Monday, April 28, 2008

Liverpool’s Hyypia Believes Riise Ready For Champions League Decider At Chelsea

Veteran defender Sami Hyypia is confident team-mate John Arne Riise has put the Champions League semi-final first-leg own-goal behind him, as Liverpool prepare for Wednesday’s decider at Chelsea.

Following the Norwegian left-back’s last-gasp headed own-goal, the Blues got a crucial away goal in the 1-1 first leg draw at Anfield last week.

"John is a good character and hopefully he is not worrying about that own goal any longer," said Hyypia in the Mirror.

"He is mentally 100 per cent and players should be professional enough to handle these situations.

"It is not the first time John has scored an own goal and there are many other players who will score own goals.

"It is normal in football these days because the ball is travelling through the air so quickly and sometimes you don't know where it is going from your head or foot."

O'Neill Delays Carson Decision

Martin O'Neill will not make a decision on whether to sign Scott Carson on a permanent basis until the summer.

The keeper is currently on loan at Aston Villa from Liverpool, and has played a major role in the Villans push for a Uefa Cup spot this season.

He has previously spent loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton and is keen to get his long-term future resolved as soon as possible.

However, Villa boss O'Neill knows that any potential deal depends on Liverpool's willingness to sell, and admits that he is yet to discuss the possibility of any such move with his Reds counterpart Rafa Benitez.

"We have Scott until the end of the season and when we talked about it in the first place, there was no decision going to be made one way or another until the end of the season," he said.

"Now, of course, if someone does very well then there is talk about 'can you hurry this on?' or if someone is not doing so cleverly then the talk is 'well, what are you doing about it?'

"That is a natural question for people to ask me, but an unnatural one to answer.

"I will wait until the end of the season. Liverpool are heavily involved now in competitions so we will wait and then all parties will sit down.

"Liverpool have not come on the phone asking 'what are you doing?' and I have not gone on to them and said 'what are you thinking?' We are prepared to leave it.

"With all the hullabaloo surrounding Liverpool at the moment, I would have been surprised if they were sitting down to have a discussion (about Carson). At the end of the season we will decide - all of us."

O'Neill added: "I haven't really said anything to Scott either way. I speak to his agent pretty regularly about things. He always asks how Scott is doing.

"Scott will be given that viewpoint, but I am sure he would like to hear it from a manager!"

Mancini: No Matrix Red, No Liverpool Win

Roberto Mancini has hit out at the red card that Marco Materazzi received in Inter’s Champions League last 16 first leg at Anfield in February, and says that Liverpool would never have won the tie if he had stayed on the field.

Materazzi was on the scoresheet yesterday, as he came off the bench to score the second goal in Inter’s 2-1 win over Cagliari.

The 34-year-old displayed an angry celebration after scoring, and this has led to talk in the Italian press that the defender was annoyed with Coach Roberto Mancini for not starting him.

Mancini has hit out at this speculation.

"I'm tired of these accusations,” he said, referring to the numerous recent reports of bust-ups with the likes of Hernan Crespo, Patrick Vieira and Luis Figo.

“Materazzi has played three games on the trot and I just wanted to give him a round of rest.”

Mancini then spoke briefly about the controversial Champions League exit to Liverpool in the last 16.

In the first leg at Anfield, the Nerazzurri were reduced to 10 men after just half-an-hour when Materazzi picked up two dubious yellow cards.

“The game against Liverpool? I say only that, eleven against eleven, we would have never lost," Mancini concluded.

Liverpool play the second leg of their semi-final on Wednesday night against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The scores are level at 1-1 from the first leg at Anfield.

Rafa Benitez: We Need A Strong Referee To Monitor Drogba

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez wants the officials in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg at Chelsea to clamp down on what he sees as Didier Drogba’s theatrics.

Benitez believes Londoners’ striker Drogba goes down far too easily.

“With Drogba, it’s important to have a good referee,” the Spaniard said. “You can’t do anything, but I will say it because it was so clear. He is amazing because he is massive. It’s very impressive. I have a lot of clips of him from over the years and he surprises me. After four years, I expected it.”

Benitez revealed he had compiled clips of Drogba’s playing style.

“The referee was giving fouls last week. And it was not the same with Torres,” he added.

DIC Rubbish Mourinho Reports

Liverpool fans' groups have been assured that Jose Mourinho has not been offered Rafael Benitez's job as boss at Anfield.

In a situation similar to the one admitted by co-owners Tom Hicks that they did meet Jurgen Klinsmann last year to discuss a possible appointment at Anfield, it has now been claimed that Dubai International Capital have held conversations with former Chelsea boss Mourinho.

But sources at DIC on Sunday have denied that they have ever "offered the job to Mourinho, or met him to discuss it."

And DIC's representatives, who have good relations with a number of Liverpool fans' groups including the recently formed Spirit of Shankly organisation, have gone to the point on Sunday of contacting them to deny speculation over Mourinho.

They are aware that Liverpool fans would react with horror if they believed Mourinho was a possible replacement for Benitez, who has been shown that he has fans' full support to continue in the job.

Anfield supporters have not forgiven Mourinho for much of the rhetoric and confrontational attitude towards the club taken over the years by the Portuguese coach, particularly involving the Champions League clashes between Liverpool and Chelsea.

So it is being greeted with suspicion that more speculation over Mourinho and Liverpool has surfaced just days before the clubs meet again at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in the Champions League semi-final second leg.

DIC are acutely aware that if they do eventually take over at Anfield, Benitez has complete backing from the club's fans and any move to dislodge him would be a massive PR blunder.

It is believed DIC have actually been contacted twice by intermediaries for Mourinho suggesting a meeting, but the offer has not been taken up because they are happy with the job Benitez is doing and they are very aware of the reaction from the Kop fans.
Benitez is also believed to be aware of DIC's stance as he bids to take Liverpool to their third European Cup final in four seasons.