Saturday, May 17, 2008

Three Trophies But Ablett Wants More

Despite bringing a hat-trick of trophies to Anfield this season, Gary Ablett has insisted there's room for improvement from his reserve team next year.

The young Reds landed the Reserve League North title at the end of an impressive campaign before securing the National title with victory over Aston Villa at Anfield.

With the Dallas Cup also added to the trophy haul for the season Ablett could be forgiven for praising his players for a perfect year - but he still wants more.

"I would probably give them seven and a half out of ten for the season," he said. "Maybe that's slightly cruel on them given the season they've had but I can see a lot more potential to come from some of them. Hopefully next season they can fulfil that potential and break into the first team.

"There is always room for improvement. We know we have good young players who are on different levels of the learning curve. It's our job next pre-season to make sure we give them the right information and the right coaching to give them the best chance of moving into Rafa's plans.

"It was a good season and we achieved what we wanted to achieve in terms of winning trophies, but I want to see more of them playing more first team games. We've had Insua and Plessis play for the first team towards the end of the season but the challenge is for the others to also make the breakthrough."

Alonso - I Won't Quit Reds

Talk of an Anfield exit for Xabi Alonso is well wide of the mark, the Liverpool midfielder has exclusively revealed to

The Spaniard has had his preparations for the European Championships interrupted by reports emanating from both Spain and Italy suggesting his time on Merseyside could be drawing to a close.

Both Real Madrid and Juventus have been credited with holding a long-standing interest in Alonso, with talk of Gareth Barry's possible arrival at Anfield doing little to silence the rumour mill.

Rafa Benitez has spoken of how Barry's signing would be to complement rather than replace existing members of his squad, with the Reds boss alluding to the fact Aston Villa's captain is capable of occupying various positions and not just the central midfield berth favoured by Alonso.

It was only in June of last year that Alonso signed a contract extension that binds him to Liverpool until 2012 but to his exasperation, Spanish press repeatedly intimate that a return to his homeland is on the cards.

Alonso though remains fully committed to Liverpool and has no intention of swapping the Premier League for La Liga or Serie A any time soon.

"It surprises me because I know the real truth," Alonso told, when quizzed on reports of an approach from Real Madrid.

"There has been no movement from Real Madrid, whether official or otherwise.

"At the moment I am with Liverpool, I have a contract with Liverpool and I want to be at Liverpool.

"I have been surprised and very disappointed to read that I want to leave Liverpool.

"The people who write these things have clearly not done very rigorous research."

Martin Agrees New Reds Deal

Liverpool reserve team goalkeeper David Martin has agreed a new deal at Anfield.

The 22-year-old is now tied to the Reds until 2010 as Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez bids to maintain an English core on Merseyside.

Martin, whose father Alvin played for West Ham, joined Liverpool from Milton Keynes Dons in January 2006.

He has yet to make his debut for Liverpool's senior team, but he was named among the substitutes for the League Cup clash with Reading at Anfield in October 2006.

Martin has made one England Under 20 appearance and he was loaned to Accrington Stanley in February 2007, where he made 10 appearances.

Hobbs Keen On Reds Extension

Jack Hobbs has set his sights on a new deal with Liverpool after a three-month loan spell at Scunthorpe.

The 19-year-old centre back spent the final half of the season on loan at Glanford Park and although he acknowledges it will be difficult to force his way into boss Rafael Benitez's plans, he admits he would love to remain at Anfield.

He said: "I'm sure something will happen this summer. They will either extend my contract or sell me. I want to stay, but ultimately it comes down to playing first-team football.

"I'm at the age where I want to get out there and make a name for myself. It would be ideal if that was at Liverpool, but we will have to wait and see."

Pompey Deny Being In Talks Over Crouch

FA Cup finalists Portsmouth have denied reports that officials from the club are in negotiations with Liverpool about signing England striker Peter Crouch.

Although Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp is thought to be keen to bring Peter Crouch back to the South Coast, it seems rumours that talks between Pompey and Liverpool are already underway are premature.

Crouch played for Redknapp before during an earlier spell at Portsmouth, and also at Pompey's Hampshire rivals, Southampton.

But Portsmouth's chief executive, Peter Storrie has been quoted today as saying: "It's a lot of nonsense to say we were negotiating to buy him last night.

"We are all concentrating on the FA Cup final."

Espanyol Not Keen On Swap Deal With Liverpool

Espanyol would like Liverpool's Sebastian Leto, but are less keen on the idea of a swap deal involving their midfielder Albert Riera, it appears.

Liverpool are planning a move for Espanyol's Albert Riera, according to reports in Spain, with manager Rafa Benitez, thought to be a keen admirer of the Spain international, considering an ofer of £8million plus winger Sebastian Leto.

Leto, who signed at Anfield in 2007, is a player wanted by the Barcelona-based club. But they would prefer to keep any deal involving 26-year-old Riera separate, and not linked to a Leto bid.

Former Liverpool scout Paco Herrera, who is now at Espanyol, has revealed that his new club are unwilling to accept a part-exchange offer.

"It is certain that we are interested in Leto, but our idea is to prepare a separate deal for Riera," Herrera said.

Meanwhile, Spurs and Fiorentina are also being linked with Riera.

Lee Delighted With Anfield Return

Former Bolton Wanderers manager Sammy Lee has spoken of his delight after returning to Liverpool as the club’s new assistant boss.

Lee has had previous spells as a player and coach at Anfield and now returns to the English giants for a third spell after replacing Alex Miller, who left Liverpool last week to try his hand in management with Japan.

Lee, who has also been involved in the coaching of the England national team in the past, said that it was a great pleasure to return to Anfield.

"I've been away for a while but everyone knows what this club means to me and it's a great pleasure to be back," he said to the club’s official website.

"When a club the size of Liverpool comes in for you and when a manager of the magnitude of Rafael Benitez wants you then you can't say no. When I found out they were interested in me I was really thrilled.

"After the sabbatical I've had I just wish the season was starting tomorrow, but the players have had a long, difficult and demanding season and they need to get away and get their batteries recharged.

"I've been around Melwood this morning and seen a lot of old faces but a lot of new faces as well. I've shook hands with everyone and introduced myself. There are some great people here and I can't wait to get working with them. It's so nice to be back."
Lee had an unsuccessful spell as a Premier League manager while at Bolton, but the experienced coach says that he has no regrets about trying his hand at the management side of the game.

"I was very honoured and privileged to be given the position as Bolton manager. The pride and the honour I felt to be their manager was only outweighed by the sheer disappointment that it didn't go well," he stated.

"I have to say the Bolton fans were fantastic towards me. I haven't had the chance to say that before but I want to thank them. Even when results weren't going well they were very supportive towards me and, most importantly, to the players."

After returning to his boyhood club, Lee is keen to play a major role in helping the Merseyside club win some more significant silverware after a strong period of improvement.

"I think the club has made great progress over the last few years and they were so close to having a great season this time around. Hopefully we can keep improving and get to where we all want to be – winning silverware," concluded Lee.