Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Collymore Believes Rafa Rant Will Work Against Liverpool

During his pomp as a player Stan Collymore was one of the most efficient attackers in the English football; boasting a 1:2 goals to games ration at Southend, Nottingham Forest, and Liverpool.

At the Reds he struck a formidable partnership with much-loved Liverpudlian Robbie Fowler, and even helped oust goalscoring legend Ian Rush.

The 37-year old believes his former club could be heading for trouble following Rafa Benitez's recent comments to the press regarding "facts" concerning Sir Alex Ferguson.

The thrice-capped England international is worried about the timing of the remarks, and told British tabloid the Mirror:

"I fear Rafa Benitez’s rant at Sir Alex Ferguson could backfire badly and unwittingly inspire Manchester United to the Premier League crown.

"The timing of Benitez’s broadside has stunned me even though the Liverpool manager was absolutely spot on in everything he said about Ferguson.

"Everyone in football knows Benitez’s United counterpart has been at it for years intimidating referees and opponents," he said.

"The ruthless Scot has seen off Arsene Wenger as a threat and Jose Mourinho.

"So it was refreshing for a rival manager to come out and be so forthright about Ferguson’s recent gripe at the fixtures. But I firmly believe Benitez should have done it when there are maybe five or six games left.

"Don’t do it with half of the season remaining with Manchester United full of experienced players who are more than happy to rub Liverpool’s noses in it."

He continued: "United have plenty to motivate them now and Benitez’s attack may have backfired as the spotlight on Liverpool is even more intense now.

"My old club hammered Newcastle in their previous League game but their team which drew 0-0 at Stoke looked completely different as the league leaders were edgy and nervous.

"I think Rafa would have been advised to keep his powder dry until nearer the run-in rather than risk inciting one of the most experienced sides in Europe."

Liverpool currently top the league and are four points ahead of Chelsea, and five ahead of Manchester United. If the Red Devils win both of their games in hand though, they would overtake the Merseysiders.

Albert Riera: Liverpool Will Compete For Every Single Point In Every Game

Albert Riera has revealed how the sheer look of disappointment on his team mates’ faces following Saturday’s goalless draw at Stoke fired his belief that this could be Liverpool’s season.

Liverpool failed to break down a stubborn and resilient Stoke side for the second time in five months with Steven Gerrard coming closest to breaking the deadlock for the Reds when he hit the woodwork twice during the closing stages of the game.

Riera is in no doubt that the Reds have the character to respond to the setback in the right way and has vowed to remember the feeling of dejection he felt at the final whistle as a spur for the rest of the campaign.

“Saturday showed me the character of the team,” said the left winger.

“When I walked into the dressing room after the game everyone was devastated that we had only drawn a difficult away game.

“Stoke have a very good record at home and lots of teams have struggled to beat them at the Britannia Stadium but we are top of the league and we had hoped to go there and win.

“But we will remember this feeling and we will give everything for it not to happen again.”

Riera believes the old adage about there being no easy games is ringing truer than ever and points to a game in his native Spain as evidence.

“Last night I watched Barcelona, who are top of La Liga, play against Osasuna, who are bottom.

“Everyone expected Barcelona to win comfortably but with ten minutes remaining they were losing by two goals to one.

“They ended up scoring two goals in the last ten minutes to win the game but it was a much tougher match for them than expected.

“This is the way football is – you can never take victories for granted because every team can be a danger.

"You have to work for every point.

“But I can tell our fans that we will compete for every single point in every game that we play.”

Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso and Daniel Agger, who both missed the trip to the Britannia through injury, are hoping to be fit for the Merseyside derby at Anfield a week today.

Fernando Torres Proud Of FIFA Third Spot

Proud Fernando Torres took third place in the FIFA’s world player of the year awards last night.

The Liverpool striker, who finished behind winner Cristiano Ronaldo and runner-up Lionel Messi of Barcelona was honoured to be placed ahead of Kaka, who was fourth, and Xavi, who was fifth. Torres said: “Ronaldo and Messi are for sure the two best players in the world and to come next to them is a privilege.

“The very fact of being here is a reason to be proud to represent my club and my country. It’s a matter of pride to have two Spaniards amongst this group,” he added.

Anfield team-mate Steven Gerrard was sixth. Ronaldo was the first Premier League player to win the award and Frank Lampard was 12th, Didier Drogba 13th, Michael Ballack 14th, Cesc Fabregas 15th, Emmanuel Adebayor 17th and John Terry 21st.

Rafa Benitez At War Again - This Time With Liverpool Owners

Rafa Benitez is on another collision course - this time with Liverpool's owners.

Following his rant at Sir Alex Ferguson, the Anfield manager is embroiled in a bitter power struggle that is jeopardising contract talks aimed at keeping him at the club for the next five years.

He has agreed in principle to a new £5million-a-year deal that will take him through to the end of the 2013 season.

But the one major sticking point is Benitez's insistence that he has complete control over all transfer dealings.

At present, Liverpool - like most Premier League clubs - allow their chief executive to have an input.

But Benitez has been angered by what he sees as dithering in the past, which he blamed for missing out on players.

The Anfield boss was also very unhappy at failing to land Gareth Barry, his No.1 target in the summer.

Talks with Liverpool's US owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks proceeded quickly over terms, but there is now an impasse on transfer policy.

Speaking about the lack of progress in negotiations, Benitez said: "My agent has not yet received any documents and is a little disappointed. I was talking with him and he didn't have any news, so he's not very happy."

Torres - United Are Favourites

Liverpool star Fernando Torres believes Manchester United are favourites to win the title this season.

The Reds currently sit at the top of the table, but United enhanced their championship credentials with a 3-0 demolition of Chelsea last weekend.

United can move above Liverpool in the table if they win their two games this week against Wigan and Bolton and Torres accepts their arch-rivals are now in the driving seat.

"They're the clear favourites to win the title," said Torres. "We're working hard to compete with them and finish above them and we're on course to achieve that.

"We know it's possible for us to win this season but we have to fight to the very end to do so.

"It's obvious that we know all about them. They are the champions of Europe and the world.

"We know the class they have in their team. They have some of the best players in the world."

Torres, who finished third to United star Cristiano Ronaldo in the Fifa World Player of the Year award on Monday, admits the showdown between the two clubs at Old Trafford on 14th March could prove to be a title decider.

"I think the game at Old Trafford will decide the title," noted Torres. "If everything goes as we expect then we will go there in a similar position to now.

"We will have to play our game to try and get a result in a ground, which in the last few years has not been good for Liverpool.

Torres refused to get involved in the war of words between Reds boss Rafa Benitez and United chief Sir Alex Ferguson following the Spaniard's outspoken attack on the Scot last week.

Torres added: "The managers make remarks. They have their reasons for that but I won't be looking at them."

Sir Alex Ferguson And Rafael Benitez To Receive Soft Treatment From FA

The Football Association decided on Monday against taking any disciplinary action over Rafa Benitez for his explosive comments about Sir Alex Ferguson.

The mess has been left to Richard Bevan, the chief executive of the League Managers Association, to sort out and he is to hold individual meetings with Benitez and Ferguson to find a solution to the feud.

The FA had the option of charging Benitez with bringing the game into disrepute, or even simply asking the Liverpool manager for his views on his remarks about Ferguson. Benitez claimed during his Friday press conference that the Manchester United manager enjoyed preferential treatment from the FA and referees despite his hounding officials.

On Saturday, following Liverpool's draw at Stoke City, Benitez again went on the offensive and suggested that United benefited from having their chief executive, David Gill, on the FA main board (ignoring the fact that Liverpool's Noel White was on the FA's International Committee for many years). Ferguson, talking after United's 3-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday, responded that he felt Benitez was "disturbed".

On Monday Soho Square decided they did not want to pour further fuel on the fire burning between Benitez and Ferguson. There are also no plans for officials of United and Liverpool to meet to clear the air.

A precedent was set in 2004 in the wake of the Old Trafford Pizzagate affair when United and Arsenal players clashed in the tunnel and pizza was chucked at Ferguson. The then chairman of the FA, Geoff Thompson, and the Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, sat down with Gill and Arsenal's then vice-chairman David Dein to tackle the controversy. The FA became involved after Pizzagate because something was thrown whereas the Benitez-Ferguson issue was only verbal.

The FA have also decided not to charge Chelsea over the behaviour of their supporters at Old Trafford. Chelsea fans were heard to sing "you should have died in the tunnel" towards the United winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, who crashed his Ferrari driving to United's Carrington training ground earlier in the week.

Reds Finalise Palsson Deal

Liverpool have completed the signing of Icelandic star Vitcor Palsson, AGF Aarhus have confirmed.

The Danish side have revealed that the 18-year-old has finalised his move to Anfield.

Palsson, who never made a first-team appearance for AGF, was spotted by Liverpool's scouts and the club have now moved to tie him down.

"First of all, I am happy on Victor's behalf," stated AGF sports director Brian Steen Nielsen in a press release.

"It's a great opportunity for him and naturally, we don't want to block the way for him.

"Of course, we regret to lose a talented player, but on the other hand, we have got a good deal with Liverpool."