Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rafa Benítez Keeps Feud With Alex Ferguson Simmering

Rafa Benítez could not resist a dig at Sir Alex Ferguson on Saturday.Asked about criticism he received from both Manchester United's manager and Sam Allardyce following Liverpool's recent win against Blackburn, the Spaniard retorted. "Maybe people have nothing to do."

Ferguson claimed that when Liverpool assumed an early 2–0 lead Benitez made a hand motion indicating the game was over but his Anfield counterpart insists it was merely a self deprecatory gesture intended for Xabi Alonso who had ignored his instructions and created a goal.

"With 30 minutes in the first half gone, how can you say that the game is over? Impossible," said Benítez.

"I was saying, 'Alonso, play short' but Alonso crossed and Torres scored. So I was saying, 'OK, good'. Simple.

To create something around this means that maybe somebody has nothing to do. Maybe people have nothing to do."

Meanwhile Dirk Kuyt appeared to mimic Benítez's reaction to that Torres strike when he celebrated scoring his second and Liverpool's third goal at Hull. The Dutchman denied this but added: "Rafa makes signals with his hands like that all the time in games."

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher Hopes Premier League Will Be Decided On Final Day

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the club will have a good chance of winning the Premier League title if it goes down to the final game of the season.

The Reds host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, May 24, while table toppers Manchester United will travel to the KC Stadium to take on Hull City.

The Merseyside outfit beat the Tigers 3-1 away on Saturday, however, the 31-year-old has insisted that it was such a difficult game that he would not be surprised if the Red Devils fail to win there.

"We have been on a great run of form recently and that was probably the worst we've played in a long time to be honest," Carragher told the club's official website.

"Credit to them though, they competed really well and caused us quite a few problems and we were just delighted to get the result in the end.

"Good luck to them, we just hope they do the same when they play Man United at the end of the season.

"They weren't really the kind of conditions you want to be playing in when it's warm because the pitch was really sticky and the grass was long so we couldn’t really get our passing going.

"But obviously they did that because it gives them more chance of making a game of it and, like I said, good luck to them.

"If they keep going like that I'm sure they will do well and hopefully we can take the title race to the last game because it won't be easy for United to go there, just as it wasn’t for us on Saturday."

Yossi In Line For New Deal

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has revealed he plans to offer Yossi Benayoun a new contract at Anfield.

Benayoun has impressed in recent weeks in the absence of Steven Gerrard, with the diminutive Israeli popping up with a number of key goals.

The skilful attacker has voiced his frustration at not being able to hold down a regular place in Benitez's plans since his arrival in 2007, but this season has arguably been his most consistent in a red shirt.

Benayoun's former club West Ham have been credited with an interest in luring him back to Upton Park, but Benitez insists there has been no approaches for the player and that he wants to tie down the 28-year-old to a long-term deal.

"I think if he is happy, then he will be okay here," Benitez is quoted as saying in The Independent.

"Yossi now is playing, so I'm sure he is happy.

"We've had no real approaches for him.

"Now he is playing more games, has more confidence and you can see the quality that he has.

"I have to talk to him [about a new contract] but he is contracted for another two years."

Benitez is also confident Daniel Agger will agree a new deal to stay on Merseyside.

Agger's future has been the subject of intense speculation for some time as contract talks have been dragging on.

Reports over the weekend suggested the Danish international had rejected Liverpool's latest offer, but Benitez claims talks are progressing well and he remains hopeful the centre back will sign a new contract.

"I think that we are closer," said Benitez of Agger's contract talks.

Rafa Prepares For Busy Summer At Anfield

Liverpool are set for a busy summer in the transfer market as Rafa Benitez stamps his authority on the Anfield club.

Aston Villa and England midfielder Gareth Barry is the main target during the close season and there is interest in Carlos Tevez as Manchester United are reluctant to fork out for the Argentinian's services.

The trouble is a move for the former West Ham marksman may impact on their chances of beating Tottenham in the chase for Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing as there is only a certain amount of cash swilling around in their transfer warchest.

And the Reds may also need to replace defender Daniel Agger as he has rejected a new four-year contract worth £10million.

The Dane could be headed to Italy where Milan, Inter and Juventus are all interested in his services.

Downing, meanwhile, will be joined in a Riverside exodus by a large chunk of the first-team squad if Boro are relegated.

Gary O'Neil is wanted by his old club Portsmouth and also interests Fulham while Tuncay could end up at Everton, Bolton or Blackburn with Julio Arca heading to Hull if he does not return to Sunderland.

Spurs have been linked with an £8m summer move for Marseille striker Djibril Cisse, who is currently on loan at Sunderland, but are likely to chase a more potent finisher to replace Darren Bent, who appears to heading for the White Hart Lane exit despite scoring 17 times this season.

They remain keen on Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz while Portsmouth want Rovers defender Christopher Samba to replace Sol Campbell, who will not be offered a new contract in a cost-cutting measure at Fratton Park.

Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko will return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season because Milan will not pay the £9m fee to make his loan deal permanent and the Blues are willing to listen to offers for striker Nicolas Anelka at the end of the season and hope to recoup most of the £15m they spent to sign him from Bolton.

Arsenal may make a surprise bid if their London neighbours are prepared to lower their asking price but would prefer to spend their cash on strengthening their defence.

Fulham defender Brede Hangeland is on their shortlist after impressing at Craven Cottage this season.

The Norway international could be available as he has rejected improved contract terms along with Aaron Hughes, who could interest newly-promoted Wolves.

Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o maintains he has no interest in leaving Barcelona for the Premier League, Serie A or anywhere else for that matter as he is already at 'the best club in the world'.

Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne, meanwhile, has emerged as a shock target for Real Madrid.

Benitez Eyes United Target Suarez

Ajax striker Luis Suarez looks set to be one of the summer’s hottest transfer targets with news emanating from Holland that scouts from a host of top European clubs have been monitoring his progress. Manchester United are known to be confirmed admirers of the 22-year-old and it now appears that Liverpool have joined their close rivals and AC Milan in sending representatives to the Amsterdam Arena.

Rafael Benitez and Sir Alex Ferguson have each been linked in recent months with big money bids for Valencia's David Villa and Lyon's Karim Benzema respectively but it has now been suggested that Suarez’s credentials and cheaper price tag could see his name added to the list.

The Uruguayan hitman has been in deadly form this season admirably filling the gap left by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar following the Dutchman’s January move to Real Madrid. With 22 goals and 14 assists in 29 Eredivisie appearances Suarez drew level this weekend with AZ Alkmaar’s Mounir El Hamdaoui at the top of the scoring charts – a feat all the more impressive given his side’s poor form.

The striker, who is similar in style and stature to Arsenal’s Eduardo, has also impressed on the international stage netting an impressive nine goals in eighteen appearances since making his debut for Uruguay in 2007.

Despite recently claiming that he is content with life in Holland, Suarez has openly admitted to being frustrated by Ajax’s failure to contend for the league title and at the subsequent lack of Champions League action. It is thought that having cost the Amsterdam Arena outfit €9.5m from Groningen his price has valuation has now risen above the €15m mark.

Liverpool Must Sell To Buy Transfer Targets

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has admitted he will have to sell players to help fund summer transfer targets.

Benitez will look to strengthen his squad in close season to keep pace with Manchester United and Chelsea and make another push for the Premier League title next term.

The Reds have been linked with a second attempt to sign Aston Villa's Gareth Barry, as well as Valencia striker David Villa and Portsmouth right-back Glen Johnson, but in order to bring in that calibre of player he will have to trim his squad.

Ryan Babel and Andrea Dossena have been unconvincing and could be sacrificed, and Sami Hyypia is reported to have been offered a deal to join the coaching staff.

"More or less I will have an idea of how much we will have to spend," said Benitez.

"I think we'd have to sell players to increase the money we'll need, but at the moment we're not talking about names and money.

"We are working on targets and we will try to do things as quickly and cheaply as possible.

"Every year it is important to sign good players, the right players. We know we have better players than before and it will be difficult to find better players than we have now.

"But we are working very hard during the season, looking for and watching players. We will be ready."

Krisztian Nemeth’s Late Strike Wins Liverpool Senior Cup Final

Kristianz Nemeth hit the winning goal 14 minutes from time as Liverpool Reserves scored a 1-0 victory in the Liverpool Senior Cup final to end Waterloo Dock’s hopes of glory at Marine FC last night.

The Hungarian striker fired home from close range on 76 minutes to give Liverpool the trophy.

But Gary Ablett’s team, who have had a difficult season in the FA Premier Reserve League Northern section, were made to work hard for the victory as Jim Davies’ Liverpool County Premier League champions put up an excellent fight.

It is the 33rd time that Liverpool have won the trophy outright, while they have also shared it on five other occasions.

Ablett’s side started well and almost went ahead after five minutes but Nemeth was off target with his effort.

Four minutes later Waterloo’s Leighton McGivern was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Mikel San Jose.

Both sides had chances throughout.

Liverpool’s Vincent Weijl set up Nemeth and the Hungarian forward saw his shot from 25 yards saved by Dock keeper Ryan Brookfield.

At the other end McGivern was denied by Liverpool’s Australian keeper Dean Bouzanis, fresh from helping the club’s youth team reach the FA Youth Cup final.

Dock could have went in front soon after but captain Anthony Battle guided a free header from six yards wide of the target.

Then right at the end of the first half Liverpool forward Dani Pacheco curled a free-kick just past the post.

Five minutes after the break Gerardo Bruna saw another shot deflected wide.

The Argentine striker almost set up Nemeth, but after the Hungarian went around Dock’s keeper Brookfield, Garry Riley got back to deny him with a well-timed challenge.

Liverpool continued to press for the winner, but Waterloo also went close and Godwin Antwi has to be alert to block efforts from Craig Sutherland and Joe Roberts. With time running out Nemeth was denied again when Brookfield superbly saved another shot.

But the Hungarian striker wouldn’t be denied and he broke the deadlock on 76 minutes.

San Jose and Bruna started a good passing move and after Weijl’s cross into the area, Nemeth was on hand to stab home from six yards what turned out to be the winning goal.

Ajdarevic Open To Foxes Stay

Astrit Ajdarevic admits he could stay at Leicester City, but revealed he is wanted by a Premier League club.

The Swedish teenager is on loan at the Walkers Stadium from Liverpool and has made four substitute appearances for the League One champions.

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson is keen to have the midfielder in his squad next season and Ajdarevic is open to staying with the Foxes.

However, Ajdarevic also confirmed that there has been interest from a team in the top flight as he weighs up leaving Anfield again.

"There is a chance for that (staying at Leicester) and the clubs are in negotiations," Ajdarevic told Fotbollskanalen. "Leicester are negotiating with both Liverpool and my agent.

"It is Leicester and another club that have shown concrete interest. The other club is not a big club, like Liverpool or Manchester United, but it is a Premier League club."

Though Ajdarevic has yet to start a game for Leicester, the 19-year-old has enjoyed his time with Pearson's side.

He added: "It was hard to get into the team since they were on top of the division and everything was moving smoothly.

"I was more of a helping hand, but I have gained their trust and been able to play in big games for the club.

"It feels a lot better now than before as I have been able to play for the first team.

"He (Pearson) is pleased and has said that he wants me next season in the Championship and then you can just take him for his word, if I end up staying."