Friday, November 30, 2007

Liverpool Owner Tom Hicks To Sell Anfield Stake

Liverpool may be entering a period of upheaval after it emerged co-owner Tom Hicks is looking for a way out of the club.

City sources have confirmed that Hicks, who has been at the forefront of a dispute with manager Rafa Benitez over signings, is preparing to sell his shares.

Hicks took control at Anfield, alongside fellow American George Gillett, following a £219 million takeover.

Both men initially rang the praises of Benitez, calling the manager a genius, with many supporters predicting Liverpool would lift the Premier League title this season after a £40m summer spending spree.

However, results have been inconsistent, sparking criticism of Benitez's rotation policy and prompting the Spaniard to demand more funds in January.

Hicks and Gillett have so far been reluctant to release more money for players, prompting a very public breakdown in relations.

Now it seems developments have reached a head with Hicks hoping to cash in on his investment, as reported in the Mirror.

The businessman has reportedly put a £1 billion guide valuation on the club, and while City analysts have dismissed this as ridiculous, it was revealed last night that Dubai International Capital, the investment group headed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, are ready to make a new bid having previously attempted a takeover.

Thaksin Confirms City Interest In Crouch Deal

Manchester City could be set to move for Peter Crouch after the club's chairman, Thaksin Shinawatra, revealed that manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was a big fan of the striker.

The Swede is a known admirer of the Liverpool and England striker, and it is no secret that City are in the hunt to bolster their attack in the forthcoming January transfer window, when Eriksson will be given about £30m to spend.

"Sven is looking for one striker and one or two midfielders," admitted Thaksin today. "Sven does like Peter Crouch, very much. But he has yet to decide [whether to make an offer]."

Crouch has been regularly linked with a move away from Anfield this season following the high-profile arrivals of Fernando Torres, Andriy Voronin and Ryan Babel.

Having started just eight matches in all competitions for Liverpool this season, Crouch could look favourably upon the opportunity of regular first-team football with his former international coach.

Thaksin, however, is adamant that City, who are also interested in resigning the Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka, will not be held for ransom over any player.

"We are looking for good players that are good money, not too expensive," he said. "I am not in the position to buy everything at any cost. Sven will pick the right person at the right price."

Riise Confident Of Winning Over Fans

Liverpool’s John-Arne Riise is aiming to win back the affections of the Anfield crowd, after suffering a recent dip in form.

The Norwegian international still feels he has a lot more to give and he has been heartened by Liverpool’s impressive recent form, resulting in 17 goals in just four games.

He told Liverpool’s official television station, “We struggled with scoring goals but in the last few games we've shown we're back in business. We're also very tight at the back right now, so it's good.”

”I think we've played well all season but have had the problem of not scoring enough goals. As soon as we got a couple then lots have come, like in the Besiktas game. Every time we went forward we scored. Of course, the new players have had more time to settle in, but really I think we're just proving how good we actually are.”

Riise knows there is still room for improvement though, as Liverpool face an uphill struggle to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League.

”Of course the way we're playing and the amount of goals we're scoring is good, but you can always improve. We know this and, yes, I think we can get better.”

Liverpool face Bolton this weekend and Riise is relishing the physicality of a game against Gary Megson’s side.

“I look forward to it because it's part of my game. I don't like the games where you don't do anything. I like going off the pitch feeling pain and being tired because you've made a lot of tackles. That's what football is about. It's a great feeling to come away from a game knowing you have fought and won. Bolton will be this kind of game.”

Having missed out on the last two games, because of competition for places, Riise is keen to win the hearts of the Kop again, who have become increasingly frustrated with his lacklustre performances.

“I think I started the season in not my best form. I didn't feel confident and at my best, but the last six or seven games before the internationals I felt very good. I felt like I was getting my strength and my aggression back, and I'm ready to go.”

“I know some fans have been a little bit frustrated with me, that's the way it goes. I have to turn that round, hopefully starting on Sunday. The fans know I try to give 110 per cent when I go on the pitch, even if it doesn't always look like it. I have given them joy before and hopefully I can do it again.”

Liverpool Still Without Alonso, Agger & Aurelio

Liverpool are still without Xabi Alonso, Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio as Rafa Benitez’s unbeaten side in the Premiership host 15th-placed Bolton Wanderers on Sunday.

Reds midfielder Alonso and centre-back Agger are on the sidelines with metatarsal problem while left-back Aurelio is only now back in training and expected to be fit for Champions League trip to Marseille on December 11.

Reds boss Rafa Benitez said: "Because of the type of injury Xabi and Daniel have – metatarsal – we have to be really careful."
Alonso had made a return from the injury against Arsenal at the end of last month but could not last the whole duration and has been out since, after initially along with Agger last featuring against Portsmouth on September 15 before picking the setback on international duty