Monday, September 07, 2009

Pepe Reina Unfazed By Liverpool's Stuttering Start To Season

Pepe Reina has shrugged off Liverpool’s poor start to the season and is adamant that a run of strong form will return the Merseyside club back to where they belong: the top-end of the table.

"It is not normal for Liverpool to open the season with two defeats from three games," the goalkeeper said, according to the club's official website.

"But it's still early days and in a few weeks time, we may have a run of wins behind us and the bad results will be forgotten about.”

The goalkeeper perhaps had Manchester United’s notoriously slow starts in mind, when insisting that poor starts to a season were not necessarily an indication of how a team will finish.

"If a team is going to suffer from bad form, it's better for it to be at the start of the season because there is a lot more time to recover. Many clubs have proven that over the years and gone on to achieve great things at the end of the campaign," Reina said.

"There is a lot of pessimism about our chances this season from the media at the moment, but we are the only people who can prove them wrong.

"We still have confidence as a squad and we have to put trust in each other - just like we did last season."

Liverpool WILL Build A New Stadium, Promises Tom Hicks

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has vowed that the club will build a new stadium – but has said that the move will not be financed by the £450million he is set to bank from the sale of baseball club Texas Rangers.

Hicks and business partner George Gillett have been unable to raise the £500m it will cost to fund the development of a 60,000-capacity home for the Reds at Stanley Park because of the credit crunch.

There have been reports in the United States that Hicks has now entered into negotiations with six potential buyers for the Rangers – and that Liverpool will benefit from the windfall.

But Hicks said: “Rangers and Liverpool are totally separate investments, so there is no connection.

“I do plan to keep a significant participation in the Rangers. We are close to winning our division. I want to finish what we have started.

“Liverpool will obtain stadium financing when the financial market opens back up. We have all of our permits and will be ready when the market is ready.”

Liverpool’s new managing director Christian Purslow admitted last week that the club hope to have the stadium completed in time for 2018 – should England’s World Cup bid be successful.

That is six years behind the original schedule set when Hicks and Gillett bought Liverpool three years ago.

The American pair have been criticised for failing to provide the finance for the stadium and for manager Rafa Benitez to build a championship-winning team.

But Purslow’s portfolio is to develop new commercial streams – and he is in talks with several interested companies about a £15m-a-year kit sponsorship deal.

Hicks added: “Christian Purslow is working hard. Liverpool’s new management focus is producing great new commercial results that will become known in due time.”

Arbeloa - Xabi Loss Costly

Alvaro Arbeloa has questioned his former club Liverpool's title credentials after selling Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid this summer.

Arbeloa made the switch from Anfield to the Bernabeu in July, with Alonso following the same path just a week later for a fee believed to be in the region of £28million.

The Spanish international midfielder has since admitted that he wanted to leave Merseyside as soon as manager Rafa Benitez tried to replace him with Gareth Barry last summer.

Benitez has come in for flack for selling arguably his best performer last season, a suggestion only intensified after the Reds lost two of their opening three games, and Arbeloa admits that the decision to sell Alonso could prove costly.

"The thing I always say about Xabi is that he may not be a match-winner, but he does win you titles," the defender told The People.

"He brings so much balance and order to a team, and it is impossible to over-estimate how important a player he is."

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard Knows England Must Improve Against Croatia

England warmed up for their World Cup qualifying clash with Croatia with a comfortable, if somewhat uninspiring, 2-1 win over Slovenia on Saturday, and Steven Gerrard is well aware that they must improve if they are to seal their place in South Africa at Wembley on Wednesday night.

The Liverpool man is delighted that the Three Lions have developed a winning habit under Fabio Capello's astute management, but knows that England will have to be at their very best against the Croats, who have enough quality to fully exploit any lapse in concentration.

"It's important to get in the habit of winning," he told Sky Sports News.

"It was good preparation [against Slovenia]. It was a good test for Wednesday night.

"I'm sure it'll be a lot more difficult on Wednesday and we'll need to raise it a little bit.

"But hopefully we can get that win that we need to take us to the World Cup and there's no extra motivation [needed] going into a game."

Capello - No Problem With Glen

Fabio Capello has backed Glen Johnson's defensive capabilities amid criticism of the Liverpool man's preference to bomb forward rather than defend.

The buccaneering right-back has enjoyed a brilliant start to his new career at Anfield and has been arguably the club's standout performer to date since his big-money move from Portsmouth.

But while his attacking prowess cannot be disputed, there has been reservations raised with regards his ability to defend.

In Saturday's international friendly defeat of Slovenia much of the visitor's attacking threat came down the flank Johnson was supposed to be patrolling.

Capello, though, insists Johnson is not England's weak link ahead of Wednesday's crunch clash against Croatia.

"Don't worry. I have no problem with Glen Johnson," urged the Italian.

Opposite number Matjaz Kek had a different view and he admits Slovenia were confident of exposing Johnson's inclination to go forward at every opportunity.

"Glen Johnson is a very dangerous player," he said.

"Stopping him was very important. But when you play in such an offensive way it leaves a lot of space behind.

"I have seen England two or three times. I knew we could get to the goal on that side."

Right-back Left Out Of Champions League Squad

Kop flop Philipp Degen has been dumped from Liverpool's Champions League campaign.

The injury-prone right-back is not in the provisional 28-man squad submitted to UEFA in midweek.

The Swiss international has so far, in his 157-minute first-team career, cost the Reds £15,000 per minute.

Degen, 26, signed a four-year £37,000-a- week deal and also got a £400,000 signing on fee when he joined in 2008 on a Bosman transfer from Borussia Dortmund.

Since then, Degen has broken ribs and a foot, making just two Carling Cup appearances.

Boss Rafa Benitez was unable to sell him over the summer.

Benitez has named emerging Academy youngsters Nathan Eccleston, David Amoo and Martin Kelly in his list, ensuring Liverpool fulfill UEFA quotas for home-grown talent.

Keeper Happy With New Deal

Peter Gulacsi is hoping his new Liverpool contract will prove to be a stepping stone towards the Reds' first-team.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper put pen to paper on a new deal last month that will keep him at Anfield until 2013.

Gulacsi is delighted to have committed his future to the club and, having been named as a substitute for last weekend's Barclays Premier League clash with Bolton, admits his long-term ambition is to establish himself in Liverpool's first-team setup.

"I am very pleased to have signed a new deal," the Hungarian told "I came here two years ago and to join a big club like Liverpool was a big thing in my life.

"During those two years I have tried to do my best. Signing this contract is the next step and hopefully I can achieve something here.

"Staying here for four more years is fantastic for me and it's a great opportunity to improve more, develop and maybe one day break into the first-team.

"Everybody who is here has the same ambition and wants to play for the first-team.

"Of course, it is a long way off for me and there is a lot of hard work to be done, but you always have to focus on what you want to achieve and my biggest target is to play for the first-team. I know it won't be easy, but now I have the time and the opportunity to get there.

"I realised when I first arrived here what Liverpool Football Club is all about and how fantastic the fans are. I think it is the best club in the world and it is a great feeling to be a part of it."

Gulacsi originally arrived at Anfield in a loan deal from MTK Hungaria in 2007 - and the Reds quickly made the transfer permanent after the 'keeper excelled in the reserves' treble-winning campaign of 07-08.

After spending the latter part of last season on loan at Hereford United, the custodian was included in the first-team squad for the trips to Switzerland and Asia.

He made a total of five appearances for the Reds over the summer and had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Pepe Reina on a daily basis.

"It was much different to what I had experienced before," he revealed.

"I played a few games for Hereford on loan last season and the Hungarian national team, but playing for the first-team was a whole new experience.

"It was new to me playing in front of a big crowd with a quicker tempo and it wasn't easy, but I learned a lot from those pre-season games.

"Working with Pepe Reina was a good opportunity for me to see how he does things and it is really good for me to learn from him."

Reds Name Champions League Squad

Liverpool have named a 28-man squad for the Champions League group stage.

The Reds will kick off their European campaign at home to Debreceni VSC on September 16 before travelling to Italy to face Fiorentina.

A double header with Lyon will then follow ahead of a trip to Debreceni VSC. The group fixtures are concluded at home to Fiorentina on December 9.


Diego Cavalieri, Pepe Reina, David Martin.


Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Emiliano Insua, Jamie Carragher, Stephen Darby, Martin Kelly, Martin Skrtel, Andrea Dossena.


Alberto Aquilani, Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing, Damien Plessis, Albert Riera.


Fernando Torres, Andriy Voronin, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel, David Ngog, David Amoo, Nathan Eccleston.