Thursday, June 23, 2011

Damien Comolli can work successfully with Kenny Dalglish despite previous problems with Martin Jol

Liverpool's Director of Football Damien Comolli could forge a hugely successful working relationship with Kenny Dalglish, despite Fulham boss Martin Jol claiming the Frenchman was hard to work with. 

"There was never a problem with Comolli. The only thing was, he was responsible for most of the football things." Martin Jol said upon his arrival at Craven Cottage, having been appointed the new manager of Fulham.

"He [Comolli] came up with Ramos, but that was before, that was already in July. And that was a bit strange, to say the least." The Dutchman, in his first press conference for the West London club, suggested Comolli, Liverpool's current Director of Football, had touted the idea of replacing him during his tenure as boss of Tottenham Hotspur.

It's a side of Comolli Liverpool supporters have yet to see, a political side which, according to Jol at least, saw him liaising closely with the hierarchy at Tottenham, including chairman Daniel Levy, in order to see a new manager appointed, a manger who he may well have seen as a better working partner than Jol.

During his time at Anfield so far Comolli has operated, seemingly, as a head scout and negotiator, suggesting players who will fit into a game plan not of his own making. Kenny Dalglish is in control of the chessboard of players, Comolli, at least up until now, has merely helped to select the pieces for the now permanent manager of Liverpool.

There are of course distinct difference between Comolli's situation at Tottenham and what is going on at Liverpool. Firstly, when Comolli arrived at White Hart Lane, Martin Jol was already the manager of the club, at Liverpool Comolli, along with owners Fenway Sports Group, made the appointment of Dalglish after a string of poor results from the Reds' under Roy Hodgson.

"Kenny fits perfectly with what we’ve been looking for. There is nobody better to say what the club’s playing philosophy is because that’s what he represents." Comolli stated after Dalglish was appointed permanent manager in May.

"This is the right thing for the club and is very positive news. I have been talking with players about stability, about keeping them long-term, and I think that’s even more important with the manager. I think the last thing anyone wanted was another change, so this is a strong sign of stability and that the club is settled in all areas.

"We didn’t really look elsewhere because Kenny turned things around very quickly, with the help of Steve Clarke. For us, it was a no brainer."

It's clear from the quotes above that Comolli was keen to work with Dalglish and enthusiastic about the future of the club under the iconic Scot. In Jol Comolli had a manager who had only just started his career as a coach in England, in Dalglish Comolli has a manager who has won the domestic title on four separate occasions with two different clubs.

Whilst Jol may have claimed Comolli signed players without his permission it's clear that at Anfield both Comolli and Dalglish are making the decisions as a partnership, rather than trying to tout their choices against each other.

Liverpool have signed British stars such as Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll, whilst they have been linked with French prospects such as Dimitri Payet and Moussa Sissoko - a clear mix of the scouting and football fields of expertise of both Comolli and Dalglish.

Whilst, as Comolli has suggested, his job is all-encompassing when it comes to football matters, that's not to say he needs to adjust or influence the various aspects of the club to suit his needs. The academy, for example, is the best it has been for decades, with Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola even stating: “If they can manage those lads, then maybe 20 star players can arrive from that academy.”

Liverpool are in need of evolution, not revolution, and even if things didn't work out between Martin Jol and Damien Comolli at Tottenham all the signs suggest that the relationship between Dalglish and the Frenchman is a much stronger one, and one that can pay dividends on the pitch and in the trophy room for Liverpool.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Liverpool Fixtures: Reds face Sunderland at home

Liverpool will take on Sunderland at Anfield in the first game of the 2011/12 Premier League season.

 New signing Jordan Henderson will face his former club in the first game of the season before a trip to Arsenal in what could be a crucial game in the battle for a Champions League place.

Liverpool will then go on to face Bolton and Stoke before heading to White Hart Lane to face Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur.

The Reds' will face bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield on October 15th, with Kenny Dalglish's side facing Everton on October 1st and February 25th.

Liverpool's first five games:
Sunderland (h)
Arsenal (a)
Bolton (h)
Stoke (a)
Tottenham (a)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How would Downing and Adam fit into the Liverpool midfield?

With a host of midfield options already at Kenny Dalglish's disposal, how would Liverpool targets Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing fit into the Reds' midfield?

It was an eyebrow raiser in the football world, how such a young player, with only a couple of full Premier League seasons under his belt, could be sold for such an hefty fee.

But Liverpool's £20 million purchase of Jordan Henderson looks to be just the beginning of their summer spending on midfield players, with Blackpool's Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing both believed to be the focus of Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli's attention.

With Henderson and potentially Adam joining Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing and Raul Meireles in Liverpool's ever-extending list of central midfielders - a position where Downing is also comfortable playing - it has to be questioned how they all fit into next seasons master plan.

Of all of the players, Gerrard and Downing are the most versatile. For Aston Villa Downing has played central, on the left and on the right, whilst for Liverpool Gerrard has featured all across the midfield, behind the striker and, for England, spent large periods out on the left hand side.

Meireles is another player who has taken up different positions during his time at Liverpool, playing mainly in the middle of the park but also pushing behind the forward(s) in the absence of Gerrard and playing on either wing - albeit with some suspect performances.

Henderson is primarily an advanced midfielder, who likes to press opponents and create opportunities, with the former Sunderland man having created the fifth most goal scoring opportunities in the Premier League during the last campaign. Along with his advanced central role Henderson can also play out on the right.

Spearing, Lucas and Adam are the less versatile of the group. both Adam and Spearing play mainly in the middle of the park, with Spearing working hard to win the ball and break up play, ocassionaly pushing forward, whilst Adam looks to set up attacks and place clever balls forward to more advanced players. Lucas mainly acts as a holding midfielder, though during his time in Brazil he often played a more advanced role.

Add to this Luis Suarez's ability to drop deep, push to  either wing or play as the advanced forward alongside the fact potential first team wing backs such a Martin Kelly, Glen Johnson and John Flanagan can push forward it's clear Liverpool have a fluid team that can change shape to suit any situation.

Downing is the most experienced at playing on the left hand side, having done so for nearly all his time at Middlesbrough and a large percentage of his tenure at Villa Park, meaning he is seemingly the perfect person to fill the void on Liverpool's left wing.

With Gerrard likely wanting to maintain his advanced role in the middle of the park Henderson could be asked to push out onto the right, hopefully forging a good partnership with Andy Carroll who, with good service from either flank, can be lethal in front of goal. It must be noted Gerrard and Henderson, if needed can also swap between right and central positions.

Lucas was a key player for Liverpool throughout the 2010/11 season, winning player of the year in numerous fans' polls. Taking this into account it's likely the Brazilian international will continue to be one of the first names on the team sheet, playing as a holding midfielder alongside a more advanced Gerrard.

Adam, at around £10 million, could be used when needed, especially if Gerrard's injury problems continue. The Scotland international's ability to pick out a player with pin point passes would be a useful asset against opposition who take a defensive approach and put ten men behind the ball, a tactic which Liverpool have often faltered against.

That leaves Meireles and Spearing. Meireles, much like former Reds' player Yossi Benayoun, may find that one of his strengths - his ability to play in various positions - is actually a disadvantage, as the Portuguese could find himself on the bench and coming on to help break down particularly tough opposition, playing in varying positions.

Spearing, who impressed towards the end of last season, is still only young and has plenty of time to gain more experience and establish himself in the first team. Watching the rest of the more experienced midfielders, whilst also appearing if and when needed, especially when the Reds' need someone to pressure the opposition and break up play, could be incredibly helpful for the academy graduate.

Overall, Kenny Dalglish has a host of midfield options at his disposal, with the majority of players being able to comfortably change position when needed, giving Liverpool a fluid and versatile midfield with the potential to cause trouble for any Premier League side.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Liverpool close to signing Charlie Adam for £10 million

Liverpool are expected to complete the signing of Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam this week for a fee of close to £10 million. 

The Blackpool captain, who has been keen on a move to Anfield since he first heard of Liverpool's interest earlier this year, could agree personal terms upon his return from Dubai - where he has been on holiday - later in the week.

Adam, 25, has been a key target for Kenny Dalglish since the Scot returned to the Anfield dugout in January, with Liverpool having made a £7 million bid during the last transfer window which the Tangerines deemed to be unsatisfactory.

The Reds’ initially believed they could secure the midfielders services for a sum of around £9 million, but Blackpool feel it is important to hold out for the full ten million as a number of parties, including Adam’s former club Glasgow Rangers and Valeri Belokon, the clubs president, will take a percentage of the transfer fee.

The Scotland international has been a target of several clubs, including Manchester United and Tottenham, over the course of the last six months but has had his heart set on a move to Merseyside since his stellar performances for Blackpool in early stages of last season first attracted interest from some of England's top clubs.

Should a deal be agreed between the two parties then Adam will join fellow new signing Jordan Henderson in what will be a tough battle for midfield places alongside captain Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Raul Meireles and academy graduate Jay Spearing, who had an extended run in the Liverpool team in the latter part of the season.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani interested in Napoli move

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani - who is on loan at Juventus - would consider a move to Napoli, according to his agent. 

Aquilani has been on loan at Turin-based Juventus throughout this season after an injury plagued campaign at Anfield left him out-of-favour with the Liverpool hierarchy.

Despite his fortunes being much-improved at Juventus, the club are unwilling to pay the £16 million demanded by Liverpool in order to make the move a permanent one.

Aquilani’s agent Franco Zavaglia has now stated that his client would be interested in a move to Napoli, who finished third in Serie A during the last campaign, but stressed that no formal negotiations had begun.

"Aquilani to Napoli? I don't think it would be an easy negotiation but if the will is there why not?" Zavaglia told Italian Radio station Crr.

"I have not spoken to [Napoli sporting director Riccardo] Bigon but the player wants to remain in Italy.

"If something was to come up he would be happy. I have not spoken to Alberto but Napoli is an important club.

"If Napoli considered Aquilani to be an important player, he would be open to negotiations."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has, however, left the door open for Aquilani to return to Anfield once his loan has finished, stating there is still a place for Alberto at the club.

"There's a distinct possibility he could be back here. He's a quality player," Dalglish said.

"He got off to a bad start here with his injuries and never really got going after missing preseason.

"He went out on loan and has done very well over there. If he was to come back here, for me that would be like a new face coming in."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Liverpool target Phil Jones set for Manchester United

Liverpool target Phil Jones is today undergoing a medical with Manchester United, who have met the £16 million release clause built-in to the players contract.

19-year-old Jones was believed to be having a medical at Liverpool on Wednesday morning, however this was dismissed when sources close to the England setup said that Jordan Henderson, who was set to agree terms with the Reds’, was the only player missing from the Under 21 squad.

But in a dramatic turnaround it has been revealed that the highly-rated Blackburn Rovers defender is set to undergo a medical at Liverpool’s fierce rivals Manchester United, with the English champions believed to have made a move for Jones after hearing of Liverpool’s interest.

Jones was believed to be a major target for Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli and it is likely that the club will look for alternative central defenders  to bring in, with Birmingham City defender Scott Dann being touted as a potential target, however Arsenal are also believed to be keen on signing the defender.

Meanwhile it is believed that Liverpool will continue with their pursuit of Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam, with the two clubs believed to have began negotiations. The Reds’ are likely to have to improve on their £7 million bid made for the 25-year-old during the January transfer window, with deal worth around £9 million expected.

Liverpool agree deal for Jordan Henderson, target Jones and Adam

Liverpool have agreed a deal worth £20 million for Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson and are looking to secure the signings of Phil Jones and Charlie Adam in the near future.

The deal for the 20-year-old midfielder is comprised of £13 million in cash plus out-of-favour Reds’ striker David N’gog, who has seen his standing fall at Anfield since the arrival of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Henderson is set to undergo a medical and agree personal terms at Liverpool’s Melwood training facility today before flying out to join up with his England U21 teammates in Denmark for the European Championship.

"Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson." A LFC statement read.

"The 20-year-old will today discuss personal terms and undergo a medical on Merseyside after a fee was agreed between the two clubs."

Meanwhile highly-rated Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones - who has a £16 million buyout clause built into his contract - is also believed to be a key target for Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli. The 19-year-old, who is also heading to the U21 championships, is also reported to be a target for Manchester United and Arsenal.

A deal for Charlie Adam may also be confirmed in the near future as Liverpool’s director of football Damien Comolli has opened talks with Blackpool for the first time since the Reds’ lodged a £7 million bid for the midfielder during the January transfer window. It is believed the two clubs could reach an agreement at a fee of around £9m.

As well as Henderson, Jones and Adam it is reported Liverpool will look to move for Aston Villa midfielder Stuart Downing, who recently admitted he is “not sure” about is future at Villa Park, with the former Middlesbrough man believed to be available for a fee of around £10 million.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Liverpool move for Connor Wickham, want to complete Henderson deal by midweek

Liverpool have bid £8 million for Ipswich forward Connor Wickham, according to The Times, with the Merseyside club wanting to complete a deal for Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson by Wednesday. 

Wickham has been touted as one of English football's hottest prospects and has been linked with a summer move to a number of top clubs including Tottenham Hotspur, though Liverpool believe they can do enough to lure the 18 year-old to Anfield. 

Though Liverpool have shown their ambition in the transfer market by lodging an £8 million bud for the England U21 international it is believed Ipswich will reject the bid, placing a £10 million price tag on the player. 

Meanwhile the Reds' are looking to conclude a deal for Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson before he heads to the European Under 21's championship on Wednesday, with a fee still yet to be agreed for the 20 year-old.

Reports earlier in the week had suggesting the two clubs had agreed a fee for Henderson, but Sunderland quickly moved to dismiss the speculation, with the club believed to have rejected a bid of around £15 million for the player. 

Liverpool are also believed to be interested in Henderson's captain at Sunderland Lee Cattermole, with reports suggesting the Reds' have tabled a bid of £10 million for the Middlesbrough academy product, who the Merseyside outfit showed interest in during his days at Wigan Athletic. 
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