Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dossena: No Catenaccio At Anfield

Liverpool’s new signing from Udinese, Andrea Dossena, has told the club’s fans they needn’t fear an outbreak of Italian-style catenaccio defence next season.

Italian football sets the benchmark by which defensive excellence is measured, with the catenaccio blanket-style defence perfected in the 1960s as the bedrock of the 1-0 win and forever associated with Serie A, even though things have evolved and been refined since then.

It is a highly effective tactical approach, though not necessarily conducive to the most entertaining football; and Andrea Dossena, the new left-back at Anfield following his £8 million move from Udinese this summer, is not a great catenaccio fan.

Indeed, he positively dislikes it, and told Liverpool‘s fans not to expect it at Anfield next season.

"I am not a fan of catenaccio, it's not for me," Dossena told the club‘s official LFC Magazine. "I don't like it when teams just try to pass the ball around to waste time.

"If you concede a goal in the last minute of a game, it could be that all your efforts have been wasted. I don't really like the talk about Italian football being all about the defence and attacking on the break.

"Of course, I see myself as a defender but I like to be flexible too. If there is a chance to attack I am very happy to go forward. I am not the type of player who is happy to settle for a 1-0 win.

"I believe in always playing to win and trying to score more goals."

Steven Gerrard Models Liverpool's New Champions League Kit

Steven Gerrard shows off Liverpool's new Champions League bluey-green strip which he hopes will inspire the Reds to a Rome hat-trick.

Rafa Benitez's side will be bidding to lift the European Cup for a record third time in Rome's Olympic Stadium when they begin their latest campaign next month.

Robbie Keane On Brink Of Joining Liverpool FC

Liverpool are putting the finishing touches to a deal that will make Robbie Keane one of most expensive signings in the club’s history.

Keane is expected to undergo a medical early next week to finalise his transfer from Tottenham Hotspur.

The fee could ultimately rise to £20m given the add-ons and incentives that have been negotiated.

Only Fernando Torres will have cost Liverpool more, with Rafael Benitez now confident he will be able to pair the Spaniard with Keane in attack this season.

Spurs have already accepted Keane’s future lies at Anfield, with the player having been omitted by Juane Ramos from the friendly against Spanish side Hercules on Wednesday night.

With Keane’s signature almost secured, Liverpool manager Benitez will now turn his attention to bringing a successful conclusion to the Gareth Barry transfer saga.

Liverpool have already tabled what they consider a reasonable for the Aston Villa midfielder, despite comments from Villa manager Martin O’Neill suggesting he “does not know where Liverpool stand” concerning the transfer.

Barry was jeered by Villa supporters during a friendly at Walsall earlier this week, his first appearance since declaring his desire to join Liverpool.

He was not involved in the first leg of Villa's Intertoto Cup tie at Danish side Odense last weekend, and it is thought O’Neill will not select the England international for the return game today.

And Scott Carson, a team-mate of Barry when spending last season on loan at Villa Park from Liverpool, believes an agreement should be reached to allow the player to move to Anfield.

Carson, who recently completed a permanent move to West Bromwich Albion, said: “I think if he wants to leave he should really.

“However, people have got their price and if Liverpool cannot match the price then they have got to come to some sort of agreement.”

Jamie Carragher Happy To See Daniel Agger Return

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the return of fellow centre-back Daniel Agger could be the biggest signing of the pre-season for the Reds.

With two new full-backs from the continent and a new goalkeeper already recruited plus a couple of big money signings from the Premier League seemingly on their way, much has been made of Rafael Benitez’s transfer targets this summer.

But Carragher reckons the biggest “addition” to the squad at Liverpool next season could be the return of Danish international Agger.

The lofty Dane was missing from Liverpool’s ranks for the vast majority of the 2007/08 campaign which saw the team eventually fall short of their silverware ambitions both at home and abroad.

The £5.8m signing from Brondby made a major impact following his arrival on Merseyside in January 2006 and went on to make 43 appearances in his first full season in 2006/07.

However, a metatarsal injury ended his season early last campaign and the problem niggled with the player for many months.

But with Agger’s injury woes seemingly now behind him, Carragher, the most experienced defender at Anfield, believes that the Dane’s return could be crucial as Liverpool embark on what could be a watershed season as they look to end a wait of what would be 19 years for their 19th league title and in doing so prevent Manchester United from equalling their record haul.

He said: “It’s been really tough for Daniel. He was a big miss for us last season and we’re delighted to have him back.

“He’s a great player but there are a lot of good players in a lot of different positions fighting for a place now.

“We’ve got a big squad but we need to keep everyone fit.”

With four centre-backs with international experience now in place at Anfield, Benitez has looked to strengthen the wide areas of his defence this summer by bringing in new full-backs on both the right and left sides.

Although 25-year-old right-back Philipp Degen has arrived on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund, he brings with him the pedigree of 29 caps for Switzerland.

On the opposite flank, Andrea Dossena replaced the Roma-bound John Arne Riise, who joined the Reds from Serie A side Udinese for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £7m, eclipsing Liverpool’s previous transfer record for a defender.

In the last game on Tuesday, a goalless draw with Budesliga club Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion, Benitez used two entirely different back fours in each half with Stephen Darby, Emiliano Insua, Carragher and Agger making way for Degen, Dossena, Sami Hyypia and Martin Skrtel at the interval.

The switch gave Carragher the ideal opportunity to see his new team-mates in action and he is pleased with their integration into the side both on and off the pitch so far this summer.

He said: “I think the two new lads at full-back (Degen and Dossena) have done very well.

“The pre-season has been a time for them to get to know everyone really, not just from a football point of view but off the pitch too.

“It’s been a period in which we’ve been integrating the new players and they’ve settled in very well,” the defender added.

The game in the German capital saw Benitez hand the coveted number nine jersey to another Spaniard, with 17-year-old Danny Pacheco deputising for compatriot Fernando Torres.

And the young Spaniard certainly did not disappoint in his performance.

Carragher said: “Danny Pachecho was as good as anyone on the trip. He’s been superb.

“He’s always looked like a great one for the future but we might not have to wait too long, because the way he’s playing he looks like he could be a great one for right now.”

As a player who is well-known for being a keen student of the game, Carragher is pleased with the way Liverpool have progressed so far this summer, and he was delighted to captain the club for which he has played his entire career in such a historic stadium, in front of a crowd of more than 50,000.

He said: “It felt more like a proper game than a friendly to see the big crowd in a great stadium where the last World Cup final was played.

“It think that we did all right and we finished the tour well. After a few days back at Melwood we’re going to be looking forward to the other games.”

“Things have progressed over the past couple of weeks from a fitness point of view – that’s always the way in pre-season. You build things up slowly and as we get fitter now towards the start of the season, the games are becoming more difficult.”

Torres Desperate For Kop Glory

After steering Spain to glory at EURO 2008, Fernando Torres hopes to guide Liverpool back to winning ways this season.

Torres capped off a remarkable 2007-08 campaign by scoring the only goal in the final as la Furia Roja downed Germany last month to claim their first title since 1964.

The silky striker established himself as an undisputed Kop favourite during his first term at Anfield, netting 33 times and forging a near-telepathic understanding with Reds captain Steven Gerrard.

But even that was not enough to secure silverware, as a mid-season slump saw the Merseyside giants bow out of Premier League contention by January, while they also fell short in cup play.

It is now 18 years since Liverpool collected their last league title, and Torres is desperate to help end that drought.

"Euro 2008 was my first major title, but I don't want it to end here," he said in The Mirror.

"I want it to be the first of many titles because I want to win trophies with Liverpool. I know how much that would mean to the club and the fans.

"They gave me terrific support during Euro 2008 and I know that they were cheering for Spain, which is something I will never forget."

Torres went on to praise Rafael Benitez, insisting the Reds boss played a huge part in his success for both club and country.

"The goals I scored for Liverpool last season gave me the confidence I needed to take into the Euros," the ex-Atletico Madrid man continued.

"I have to thank Rafa and the staff for the help they have given me. I improved as a player because of them.

"Rafa is obsessed with details and he even had a programme worked out for me before I got here last summer. He makes crazy demands on us. At the end of training, when we're all tired, he can still make us repeat routines 20 or 30 times."

Jack Hobbs Joins Leicester On Loan From Liverpool

Liverpool defender Jack Hobbs has joined Coca-Cola League One side Leicester on a season-long loan.

The 19-year-old, who has made five senior appearances for the Reds, becomes the second young defender to go out on loan after Godwin Antwi moved to Tranmere.

Hobbs told Leicester’s official website, “I am really pleased to have signed and can’t wait to get started.

“Liverpool have some world-class centre-backs so I spoke to the boss (Rafael Benitez) and he said I was free to go out on loan and gain some experience.

“Leicester showed their interest and I had no hesitation in coming here. This is a massive club with a good manager and top-class Premier League facilities.

“I now want to start playing and get to know the lads. I can assure everyone that I will be giving 100%. I want to help this club get back to the Championship at the first time of asking.”