Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Carroll snubs West Ham move

By Michael Owen

Andy Carroll is believed to have snubbed a potential move to West Ham United despite the two clubs agreeing a deal for the player. 



Carroll is believed to be surplus to requirements at Anfield this season, with Brendan Rodgers not confident the 23-year-old will fit into his preferred set up for the coming campaign.

Numerous clubs have shown interest in the England international, but West Ham are reported to be the only club who have had a bid accepted for the player.

The deal would have seen the Hammers pay £2 million up front to loan the striker for the season before paying an extra £17 million next summer to make the deal permanent should they stay in the Premier League.

But the Gateshead native is believed to only want to move to a club who are playing European football, and would prefer not to move at all.

Newcastle, who showed interest in the player when it was first hinted he would be available, would likely be Carroll's preferred destination should the Tyneside club match the offer made by West Ham.

Thus far there has been little appetite from officials at St. James' Park to increase their offer for Carroll, though there may be room for a deal to be struck which could include United striker Demba Ba, who the Reds have been linked with.


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Liverpool Pre-Season Tour: Tottenham Scout Report

By Ben Hardy

The 160th meeting between these two ever present Premier League clubs comes in the form of a pre season friendly at the M and T Bank Stadium, Baltimore as both teams look to improve their fitness on US tours. 




Over the last three seasons, Tottenham have replaced Liverpool as a Champions League hopefuls and they come into the match unbeaten in their last four matches against Liverpool,  conceding once and scoring eight in those fixtures.

However, recent form and statistics will be cast aside as both teams made managerial changes during the summer and many new players are expected to be on show in Baltimore on Saturday. Neither team has managed a win yet on their respective tours with Liverpool drawing and losing to Toronto FC and AS Roma respectively, whilst Tottenham could only manage a draw against LA Galaxy.

Andre Villas-Boas has insisted that all players have been given a "clean slate" and forgotten men David Bentley, Jermaine Jenas and Heurelho Gomes will all feature on the tour and could be useful squad players to rely on during the season, especially considering Spurs will be competing in the Europa League once again.

Team News

Unfortunately, the Spurs camp received some tragic news this week regarding the death of Jermain Defoe's cousin, Hannah Defoe. Subsequently, Jermain Defoe has understandably departed the tour to be with his family and is unlikely to feature in the rest of the tour.

This absence makes an already weak attack even weaker, with the promising youngster Harry Kane as Tottenham's only recognised striker.

New signings Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson are both expected to play a long with the recently fit again Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson, who will both be pushing to break back into the Spurs starting XI come August.

Both Rafael Van der Vaart (groin) and Kyle Walker (ankle) are unlikely to feature in the match after picking up knocks against LA Galaxy earlier in the week and both are being targeted to be fit by Tuesday when Spurs play New York Red Bulls.

This would seemingly give a chance for Kyle Naughton to prove he is good enough to be Walker's understudy as right back for the upcoming season as a rare Spurs start is expected.  

Scott Parker was omitted from the squad due to Achilles surgery where as Luka Modric refused to travel with the team as he looks to push through a transfer away from White Hart Lane.

However, there is a boost for Spurs as Gareth Bale is ahead of schedule from a back injury and played an hour and scored Spurs' only goal against LA Galaxy. He is likely to feature at some point on Saturday as he continues his rehabilitation to be fit for the start of the Barclay's Premier League on the 18t August.

Key Players

A lot of eyes will be on Gylfi Sigurdsson, who so nearly signed for Liverpool before opting to move to London. He is likely to be given a more advanced role and support Kane in attack and fill the void left by the missing Van der Vaart and Defoe. He has enjoyed a successful pre season so far, including his first Spurs goal against Stevenage and he will be looking to impress new boss AVB as well as get one over on his old manager, Brenden Rogers.

A number of the young players in the squad will be worth keeping an eye on as they hope to make a name for themselves under Villas-Boas. The likes of Harry Kane, Tom Carroll, Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend are all exciting, young English players who look to play a part in the upcoming season. With so many first team players missing for Spurs on Saturday, the younger members might have an important role against Liverpool.

Trying to predict a score or even a line up for this match is almost impossible: New managers, new players, new formations and a neutral ground are all important factors to the outcome of the match and you would imagine the result will bear no effect on the 2012/13 season.

Friday, July 20, 2012

View from the Opposition: Toronto FC

By Michael Owen

With Liverpool set to kick-off their pre-season tour in Canada this Saturday, we talked to former mayor of Toronto and huge TFC fan David Miller about the upcoming match. 


Michael Owen: We've heard Toronto haven't had the best of times in the MLS this year, just how bad has it been and are you getting better?

David Miller: This year has been very tough for supporters of TFC. We started brilliantly, defeating LA, Beckham, Donovan, and Keane) in the Champions league 4-3 on aggregate (the first leg played before 50,000 in Toronto). After that, we went 0-9 in the league, turing draws into losses with late goals or early giveaways. For those of us who have been season seatholders it was brutal. Just brutal, and it cost Aaron Winter his job.

Since then, the team has returned to its champions league form - Paul Mariner seems to be able to get the best out of the players he and Winter assembled. Or its from want he learned at Ipswich Town in the '70's - ipswich is my club and where my family is from, so I favour that theory. Right now, the club is probably in its best form ever.

MO: Do you think getting a result against Liverpool could be the catalyst you need in order to push on this season?

DM: TFC always plays up to its opponent; getting a result against one of the premier clubs in the world would be brilliant.

MO: Who are the main danger men in your side that Liverpool should be looking out for?

DM: LFC should be very wary of Ashtone Morgan, the Canadian International left back. Young, with pace, and devastating crosses into the box. He's underrated and can carve open a team.

MO: Which players in the Liverpool squad that has traveled across the Atlantic are you most worried about?

DM: I am worried about Andy Carroll for Liverpool - TFC's back four can be vulnerable to a strong aerial attack, and his goal for England in the European Cup is the kind they have been surrendering.

MO: Finally, can we have a score prediction?

DM: 2-2. Carroll will score early, followed by a scuff of a goal by a liverpool reserve team member, but after the halftime talk by Mariner, TFC will recover. Goals by Johnson and Lambe - both resulting from Morgan crosses - bring TFC back in the second half.

To here more from David you can follow him on Twitter 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

LFC Pre-Season Tour: Toronto FC Scout Report

By Ben Hardy

Toronto FC isn’t exactly the first team that comes to mind when you think of the MLS, with the likes of LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls taking the headlines.



However the MLS is becoming more popular year on year with some of the biggest stars in world football now opting to see out their careers in North America. Toronto FC was the first Canadian team to be inducted into the MLS and since then Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps have been invited to join them, showing the ever growing admiration of the sport overseas.

The start of the 2012 season saw Toronto endure the worst start by any team in MLS history as they slumped to a 9 game losing streak which even caused their own players to describe the team as “the worst in the world” and ultimately lead to a change of management.

In early June 2012, former Plymouth Argyle boss Paul Mariner was set with the task of salvaging something from the season and since then the team have embarked on a mini resurgence with consecutive wins against rivals Vancouver, New England and Colorado Rapids.

With the team finding some mid-season form, they will be looking to the friendly with Liverpool as a way to continue their good form and boost moral further so they can really kick start their season.

In terms of their players, there are at least a couple of recognisable names in the way of club captain Torsten Frings and former Netherlands international Danny Koevermans, the latter of which being their star man.

The major team news from Toronto came on Monday as the club confirmed Koevermans had torn his anterior cruciate ligament during the win over New England and has subsequently ruled him out for the rest of the season.

This is obviously a massive blow to the Reds as since Koevermans joined last season he has scored 17 out of 41 goals netted by the team (41.5%) including an impressive 9 goals in 16 games this season for a team sitting at the bottom of the MLS.

With the big Dutchman out for the season, the main attacking threat will come from Ryan Johnson. The Jamaican only has 4 league goals in 20 appearances to his name this season including an important goal last time out against Colorado but may struggle if he plays as the lone striker against the Liverpool defensive quartet.

Another key player could be Luis Silva. He is widely expected to get the nod and possibly fit into a 4-5-1 formation with Silva moving forwards as the supporting midfielder or even simply to play alongside Ryan Johnson in a 4-4-2.

The 23 year-old has a similar playing style to that of Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard. He can join the attack when called upon or sit and play simple passes across the midfield. He has hit a timely run of form with two goals and two assists in his last three appearances helping the Reds to 3 consecutive victories and with the injury to Koevermans, this could be the perfect platform to launch his career.

As Liverpool have announced a strong squad for the upcoming friendly, Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic will have to recreate his man of the match performance which saw him keep a clean sheet last time out against New England.

With Toronto FC having one of the worst defensive and offensive records in this year’s MLS it is difficult to see them causing an upset against Brendan Rogers’ men. However confidence and moral will be high and a good performance will still be demanded by Paul Mariner as they look to carry on their winning streak and climb back up the table.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

American tour provides perfect opportunity for Liverpool players to impress new boss

By Robert Nevitt

Liverpool’s preparations for the new 2012-13 season step up a notch this week, as they head off for a tour of North America.


With games against Toronto FC, AS Roma and Tottenham Hotspur to come, the tour presents new boss Brendan Rodgers, his 34-man strong squad and the club as a whole, with a number of opportunities ahead of the new campaign.

Only six weeks since arriving at the club, and less than a fortnight into the preparations for August’s big kick-off, Rodgers will see the trip to Canada and the US as a perfect opportunity to assess the playing merits of his squad, whilst also giving him an important insight into the character and personality of the players at his disposal.

Having already received praise from a number of Reds’ players for his enjoyable training sessions to-date, the former Swansea City boss will hope to maintain the happy environment as he looks to instil his philosophy of entertaining possession-based football.

The tour will also give Rodgers his first chance to work with some of the Liverpool stars who were on show at Euro 2012, as Captain Steven Gerrard joins the squad on July 23rd, along with the likes of Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson and Jordan Henderson.

With a new boss in charge, the trip represents a new beginning for a number of players who have previously found themselves on the periphery of previous squads. Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani are the two biggest names for whom this applies, having spent last year on season-long loans, at Lille OSC and AC Milan respectively.

Excitement was high when Cole arrived on a free transfer from Chelsea in July 2010. Early friendly and Europa League qualifying appearances did little to dampen the expectations. However, things turned sour as early as the first league game as Cole saw red at home against Arsenal. Subsequent suspension saw him unavailable for the next month, whilst the team’s problems under Roy Hodgson didn’t help Cole’s performances. Under Kenny Dalglish, Cole struggled to hold down a first-team place, often looking slow and lethargic when called upon, so much so that he was shipped off to France at the end of August last year.

His stint in Ligue 1 though seems to have done the ex-England international the world of good. Playing every week saw Cole score 9 goals in France, and return to the kind of form and fitness that once made him one of Chelsea’s star turns. With Rodgers keen on the technical aspect of play, Cole could be a perfect fit, especially now that a space in the squad has opened up following the departure of Maxi Rodriguez.

The same could be said for Aquilani. Comfortable in possession and able to zip the ball around the pitch with ease, the Italian’s talent is unquestionable. Instead, a spate of injuries and a seemingly mental problem with the English game have so far meant his time at Liverpool has been a failure. Successful spells on loan at Juventus and then AC Milan have failed to win a permanent move, leaving him, once again, in a state of limbo. The trip to America gives the stylish midfielder a chance to impress Rodgers and resurrect his Reds’ career.

Also looking to win a place in Rodgers’ plans for the new season are many of Rodolfo Borrell’s excellent Under-18 squad. The likes of Andre Wisdom, Jack Robinson, Jordan Ibe and Adam Morgan will all accompany the first team squad to North America. But it is the names of Suso and Raheem Sterling who Reds’ fans will be hoping make the biggest impression on Rodgers.

Having just starred as part of Spain’s Under-19 European Championship winning side, Suso’s challenge is to now force his way into the Reds’ first-team squad. Technically sound, the cultured midfielder has become more tactically aware under the excellent tuition of Borrell, leading to calls for him to be given a chance.

Sterling on the other hand, has already tasted first-team action, having been given brief cameos towards the end of last season. Skilful and with pace to burn, the diminutive winger is one of the country’s most exciting young talents.

Rodgers has already stated that no matter a player’s age, if he is good enough and is mentally prepared, he will be involved. With this in mind, the next few weeks are important time for the exciting duo.

The big talking-point surrounding the club at the moment is that of the future of £35m record signing Andy Carroll. Early signs are that Rodgers views the big striker as surplus to requirements, with rumours of loan or permanent moves to the likes of AC Milan, West Ham United, or even old club Newcastle, all mooted.

Sources close to Carroll indicate that he wants to remain at Anfield and fight for his place, so when he meets up with the squad on July 23rd, if he is still here by then, the big Geordie will be desperate to prove Rodgers wrong.

Whilst the friendly matches will probably come too soon for Lucas Leiva, the tour will prove to be important for the Brazilian international as he looks to continue his return to fitness following the season-ending injury he picked up at Chelsea back in November.

It was no surprise that the unavailability of the once-maligned midfielder coincided with the Reds’ dreadful second half of the league season. With Rodgers highly likely to field a fluid 4-3-3 formation, the return of a fully-fit Lucas to the holding midfield role is one of the key factors as to whether the Reds will enjoy a successful campaign or not.

There will also be at least one new face amongst the playing staff, maybe two if the rumoured signing of Clint Dempsey is completed soon. New signing Fabio Borini will use the trip to acclimatise himself to the club and strike up a bond with his new team-mates, whilst hopefully displaying the goalscoring instincts that the goalshy-Reds severely lacked last term.

The tour’s opportunities are not only limited to on-the-field matters though.

With Canada and the US home to many Liverpool fans, the three matches provide an opportunity for those fans to see their heroes up close, with ticket sales already showing how popular the Reds are.


But due to the sheer size of North America, there is vast potential for Liverpool to gain even more fans. Whilst the AS Roma game will be staged at the historical Fenway Park, home of Reds’ owners FSG’s other love, Boston Red Sox Baseball team, club legends Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler will also accompany the squad as they embark on ambassadorial roles. The arrival of the aforementioned US international Dempsey would also help to increase interest. Just as last year’s trip to Asia was, this tour is as much, probably even more so, a marketing exercise than it is a pre-season preparation camp.

So, for everyone who boards the plane from John Lennon airport, the trip to North America will be an important one as we near the start of the season. In more ways than one for Liverpool football Club, America really is “the Land of Opportunity”.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

VOTE: Should Liverpool let Carroll leave on loan?

By Michael Owen

Reports suggest Newcastle United have made an approach to take Andy Carroll on a season-long loan, but is it the right decision to let him go?



Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has alluded to the idea that he may be willing to let the striker leave Anfield, and this has triggered interest from a number of clubs including Newcastle, Aston Villa, West Ham and AC Milan.

The argument for letting the Gateshead native go is that Carroll has had a poor start to his Liverpool career and a season away from Anfield may be just what he needs to find rekindle some of the form which saw him valued by the Reds at £35 million.

However it would be dangerous to loan a striker whose form has been improving as of recent to a rival Premier League club.

Plus, if the reason Carroll is being allowed to leave is because he doesn't fit into Rodgers plans then it could be argued both club and player would be better served by ensuring any move away from Anfield is a permanent one.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Liverpool close to Borini signing as Rodriguez departs

By Michael Owen

Liverpool are believed to be close to completing the signing of Roma forward Fabio Borini today. 


The striker, whose performances last season earned him a place in the Italy Euro 2012 squad, is expected to conclude a deal which will see him arrive at Anfield for a fee of around £12 million.

This will be the third time that the 21 year-old has worked alongside his new Liverpool boss, having worked with Rodgers at Chelsea and later as a loan signing for Swansea City.

The arrival of the Italian international will undoubtedly raise questions of the futures of both Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll, who have both been linked with moves away from Merseyside over recent weeks.

Bellamy, who only has one-year remaining on his Liverpool deal, is attracting interest from his home town club Cardiff City and former boss Mark Hughes over at Queens Park Rangers.

Meanwhile Carroll has been linked with Italian giants AC Milan, West Ham United and Fulham, though it has to be stressed Liverpool F.C have received no offer for their record signing.

A departure which has been confirmed by Liverpool is that of Argentinian midfielder Maxi Rodriguez, who will join his native Newell's Old Boys.

It was only this week that Reds boss Brendan Rodgers was singing the praises of the former Atletico Madrid man, but Rodriguez decided to bring an end to his two and a half years on Merseyside regardless.

It has been speculated that the 31-year-old was promised by the club prior to last season that he could leave this summer should he agree to spend the last campaign on Merseyside.

"Liverpool Football Club can today confirm that Maxi Rodriguez has joined Newell's Old Boys in Argentina." An LFC statement read. 

"Everyone at Liverpool FC would like to thank Maxi for his contribution to the club and wish him all the best for the future."

Monday, July 09, 2012

Brendan Rodgers coy on Liverpool transfer policy

By Michael Owen

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has refused to name which players he is targeting during the transfer window, but has admitted a deal could be close. 




The former Swansea boss did however claim that the Reds would not be going on a wild spending spree, claiming the budget simply isn't there to undertake such lavish spending.

"We haven't got a wheelbarrow full of money, certainly not the kinds of amounts that some people seem to think" Rodgers stated.

The 39 year-old did however state that he would be looking to make some additions in this summers transfer window, claiming he would like to make "three or four tweaks" to the squad.

Rodgers has admitted to already making enquiries about a handful of potential signings, and is optimistic at least one deal can be struck sooner rather than later. 

"I think the reality is that for players to be associated with Liverpool is great, but the reality is that we have only made three or four enquiries about players." Rodgers said.

"Hopefully we can close out one deal this week, maybe two.

"Hopefully we can do one and then look to add to it over the course of pre-season."

Liverpool have been linked with a number of players during the transfer window, most notably Bologna attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez and Real Madrid star Esteban Granero. 







Friday, July 06, 2012

Liverpool midfielder admits he has something to prove to supporters

By Michael Owen

Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole has admitted that he has something to prove to supporters this season after returning from a year in France with Ligue 1 outfit Lille.



The former Chelsea star joined the Reds on a free transfer after his contract with the Blues was allowed to run down, but failed to impress in his first season and was shipped out to main land Europe on loan.

"I don't want to leave Liverpool one day having not been a success here or having left something here. I want to make an imprint at the club." Cole told Liverpool's official website.

"I've been a success at West Ham, Chelsea and Lille - I don't want people to be able to say that I haven't here.

"I'd like to be given the opportunity to play, learn and improve, and join this great team. It's a great group and I would like to be involved in this team and really push on."

Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that the 30 year-old will have a chance to prove his worth on Merseyside, with the former Swansea boss set to assess all of his squad before making any decisions on who are in his plans. 

"I met up with Joe Cole when I was in Spain," he said. "I certainly know he's looking to come back." Rodgers told the BBC

"I've got to assess all the players. With the likes of Joe - he's a very talented player.

"He's obviously gone out to Lille and done very well and he has the opportunity to come back here and show his qualities. For me it's fresh for everyone."

Meanwhile, Alberto Aquilani is also set to be heading back to Anfield after failing to secure a permanent deal in his native Italy. 

The 27 year-old has spent two seasons away from Anfield, the first with Juventus and the second with their Serie A rivals AC Milan, but neither club felt a move for the former Roma man was worthwhile.

"The new manager will decide whether to keep him or not. I don't think hes coming back to Italy and he hasn’t expressed any particular preference, but this time I hope Liverpool can tell us in time if he's not part of their plans so we can find him the right club. Aquilani's agent stated. 

"Recently, apart from a slight ankle sprain, Aquilani has had no major fitness problems. The real problems were when he had ankle surgery at Liverpool."

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Spurs ambition convinced Sigurdsson to snub Liverpool

By Michael Owen

Former Swansea attacking midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson has stated that it was Tottenham's ambitious plans for the future that convinced him to sign for the London club rather than follow Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool.


With the Iceland native seeing his move back to South Wales break down following the departure of Rodgers the odds were that Sigurdsson would also make the move up to the North West and join the ex-Swans boss at Anfield.

But as soon as it became apparent that Sigurdsson wasn't moving to Swansea the North London club, then without a manager, were quick to declare their interest in the 22 year-old. and agreed an £8 million deal with his former club Hoffenheim.

“I enjoyed playing under Brendan and I am grateful for everything he has done for me, but after careful consideration I liked Spurs best,” Sigurdsson told Icelandic website mbl.is.

“The team has world-class players in their ranks and they play good football, which I like.

“I was impressed with the club’s plans for next season and the coming years.

“There is clearly great ambition at Tottenham and the club intends to do big things.

Sigrudsson's decision to sign for Spurs was evidently made easier when Gareth Bale signed a new contract, with the Icelander stating: “It is a pleasure to see that Gareth Bale has signed a new contract.

“There are top players in the team and the club is getting a new training ground.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Liverpool Mayor Optimistic about Stadium Talk

By Michael Owen

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has stated he is encouraged by the talks between Liverpool Council and club officials over the teams Anfield future.



Over a decade has passed since the concept of a new stadium to replace Anfield was first touted and several now-scrapped plans for a new stadium have moved the Reds closer to a new home on adjacent Stanley Park.

A move to a new ground - the councils preferred option - would require the club to seal a lucrative naming rights deal to subsidise the high costs of building a brand new stadium which would potentially only hold around 15,000 spectators than present day Anfield.

However staying at Anfield presents its own hurdles, with expansion being complex in an area short on space and several planning obstacles hindering the Reds chances of remaining at their historic stadium.

"We are in regular meetings with Liverpool FC and we are working with the club," Anderson told the Liverpool Echo.

"It's frustrating for the local residents and they are my main concern.

"We are pushing for a speedy resolution to the issue of whether the club stays at Anfield or goes to Stanley Park but we are encouraged by the discussions."
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