Monday, December 10, 2007

Peter Crouch Believes Liverpool Will Go All The Way In Marseille

Peter Crouch today backed Liverpool to banish the memory of Saturday's defeat at Reading with victory over Marseille in Tuesday night's Champions League decider.

The Reds warmed up for the biggest week of their season in the worst possible way as they were beaten 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium.

But the striker insists the Reds can shrug off losing their unbeaten league record and keep their European dream alive.

“We are not used to losing but we have had many a setback in our time and we’ve recovered well from them," Crouch said.

"We have got enough characters in the dressing room that we can bounce back from this and get a great result against Marseille.

“The belief is still there. It was a blip against Reading but hopefully we’ll overcome that. If you look at the last few games we’ve played some great football and scored a lot of goals and won games convincingly.

“It’s a massive game and I think all of us are looking at it as a game that we have to win to progress.

"We’ve had a fantastic record in the Champions League over the last three seasons. We’ve got to two finals and we want to continue that. That starts with Marseille.

“We’ve got enough quality in our squad to beat whoever we come up against and obviously there’s a few tests coming up. We’ve got Manchester United and that will certainly test us."

Crouch shrugged off suggestions that the Reds were guilty of losing their focus ahead of the trip to France.

“None of the players were looking ahead to any fixture beyond Reading," he insisted.

"These things happen sometimes and Reading is a tough place to go. The manager has got them playing well and I think the credit has to go to them."

The Reds fell behind to Stephen Hunt's controversial penalty, but Steven Gerrard soon equalised with a cool finish.

In the second half Kevin Doyle's glancing header put Reading back in front and James Harper piled on the misery for the Reds.

Crouch found himself out on the left as part of boss Rafa Benitez's 4-3-3- formation, but insists tactics were not to blame.

He said: "It’s a formation that we have played before. I remember playing there at Blackburn and Watford and it has worked previously.

"Against Reading it didn’t quite go right, but if we had taken some of our chances and maybe had a penalty and a decision here and there we would have won the game.

“For their penalty, we could see with the marks on the pitch that it was clearly outside the box. We told the linesman and the referee, but I don’t think they were ever going to change their minds.

“Stevie got us back in it with a great goal and I thought we would go on and win it from there but it wasn’t to be.

"It was disappointing today but we will certainly make amends in the league if we get three points against Manchester United next Sunday."

Arsenal's 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough yesterday means the fourth placed Reds remain seven points behind.

Jurgen Klinsmann Tipped To Take Over At Liverpool

Once a speculation starts, it is indeed immensely difficult to rub it off. Since Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez’s ill-advised coming out with the differences that he fosters with the club’s co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks over January signings, the theory that the Spaniard could lose his job before long has been steadily circulating in the press. Even after compatriot and Spanish international striker Fernando Torres came out and defended his manger last week, the future is looking far from rosy for Rafael Benitez.

Of course the Liverpool supporters, at least the majority of them, want Rafa to stay on as the manager of Liverpool but the American duo Gillett and Hicks (at least as the press would have it) seem to want someone else. And former Germany national coach Jurgen Klinsmann is being touted as that someone to take over from Rafael Benitez.

Klinsmann is based in California but for some time, the German has been said to be interested in returning to Europe and to management once again. Klinsmann accomplished a marvelous feat in taking unfancied Germany to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup and has been tipped to take charge of a top European football team ever since.

Klinsmann is of course one of the candidates that the English FA are monitoring for the England job but with Liverpool’s relationship with manager Rafael Benitez not looking so rosy after all, things could alter in the course of the next few weeks.

Whether Rafael Benitez’s future at Liverpool is secure or not would be decided this week. On Tuesday, the Reds take on Olympique de Marseille in the UEFA Champions League in a clash that could see last season’s beaten finalists being dumped out of the most elite club football competition in the world. Liverpool then play Manchester United in the weekend and having suffered their first defeat in the English Premiership on Saturday, when they were rattled 3-1 by Reading away from home, they would be looking to bounce back.

Klinsmann to Liverpool - more dung-spreading by an overexcited media or is there some truth to it?