Thursday, April 28, 2011

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish praises Joe Cole following last-gasp goal

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has praised Joe Cole following the midfielders goal in the Reds emphatic win over Birmingham City last weekend. 

The former Chelsea man scored the final of Liverpool’s five goals in a game which saw Maxi Rodriguez net his first hat-trick for the Anfield outfit.

Cole has a had a hard time settling in on Merseyside since his move from London, having missed large parts of the season through injury and suspension.

Dalglish, however, believes the 29-year-old has the ability to bounce back from his poor start and says his goal against Birmingham could be vital for the England internationals confidence.

"Joe's goal wasn't a little contribution, it could be massive for him," Dalglish told his pre-Newcastle press conference.

"He has not had as many opportunities as he'd have liked because of injuries and suspension.

"Joe has had a difficult time here, so great credit to him for the way he has been training and working every single day.

"He hasn't let that affect him and that's all I can ask for - when anyone gets their chance, to go and do their best.

"And to his great credit, he is fantastic in training. He plays everything right and there isn't a problem."

Meanwhile Dalglish also stated he would not be commenting on individual players from other teams after being asked about Newcastle’s Joey Barton, who Liverpool had been linked to in some media reports this week.

The chances of Andy Carroll featuring against his former club Newcastle at the weekend are also still in doubt, with Dalglish failing to give a certain answer on the strikers fitness and suggesting he would not be willing to risk a half fit player.

"We don't know if he'll be fit. It's only Thursday so we've got a few days before the game," The Scot said.

"I don't think nature knows it's his old club Newcastle, so if he's not fit, he's not fit.

"For Andy it's a poignant game but if he's not fit, he's not fit. We can't do anything about that."




Saturday, April 23, 2011

Liverpool 5-0 Birmingham City: Maxi treble boosts Euro hopes.

A hat-trick courtesy of Maxi Rodriguez helped send Liverpool on their way to a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Birmingham City at Anfield, and keep their hopes of European qualification alive.

Liverpool v Birmingham City LIVE

Liverpool are set to take on Birmingham City at Anfield today in a game which is crucial for the Reds chances of qualifying for Europe next season. Follow all the action live and interactive here from 2pm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I want to stay with Juventus, admits Alberto Aquilani

On-loan Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani has expressed his desire to stay at Italian club Juventus after his loan ends in the summer. 

Photo by Tracky Birthday
The 26-year-old went on loan to the Turin outfit during last summers transfer window after a disappointing and injury-plagued first season at Anfield.

"My situation is simple. It all depends on Juventus – if they want to, [they can] buy me without asking anyone's opinion," Aquilani told Gazzetta Dello Sport.

"I would like to stay in Turin for a long time and win a lot. I want to be a protagonist in the new winning cycle that is opening up at Juventus. I have no doubt that Juve's project is a winner, they just need a little patience."

In order for Aquilani to make his move to Juventus the Italian club will have to pay the Reds a pre-agreed fee of £14 million, which may be a major hurdle for any potential deal.

Should Juventus not be willing to part with such a high fee for the midfielder then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has insisted there is a future for Aquilani on Merseyside.

"When people talk about next season, I'm surprised they don't give Alberto a mention," Dalglish told the club's official website.

"Everyone seems to have forgotten about him.

"I know he has done really well at Juventus this season. When the loan finishes at the end of the season, he reverts back to being a Liverpool player.

"Nothing is cast in stone and he could be coming back to play for Liverpool. He could be a valuable asset here next season. He's still our player.”

REPORT: Liverpool agree record breaking kit deal

Warrior, a subsidiary of Boston based New Balance, has secured a Premier League record deal to become the new kit producer of Liverpool Football Club. 

The sports company signed a multi-year deal which will see them pay the Anfield club £25m per season beginning in 2012/13.

Adidas, who are the current kit manufacturer for the club, had the chance to make an improved offer of their own but didn’t believe matching or improving upon the fee was feasible despite Liverpool being top the shirt sales league in England and second only to Real Madrid in Europe.

The £25m a year is worth more than double Liverpool’s current deal with Adidas, who currently pay £12m a season to produce the official merchandise.

The gap of £13m is only believed to be around £4m less than Tottenham Hotspur earned from Champions League television rights, further evidencing recently appointed managing director Ian Ayre’s comments that Liverpool can be financial sustainable without Champions League football in the short-term.

"There's no hiding from the fact that if you don't participate in European football then it is a big hit to your revenues.” Ayre stated.

"At the same time a football club like Liverpool is an institution that has been around for many, many years and commercially is significantly ahead of most of its competitors, other than one [Manchester United].

"Our revenues and the way we govern our business is absolutely geared to be able to survive and continue to prosper without European football but that's not to say we don't want it."

The news comes shortly after it was revealed by Forbes that the value of the club has slipped dramatically over the last twelve months despite the removal of Tom Hick, George Gillett and the debt the American duo brought to the club.

According to the report Liverpool’s value has slipped by £200m from £532m to £332m, with the consensus being this drop was due to the clubs failure to qualify for the lucrative Champions League as well as losing big name players such as Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres.

However the Warrior deal, along with Liverpool's record sponsorship agreement with Standard Chartered, is likely to see the value once again increase over the next twelve months providing Liverpool begin to progress on the field as well as off it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dynamic Dalglish: King Kenny of Liverpool

Many words have been used to describe King Kenny across his many glorious decades for Celtic, Liverpool and Scotland, in fact his description as the King says more than most other words ever could, even the one I would like to add to the list, which by now I am sure you have noticed is "Dynamic".

Dynamic [dyn-am-ik]
–adjective Also, dy·nam·i·cal.


3. Also: dynamical characterized by force of personality,ambition, energy, new ideas, etc
(www.dictionary.com)

I don't think there is much that I could add to that description that could do any further justice to Kenny, if I didn't know any better I'd say the accompanying photograph would have been Kenny's twitter avatar.

What I would like to add though is how much more dynamic the team looks under Kenny's guidance, there is an underlying spirit about the team which is quite evident in the way that the team has played the last 2 fixture's. The two games were so contrasting but just as equally accomplished in their own right, at home a lambasting of Manchester City and a containment job on Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium.

The game at Manchester City was an absolute joy to watch and I could only sit and imagine with envy what it would have been like to be inside Anfield on Monday evening for such a performance. The game was carried to Manchester City with attitude and swagger, the kind of attitude that epitomises many of the best teams all around the world.

In stark contrast, Liverpool arrived at The Emirates in a completely different style, much more ready for a battle, prepared to working hard and battling Arsenal to submission. Its a tactic that is so effective at The Emirates because everyone know Arsenal at the core are rather soft and easily riled.

I loved watching both these games for quite different reason's, but looking at both games it could easily be argued that even with such different tactics both of games featured something that just cannot be bought on the transfer market.

Dynamism!!

We most definitely "enforced our personality" onto each game, a different side of our collective personality in each fixture. One with a swagger and bravery, the other with a rugged determination and toughness bout both equally as effective in the situation.

Both games identified incredible "ambition", much more evidently in the Manchester City game of course, however it cannot be argued against in the Arsenal game either, in fact Liverpool had five shots on target and four off to Arsenal's five on target and six off (Sky Sports).

"Energy", well that it most certainly something that is not lacking from our game at the moment, embodied in our Spearing Lucas, Kuyt midfield, there's enough energy to power most of the United Kingdom.


Lastly, "new idea's", doesn't need much explanation really, since Kenny's inception as manager I think I have seen Liverpool play at 4 different style's of football, each suited to the personnel and style of opponents, never more aptly displayed against Manchester City and Arsenal.

Its quite incredible what Kenny has been able to produce when setting all this against a back-drop where we are missing at least 4 players who would be considered 1st eleven (Gerrard, Agger, Kelly, Johnson).

If there is anything, aside from 4 well earned points, that we can take from our past 2 fixtures, its yet further evidence that not only does King Kenny have the dynamism to lead a team out for game of football, but he could quite easily lead ever single Kopite out to the battlefield.

Would you follow Kenny out to battle?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City: Carroll double sinks Mancini's men.


Andy Carroll scored his first Liverpool goals as fourth placed Manchester City were soundly beaten 3-0 at Anfield.

The 22 year old found himself twice on the scoresheet with Dirk Kuyt dispatching the other, as Kenny Dalglish's side offered the Anfield faithful an evening to remember.

The result leaves Liverpool five points off a possible European spot, though it must be noted that Tottenham Hotspur have played one game less.

The game was preceded by a minute's silence ahead of the 22nd anniversary of Hillsborough this week. The manner in which it was observed and the performance that followed from Liverpool was a fitting tribute to the 96 supporters who lost their lives in 1989.

The Reds went into the match with injury problems in defence. Fabio Aurelio came in for Daniel Agger, and 18 year old Liverpool-born John Flanagan was handed his Liverpool debut in what was potentially a baptism of fire.

Not that the under-prepared defence had their work cut out, with wave after wave of vibrant attacking football from the hosts providing the constant theme of the encounter.

It was Liverpool who started off the brightest, with Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll combining to set up Dirk Kuyt, whose dipping volley did little to trouble Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal.

The England number one had to be at his very best to keep out Suarez seconds later though, as a loose pass from Carroll was picked up by the Uruguayan and driven in low, only to be kept out by a tipped save on to the post.

After 13 minutes, the deadlock had been broken, and it was a deserved lead for Liverpool. A speculative effort from Raul Meireles was ricocheted into the path of Andy Carroll who smashed a 25 yard effort into the bottom left hand corner of the Anfield Road end net; reminiscent of the strike for Newcastle against his new club in December.

City's evening wasn't helped shortly after the goal when Tevez departed holding his hamstring, his replacement Mario Balotelli entering the field to a chorus of boos.

The visitors did little to threaten the Liverpool goal in the first half, with the first shot in anger coming just before the half hour mark, as Mario Balotelli attempted to conjure up a Carroll-esque effort, only to see it go hopelessly wayward.

Kenny Dalglish's men, on the other hand, looked capable of scoring with every purposeful move into City's defensive third, and the second arrived in the 34th minute. Suarez, Lucas, Carroll and Aurelio had all tried to force the ball past the opposition defence before the persistence paid off, as Dirk Kuyt displayed the composure which has adhered him to the supporters, burying it past Hart.

Not long after, it was three. A diagonal Raul Meireles ball into the box found the head of Carroll, who sent the ball looping into the net for his second goal.

Liverpool didn't want the interval to come having exhibited arguably their finest 45 minutes of football this season.

Not that it fazed them. The second period began with Kuyt glancing a header just wide at the Kop end.

Lucas should have done better with a free header from a Meireles corner, and Suarez skewed a shot horribly wide, but the home support were in no mood to complain.

Kuyt and Suarez combined once more with 10 minutes to go but again the result was a shot off target, Kuyt dragging it past the left hand post.

City again offered nothing. Pepe Reina didn't have a save to make until 83 minutes following a thunderous effort from Yaya Toure, whilst substitute Balotelli found himself back on the bench to be replaced by the tough-tackling midfielder Nigel de Jong.

Carroll looked to have found his hat-trick on 88 minutes, when Suarez got past his man and crossed to the far post. The January signing headed beyond Hart but it wasn't to be, with his effort bouncing onto the roof of the net.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Liverpool: Two goals from the spot punish Reds.

Liverpool's push for European football next season took an almighty blow this afternoon, as two goals from Chris Brunt handed West Bromwich Albion a crucial 2-1 victory at the Hawthorns.

The pre-match focus centred around the manager of the hosts. This was Roy Hodgson's first encounter with Liverpool since he'd left the club in early January, following a disappointing half-year tenure. Ahead of the game, with enquiries on his time at Anfield bound to be brought up, Hodgson claimed circumstances meant that his job was always going to be a difficult one. He pointed the finger at the Liverpool supporters' want for Kenny Dalglish (the current manager), as opposed to himself, which meant that he was facing a struggle from day one.

Liverpool started off brightly, with an Andy Carroll cross finding Luis Suarez, who forced former Reds goalkeeper Scott Carson into an early stop. Just moments later, a Raul Meireles corner met the head of Carroll who flicked it towards the far post, where Dirk Kuyt couldn't force it past Scott Carson, eventually grazing the woodwork.

Just five minutes into the match, Dalglish's initial preparations for the game were interrupted, as Glen Johnson pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Sotirios Kyrgiakos replaced him, with Daniel Agger moving to left back.

The game descended into lull, with the next genuine opportunity coming in the 20th minute, as decisive movement from Luis Suarez allowed Dirk Kuyt to get a shot away, which ambled past Scott Carson's left hand post. This was followed just moments later with Jose Reina being forced into his first real save, as he got down well to tame an ultimately poor Chris Brunt free kick.

With just over a quarter of the game gone, Daniel Agger's game was over. An awkward turn seemed to have led to a twisted knee for the Danish centre half, and he was replaced by youngster Danny Wilson. The visitors' Plan A had reached its premature demise.

It nearly got worse for Dalglish's side, with two incidents involving Andy Carroll almost getting him dismissed. A yellow card for a lunge inside the penalty area was justifiably penalised by the referee, but a shove on a West Brom defender was waved away by the officials.

As the first half wore on, the Hawthorns' support were left encouraged by decent opportunities for their side. A powerful Jerome Thomas effort, and a misguided header from Martin Skrtel were both caught admirably by Reina in the Liverpool goal. A Steven Reid header from a Chris Brunt set-piece was also kept out by the impressive Spanish 'keeper.

The second half commenced with an immediate chance for the hosts, as Simon Cox managed to pull away from the opposition defence and force a firm stop from Reina, with the ball eventually being cleared by Skrtel. A sweet strike from Carroll followed, with Carson tipping it over in oustanding fashion.

He could do nothing about the corner that followed though. Raul Meireles' dead ball was accurate, Martin Skrtel was there to head his side into a 50th minute lead, and send the travelling support into raptures.

An interval had obviously benefitted the leading side, as a swift counter attack concluded with an untidy save from Scott Carson, with the tireless forward Dirk Kuyt providing the shot. An unmarked Suarez displayed his annoyance at not being fed through for what would have been an easier chance.

West Brom almost equalised just before the hour mark, with a brilliant cross from Nicky Shorey dealt with somehow by goalscorer Skrtel. The loose ball fell to the feet of Brunt, who struck it first time but was again denied by Reina.

Then, with twenty nine minutes remaining, the home team did equalise. A tangle in the area between Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Peter Odemwingie had the referee dubiously pointing to the spot. Chris Brunt stepped up, and fired home to square the match.

Hodgson's side almost took the lead just moments after, when a darting run from Odemwingie ended in another smart save from Reina. This was followed by a chance at the other end, where Luis Suarez's movement again carved an opening for Raul Meireles who blasted it high and wide.

The predictability of the match had vanished. West Brom were dominating, but Liverpool looked much more effective on the counter attack. Odemwingie and Thomas seemed the most likely to snatch it for the hosts, whilst the visitors' attacking outlet of Luis Suarez was causing West Brom problems.

It was Thomas who mustered up what looked to be his team's last opportunity to win the game, as he shifted on to his right side in the penalty area, but shot into the wanting arms of Reina. That wasn't their last opportunity though, as a Sotirios Kyrgiakos stumble from a long ball fell to the feet of the pacey Odemwingie who, with just Reina to beat, attempted to round the Liverpool goalkeeper. He failed to do so, but was once again brought down, and the second penalty of the match was given. Brunt stepped up once more, and smashed home the winner.

Dalglish's side came almightily close to salvaging a point, but a looping effort from Suarez was somehow plucked off the line.

West Brom v Liverpool LIVE


Friday, April 01, 2011

Can standing ever return to Premier League grounds?

The Football Supporters Federation – one of the largest representatives of football fans in the UK – recently launched a campaign which, should it be successful, would see legislation change so that safe standing areas would be allowed in the top two divisions of English football. 

Many supporters who attended game prior to the banning of the old-style standing terraces have often claimed that the new all-seated stadia have a detrimental impact upon the atmosphere at English stadiums. 

The FSF state on their website that: “Every week, thousands of people stand in front of their seats for the duration of the game. Attempts to remove this practice have largely failed.

“As a result, many who would like to sit down find their view blocked and are forced to stand. The FSF campaign for Safe Standing is as much about protecting the freedoms of those who wish to sit as those who wish to stand.”

This has been a key issue at many English grounds, especially in the Premier League, since the introduction of mandatory all-seater stadiums in the early 90's. At Anfield fans on the Kop often stand throughout the game, especially during European and Cup games when the whole 12,000 capacity of the stand can be on their feet. 

Away supporters often do the same, with the large travelling supports of clubs such as Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United often standing throughout the game, which causes problems for those supporters who want to sit and the authorities which are required to control them. 

There are other arguments which support safe standing. In European countries where standing is allowed ticket prices are often cheaper than those in the Premier League whilst having an all-standing area of a stadium may attract more supporters looking to enjoy the potentially improved atmosphere. 

All of these reasons suggest safe standing at English football would be a step in the right direction, helping both supporters who want to stand and sit and the authorities who have to regulate crowds at football matches based on government legislation. 

However for the survivors of the Hillsborough disaster, and the families of the 96, the memories of that fateful day are still fresh, with many seeing the FSF proposal as an insult at a time when they are still fighting for justice for those that were lost. 

Margret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group stated: "The Hillsborough Family Support Group are totally against any form of standing whatsoever. We are absolutely against it and always will be.

"Our football clubs should remain all-seater stadiums.

"People always say they have standing areas in Germany but we don't play any part over what happens in that country - we just believe there's no such thing as safe standing in this country.

"We will not be encouraging the Government to change the law."

The stance of Aspinall and the others at the HFSG is one which is mirrored by the Premier League, who released this statement on the issue:  "Our view is that the benefits of all-seater stadia far outweigh the return of standing areas. They have led to more women and more children attending the games and no matter how safe standing can be made, seating is always safer."

Whether all-seated stadia are safer, as suggested by the Premier League, has been questioned by many, with various reports suggesting that the continual standing at football is safer than in seated stadiums when supporters quickly rise for attacking moves, corners and goals. 

However even if the government were to amend legislation to allow for safe standing in top flight stadiums it is unlikely it would lead to many, if any, Premier League clubs adopting such a system at their grounds. 

As suggested by the Premier League the introduction of all-seated stadia has led to an influx of families at top flight games – a lucrative market for the clubs who will receive considerably more in match day revenue from such groups than they would from, for example, a season ticket holder. 

Many clubs, such as Arsenal and Manchester City, have only recently moved in to new stadiums, where they would have no incentive to deconstruct areas of the stadium whilst in older grounds, such as Anfield, a perfectly usable seating system is already in place, again offering little incentive for the clubs to change. 

Even in new stadiums there is little reasoning behind clubs building safe-standing areas. Fans, as in Germany, would expect cheaper tickets for such areas, but clubs would not want to offer lower pricing when a seated area could bring in more revenues. In Germany the system works well as clubs are at least partly owned by fans, in England the focus on financial performance will ultimately drive clubs away from safe-standing. 

There are compelling arguments for the return of standing, in the modern-day safe form, in England’s top flight. It can significantly improve the atmosphere inside a stadium, as anyone who has been to many of Germany’s larger venues, such as Dortmund’s stadium, will testify. 

It brings back nostalgic memories of the football of old, when the fans that came through the turnstiles were of the upmost importance to the club they supported. 

But now clubs think globally rather than locally and the new breed of match-going fans, including the lucrative family market, are prioritised by the majority of clubs and for that reason, even if safe-standing does become legal, it is unlikely any top flight clubs will jump on the bandwagon. 

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