Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Jamie Carragher Snubs Fabio Capello

Fabio Capello last night suffered the first setback of his reign as England manager when Liverpool's Jamie Carragher insisted he would not come out of international retirement.

Named as Steve McClaren's successor last Friday, Capello has already talked of his desire for Carragher to rescind his decision to step down from the international arena. Carragher's performances in the Champions League, particularly against Capello's old Juventus side, had impressed the new England manager.

But Carragher wants to concentrate on Liverpool and will refuse any plea from Capello to return for England. "I don't think so," said Carragher. "I am happy with the way things are now and I get to have a break with the family as well. I cannot see that changing."

Asked if Capello travelling to the North-West and knocking on his door would influence matters, Carragher responded: "I don't think so."

Carragher had grown frustrated at being shifted around England's back-line by Sven-Goran Eriksson, who used him at left-back and also as a holding midfielder. Capello, who sees his England spine involving John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, wanted to add Carragher to his central-defensive options.

Italy's World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, meanwhile, believes that Capello may have to axe an "important player" for the overall good of the England team.

Lippi, who was among the candidates considered for the England job, was not afraid to drop star players during his successful reign with the Italian national team and predicted that his compatriot would also face difficult decisions.

"Capello's most difficult task will be to make a team become a team, something which in recent years it hasn't felt like," he said. "That will be the most difficult challenge. The national team is not the selection of the best players of the country, but in order to make a team you may also need to have to drop an important player that perhaps is not on the same wavelength as the others." Capello plans to study English intensively over the next month and Lippi agrees that mastering the language will be fundamental to his success.

"I have always said that a coach must transmit to his players everything that goes through his heart and head and in order to do so, he can't be talking and then asking the interpreter to translate, it's impossible," he said.

"The fact that I don't speak English is one of the reasons why I have turned down three or four proposals that have arrived from the English Premiership."

Liverpool Want To Sign Kaladze

Reds' boss Rafa Benitez is desperate to add a central defender to his squad as he currently has just Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and the ageing Sami Hyypia among his ranks.

Benitez is a huge admirer of Kaladze, 29, who comes with the added bonus of being able to play at left back, or even as an emergency midfielder.

However the Spanish tactician has been told that he will not be given any extra transfer funds in January, and will only be allowed to spend the money that he makes through player sales.

Benitez is willing to sell giant striker Peter Crouch, who could move to Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Manchester City.

Mali midfielder Momo Sissoko will also be permitted to leave after hitting out at his boss last week over his lack of playing time. Juventus are said to be very interested.

Whether or not Milan will be willing to sell Kaladze is highly debatable, as the Georgian has formed a fine centre-back partnership alongside Alessandro Nesta.

Reds Transfer Cash Pledge

Liverpool's American owners have insisted Rafa Benitez is the manager they want to take them into the future.

But George Gillett and Tom Hicks have stopped short of an unequivocal backing of the Spanish coach, which leaves his long-term position in doubt. Benitez is safe until the end of the season at least after a summit meeting between the two parties on Sunday night thrashed out their immediate differences.

And both the Liverpool boss and the Americans have agreed to use the next six months to help repair the damage to their relationship, and see where the new-found peace agreement takes them. Both sides have also agreed not to air their disputes in public again, and Benitez has been offered some appeasement with the promise of a new signing in the January transfer window.

Gillett spoke about the problems he and Hicks have endured in their relationship with the manager, and insisted both sides will now try to work together.

"This situation wasn't supposed to happen, but it has happened, and now the focus has to be on finding a common platform to continue our co-operation," Gillett said.

"I've been married over 40 years and have first-hand knowledge about how to solve an argument. Rafa is the one we want as a manager further on, and we have faith in him.

"We concentrated on getting an overview over the situation, and I felt we accomplished that."

While that assures Benitez about his immediate position, it is clear that there is merely an uneasy truce in place, with the potential still for a parting of the ways.

Insiders suggest that both the manager and the Americans want to go on until the summer, and then decide if the relationship is working.

Benitez is still unhappy with the way the club drags its feet over potential deals, and he has been given no assurance that it will change.

He has also been told that chief executive Rick Parry will still conduct all financial negotiations, with the manager expected to take a secondary role in deals. There is further confusion over the sort of transfer budget the Spaniard can expect, both in January and, importantly, next summer.

Parry yesterday revealed the club simply cannot afford the planned new stadium to replace Anfield, and will now have to draw up yet more designs to try to cut projected costs.

It is a massive blow to the Merseyside club, because the hi-tech new stadium was a central platform in their blueprint to generate income.

Parry said: "We are now considering two schemes but the stadium will be a 70,000- seater.

"The new stadium will be a significant improvement on the original plans (from 2001) and a slightly downgraded version of the new ones (which were submitted two months ago)."

These plans will again have to go before Liverpool City Council and then the government for final approval, but it appears there will be less of an emphasis given to areas which generate significant match-day income.

And with the new owners clearly looking to cut costs, Benitez fears that there will be little or no money in the short to medium term for transfers, with all profits set against the interest on massive loans required to pay for the purchase of the club and their new home.

If Benitez feels that he is not getting sufficient backing by the summer, then he has made it clear to his closest associates that he will consider some of the other offers from top European clubs he is bound to receive by then.