Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ablett Revamps Training Before Derby

Gary Ablett has overhauled reserves training in a bid to get their season back on track.

The second string go into tonight's mini-derby – a game you can watch exclusively live online through LFC TV – on the back of more intense training designed to guard against complacency.

It comes after the Reds began the defence of their Premier League title by gaining just three points from a possible nine.

Ablett told Liverpoolfc.tv: "As a staff we've been trying to put a few things right because we only lost one game last year and we've lost two already this time round.

"We've had to look at ourselves and the training methods, and look at the attitude of the boys to see if that's any different.

"Every now and again the boys need geeing up. The attitude of the majority is absolutely fantastic but they need to perform to their maximum day in, day out in order to progress at Liverpool.

"We've got to guard against complacency creeping in and we're looking at doing that by making training more competitive and intensive. They can't afford to relax if they want to get into Rafa's plans.

"We're now trying to set different scenarios in training. For example, we might play a game as if we're 1-0 down, or 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go. They have to think about whether to defend or attack. Another way we can do it is reducing the size of the area we play in to make it more intensive.

"We are better than what we've shown so far. There's a massive amount of room for improvement but the boys have showed they want to put it right."

Ablett led his team to a satisfying double over Everton last term.

The former defender believes this trick will only be repeating if his young guns keep their heads.

He explained: "If you ask our local players, they'll say it's one of the games they look forward to most. But since last year we've had a lot of players who aren't local and don't get caught up in the Liverpool v Everton stuff.

"That helps in terms of approaching the game more intelligently and playing with our heads rather than our hearts.

"That's the key to winning these kind of games.

"We've got a lot of players who've experienced this game and know what it's all about, but we've got some new players who we hope will approach it in the same way and not be overawed by the occasion."

Credit Crunch Concerns Dossena

Andrea Dossena admits the financial crisis in Britain has given him cause for concern.

The Italian joined Liverpool from Udinese over the summer, before the credit crunch began to bite.

The economic meltdown currently inflicting the world's economy has threatened to infiltrate football of late.

Clubs are being encouraged to investigate cost-cutting measures, while the possibility a salary cap being introduced has been touted.

At present Premier League clubs remain fairly stable, although the financial worries of top flight sponsor Barclays could yet have significant implications.

"Barclays lost a lot of money in a few hours," Dossena told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We are talking about one of the most important banks, and the sponsor of the Premiership.

"It is all difficult to understand.

"Had I known about certain things before I would have thought twice (about moving to England), I would have asked for more guarantees.

"But I feel good at Liverpool and I chose to move abroad because it was the best financial offer.

"Everything in England seemed secure, with the best organisation and club solidarity.

"But then you discover that West Ham are at risk and may have to sell and the big banks are in serious debt."

Lucas: Life Is Quiet Compared To Brazil

Lucas Leiva has spoken of his tough ordeal breaking into Liverpool's first team, and says life in England is quieter than in Brazil.

Lucas Leiva was considered hot property upon his arrival at Liverpool, along with Denilson the Brazilian pair were believed to have safeguarded the national team's midfield, but both have since been eclipsed by last season's form of Manchester United's Anderson.

Regarding his relationship with Denilson and Anderson, Leiva told Liverpool's official website: "I'm close to Anderson, because we used to play together at Gremio."

"I've not had much contact with Denilson, apart from when we've faced each other on the pitch. The fact we're all doing well over here reflects a change in the Brazilian mind-set."

Leiva also shared how different life is in England compared to his native Brazil: "Compared to Brazil, life is quiet here. We only train in the morning, and we can do what we want in the afternoons."

"On days off I try to visit new places. I've been to London, which reminds me of Sao Paulo, and to the Beatles museum. But the main focus is my career, so when one of our rivals is on TV, I stay at home to watch it," he said.

"I live with my girlfriend and a housekeeper I brought over from Brazil to help us cook - I didn't want to change my eating habits too much!"

"I also live near other Liverpool players - Fabio Aurelio, Alvaro Arbeloa, Yossi Benayoun, Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres - so it's a very good neighbourhood to live in."

On Liverpool's Champions League winning credentials, Leiva added: "It's too early to say at the moment, but we believe in our squad. The club have a great history in the Champions League, but a lot of other clubs think they can win it this season, too."

Gerrard Vows To Wow Capello

Steven Gerrard is determined to prove to Fabio Capello that he is England's top midfielder.

And the Liverpool captain has pledged to bring his club form to the international arena if coach Capello sticks by him.

"I'll be honest, I haven't always hit my Liverpool form for England but it's not through a lack of trying. I'm desperate to play well for England." said Gerrard.

"He (Capello) wants me to emulate my form for Liverpool for England and he is prepared to help me. That's what I want. I don't want a manager to give up on me for club or country. I want them to keep trying to make me better.

"I have delivered but I need to make that more consistent. That's the next challenge for me, to try to stay in the starting XI and perform as consistently for England as I do for Liverpool. But I believe we are getting to where we want to be."

Gerrard, who describes life under Capello as "not scary, but exciting", insists his preferred role is as an attacking midfielder, although he accepts there are times when he has to be more disciplined when playing in partnership with Frank Lampard.

He said: "While I've still got that burst of energy I want to make the most of it. I still feel I've got a lot of years in these legs yet.

"Long term, well into my 30s, I can see myself going further back, probably ending up at right-back or left-back where I started."

Liverpool For The Title - Cisse

Djibril Cisse is hoping that former club Liverpool can bag the Premier League title come May.

Djibril Cisse left Anfield in the summer of 2005 to sign for homeland club Marseille amidst claims that Rafa Benitez was forcing him out.

The injury-plagued, flamboyant hitman never did see eye-to-eye with the no-nonsense Spanish gaffer, but 27-year-old Cisse isn't bitter.

In fact, Cisse, loving life back in the Premier League with Sunderland, will be rooting for the Reds this term, hoping they can finally bag the Premiership crown.

“I would like Liverpool to win the league, for having played there,” he told Setanta, “But Chelsea are going to be tough adversaries for them.”

However, even though he understands the Blues' power, he isn't feeling blue himself. He's taken to Wearside and Black Cats gaffer Roy Keane, who reportedly wants to make the on-loan l'OM man his first £10m signing in the summer.

Gerrard: I Fear For My England Future

Steven Gerrard has appealed to England manager Fabio Capello not to give up on him.

The Liverpool captain admits he has struggled to bring his superlative club form to the international arena but believes he and Frank Lampard can still make a success of the midfield partnership which has struggled so often for England.

Gerrard, who is likely to start out wide on the left in the World Cup qualifier against Belarus on Wednesday, in a variation of the 4-4-2 formation which finished the 5-1 victory against Kazakhstan on Saturday, puts his lacklustre performances down to trying too hard.

But he believes Capello is the right man to unlock the real Gerrard, the one who single-handedly turned around the 2005 Champions League final and rescued Liverpool in the 2006 FA Cup final.

Gerrard said: 'He (Capello) has spoken to me before each game and told me what he wants me to do. He's said he wants me to emulate my form for Liverpool for England and he is prepared to help me.

'That's what I want. I don't want a manager to give up on me for club or country. I want them to keep trying to make me better.

'I've got every confidence in this manager and the set-up he's got behind him to improve my form.

'I'll be honest, I haven't always hit my Liverpool form for England, but it's not through a lack of trying.

'I'm desperate to play well for England. I believe we are getting to where we want to be.'

Gerrard accepts accusations, aimed at him in the past by Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, which at times he has tried to be Roy of the Rovers, running around with huge energy but not always great focus.

He said: 'I have tried to improve that. That was a criticism from Rafa. He's helped me to become slightly more disciplined and I feel I can play either role - either attacking or if we're up against a good side when you need your two midfield players to be disciplined, I can do that now.

'You can't afford to be Roy of the Rovers all the time against top sides. If I'm wandering off all over the place my team-mates will come unstuck.'

The fact, however, is that Gerrard's inability to do for England what he does in the famous red shirt of Liverpool has become one of football's great conundrums.

It is one that weighs heavily with the 28-year-old. Is the answer simply that he is trying too hard?

'Maybe that's right,' Gerrard said. 'Sometimes I think I am thinking about it too much, trying too hard.

'Before the game you say you want to take the game by the scruff of the neck, be the main man, make it happen. And sometimes if it doesn't happen for you, you try to force passes and you get frustrated, that's normal.

'I think that's where I am at the moment. I am putting too much pressure on myself and trying too hard. Maybe I do have to relax.

'I'm more relaxed at Liverpool because maybe I can afford to have a one-off bad game for Liverpool because there'll be another game around the corner, whereas if you play badly for England it may be a long time before you can correct it.'

Casillas Hates Talk Of Torres Rivalry

Spain and Real Madrid shot-stopper extraordinaire Iker Casillas has revealed that he feels unhappy whenever there is discussion of his rivalry with Fernando Torres for this year’s Ballon d’Or.

The Spanish international goalkeeper is one of the hot favourites to scoop up the European Footballer of the Year accolade later this year and his case has been further boosted with continually impressive displays.

After helping La Furia Roja to a 0-3 win at Estonia last Saturday, the 27 year old has now kept 710 consecutive minutes worth of clean sheets – a new Spanish record – and he is only three games away from beating the current record held by a certain Gianluigi Buffon.

One of Casillas’ competition for the Ballon d’Or is expected to be fellow Spaniard and Liverpool hotshot, Fernando Torres and the campaigning that has been apparent in the media has made it look as though there’s a personal rivalry between the pair.

“I have spoken with Fernando regarding the Ballon d’Or. He is a teammate and a good friend of mine and there’s nothing more important than that,” he said during an interview with Spanish daily, As.

“We have clarified everything between us and that is the end of the controversy,” he continued.

Casillas was then asked if he fancied his chances of picking up the award.

“Man, all of us would like to win something like that and so would I.

“But for me, the Ballon d’Or is not an obsession. I believe in doing things well on the field and whatever happens after that, happens.

“The best thing is that this year, there are several Spaniards on the list. And after finally winning the Eurocopa after so many years, I would like to see someone from the national team win it because we deserve it,” he concluded.

Xabi Alonso Attracted By Move To Juventus

XABI ALONSO has left the door open for a possible summer move to Juventus.

The Liverpool midfielder came close to signing for the Serie A side in a £16million deal during the transfer window.

However, Juventus instead opted to sign Sevilla’s Christian Poulsen, with coach Claudio Ranieri last week claiming Alonso was “too slow” to accommodate the limitations of the Italian team’s other midfielders.

Coupled with Liverpool’s failure to prise Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, Alonso has subsequently played an integral part in the Anfield outfit’s unbeaten start but, quoted speaking in the Italian press yesterday, the 26-year-old has expressed his continued interest in Juventus.

“To be honest, for my part, the attraction has remained intact,” said Alonso.

“One thing I can say is that I personally appreciated the honesty of the club executives.

“They told me their tactics on the pitch were different and that is why they chose Poulsen and not me. These are things that happen in football and its fine. I could have gone but I didn’t because, in the end, they chose someone else.

“Juventus are Juventus, the most prestigious club in Italy, but you cannot be disappointed when you play for Liverpool.”