Thursday, May 15, 2008

Liverpool Legend John Aldrige Confident That Fernando Torres Will Continue To Terrorise Rivals

John Aldridge is confident that Fernando Torres will be even more vicious in his attack and continue to be a threat to Liverpool's rivals next season, even though his opponents will now be closely scrutinising his game-play.

In his debut season Torres shattered a number of records netting 33 goals for Liverpool.

"People talk about players not performing in their second season after a great first year, but I don't think that will apply to Torres," said Aldridge.

"He has scored so many goals coming in from the left and then dragging the ball past the defender - like his strike at Tottenham at the weekend - and I think that is just impossible to defend against. You just can't stop it. If you block that route down the outside off then he'll just cut in and whip the ball into the net.

"I think he'll be as good, if not better, next season. Whether he can score the same amount of goals again remains to be seen because what he's achieved in a first season has been fantastic.

"What he does best, and this is something I rave over, is make goals for himself out of nothing. A lot of strikers, myself included, needed a supply into the area, but he doesn't. He gets the ball and you wonder what he's going to do - the next thing the ball is in the net.

"He's a very special talent and the partnership he has struck up with Steven Gerrard has been immaculate. The new formation the manager has settled on suits the both of them perfectly."

Fernando Torres Praises Liverpool Fans For Outstanding Support In Debut Season

Liverpool star striker Fernando Torres voiced his feelings for Liverpool’s fans after his stunning debut and record breaking season with the Reds.

The 24-year-old has had the most successful debut season for any foreign player, but he has owed out his success to the Liverpool fans who have always been there supporting him.

"The supporters back the players, regardless of who is out on the pitch," he said.

"They enjoy watching their key players play, because Liverpool has great players, but Liverpool will always be a team.

"The fans get behind the side even when things are not working out, and they are always there until the death.

"That is the major difference with football back in Spain. If a team is not doing well, then it is because the players do not deserve to be wearing the club's colours.

"At Liverpool, if a player is wearing their shirt, it is because he deserves it. The fans ask for effort and dedication, and their support is something special, something that stays with you.

"Luckily, everything has worked out well from day one, and my team-mates have helped out, and I owe them all an awful lot.

Steven Gerrard: Liverpool Board Must Spend

Steven Gerrard has become accustomed to declaring that Liverpool are better equipped than ever to end their long wait for the league title, only to bemoan another failed challenge, but that did not prevent the club's captain from delivering another rallying cry yesterday as he looked ahead to next season.

While there was a genuine gusto with which Gerrard, buoyed by the arrival of Fernando Torres from Atlético Madrid for £26.5 million, proclaimed last summer that Liverpool could win the Barclays Premier League, the midfield player appeared to strike a less assured note this time as the club prepare for a summer of uncertainty.

Gerrard made repeated pleas for the board to back Rafael Benítez in the transfer market or risk “falling away”, but the suspicion remains that unless Dubai International Capital wins control of the club or the manager can raise significant funds by offloading players such as Peter Crouch and Xabi Alonso, the possible signing of Gareth Barry from Aston Villa may be the highlight of any summer arrivals.

“Obviously I have to be careful that I don't send expectations through the roof again, but for me I am desperate for it [the title],” Gerrard said. “I believe we can make it happen. We need help and new players and the manager needs help from the board to make these signings happen.

“We say it every year, but it's massive [this summer]. Other teams are going to strengthen and become better sides, so it's important we do the same. It's important we don't fall away. We want to stay up there with the best. It's important Rafa gets the right backing above him as well.

“It's difficult to say how many world-class players [we are away from a title challenge]. If we can make the team a little bit stronger, have a few more options and match-winners and make the team a tiny bit better defensively, we can do it.”

Liverpool had the best record of the so-called “big four” teams during the run-in, taking 32 points from their final 13 league matches compared with the 31 amassed by Chelsea, 29 by Manchester United, the champions, and 23 by Arsenal over the same sequence of games, and Gerrard believes that the club must learn to stop dropping “stupid points” against teams they are expected to beat.

“The title slipped away because of silly results against teams we should be beating,” he said. “You don't have to take maximum points from the top three if you perform perfectly against the others, but we haven't done that.”

We Must Protect Our Record, Claims Ian Rush

Ian Rush has called on the current generation of Liverpool players to "fight" to retain their place as the most successful club in English football.

Liverpool has not won a league title since they clinched the last of their record 18 crowns in 1990 and Manchester United, with 10 in the intervening years, are now just one behind on 17.

The Anfield club still have an extra edge with five European Cups to United's two, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side could further erode their position, with victory in Moscow next week.

And Rush has now called on Rafael Benitez's team to protect that proud record.

Rush said: "The club should be prepared to fight because it is really important that we continue to be regarded as the most successful club in the country.

"That record has been built up over decades of hard work and doing things the right way and it has to be preserved. No-one has the divine right to win the title. You have to earn that right and that's what Liverpool have done in the past and need to do again."

Liverpool finished the season in fourth in the Barclays Premier League but Rush, the Anfield club's record goalscorer, is hopeful that the gap to the top can be bridged.

He added: "This time, United have been pushed all the way by Chelsea. It was a tight finish and could have gone either way, but United did enough on the last day and that makes them worthy champions.

"From a Liverpool point of view, we have to be on their shoulders next season and we have to be involved in the title race as it goes into the final straight. That is the challenge for everyone at the club and what greater motivation do you need than preserving one of the proudest records in football?"

Liverpool Fans' Premier League Season Review

By John Mackin, of the Red All Over The Land website……..

How was it for you?
We've improved this season in the league and if we'd beaten Manchester United home and away we would have finished above them. We are not as far away as some people would have you believe.
Verdict: 7.5/10

The manager - "good job" or "time to go"?
It's rubbish to suggest Rafa Benitez's job is under threat from disillusioned supporters. Everybody I speak to is behind him, although I reckon it would be better for him to keep his nose out of what is going on in the boardroom.

Best player / worst player:
Fernando Torres has obviously been the highlight. I knew he was good, but I didn't think he do as well as he has this quickly and next season I think he'll be even stronger. The biggest disappointment has probably been Xabi Alonso who has generally been very, very quiet.

Finest hour - the moment of the season:
I would pick the Torres goal against Arsenal in the Champions League, even above the away win against Inter Milan. We were quite confident going to Milan, but against Arsenal it was very nerve-wracking. The lowest point was not going for Chelsea in the second-half of the Champions League semi-final.

Big issue:
We need to get the ownership issue sorted out. Tom Hicks needs to sell because I don't think he is interested in putting a single penny into the club. Everything he has done so far has been with borrowed money and we could be in trouble if we run up big debts and don't increase income.

Benitez Left In Limbo After Gillett's Oversight Extends Liverpool Turmoil

Emphasising his dismay at a season without silverware, Steven Gerrard yesterday passed up the opportunity to say he sees himself finishing his career at Anfield. However, the Liverpool captain will be saddened to learn that his manager's hopes of a speedy resolution to the club's boardroom strife appear to have been dashed.

Aware he will have to sell before buying new players this summer, Rafael Benitez expressed his wish last week for a quick end to the struggle for ownership which is limiting the funds at his disposal. But Dubai International Capital (DIC), the Arab consortium seeking a buy-out at Anfield, is now resigned to the fact that Tom Hicks may still be at the helm, come August.

There had been hopes that the expiry of pre-emption rights this month would allow Hicks' co-owner George Gillett to sell his shares to DIC. But an administrative oversight on Gillett's part appears to have prevented that, so DIC is now dependent on Hicks – or his bankers – reaching the conclusion that he has no option but to sell to them.

There is a belief in the DIC camp that Hicks' bankers might ultimately force his hand, though when that might happen is unclear. DIC may have to wait until October, the date Hicks has promised that construction work will begin on Liverpool's new 60,000-seat stadium and which is the acid test of his ability to deliver what he has promised for the club.

Hicks is close to borrowed time where his side's players are concerned. Another season without a trophy threatens an exodus and Liverpool's former defender Mark Lawrenson fears the loss of Gerrard if there is no sense of the club advancing any time soon.
"He [Gerrard] says he wants to stay and can't see himself leaving but would anyone blame him if he felt he was better off out of it?" Lawrenson said yesterday. "That might not seem too much of a problem just now. But if Jose Mourinho takes over at Inter Milan and tells the chairman to get Gerrard for him at all costs, it might just become one."

Gerrard, who needs no reminding that Manchester United now stand only one title away from Liverpool's record of 18, considers it imperative that the club invest seriously this summer.

"Other teams are going to strengthen, so it's important we do the same," he said yesterday. "There is a lot of money in the League. To keep doing well in the League and Europe we need to strengthen the squad." Gerrard appeared less than bullish about his side's chances of mounting a title challenge next season.

"Obviously I have to be careful that I don't send expectations through the roof again, but I am desperate for [a title]. We need new players, and the manager needs help from the board to make these signings happen. I do expect us to be involved next season."

On reports that a player who was so nearly tempted to join Chelsea in 2005, might see out his career at Anfield, he said: "I'm happy. I am enjoying my football. Obviously I am not happy ending the season without a trophy."

Stadium investment will need to begin any time now, with the hiring of surveyors and contractors and if construction work does not get under way in the autumn Hicks will find himself under huge pressure from Liverpool fans.

He remains upbeat about his prospects and has promised that work on the new stadium in Stanley Park will will start in September, with construction to begin in October and the stadium due to be open for matches in 2011. But Hicks' confidence flies in the face of the credit crunch, which has left Tottenham to consider modifying plans to redevelop White Hart Lane.