Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Liverpool Coach Benitez Says Club Can Cope Without Expensive Signings

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez expects less spending power in the transfer market, despite a plea by star striker Fernando Torres to sign more big-money players.

Benitez doubts getting much cash to bolster his squad to mount a Premier League title challenge against the backdrop of an unremitting feud between American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr.

Newly released accounts show that the Americans, who gained control in March 2007, had net losses of 33 million pounds (then US$67 million) by July 31, 2007.

Hicks has prioritized raising equity to buy out his estranged partner's 50 percent-stake and fund a new stadium.

Torres said last week that Liverpool needs "a lot of 20 or 25 million pound (US$39 or 49 million) players'' like Manchester United and Chelsea to bring the league title back to Anfield for the first time since 1990.

"Some teams around us are spending 20 million pounds and 30 million pounds (US$59) on one or two players,'' Benitez responded.”But the important thing is to get the right players and my staff are working hard to do that.''

Benitez said fellow Spaniard Torres was one of the key inspirations for keeping him at Liverpool, which finished fourth last season in the league and was ousted in the Champions League semifinals by Chelsea.

Benitez 100% Committed To Liverpool

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has moved to alleviate concerns that he may still be unsettled at Anfield.

The Spanish tactician endured an incredibly tough season both on and off the pitch. The Reds ended trophyless again, but far more pertinent in respect to Rafa's job was the drama off the pitch with co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Disputes began to lessen and the situation seemed placated towards the end of the season, but as the transfer window re-opens and the finances of the club once again come under scrutiny, many feel the former Valencia coach may leave if he does not get the backing he feels he deserves.

However, he told the Liverpool Echo he is fully focussed on the job at hand and nothing more: "I said at the end of the season I was very happy here and I will say it again.

"The supporters have been absolutely magnificent with me and the staff are working very hard.

"I would not have brought players like Fernando Torres and the young players we have here if I did not have a long term vision for the club. Now is not the time to be saying goodbye.

"Fernando's agent has asked about my Liverpool future and my answer is that I am 100% committed.

"If we had a lot of money to spend it would obviously be better," he said.

"But if we don't it doesn't matter.

"It is not about buying the most expensive players, it is about buying the right ones.

"We have the spine of the team and we can sell some players to get the others we need."

Anderson Set To Discover Liverpool Intentions

Liverpool FC youngster Paul Anderson is set to discover his part in the Reds' future when he meets with chief executive Rick Parry tomorrow.

Several Championship clubs are intent on capturing the 19-year-old winger's signature for a loan deal, while Premiership clubs have expressed an interest in a permanent deal.

The moves have come after Anderson completed a successful loan spell with League One champions Swansea City, who are also among the chasing pack.

Reports at the end of last week suggested Nottingham Forest were favourites to land Anderson, from John O'Gaunt, on a season-long loan, but he is still unsure as to exactly what the Anfield club has in store for him.

Forest's rivals Derby County have also staked a claim, as have Watford, Burnley, Ipswich Town, Doncaster Rovers and Leeds United among others.

Dad Phil Anderson said: "At this stage there is no story until an agreement is reached with Liverpool and until they know what they want to do with him.

"It hasn't been discussed with Paul yet, but I think it should be a lot clearer by Friday.

"Forest have expressed an interest and made an official approach, but no agreement has been made.We were hoping to have all this sorted out prior to going away on holiday, but the wait has happened for all the right reasons."

While Liverpool's intentions should be known by the weekend, a deal with another club is not expected to be finalised until the middle of next week.

Villa Full Of Praise For Unselfish Torres

David Villa strengthened his reputation as one of Europe's most lethal finishers with his hat-trick in Spain's 4-1 drubbing of Russia.

The 26-year-old took his international tally to 17 goals in 32 games with his Euro 2008 Group D treble at the Tivoli Neu stadium in Innsbruck on Tuesday.

Villa has a significantly better strike rate than attacking partner Fernando Torres, who has scored 15 goals in 50 games for his country and has only found the net twice for Spain since the last World Cup.

But Villa, who notched 18 league goals last season despite a difficult campaign at troubled Valencia, praised Torres for his unselfish work and explained why he had gone over to the bench to celebrate his hat-trick with his substituted team mate.

"I scored two goals benefiting from his work," Villa told a news conference on Wednesday. "He did the unseen work and I got the credit and that's why I celebrated with him."

Villa said he hurt his finger when he got it tangled in Torres's shirt as the two celebrated the first goal but described the injury as nothing important.

When Luis Aragones named his squad for Euro 2008 the main talking point in the Spanish media was the absence of former captain Raul but Villa's neatly-taken treble has helped lay that debate to rest.

Although Villa, who wears the number seven shirt once favoured by Raul, said Tuesday's performance may not have been his most complete, he called it his most memorable.

"It was my best game because of the circumstances. It was our opening game in Euro 2008, we won and I got three goals," said the striker.

Villa said he had English-speaking team mates Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso to thank for getting Austrian referee Konrad Plautz to agree to give him the match ball as a souvenir of his hat-trick.

"The referee said he couldn't give it to me because of a UEFA rule but Pepe and Xabi Alonso talked to him in English and managed to get the ball for me."

Liverpool To Make Fresh Gareth Barry Bid

Liverpool are to test Aston Villa's resolve by launching a £15 million cash-only bid for Gareth Barry.

Villa have already turned down two offers from Liverpool for Barry, with the midlands club reportedly valuing the England international at £20m.

Earlier this week, Barry told manager Martin O'Neill that he is keen on a move to Anfield, but last night Villa issued a statement saying: "Gareth Barry has stated in discussion with our manager that he would like to leave Aston Villa to join Liverpool. But Liverpool's bid for the player has been rejected and Liverpool have been informed of Villa's decision on this matter."

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez originally tabled a £10m offer for the midfielder which was rejected out of hand. A £12m bid ensued, which was also met with a flat no.

Benitez, however, is known to be a big fan of Barry, who has shone for England on the international stage as a holding midfielder, and will come back with a new £15m offer that Villa may find hard to turn down.

Benitez is also reportedly willing to do a player-plus-cash deal that O'Neill would be swayed by if it involved Peter Crouch or Yossi Benayoun.