Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rafa Eyes Swift Gerrard Return

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is hopeful Steven Gerrard's return from injury will be swift after the Football Association was 'satisfied' the problem was legitimate.

The Reds announced on Sunday that Gerrard would be unavailable for England's friendly with Germany after he sustained a groin injury at Bolton Wanderers the day before.

However, the midfielder was instructed by manager Fabio Capello to report and be assessed by England's own medical team in London.

Gerrard made the trip from Merseyside on Monday and it was later confirmed he was unfit to travel to Berlin for Wednesday's encounter.

The sequence of events has sparked rumours of a rift between Capello and Benitez, but the Spaniard has yet to publicly voice his side of the reported tension.

Benitez said in The Times: "We had to do a scan after the Bolton game because Steven said he had some pain in his groin.

"It is not a massive problem and we hope he will be ready to return in seven to 10 days."

FA director of communications Adrian Bevington added: "It's just very unfortunate that we've got a lot of players who are regulars in the squad who are not around.

"The fact is that players have been down and have been assessed and we are satisfied that these players have legitimate injuries.

"The medical scans show it up, so there shouldn't be any suggestion or innuendo otherwise. The players are absolutely gutted that they are not able to play for England in Berlin on Wednesday night."

We Dare Not Get Complacent In Bid For Title, Admits Liverpool Striker Kuyt

Striker Dirk Kuyt admits Liverpool dare not take their foot off the gas in their hunt for a first Barclays Premier League title in 19 years.

The Dutchman also insists Rafael Benitez' side must not look upon a favourable run of fixtures before the New Year as in any way easy.

Liverpool's next seven league matches include only one against a top-four side - Arsenal away on December 21 - and only one other against a team currently in the top nine, Hull at home on December 13.

The rest are against 10th-placed Fulham, on Saturday, West Ham, Blackburn, Bolton and Newcastle.

This run could be considered a golden opportunity to establish a genuine title-winning position with Liverpool's start to the campaign already their best for six years but Kuyt warned against complacency.

The Dutch frontman said: 'People say that we are facing a run of games that we should be capable of winning,' he said.

'But we know that we can beat the top sides and still lose to the clubs lower down.

'We do not want to look too far ahead, all the games are difficult.

'We have shown that by beating Manchester United and then drawing with Stoke in the next match. We beat Chelsea but then lost at Spurs soon after.

'We are aware it is really difficult every time in the Premier League, we must be right on top of our game for every match.'

Kuyt grabbed his seventh goal of the season in Saturday's 2-0 win at Bolton, where captain Steven Gerrard also took his tally to seven.

'We are still in touch at the top, but we just look to the next game and making sure we take the points,' added Kuyt.

'Every game is difficult and every team can make things hard for us.

'You only have to look at the teams who come to Anfield and then defend deep all game.

'That has happened several times, and I am sure that Fulham next weekend will do the same. That will be another difficult game.'

Kuyt had enjoyed a return to form having endured a testing time in last season after being shifted to an unfamiliar wide position on the right.

'I am still enjoying playing wide on the right, it means I am in the team. It is going well and we are winning games with this system,' he added.

'It does not matter to me whether I am playing on the right of midfield or up front. The most important thing is to win the games and score goals. it is going well.'

Midfielder Javier Mascherano, prior to joining up with the Argentina squad for their friendly with Scotland in Glasgow, underlined the determination at Anfield.

He said: 'All the players are giving everything for us and that is very important.

'This is why the team is playing so well at the moment, it is because of our teamwork which has been fantastic.'

But Benitez is still concerned by the amount of clear opportunities Liverpool are squandering, including four at the Reebok from Robbie Keane, Fernando Torres, Gerrard and Lucas Leiva that could have sealed the win earlier.

'At least we are creating chances; if you do not do that then you are worried,' said the Spaniard.

'But now we must improve our finishing. We are practising, but it depends on a lot of things you cannot control.

'Keeping ourselves up at the top is important for us, and for our fans who were not happy with the way we went out of the Carling Cup last week (to Tottenham).

'Now we have put that defeat behind us and kept ourselves in the race at the top.'

Liverpool Star Torres Beats Dunne, Lescott And Ronaldo To Be Named Northwest Premier League Player Of The Year

Liverpool's Fernando Torres has been named Barclays Premier League player of the year at the Northwest Football Awards.

Torres scored 33 goals in his first season at Anfield before helping Spain to European Championship glory.

The Spaniard beat off competition from Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, Everton's Joleon Lescott and Richard Dunne of Manchester City.

Sir Alex Ferguson won an outstanding achievement award following Manchester United's league and Champions League double.

Everton boss David Moyes received the manager of the year award while Sir Tom Finney was presented with the lifetime achievement award.

Steven Gerrard Admits He Used To Be Scared Of Tackling

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has become a hero at Anfield for his all-action displays, which are as much built on robbing opponents of possession as his sensational goals.

But he admits that earlier in his career, he was fearful of picking up a reputation.

'I used to be a bit of a hothead, going into stupid challenges and getting sent off when I was younger,' Gerrard revealed.

'That worried me. I didn't want the reputation of being a dirty player. I started wondering if I'd be able to tackle again. I was scared to go near people.'

Gerrard has seen red five times in his career but none since March 2006, a sign of how he has matured through his career.

As he has grown up, he has blossomed into arguably the best midfielder in Europe.

And he has revealed a secret behind his consistency, the fear of having his brother and father on the phone telling him he was poor.

'I know when I've fallen below how I like to play,' he added to Champions magazine. 'And I know it by my brother and my dad's calls right after the game.

'I'm learning how to deal with it. If I've played well, it's easy to stay on a high and get carried away. It's best to get it out of your system by looking to the next game.

'That's the challenge whether you've played good or not, get it out of your system as soon as you can.'

Neal Hits Out At Capello Over His Handling Of Liverpool Star Gerrard’s Withdrawal From The England Squad

Fabio Capello has been accused of treating Steven Gerrard unfairly by former England defender Phil Neal.

Liverpool captain Gerrard will miss England’s friendly against Germany in Berlin tomorrow with a groin injury, but his club are understood to be furious that Capello insisted on the FA’s medical staff assessing the problem, even though Liverpool had already ruled the player out.

Manchester United pair Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney are also absent due to respective back and calf injuries, but neither player was asked to travel to England’s team hotel near Watford – as Gerrard was on Sunday – for a second opinion.

Unlike Gerrard, neither Ferdinand nor Rooney played for their club on Saturday, but ex-Reds defender Neal, who won 50 caps for his country and was a member of former England boss Graham Taylor’s coaching staff, feels Gerrard and Liverpool were hard done-by.

Neal told Radio City: 'I don’t suppose [Liverpool manager] Rafa Benitez or Steven would have anticipated this situation. Steven is proud of wearing the Liverpool shirt and the England shirt.

Capello is exerting his authority, and he is allowed to do that.

'But did he question the other players from other clubs about their particular fitness problems?

You just wonder whether the rule is good for one and not good for them all.'

Gerrard, Ferdinand and Rooney are three of nine senior England players missing from the squad to take on Joachim Low’s team, with Wes Brown, Owen Hargreaves, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Emile Heskey also injured.

Goalkeeper David James, captain John Terry – who has himself recovered from a foot injury – midfielder Gareth Barry and winger Theo Walcott are the only members of Capello’s first-choice XI to have made the trip to Berlin.

Neal added: 'Liverpool have had to play without Gerrard and Fernando Torres at certain stages. As England manager, you don’t always have the right players available – as you don’t as a club manager. The idea of this game is that Capello can see which players are up and coming.'

Academy Football: Liverpool Hit Back With Derby Victory

First-half goals from Lauri Dalla Valle and David Amoo gave Liverpool under-18s a 2-0 victory in their derby clash with Everton at the Kirkby Academy on Saturday.

Hugh McAuley’s side bounced back from their crushing 4-1 defeat to Premier Academy League Group C leaders Manchester City the previous week in the ideal way.

The match started in a strangely low-key manner and Liverpool keeper Martin Hansen had to save well from Cory Sinnott.

But Liverpool made the breakthrough after 18 minutes when Finnish forward Dalla Valle broke through onto Adam Pepper’s pass to score with a clinical finish.

Amoo hit the post after the ball rebounded to him, but then the London-born right-sided player made it 2-0 just four minutes after the opener.

Former Millwall youngster Amoo had a couple of efforts blocked by Everton defenders before he fired in.

In the second half midfielder Pepper twice went close with free-kicks and also with a long-range effort that whistled past the post. In the end Liverpool ran out fairly comfortable 2-0 winners and coach McAuley said: “Obviously it was a lot better than week against Manchester City. I thought we played very well and controlled the game for large parts and passed the ball a lot better than last weekend.

“We created good chances in the first half and went 2-0 ahead. That put us in the driving seat and we controlled the match for much of it.

“Everton are a good side, they were competitive and gave us a good game and although we were ahead the game was still in the balance. In the second half we dominated again without scoring.”

Liverpool will aim to build on their derby win to keep in touch with leaders Manchester City, who remain seven points clear, when they visit Stoke City this Saturday (kick-off 11am).

LIVERPOOL UNDER-18s: Hansen; Scott, Kennedy, Wisom, O’Connor (Ince 45); Amoo, Pepper, Buchtmann, Kacakniklic, Ince (Pourie 45), Dalla Valle. Subs: Cooper, Duyan.

Liverpool FC Will Struggle To Trademark Liverbird

LIVERPOOL Football Club will face “difficulties” registering the Liverbird as its trade mark, an expert in intellectual property rights said last night.

One of the city’s design and marketing agencies warned that if the club got a trade mark it would spell bad news for hundreds of businesses in the city.

It comes after the Daily Post reported how LFC had applied for a trade mark of the famous bird which forms a key part of its club badge.

Liverpool City Council is taking legal advice on the matter with a view to lodging an objection with the UK Intellectual Property Office before the deadline for doing so expires on Saturday.

Liverpool FC claims it is only seeking to trade mark its own version of the Liverbird because the club is losing a “substantial amount of money” each year due to counterfeit merchandise. The club insists it would not try to prevent the council, business, charities or other bodies using the Liverbird logo.

David Worrall, senior solicitor with Liverpool’s Shipley Solicitors, last night warned the club that the version of the Liverbird it was seeking to trademark was quite generic.

“I would expect that if people do challenge it through the opposition process, the football club will face difficulties in registering this. It’s not cut and dry, they might get it if nobody opposes it. But I am sure there are plenty of people thinking about doing it.

“I think a lot of people feel that it belongs to the public and not a company, no matter who they are. The club are in a really difficult situation because I understand what they say with regards to wanting to protect their products and revenue.”

Peter Glover, managing director of CL3 design and marketing, said the Liverbird was an iconic image very closely associated with Liverpool.

He said: “It is the unique hallmark of so much in this city and serves as our standout marketing resource.

“For its trademark to be sold into private hands would cause untold problems for city businesses across a range of industry sectors.

“Plumbers, electricians, taxi firms, catering companies – all these kind of firms would be reluctant to use the Liverbird symbol on their marketing materials for fear of infringing trademark.

“This would lead to less exposure for the Liverbirds, which in turn would weaken Liverpool’s identity.

“In people’s minds, the symbol would go from being a cultural icon to a business asset, and this can only be a negative for the city.

“There is method to Liverpool FC’s argument and I appreciate they’re trying to protect their own position from counterfeiters.

“They’ve also said they have no intention of levying a charge, but a trademark is a long-term measure and things can quickly change.

“The Liverbirds belong to the city and we’d be left counting the cost if any single organisation – including LFC and the city council – were allowed to change that.”

LFC Chief Rick Parry Turns Down Chance To Lead England World Cup Bid

RICK PARRY has rebuffed overtures from the Football Association to head England’s 2018 World Cup bid because he believes there is a job to complete at Anfield.

The Liverpool chief executive was approached by the FA to front their campaign to host the tournament for the first time in more than 50 years.

Parry – a former Premier League executive also involved in Manchester’s unsuccessful bid for the 1996 Olympics – was at the top of a five-man shortlist drawn up by Soho Square.

But he has made it clear he has no intention of leaving Liverpool as he feels he has a loyalty and responsibility to fulfil at the Premier League club.

Parry has been caught in the rows between Liverpool’s owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and has also experienced an at times uneasy relationship with manager Rafael Benitez.

But with the future ownership of the club subject to continued speculation and work yet to being on Liverpool’s proposed new stadium on Stanley Park, Parry believes he has a duty to remain at Anfield.

Liverpool's Hopes Of Offloading Boozer Pennant Appear Dashed

Liverpool are believed to be concerned that they will be unable to offload Jermaine Pennant in the January transfer window.

The out-of-favour winger was pictured guzzling Jack Daniels straight from the bottle outside an Essex nightclub on Sunday night.

And, although the club had given him Sunday and Monday off with the rest of the Reds' squad, Pennant's behaviour will not have endeared him to his suitors - Blackburn Rovers, Stoke City and Everton.

Sportsmail online understands that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is running out of patience with Pennant's lifestyle and erratic timekeeping and the pictures of the partying star will do nothing to to change the Spanish manager's mind.

The 25-year-old alienated himself from Benitez in the summer by stalling over moves to Rovers, Stoke and Everton. Two clubs agreed to meet a £4m asking price but pulled out over the player's wage demands.

But after Pennant lived up to his bad-boy image in Essex for the visit of Hollywood actress Lindsay Lohan to Faces nightclub at the weekend, those clubs will be increasingly concerned over his professionalism. And unlikely to renew their interest in the former Leeds, Birmingham and Arsenal forward.

A Liverpool spokesman said that the club would not be commenting on the incident at this time.

Police Recover Lucas's Olympic Medal

The Olympic bronze medal stolen from Liverpool midfielder Lucas has been recovered by police.

Three people appeared in court today charged in connection with a burglary at his home.

The Brazil international's home in Woolton was targeted on Tuesday November 4, while he was playing at Anfield against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

The 21-year-old returned home to find raiders had stolen the medal he won in August as well as a collection of Brazil and Liverpool shirts. Merseyside Police said a number of items had now been recovered.

Officers carried out raids on three addresses in Liverpool on Thursday last week and initially held five people.

Lucas is understood to be his club's ninth burglary victim.

Stephen Jones, 21, of Deansburn Road, West Derby, was charged with burglary. Brenda Jones, 42, of Lowerson Crescent, Norris Green, and Robyn Mutch, 19, of Redbrook Street, Norris Green, were charged with handling stolen property.

Liverpool magistrates adjourned the case until Monday November 24.