Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ACADEMY: Liverpool Lack A Finishing Touch

Several missed chances meant Liverpool under-18s had to settle for a goalless draw at Newcastle United on Saturday.

Hugh McAuley’s side created enough opportunities to claim all three Premier Academy League points, but couldn’t take them.

Marvin Pourie and Nathan Eccleston were both denied by the Newcastle keeper, while Sean Highdale also went close but couldn’t find the net in the first half. While at the other end Liverpool were glad Martin Hansen was at his best in the second half, with the Danish keeper saving well on a couple of occasions.

McAuley said: “It was very windy and the conditions were very difficult. It wasn’t a good day to pass the ball. Although having said that despite playing into the wind, we created good chances in the first half.

“As the game wore on we dominated and with David Amoo and Alex Kacaniklic, who came on for his first action in a few weeks, we played some decent stuff. It was only going to be one goal that was going to win the game. And although we had a lot of possession and generally played well we didn’t capitalise on that.”

He added: “We lacked a real cutting edge in the penalty area. It was not a bad performance, but it is one where we should have capitalised on the possession we had.”

Liverpool face Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Kirkby Academy this Saturday (kick-off 11am) and will be looking to get back to winning ways.

McAuley said: “We have been going through one of those spells when we have drawn four or five games that we could have won.

“At Blackburn we scored, at Newcastle we didn’t. It is frustrating but we just need to keep working on it and creating the chances. Finishing generally hasn’t been a problem, but we just need to kill teams off.

“It is a measure of our progress, though, that we are disappointed when we are not beating teams like Newcastle and others.

“We just need to turn that domination in matches in goals and victories.”

Liverpool have a full squad to choose from.

Scott Carson Begs Liverpool To Sort Out His Future

Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson - currently on loan at Aston Villa - wants to sort out his long-term future for the sake of his family.

Carson has three years left of his contract with the Reds and is keen to commit himself to one club after previously having loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton.

The 22-year-old is enjoying his season-long loan spell at Villa and has helped them maintain their push for a European spot, helped by yesterday’s 2-1 win at Reading.

But Carson has no definite idea as to whether manager Martin O’Neill is keen to make the move permanent in the summer - or before then if all parties could reach an agreement.

Carson said: “I’d like to know what is happening because I’ve got my girlfriend and my son to think about.

“My son turned two last week and he’s started going to nursery school so we need to get settled.

“I’ve still got a contract with Liverpool and. until someone does a deal with them, I can’t do anything.

“It’s not a done deal (with Liverpool). Villa paid a loan fee for me until the end of the season and anytime from now until then, they could make it permanent.”

Carson added: “I can’t really say where I’d like to be because I’m still under contract at Liverpool and I don’t know what is going to happen there.

“I like it at Villa and I want to get settled for next season.

“There’s not a lot I can do. I’ve got three years left at Liverpool and I don’t know what Aston Villa are thinking. I don’t know if there is anything else in the pipe-line. We will have to wait and see.”

Tom Hicks Jnr: Angry Fans Won't Drive Us Out Of Liverpool

Tom Hicks Jnr. today spoke for the first time about being forced to leave an Anfield pub by a group of Liverpool fans.

The son of Liverpool’s co-owner beat a hasty retreat from the Sandon pub after being confronted by supporters angry at the way his father is running the club.

After being swilled with lager and spat at, Hicks Jnr. was shepherded to safety by a team of burly bodyguards.

But today he insisted such incidents “come with the territory” and vowed to return to Liverpool in the near future.

He said: “I went to Sandon with some friends because I have wanted to go for quite some time to see the birthplace of the club.

“I also wanted the opportunity to have a direct talk with some of the supporters.

“I respect that some patrons have major disagreement with us, but that comes with the territory.

“I did have several constructive conversations in my short visit and look forward to following up with them next time I am in Liverpool.”

Hicks Jnr. turned up at the Sandon on Saturday evening after Liverpool’s game against Middlesbrough at Anfield.

He took pictures of the exterior of the pub before going inside with the security staff who have shadowed him throughout his stay on Merseyside.

He ordered drinks at the bar and stood chatting with his bodyguards before fans in the packed pub began to recognise him.

At first, the conversations were cordial with one Liverpool supporter approaching him to register his disquiet about the way Liverpool Football Club is being run.

But as an increasing number of fans recognised the 6ft 4ins Texan, the atmosphere soon turned ugly and Mr Hicks and his bodyguards quickly became nervous.

Mr Hicks decided to evacuate, but not before he was spat at by one fan and swilled with lager by another.

He was surrounded by his bodyguards and rushed out of the establishment and into a waiting people carrier which sped away from the scene as angry fans spilled out of the pub.

Reports the vehicle suffered £1,000 worth of damage seemed to be unfounded.

The people carrier had left before any supporters even made it onto the street.

Mr. Hicks has not made a complaint to Merseyside police and is looking to play down the incident.

Afterwards he was taken back to the city centre Malmaison hotel where he mixed with tourists and had at least one pre-arranged meeting with one group of Liverpool supporters.

Yesterday he watched the Carling Cup final between Tottenham and Chelsea at Wembley.

Americans On Verge Of Selling Liverpool

Liverpool's American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, are understood to be just weeks from agreeing a deal with Dubai International Capital which could see the club change hands for the second time in just over a year.

After months of fraught talks, DIC are increasingly confident that they will not only reach an agreement soon with the Americans but also with the two banks, Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia, who have just completed a £350 million refinancing of the club.

DIC's advisers have set themselves a deadline of the middle of next month to conclude the first part of a two-stage takeover process which, when complete, will be worth between £400m and £450m and includes provision for the club's increased debts.

In the next few days bankers working for DIC, the investment arm of the Maktoum royal family, are expected to be granted permission to start examining Liverpool's books with a view to tabling a formal offer.

Gillett, whose relationship with Hicks has broken down, will be first to sell out and is understood to have already agreed in principle to offload his 50 per cent stake.

But Hicks is refusing to sell out in one go. In the short term, at least, he is expected to remain on the board.

DIC plan to dilute his holding, initially by injecting further funds into the club to not only cover the new 18-month bank loan but also to help pay for the proposed new stadium and buy players. DIC want to secure a deal where Hicks sells out completely later on.

Having spent the first part of last week in Dubai, where he was seeking new backers for his US investment company, Hicks Holdings, he then flew to London on Thursday for two days of talks with DIC's advisers.

One potential stumbling block is the exact nature of the initial shareholder agreement between DIC and Hicks. It is understood his demands to retain control of the club following Gillett's exit have been rebuffed.

Under the terms of the £220m takeover deal concluded by Hicks and Gillett last February, no partner can sell out without first offering his 50 per cent stake to the other. Hicks has tried to raise the money to seize complete control but with the credit crunch hitting his businesses, he has failed.

If DIC succeed, they will aim to restore stability to a club after a period of unprecedented turbulence.

Hyypia Seeks Anfield Stay

Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia says he is hoping to win a new deal at Anfield.

A number of clubs are thought to be monitoring Hyypia's situation with his current contract due to expire in the summer.

The 34-year-old admits clinching a new contract at Liverpool is his priority as he would like to make it ten years on Merseyside.

"My priority would be to stay at Liverpool, but it's not only up to me," Hyypia told The Mirror.

"I haven't got any offers yet from here or any other clubs, so I'm just trying to focus on the matches.

"I'm enjoying playing. I've played more games than I maybe thought I would this season because of all the injuries.

"The only thing I can do is try to play well, and when it's time to sit down see what happens.

"It would be very nice to get to 10 years at the club but I'm just concentrating on playing well."

Hyypia says he is happy to fight for his place in the team with Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel all battling for a spot in the heart of Liverpool's defence.

"Whether I stay wouldn't depend on how many games I play. I'm not like that. I'm not interested in someone promising me anything," added Hyypia.

"If we have four centre-backs, then everyone fights for their place and performances should determine who plays.

"If I keep playing well then it'll be very difficult for the manager to change things."