolutely no chance and it brought the ground to its feet.

But there was something about his third that really struck a chord with me. I think it was the way he chased a long ball down and unsettled Schwarzer and David Wheater so much that they ended up making a terrible mistake.

Even after they had messed up, Torres still had a lot to do though and he showed great awareness of his surroundings and his position on the pitch to hook the ball home.

From a striker's point of view it was a great and it gave me a lot of pleasure to see it. I don't think anyone expected Torres to have such a massive impact on the Premiership when he made the move to English football. But he is clearly revelling in it and I can only see him getting better.


Liverpool Echo 27 February 2008

Rafa Benitez emphasised at the weekend the need for Liverpool to step up their challenge for fourth place, writes Tommy Smith.
Of course, he was right, and Liverpool duly obliged – if only for 48 hours. However, the result from the City of Manchester stadium on Monday night underlined the fact that the Reds face a major challenge for that fourth spot, not least from their neighbours, Everton.
It was an excellent win by the Blues and one which threw down the gauntlet to their Mersey rivals as they go head to head for that vital Champions League spot.
With a three points difference again it underlines why a win at Bolton on Sunday is essential for Benitez's team. Bolton are struggling for survival in the Premier League, yet they have never made it easy for the Reds, particularly when led by Sam Allardyce.
He was very much an 'in your face' manager who produced a side that always made life difficult. They need points as desperately as the Reds, but Gary Megson won't be too adventurous, despite being the home side.
That's why a strong Benitez side must go and take the game to Bolton and return with three points. We're getting to the business end of the season now, so there's no room for caution.
The Reds need wins – a draw might normally have been acceptable, but not any more given how tight the table is. It's a case of who dares wins now.
The Reds must try to capitalise on the home games remaining, especially with matches against West Ham, Newcastle and Reading next.
And I don't have to emphasise why a win in the Anfield derby is essential.
Two of the Reds' away games are at Arsenal and United, where points are hard to find, so the Reds have to keep on winning.
I felt sorry for both Eduardo and Martin Taylor after the gut-wrenching tackle at the weekend. It was an ill-judged, mistimed tackle by Taylor, who deserved his red card, but it wasn't a deliberate attempt to damage the player. Eduardo was just unlucky where Taylor caught him and we wish the Arsenal player a speedy recovery. Despite the reputation I had, I was only involved in one "broken leg" incident, and that came in a tackle I made when I was 15!

Rafa Benitez: Return of Daniel Agger is a huge boost

Feb 27 2008
by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo

RAFA BENITEZ today welcomed the added competition for places at Anfield as a quartet of players came through last night’s reserve team clash with Manchester United unscathed.
Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel both played a half each, while Xabi Alonso and Harry Kewell both got their names on the scoresheet and completed the full 90 minutes as they press for first team recalls.
Having been without Agger for more than five months as the Dane struggled to recover from a broken metatarsal sustained in September, Benitez was delighted to see the stylish defender finally make his return to competitive action.
He said: "It was good for Agger to get some minutes on the pitch and we decided before the game that he would play the first half and Skrtel would play the second.
"Agger did well and now we will have to see how he is today.
"When you have been out for a long time you have to be careful and you cannot rush back because if you come back too early you can have some problems.
"But Agger did well and it was good to see him back playing football again."
With Skrtel also enjoying a 45 minute run out as he bids to get back to full fitness, the Reds boss could soon find himself with a healthy selection problem at centre half.
He said: "It will be good for us to have Skrtel and Agger available again because at the moment we have only Sami and Carra.
"It is important to have two players for every position.
"It was also good for us to see Kewell and Alonso because we know that they have quality.
“It was important for them and it was important for us."
Meanwhile, Crewe have denied suggestions that starlet Max Clayton is on his way to Liverpool.
Clayton is just 14-years-old, but he is already considered a prize asset in Crewe's highly acclaimed youth set-up and reports at the weekend suggested the Reds were set to snap him up in a £1.5m deal but Crewe say they have had no approach for the youngster and would not welcome one.
Meanwhile, Reds co-owner Tom Hicks has issued the following statement in reaction to speculation about his future ownership at Anfield:
"Reports in the UK media that I am about to sell my stake in the Liverpool Football Club, or to invite DIC to examine the Club's books in preparation for such a sale - like other such reports planted in the UK press in recent weeks by parties with their own self-interested agenda - are absolutely and categorically false.
“The reality is that I am personally, professionally and financially committed to the club and its supporters and that I will continue to honor that commitment to the best of my ability now and in the future.”

'It's not nearly good enough', vents Gerrard

Steven Gerrard has delivered a scathing assessment of Liverpool's faltering campaign by declaring even winning the Champions League will not make up for the dismal performance in the Premier League.
The Liverpool skipper accepts that only fourth place now is acceptable as they battle to secure entry into Europe's elite competition next term.
But he said: 'You don't get any prizes in football for finishing in second place, never mind fourth.
'I don't think that the fans would accept fourth as an accomplishment and for me it's not nearly good enough.
'We need to improve dramatically and even if we do finish fourth, it doesn't mean we have had a good season.'
Gerrard accepts Liverpool are now involved in a winner-takes-all battle for fourth spot with neighbours Everton and Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Manchester City.
Having regained fourth place on Saturday by beating Middlesbrough, they saw Everton grab it back on Monday with an impressive demolition of Sven-Goran Eriksson's City.
And the battle will rage on this weekend with Liverpool at Bolton on Sunday while Everton are at home to Pompey later in the day.
Gerrard, in an LFC magazine interview, showed his own frustrations and anger at the club's current fortunes.
He said: 'In the position we find ourselves now, fourth is the least that is acceptable. But we have bigger ambitions than that.
'The only way we can fulfil those ambitions is in the Champions League. And I am not going to pretend that even winning that trophy - and we are a long way away from it at the moment - will make up for the disappointment of the league campaign.
'I'm pretty gutted every time I look at the table and see the gap between us and Arsenal at the top, and even the gap between us and second and third.
'We believed we had the players to challenge for the title, and we wanted that one more than any other trophy available to us. I still believe we have the squad to be a hell of a lot more competitive than we are right now.'
And Gerrard, significantly, claims the time has come for the club to stop looking at their long-term potential. The Reds skipper, who has again been linked recently with a summer move to Real Madrid, said: 'I'm getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
'We can't keep talking about next season all the time. There are only so many times you can say it and believe it. Sooner or later we have to make one season the season we make it happen and do the talking on the pitch.
'We need to make people believe it. I'm 27 now, I don't want to be talking about 'next season' for Liverpool when I'm 32.
'We've got the stadium, the fans, the manager and the players to compete for the Premier League. But we have no chance of doing that if we are always well out of it by the first week in January.
'And at the moment we have our work cut out fighting it out with Villa, Everton and Manchester City for fourth.'
And he added: 'Only we can make this season a success now. We'd like to finish fourth and win the European Cup again.
'But the demands of being a Liverpool player, the expectations that come with the privilege of pulling on that jersey mean we've got to improve.
'You make your own luck, shape your own destiny. And now we soon have massive games at Manchester United and Arsenal, knowing we can't win the league.
'We are not bothered about whether we have an impact on the title race we're not in. But winning at both those places would send out a message for next season. That would lay down a marker that no-one would ignore.'
Gerrard also expresses a disappointment that a season of crisis off the pitch has given 'those in the media who don't like Liverpool' the chance to criticise.
'We have made it easy for them,' he said.
'It's not been a good situation (the takeover speculation) for anybody. It's sad so much of the club's business has been conducted in public. The club I have grown up supporting always did its business behind closed doors, and that is what we have to get back to.
'It's been a damaging situation for every single person involved with the club, fans, players, bosses, owners, from top to bottom.'
But Gerrard's theme, which should not be ignored by those 'bosses and owners', is the lack of a real title challenge.
He added: 'If you asked most of our fans, they would rather see the title than the European Cup at Anfield. We've not won it in a long, long time.
'Looking at the league table hurts. This time last year we were third and Arsenal were fourth, and that is the way the season ended. It hurts to see where Arsenal are now.'

27 February 2008

Atletico want Liverpool coach Benitez on board

By Vicki Hodges
Last Updated: 7:46am GMT 27/02/2008

Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez will be offered an escape route from Anfield this summer by Atletico Madrid.
The Spanish outfit have indentified the under-fire Liverpool coach as their No 1 target to replace Javier Aguirre, who is expected to be sacked at the end of the season in wake of their Uefa Cup exit to Bolton last week.
Benitez's own future hangs in the balance following Liverpool's cup failings which saw them crash out of the FA Cup to a last-gasp winner at home to Barnsley earlier this month.
The Spaniard would go a long way of preserving his position with a successful Champions League campaign and fourth-place league finish, but even that would not safeguard his job with Dubai International Capital holding out hopes of completing a takeover of the club.
Although Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks dismissed speculation that he is ready to sell his stake in the club to the investment arm of the Dubai royal family, his comments yesterday are unlikely to draw a line under the episode.
The turmoil has already affected Liverpool's season on the pitch and while Benitez might be given one-last chance to turn things around in the summer, he could be tempted by a fresh challenge back in his homeland.
Officials from Atletico, including club president Enrique Cerezo and sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch, are thought to have discussed the possibility of luring Benitez to the Vicente Calderon earlier this week with a view of making a move for the former Valencia coach at the end of the season.
"We know it might be difficult but we will fight for the chance," a club source says in the Star.
As Benitez maintains his focus to on-the-field matters at Anfield, he will have been pleased to see Daniel Agger continue his comeback from injury in Liverpool reserves' 2-0 win over Manchester United last night.
The Denmark international lasted 45 minutes before being replaced by Martin Skrtel having been sidelined with a broken metatarsal since September.
A Xabi Alonso penalty and Harry Kewell strike sealed the win which saw Liverpool extend their lead at the top of the Premier Reserve League North to nine points.


Rafael Benitez has revealed he expects to use his rotation policy less in the coming months now Liverpool are fighting on just two fronts.
The Reds boss made only one change in Saturday's win over Middlesbrough from the victory over Inter Milan four days earlier - and that was enforced due to Jamie Carragher's ban.
When asked about his plans Benitez told the club's website: "I think so. It will depend on the players in the end, but we can keep some players playing more games now."
Saturday's 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough saw Liverpool temporarily leapfrog Everton into fourth place until the Toffees' win over Manchester City on Monday allowed them to reclaim the final Champions League spot.
"Everton have a lot of confidence right now and it was a good win for them (on Monday), but it's a long race," said Benitez.
"Portsmouth, Villa, Everton, City and us will all be there. I'm not sure if it will go to the final game but I think a lot will depend on these three games we have in a row."
utusanLFC :
THINK THIS : if Rafa implemented the ROTATE LESS since the beginning of the season, we could have been STILL IN ALL THE 4 COMPETITION... instead of 2...

Reports of imminent Liverpool sale 'false', insists Hicks

By Nick HarrisWednesday, 27 February 2008

Liverpool's co-owner, Tom Hicks, insisted yesterday that he has no plans to sell his stake in the club and described reports that he has granted permission for Dubai International Capital (DIC) to inspect the books ahead of a mooted takeover as "absolutely and categorically false".
That stance reiterates the position Hicks has maintained throughout DIC's circling of the club, but Liverpool's future remains clouded. Hicks, for all his protestations, has maintained contact with DIC since a £350m refinancing deal last month apparently cemented his and co-owner George Gillett's ownership.
No price for a sale has been discussed, but Hicks could provide no outright denial of those talks yesterday. "If he's not interested in selling, why is he still talking to us?" asked a DIC source.
There is also a growing rift between Hicks and his American compatriot, Gillett, who is understood to be a more willing seller. But DIC, an investment vehicle ultimately controlled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, one of the world's richest men, acknowledges privately that an imminent takeover "is far from certain".
DIC would want assurances of being able to buy at least 51 per cent of the club to invest at all. If Hicks will not sell, no deal will happen. Hicks is only likely to change his mind about staying at Liverpool if the team miss out on qualifying for next season's Champions League.
That would leave a £20m-plus hole in Liverpool's budget next year, and probably require Hicks and Gillett to inject some of their own money, for the first time, which they may or may not be able to do.
For the moment, Hicks says: "Reports that I am about to sell my stake in the Liverpool Football Club, or to invite DIC to examine the club's books in preparation for such a sale – like other such reports planted in the UK press by parties with their own self-interested agenda – are absolutely and categorically false. The reality is that I am personally, professionally and financially committed to the club and its supporters and that I will continue to honour that commitment to the best of my ability now and in the future."
The phrase "best of my ability" gives the merest hint of future financial vulnerability. Nobody argues that Liverpool, in a new 60,000-seat stadium at some unspecified date, can be hugely profitable. Getting from now to then – and funding that stadium – is where the uncertainty lies.

26 February 2008

Sami Hyypia aiming to win new Liverpool contract

By David Maddock 26/02/2008

Sami Hyypia is aiming to win another contract at Anfield so he can join an elite club of players who have given 10 years service to Liverpool.
The Finnish defender has been linked with several Premier League clubs, as his contract runs down, with no hint yet of a new deal.
Newcastle, Fulham and Bolton were all interested, but the central defender is adamant that he wants to stay at Liverpool.
And despite approaching his 35th birthday, the centre-half believes he can earn a new contract.
"My priority would be to stay at Liverpool, but it's not only up to me," he said.
"I haven't got any offers yet from here or any other clubs, so I'm just trying to focus on the matches.
"I'm enjoying playing. I've played more games than I maybe thought I would this season because of all the injuries.
"The only thing I can do is try to play well, and when it's time to sit down see what happens.
"It would be very nice to get to 10 years at the club but I'm just concentrating on playing well."

Hyypia is the second longest serving player at the club behind Jamie Carragher, and he would enter a decade at Anfield if he wins a new deal.
And the defender admitted that at this stage of his career he is ready to accept any offer from Liverpool, no matter how much competition he faces from other centre-halves.
Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger will return from injury this week to stake their claim to a centre-half berth at Bolton on Sunday, but Hyypia is confident his form will fight off the challenge from the youngsters for some time yet.
"Whether I stay wouldn't depend on how many games I play. I'm not like that. I'm not interested in someone promising me anything," he added.
"If we have four centre-backs, then everyone fights for their place and performances should determine who plays.
"If I keep playing well then it'll be very difficult for the manager to change things."

Liverpool's American owners set to sell

Oliver Kay Times Online EXCLUSIVE

Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, Liverpool’s American owners, are preparing to signal the beginning of the end of their regime at Anfield by granting Dubai International Capital (DIC) permission to examine the club’s accounts with a view to making an official takeover bid next month.
Hicks has consistently claimed that he has no intention of selling his 50 per cent stake in the club, but, while he plans to retain some of his shares and some of his influence at Anfield for the immediate future, face-to-face discussions with DIC officials in Dubai and, more significantly, London last week have brought a deal closer.
Although a final agreement is understood to be some weeks away, with the Americans eager to maximise their profits after a turbulent 12 months in control, sources in the United States have indicated that they are ready to demonstrate their willingness to sell by granting a period of due diligence to DIC, the private-equity investment arm of the Dubai Government.
Gillett, whose involvement with the club is now minimal, is expected to be the first to sell his 50 per cent stake, possibly by the middle of next month. Hicks is likely to sell only part of his stake initially, leaving DIC in majority control of the club but retaining some interest and his place on the board, at least in the short term.
Hicks’s abrasive manner means that he is regarded as the most likely obstacle to any deal being completed, but discussions are said to be progressing “sensibly and professionally”, albeit slowly. Although Hicks could, in theory, buy Gillett’s stake in order to strengthen his own bargaining position, that is thought to be unlikely.
For now, no price has been agreed between DIC and either of the co-chairmen. The Americans, whose initial takeover just over 12 months ago was valued at £218.9 million, now put the club’s worth at more than £400 million, but £350 million of that figure would be swallowed by the debts incurred as a result of their recent refinancing deal. DIC would be reluctant to meet that valuation if, as remains the case, Liverpool are in danger of missing out on qualification for next season’s Champions League and the associated riches.
DIC’s plans for Liverpool are not yet clear beyond its eagerness to conduct a wide-ranging review of all departments of the club, but its arrival would be greeted enthusiastically by many supporters.
Welcomed by some as saviours in February last year, the Americans have attracted hostility not only by taking the club into debt — something that they pledged they would not do — but also by their treatment of Rafael Benítez, the manager, having held talks with Jürgen Klinsmann, the former Germany coach, about replacing him. There was also the embarrassment over their grandiose designs for a new stadium, which were unveiled amid fanfare in July only to be dropped owing to spiralling costs less than five months later.
Tom Hicks Jr, who was invited to join his father on the board, was confronted angrily by some supporters when he visited a pub near Anfield on Saturday. He claimed yesterday that he “had several constructive conversations” during his visit and that he hoped to “follow up with them next time I am in Liverpool”.
By contrast, Gillett’s son, Foster, who was initially dispatched to Merseyside to liaise between Benítez and the owners, has spent the past month in Montreal, apparently with no plans to return. Benítez has attempted to build bridges with Hicks in the meantime, but now it seems that power at Anfield is about to be transferred to Dubai.
utusanLFC : this story which appeared in The Times today... didn't quote anybody and heavily slanting on SPECULATION. But lets pray DIC will nick it sooner or later.

25 February 2008


The first and the most memorable goal against Chelshit...

Hicks son defiant after pub fracas

Last updated at 08:38am on 26th February 2008

Tom Hicks Jnr says the Liverpool fans who spat and threw lager over him will not drive him out of the club.
The 6ft 4in son of Tom Hicks, one of the club's American co-owners, was forced to leave the Sandon pub near Anfield by a number of angry supporters after attending Saturday's Premier League win over Middlesbrough.
Hicks Jnr, who was made a director along with Foster Gillett, son of George, made a surprise visit to the pub, which served as the meeting place for the formation of the club in 1892.
He was with friends and security men and at first there were no problems as he responded to questions from fans.
But the atmosphere became unpleasant as a crowd formed. He had lager thrown at him and one fan spat at him before he was driven away.
He said: "I've wanted to go for quite some time to see the birthplace of the club. I also wanted the opportunity to have a direct talk with some of the supporters.
"I respect that some patrons have major disagreements with us, but that comes with the territory. I did have several constructive conversations in my short visit and look forward to following up with them next time I am in Liverpool."
He made no complaint to Merseyside Police over the incident and the matter is unlikely to be pursued.
Some fans want Hicks and Gillett to sell up, claiming they have not kept the promises made at the time of their takeover 12 months ago and have also treated manager Rafa Benitez unfairly.

Anfield fans turn on son of Hicks

James Ducker

The animosity towards Liverpool’s American owners deepened over the weekend when the son of Tom Hicks was heckled by angry fans and spat at in a pub outside Anfield after the Barclays Premier League match against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Since admitting that he had held talks with Jürgen Klinsmann, the former Germany coach, about succeeding Rafael BenÍtez as the Liverpool manager, Hicks has incurred much of the wrath from supporters opposed to his and George Gillett Jr’s regime.
Tom Hicks Jr, who was appointed to the Liverpool board of directors in the wake of his father’s takeover of the club a year ago, had been to watch the 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough when, against the wishes of the small party he was with, he decided to visit the Sandon pub, a popular haunt among diehard fans situated in the shadow of the Kop, about an hour after the game had finished.
Although not immediately recognised, Hicks Jr was approached a few minutes later by one supporter with whom he is understood to have had a constructive discussion about his father’s long-term intentions, but after ordering drinks at the bar, the atmosphere changed. Hicks Jr and his party, which was thought to include at least two other Americans and two drivers, became the target of antiAmerican chants and when they went to leave about 15 minutes later, Hicks Jr is believed to have been confronted by one fan, who spat at him but missed.
About £1,000 worth of damage is also understood to have been caused to the car chauffeuring Hicks Jr as the remonstrations turned ugly. One onlooker told The Times: “It was just after 6pm that Hicks’s son and the group he was with came into the pub. After a few minutes people started to recognise who he was. They were at the bar ordering drinks when the antiAmerican chants started and they carried on until they left ten minutes later. You could say he was a bit naive coming in somewhere like that.”
Hicks Jr is not the first of Liverpool’s American contingent to visit the Sandon. Gillett’s son, Foster, did so twice before Christmas last year and was warmly greeted, although there was not the opposition to the takeover that there is now.
Despite Hicks Jr’s apparent claims that his father remains committed to Liverpool in the long term, Hicks was in Dubai last week, fuelling speculation that Dubai International Capital (DIC), the private equity investment arm of the Arab state, is on the verge of buying the club. Informal talks between DIC and the Americans have been going on for several weeks, but while Hicks’s intentions are unclear, Gillett is thought to be ready to sell his 50 per cent stake in the club.


As I sat in the office today, my first & foremost thing I did was taunting one Chelsea fan. And I am waiting for the other to come, later in the evening. I said it aloud... Last night, I officially support Hotspur as my 2nd team. Liverpool No.1 and Hotspur No.2. hahaha... my officemates just laugh as they knew me really well as the `president' of LFC Supporters Club here in our company. Well... there's no officialdom there but I'm the one who hand-out the stickers, forms, documents etc etc... that related to LFC to fellow Kops here in the office. So it must be me! hahaha... Anyway... not only I am having a field day mocking those Chelsea fans but also gained a good RM50 from one of them. A good bet, indeed!

24 February 2008



Now Torres has scored 21 goals. It has been 5 years since. That was during Owen era. What a feeling! Now we have a super Striker in Torres. Hopefully, Rafa won't rotate him too much and he will score 30 goals this season in ALL competition. Now that's 26 million pounds worth every penny!
Torres... WE SALUTE YOU! Go for 30 goals! GO TORRES!


LFC 3 - Boro 2

James Ducker at Anfield

Gareth Southgate, the Middlesbrough manager, had a point when he suggested that it was not simply because of Fernando Torres that his team lost at Anfield, but another way of looking at it is that Liverpool would almost certainly not have won on Saturday had the Spain striker not been on the pitch.
Torres may have claimed his first Premier League hat-trick, and second of his Liverpool career thanks, in part, to two appalling individual errors, but as he walked off the pitch clutching the match-ball that Lee Mason, the referee, had initially appeared reluctant to hand him before common sense prevailed, two questions sprung to mind.
Without Torres, precisely what kind of mess would Liverpool have found themselves in this season, and, moreover, just how good can the former Atlético Madrid forward become?
Rafael BenÍtez, the Liverpool manager, attempted to answer the second question by suggesting that Torres still has some way to go before people start to see the best from him.
But, in response to the first question, it is probably a reflection of how poor Liverpool have been that, despite possessing a striker who has plundered 21 goals from 27 starts in his debut campaign in England, the team should still find themselves facing a frantic fight to finish fourth in the league and clinging to the hope of salvation in Europe.
“Maybe people will look at it as a successful season for me, but I’ll only consider the season a success if we win something,” Torres said. “I’m 23 and I’ve never won a medal. The only time I did was when I was an Under16 and Under19 player [at Atlético] but that’s a long time ago. I’d prefer to be remembered as someone who helped Liverpool to win trophies than a great goalscorer. It’s not about me, it’s about the team.”
While Sami Hyypia has no doubts that Torres can emulate the very best, the defender has been surprised by how quickly his teammate has adapted to the Premier League. “Fernando has everything in his locker,” Hyypia said. “Liverpool have had some great goalscorers in the past and he might join them and become one of the most successful ones if he continues in this way. Having watched him play in Spain, I didn’t expect him to be that physical, but he won’t shirk from any challenges and always gives the defenders a very hard time.”
It has become a familiar failing of Liverpool under BenÍtez to excel in Europe, only to fall flat in the league a few days later and so, having overcome Inter Milan, the runaway Serie A leaders, in the Champions League at Anfield on Tuesday, it surprised no one when Middlesbrough took the lead through Tuncay Sanli.
Middlesbrough were a threat all game. Well organised and determined, they are an entirely different proposition than during the first few months of the season, but three rushes of blood to the head cost them dear.
Julio Arca’s suicidal back header presented Torres with his first goal at a time when Middlesbrough were under next to no pressure, but the mistake prompted them momentarily to lose their shape and a minute later the Liverpool striker had made it 2-1 with a wonderful 20-yard strike.
Worse was to follow in the second period when, inexplicably, Mark Schwarzer, the Middlesbrough goal-keeper, ran out to clear the ball and got himself in a dreadful mix-up with David Wheater, allowing Torres to stroke the ball home for his hat-trick.
Within minutes of Stewart Downing pulling a goal back, Jeremie Aliadière was sent off for slapping Javier Mascherano in the face after reacting angrily to the Liverpool midfield player cheekily pinching his nose.
Steven Gerrard hit a post with what would have been a sumptuous free kick, but no one was going to steal Torres’s thunder.



The GOLDEN Team of Kenny Daglish

The GOLDEN Team of Kenny Daglish
If we have them now, say farewell to Arsenal, Man.U and Chelsea... if...