Sunday, February 03, 2008

Liverpool Star Steven Gerrard's "Garden Pavilion" Plan For House

Soccer star Stevie Gerrard is to have his own thatch of the day - on the spa at his mansion.

The England and Liverpool midfielder is installing a living "sedum roof" on the luxury gym and games building.

But unlike the Anfield pitch, it will not need careful daily tending - just weeding once a year.

Council planners in Formby, Merseyside, who gave Gerrard, 27, permission for the "garden pavilion" liked his plan for a "sedum roof".

An increasing number of buildings are being constructed with "living roofs" of grass, mosses or other plants. They provide additional insulation, which helps cut fuel bills by keeping homes warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

They also help absorb pollutants, dust, greenhouse gases and noise and provide a haven for birds and insects.

Gerrard's project is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and work should begin within months. Plans show he and his wife, Mirror columnist Alex Curran, 25, will have space for running, weight and fitness machines.

There will be changing rooms, plunge pool, shower rooms, solarium, kitchenette, treatment area, games area with room for full size table tennis and snooker tables and large lounge looking across the garden towards the house.

Gerrard decided to press on with plans for the spa despite bad memories for Alex and daughters Lilly-Ella, three, and Lexie, one, who were victims of a terrifying raid by masked men at the £4.5million home last year.

Liverpool Agree Deal For Javier Mascherano

Javier Mascherano will complete a £17.1 million move to Liverpool in the summer.

Mascherano, 23, joined the club on an 18-month loan from West Ham, which expires in June.

Benitez's attempts to buy the player were recently blocked by Liverpool's owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, adding to the growing tension between the Spaniard and the American duo.

However, after Hicks and Gillett's refinancing package was completed last week, a four-year contract will be formalized in the summer.

Rick Parry, the Liverpool chief executive, and Kia Joorabchian, who heads the Media Sports Investments consortium that 'owns' Mascherano, agreed a deal that should be ratified next week.

Liverpool had hoped to negotiate a lower fee for Mascherano, but with Manchester City monitoring the situation with interest, they had to settle for the sum that had already been agreed with Joorabchian a year ago.

The news of the imminent transfer, which will be the second most expensive in Liverpool's history, will be welcomed by Benitez, who has been rocked by bitter disputes over transfer policy and a run of poor form that has seen Liverpool drop out of contention for the Premier League title.

Sheikh Mohammed To Try Again

Sheikh Mohammed is ready to test the partnership between the joint owners of Liverpool by making a formal offer for the club.

The billionaire's investment company DIC has been studying closely the terms of a restructuring deal at Anfield that Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett announced last week.

And now the investment arm of the Dubai government is primed to approach the pair with a fresh offer that will value the club in the region of £300million.

DIC's hopes of buying the club they first bid for a year ago seem to rest on exploitation of the uneasy relationship between the two US tycoons.

Hicks has taken the lead in recent weeks by announcing a refinancing deal with the banks that secures his grip on the club - and he also unveiled £300million plans for a new state-of-the-art stadium

Gillett, who has the option of selling his 50 per cent stake, has remained conspicuously silent during that fanfare - and his position is the key to success for the increasingly confident Sheikh.

Kewell Left Out Of Squad

New Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has produced a massive selection shock, leaving Harry Kewell out of the squad for the World Cup qualifying opener against Qatar in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Verbeek confirmed today Kewell had not been asked to fly back to Australia for the match, with Bristol City midfielder Nick Carle and German-based defender Michael Beauchamp also left behind in Europe.

Kewell had been available for selection and finally appears to be over a wretched run of injuries which have blighted his career for the best part of two years.

But Verbeek made it clear the 29-year-old Liverpool star - for so long the Socceroos' talisman - would not be needed.

"I have now had six days with the players in Melbourne and I have made the decision that those three players will not be required to travel to Australia," Verbeek said of Kewell, Carle and Beauchamp.

"Obviously, the three players are disappointed that I have not selected them, but I appreciate that they were available to come if I wanted them to."

Kewell did not play for Liverpool in their 3-0 English Premier League win over Sunderland overnight.

The other 12 European-based Socceroos Verbeek had selected in his initial squad, including Everton midfielder Tim Cahill, will start arriving in Melbourne from tomorrow.

Cahill, who had been nursing a hamstring problem, played the full 90 minutes in Everton's 0-0 Premier League draw with Blackburn.

With Verbeek expected to name his final 18-man squad on Tuesday, it would appear there are now just six places available for the mostly A-League players who have spent the past week at the Socceroos' training camp in Melbourne.

Few did anything to enhance their selection claims in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory in a training match on Saturday.

But Sydney FC defender Mark Milligan, who probably would have been selected, will miss the Qatar game after breaking his nose during the training match.

Newcastle Jets attacker Joel Griffiths is also in doubt because of hamstring tightness.

Newcastle goalkeeper Ante Covic looks certain to take one of the available spots in the squad as back-up custodian to Mark Schwarzer, who will be the last man into camp on Tuesday after his English club match tomorrow.

Overseas players Michael Thwaite and Jacob Burns, who have been at the training camp, are also probable inclusions.

Verbeek is also likely to plump for experienced Queensland Roar defender Craig Moore in his final squad.

LiverpooL 3 - 0 Sunderland

Liverpool's wretched league run came to an end as three second-half goals against Sunderland eased the pressure on the team and manager Rafael Benitez.

The Anfield side had not won in the Barclays Premier League since Boxing Day and they had to fight hard to finally subdue the battling Black Cats.

A shocking sequence of five league games without a victory - effectively destroying any lingering hopes of a title bid - was ended with goals from Peter Crouch and Fernando Torres before Steven Gerrard completed the scoring from the spot.

Sunderland had worked hard and felt they should have had a penalty when Jamie Carragher appeared to handle.

But Liverpool pulled themselves together after a frustrating first half and moved back up to fifth in the table.

Benitez's response to the midweek defeat at West Ham was to leave out Steve Finnan, Yossi Benayoun, Xabi Alonso, Harry Kewell and Dirk Kuyt.

Crouch came in up front, Carragher moved to the right to allow centre-back Martin Skrtel to slot into the back four while Lucas Leiva, Jermaine Pennant and Javier Mascherano all returned.

Sunderland, who have not won at Anfield since 1983, were missing Dwight Yorke (knee) and Anthony Stokes from the side that beat Birmingham last time out as Michael Chopra returned from suspension and Kieran Richardson came back from injury.

But Richardson's suspect hamstring lasted just seven minutes before he was replaced by striker Rada Prica, with Daryl Murphy moving to the left of midfield.

Gerrard saw two long-range efforts charged down but that was as close as anyone got in the opening exchanges.

Slowly Liverpool seemed to run out of inspiration as the tackles continued to come in and Liam Miller, who had transgressed a couple of times, was booked for a foul on Gerrard.

Sunderland's determined defending kept Liverpool at bay and Nosworthy, despite a height disadvantage, did a solid job against Crouch.

Lucas was asked to play on the left for Liverpool with marginal success as Bardsley and Chopra were an effective pairing down that flank and Sunderland's confidence grew with every attack they broke down.

Liverpool finally created a chance after 38 minutes when Pennant's cross was met by Torres with a downward header that Craig Gordon scooped up.

A minute from the break Lucas' flick picked out Torres in the box for a shooting chance but Jonny Evans' produced a fine last-ditch block.

Liverpool replaced Fabio Aurelio with Finnan at half-time while, 10 minutes after the interval, Sunderland sent on Roy O'Donovan in place of Prica to bolster the midfield.

However, two minutes later Liverpool finally got themselves ahead.

Carragher got down the right and lifted a cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Crouch rose to head down and wide of Gordon's dive.

The goal lifted the hosts and Torres brought down a through-ball and flashed a drive Gordon did well to push into the Kop.

After 63 minutes Crouch saw a hooked shot blocked by Gordon, with Gerrard's follow-up deflected wide and from the resulting corner Crouch's towering header was cleared off the line by Dean Whitehead.

Six minutes later the second goal came when Torres surged on to a Crouch flick-on and hammered a right-foot shot past Gordon.

Sunderland were unfortunate not to get a penalty in the 73rd minute when Carragher threw himself at a Murphy shot and the ball struck his arm but Styles did nothing.

Evans had a header blocked by Jose Reina as Sunderland continued to power forward, with Finnan was booked for a foul on O'Donovan.

But two minutes from time Liverpool were awarded a penalty for a Nosworthy challenge on Pennant.

Gordon was booked for dissent before Gerrard scored from the spot with the Scotland goalkeeper almost keeping the ball out.