Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dalglish Would Welcome A Return To Anfield

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has admitted he would love a return to the club he served so well as a player and a manager.

Speculation at the weekend suggested the 58-year-old Scot was to be brought in to oversee youth development at the club.

Although Dalglish, who had a 14-year spell at Anfield before quitting as manager in 1991, said he had little knowledge of any possible approach, but stressed he would be happy to help out.

"I was as far removed from the weekend's speculation about me returning to a role at Liverpool Football Club as it was possible to be, but that's not to say the Sunday paper stories and TV debate escaped me," he told LFC Magazine.

"All I can say at the moment is what I've said many times; if I can help Liverpool Football Club in any way, shape or form then I'm in. That's not a new revelation.

"If I can be of help to the club I love in any capacity then I'm more than happy to play any part that I can.

"If the manager (Rafael Benitez] or the people running the club think there's a role for me then I'll fill it happily. Similarly, if the club think the best thing for the club is for me to stay out of the way then I'm not going to take offence at that either.

"At the moment there's not much more that I can say other than that if and when there's anything to say to the supporters – the people who keep this club alive – then they will be the first to know."

Former Liverpool and England winger John Barnes, who won two league titles under Dalglish's leadership at Anfield, said his former manager would be an inspiration to everyone. "He would bring togetherness to the club which can only enhance the current feel-good factor in a similar way to that of Alan Shearer's return to Newcastle," said the former Celtic manager.

"Kenny is revered like few others at Anfield after being voted the best player ever to play for Liverpool, as well as leading the club to their last league title (in 1990] and would be welcomed back into the fold by all the fans who still sing his name.

"If he is to work with the academy, then who better than Kenny to inspire the next generation of Anfield kids?"

Rafael Benitez Delighted With Liverpool's Goal Scoring Form

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes his side have finally moved into top gear when going forward in search of goals.

Since their 4-0 thrashing of Spanish giants Real Madrid on March 10, the Reds have only failed to score four goals or more in a single match on two occassions.

Although defensively they have not been as solid as they were at the beginning of the season, conceding 11 goals in their last three fixtures, they have thumped in 27 goals during their previous eight games.

The Spaniard believes the only key to their good record in front of goal is players hitting top form and beginning to realise their potential.

"There is not really a change of emphasis. The understanding between the players is better," Benitez told The Daily Post.

"This week we were talking in training sessions and we could see the team were playing with a lot of confidence.

"We didn’t need to say anything because they knew what to do. Because we have been practising so many times during the season the players know now what to do.

"For me we have the same mentality, the difference now is we play better. We have more confidence and we can score more goals.

"If we can keep [Fernando] Torres fit it will be much better and you can see [Yossi] Benayoun is on fire."

Dirk Kuyt: Liverpool Need A Miracle' To Overhaul Man Utd In Race For Title

Liverpool need "a miracle" if they are to end their 19-year wait for a League championship, according to striker Dirk Kuyt.

Prior to the dramatic 4-4 draw with Arsenal at Anfield on Tuesday, the message emanating from Merseyside was that, whatever Manchester United achieved in the title run-in, Liverpool had to be perfect to stand any chance of dethroning the champions.

Andrei Arshavin's four-goal intervention, though, coupled with some kamikaze defending, ended that ambition

With just five games left, Liverpool know their chances are running out and, while Kuyt insists that they will not stop believing until United are mathematically out of their reach, he admits they will fight on more in hope than expectation.

He said: "It is harder after the Arsenal match, because we knew before the match that we needed to win to keep the pressure on. But at least we got a point, rather than losing, and now we have to keep on fighting until the very end.

"We have to hope for a miracle now as it has become more difficult than it already was, but against Arsenal we proved we are a team that has not given up and we will never give up. So let's hope a miracle can happen.

"It will be hard but as long we win our remaining games then maybe they will struggle. It may be that they must lose twice for us to catch them, but that can happen. It is important that we took a point, because otherwise maybe that would have been impossible."

Milan Boss Carlo Ancelotti Can't See Steven Gerrard Leaving Liverpool

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti showed himself to be highly sceptical of the possibility of seeing Liverpool star Steven Gerrard in a red-and-black jersey next season.

Liverpool's 'Captain Fantastic' has been linked to the Italian giants on and off for several years already, and his name has been brandished about again with increased intensity of late as Milan look to build a team capable of restoring their status as a dominant force in European football.

"I think Steven Gerrard is an outstanding player but I doubt that he'd leave Liverpool," Ancelotti said in a recent interview with Hungarian sports daily Nemzeti Sport in response to the new batch of rumours.

"We're eyeing many players but it would be too soon to mention any names before the end of the season."

Milan's own golden boy, Kaka, recently went on record as saying that if it were up to him, he would sign Gerrard above any other player.

Liverpool FC Must Rediscover Their Discipline To Stay In Race

There is a school of thought that suggests before a team can win a championship, they first have to lose one.

But it will be of little consolation to Rafael Benitez’s side right now that the lessons being learned in their quest for a first Premier League title since 1990 will stand them in good stead for future years.

Tuesday’s remarkable 4-4 draw against Arsenal dealt a damaging blow to Liverpool’s championship challenge in a manner that perhaps encapsulated their league campaign.

Here was a game in which Liverpool were vibrant going forward, created numerous chances but ultimately paid for not taking enough of them. A game at Anfield that should have been won but ended in an unnecessary draw. A game in which Benitez was without one of his most talismanic performers – this time Steven Gerrard – through injury.

There were glum faces among the home support at the final whistle. But given the rollercoaster nature of an engrossing scrap for the title, the only guarantee over the final month of the campaign is there will be further twists and turns to come.

Having twice led Valencia to the Spanish crown, Benitez knows exactly what to expect, and reassured his players in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s match to retain their confidence and ensure they capitalise on any United slip-ups.

But they will need to reprise the disciplined, controlled performances of earlier in the campaign rather than continue in the dramatic, carefree way that is gathering new friends if not silverware.

Witness Arsenal’s fourth goal, substitute Theo Walcott racing away on the counter-attack to feed Andrey Arshavin for a simple finish after Liverpool had criminally left only person back in defence in pursuit of a winner.

A Benitez side just doesn’t concede goals like that. It was evidence the Anfield outfit are currently playing more with their hearts and their heads, a situation the manager is always keen to avoid if possible.

Of course, such passion play isn’t always a bad thing, and allied to an unshakeable self-belief it helped Liverpool threaten a remarkable Champions League comeback at Chelsea and come from 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 down to earn what could prove a vital point against Arsenal.

But Benitez would sooner his team had not put themselves in that position in the first place.

Suddenly, Liverpool are the great entertainers, United the pragmatic, dour results machine.

Benitez’s side have scored 27 goals in their last eight games, a run that started with the ruthless Champions League demolition of Real Madrid.

That, though, has come at the cost of defensive solidity, with a rearguard that had conceded only 11 goals in their previous 16 games having leaked the same amount in their last four.

Why the sudden change? Yes, Benitez has loosened the shackles a touch, and their attacking players are approaching peak form at the right time.

But the results, and the type of individual mistake that gifted Arshavin his first three goals on Tuesday, betray inevitable nerves at this stage of the season and the desperation to claim the club’s first title in 19 years and prevent United from drawing level with Liverpool on 18 championships.

Much emphasis has been made of the possible impact of the war of words between Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Yet mind games don’t win the title – it’s the strength of mind of the players in coping with the pressure and expectation during the run-in that makes the difference. United have that quality in abundance – Liverpool, by and large, do not. Yet.

With games against Hull City, Newcastle United, West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur to come, there’s no way Benitez’s side will throw in the towel.

Reds Line Up Asian Tour

Liverpool will play two pre-season friendlies in south-east Asia this summer.

Rafael Benitez's side will face Thailand in Bangkok on July 22 before flying to Singapore to take on the national team on July 26. It will be the first time the Reds have visited Thailand since 2003, while they have not played in Singapore for eight years.

"We have a fantastic group of fans in both Thailand and Singapore and it will be great to take the lads out there again," said Benitez.

Ian Ayre, Liverpool's commercial director, added: "South-east Asia is clearly a key region for Liverpool.

"As we continue to develop our international plans, being able to allow fans all over the world to see the team live is paramount."

Dato Worawi Makudi, president of the Thai Football Association, said they were eagerly anticipating the match.

"Liverpool's return to the kingdom is long overdue," he said.

"The experience that our players will receive from this game will help in the development of Thai football."

Winston Lee, general secretary of the Football Association of Singapore, was also pleased to welcome back the Reds.

He said: "Inviting teams such as Liverpool, as well as Brazil and Australia last year, is part of our continued efforts to bring top-class football action to our shores.

"It will not only be a great experience for our fans but our players will get exposure to world-class teams and players."

Lindfield Eyes Stanley Return

Craig Lindfield is hoping Liverpool will allow him to return to Accrington Stanley on loan next season.

The striker has scored twice in 18 appearances since joining Accrington in January, having spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Bournemouth.

He has yet to make his first-team debut for Liverpool and is keen to build up his experience back in League Two with Stanley.

"I've definitely enjoyed my time here," he told the Lancashire Telegraph.

"I've got another season left on my contract at Liverpool, but I don't see any reason why I couldn't come for the first half of next season.

"At the moment I haven't looked at my long-term plans, but I'll definitely stay until January and see what happens then."