Friday, February 29, 2008

Liverpool’s Kuyt Praises Torres, Eyes Win At Bolton

Dirk Kuyt has hailed team-mate Fernando Torres as the Liverpool striker aims for a victory at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday.

Under Rafa Benitez, the Reds have failed to beat the Trotters at the Reebok Stadium, where they lost 2-0 last season.

Spain striker Torres has been in a remarkable form for most part of the season, after having joined in the summer from Atletico Madrid, and helped the Reds with a hat-trick in league win over Middlesbrough last weekend at Anfield to take his season’s goal tally to 21.

With that win coming after the Champions League last-16 first-leg success over Inter Milan, Benitez’s side are looking to continue their winning run and get themselves back in the top-four in the league table.

“It was very important to get the win against Middlesbrough because we still want to do something in the league and we definitely want to play in the Champions League next season,” Kuyt said in the Liverpool Echo.

“We did our job and got the three points and now we have to get as many points as we can from the league games we have coming up.

“We didn’t make a good start in that game but having beaten Inter Milan a few days before we had the confidence to go and turn it around.

“Fernando got us back into it and from then on we went on to control things, even though we had a bit of a scare late on.

“I was happy with the two wins we had against Inter Milan and Middlesbrough and now we have to look to get another one on Sunday against Bolton.”

The Dutch international hailed the 23-year-old Torres, saying: “He is unbelievable, a really good player.

“I have never seen someone who is that quick with the ball. I don’t think anyone is as quick as Fernando is with the ball at his feet.

“He showed it again against Middlesbrough and if you have a player like that in your team you have to be really happy.”

Torres Calls For Consistency

Fernando Torres believes Liverpool must become more consistent and show more self-belief if they are to challenge for the Premier League title.

The Reds were expected to push the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea this season following the big-money capture of the Spain striker last summer.

However, it has been a familiar story for Liverpool fans with numerous disappointing results despite a promising start to their league campaign.

Torres has proved a fine addition with an impressive 15-goal haul in the Premier League to date, although he believes the team lack the confidence in their own ability to be crowned champions.

The striker's comments come after Steven Gerrard admitted the team's league form simply has not been up to scratch and that even winning the UEFA Champions League would not make up

"We need to be consistent, but we also have to convince ourselves that we can do it," Torres told Sport magazine.

"The only way to get out of a situation like this is to have confidence in yourselves - to talk it over and then maybe string three or four wins together.

"We haven't reached the standards expected of us. We've been inconsistent. When you consider the history of the club and the coach and the squad we have, we really need to improve if we are to fulfil expectations."

Torres has also highlighted the need for stability at Anfield and has praised under-fire manager Rafa Benitez.

"He's one of the most respected coaches in England. Since he came here and won the Champions League in 2005 - especially the way in which he won it," he continued.

"The spirit in the team is good - all we need now is to find some stability and put some better results together."

Reds Rejected Lucas Offers

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has revealed a host of clubs have expressed an interest in midfielder Lucas Leiva.

As revealed by, Serie A side Palermo were one of several sides who made an enquiry for Lucas during the January transfer window.

Liverpool rejected all overtures for the 21-year-old, with Benitez tipping him for a big future at Anfield.

"We have received offers for Lucas," Benitez told the club's official website.

"Maybe 10 clubs in Spain and Italy want to take him.

"That is how good he is. I have faith in Lucas.

"He has a very good mentality and is a player of top quality.

"He will be a top player, that is certain.

"But he already is a top player, he was captain of Brazil Under 21s and has won two caps with the national team."

Liverpool star Carragher Arrested And Cautioned For Common Assault

Liverpool's star defender Jamie Carragher has been arrested and cautioned by police for common assault.

The Anfield player, 30, attended at a Merseyside police station yesterday to be questioned over an incident on a busy road close to the player's home.

Carragher assaulted another man on Liverpool Road, Crosby, at around 9am on Tuesday as he made his way to training at Melwood.

A witness called police to report two men were arguing by the side of the road and named the Bootle-born player, who is also Liverpool's vice-captain, as one of the men.

Later that day, police received a complaint from the second man and Carragher was informed officers wanted to speak to him.

An appointment was made for him to see the police and when he went to a police station yesterday with his solicitor, Carragher was formally interviewed and accepted his caution. Accepting a caution is an admission of guilt in the eyes of the law.

Common assault can include anything from spitting to shoving.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that a 30-year-old man from the Blundellsands area received a police caution for common assault in relation to an incident on Liverpool Road, Crosby, on Tuesday February 26."

Desperate Kewell Goes The Extra Mile

Harry Kewell is doing extra training with Liverpool reserves in a last, desperate bid to earn another contract at Anfield.

The injury-plagued Australia winger is out of contract at the end of the season and has little chance of another deal at his current £70,000 a week after making only nine starts and failing to last 90 minutes in any of them this season.

He is hoping to negotiate a pay-as-you-play extension and has spoken to manager Rafa Benitez in an effort to win over the Liverpool boss.

Benitez confirmed: "It is true that Harry came to see me and that it was his idea to do extra training with the reserves to build up his fitness. He has a professional mentality and his approach is very positive. He must carry on working hard and making sure he is ready for any opportunity, but I have no problem with him at all."

Kewell, signed from Leeds for £5million by former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier, faces an uphill task to stay at Anfield beyond this season after making only one appearance as substitute in the past month.

But he pushed his claims for a recall by scoring the second goal in Liverpool reserves' 2-0 win over Manchester United.

"He is a typical Aussie who doesn't know the meaning of giving up," said a close friend.

"There have been approaches from other clubs, but his only interest is winning over Benitez and staying at Anfield."

Hicks Moves For Complete Control Of Liverpool

Tom Hicks served notice of his intention to retain control at Liverpool last night when he warned he may block George Gillett's attempts to sell to Dubai International Capital. As a game of brinkmanship develops over the future of Liverpool, Hicks also indicated he could gain total control with a buyout of his co-chairman.

Liverpool's co-owners have both held negotiations about a possible takeover with the investment arm of the Dubai government in recent months. However, under the terms of their joint takeover last February, Hicks and Gillett have first refusal on each other's 50% stake and must give their consent to any sale by the partner.

Although Gillett has been receptive to DIC and the prospect of a quick profit on his troubled 12-month investment, Hicks remains a major obstacle to the Dubai group's ambitions of a complete takeover. The Texan has told DIC he would grant it permission to purchase Gillett's holding on the condition he remained in control of the management structure. He is also keen to retain the lead role in the development of a new stadium on Stanley Park.

DIC has rejected Hicks' conditions and is reluctant to replicate the 50-50 venture that has proved so problematic for Liverpool. It will invest only on the understanding that Hicks is willing to allow it to become the dominant party and is prepared to walk away if the current impasse continues. In response to this stand-off Hicks gave the first public indication of the breakdown in his relationship with Gillett last night when he reaffirmed his determination not to relinquish power at Anfield.

"Not only am I not going to sell, my partner cannot sell without my approval," Hicks said in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram yesterday. "So I kind of have the ability to determine the outcome of what is going to happen and I am right in the middle of that."

Alarmingly for Liverpool supporters opposed to the Americans' regime, Hicks suggested one way of resolving the problems with Gillett would be to purchase his stake and become the outright owner. "For a lot of reasons I can't discuss I haven't been able to fix it yet. But I am preparing to be in a position to fix it," he added.

It is debatable, however, whether Hicks could afford to buy out his co-chairman given the impact of the credit crunch on his Hicks Holdings company and the current financial problems with his US sports franchises, the Texas Rangers baseball team and the NHL's Dallas Stars.

There were further off-pitch distractions for Liverpool yesterday when it was revealed that their vice-captain, Jamie Carragher, had been arrested and cautioned by police for common assault.

The former England international, 30, was formally interviewed at a Merseyside police station and accepted the caution - an admission of guilt in the eyes of the law - following an altercation near his home in Blundellsands on Tuesday morning. Carragher had been driving to training at Liverpool's Melwood complex when he became embroiled in a row with a man with whom it is believed he has endured a long-running dispute.

A witness called police to report two men arguing by the roadside and named the Liverpool defender as one of those involved. Later that day the apparent victim also filed a complaint against Carragher, who was given an appointment to be interviewed by officers and accepted the caution for common assault, the lowest form of assault, in the company of his solicitor.

A spokesperson for Merseyside Police said: "We can confirm that a 30-year-old man from the Blundellsands area received a police caution for common assault in relation to an incident on Liverpool Road, Crosby, on Tuesday, February 26." The club declined to comment.

Confirmation of Carragher's arrest came as Rafael Benítez was compelled to stress that Steven Gerrard is not alone in harbouring deep frustrations at this season's domestic under-achievement.

"Everyone at Liverpool shares Steven's sentiments, there is no question about that," the Liverpool manager said. "We wanted to be further up the table and the fact that we are not is a disappointment to everyone."