Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Match Report: Wolverhampton 0 - 0 LiverpooL

Liverpool suffered a severe blow to their hopes of securing Champions League football as they were frustrated by Mick McCarthy's side in a Barclays Premier League clash at Molineux.

The Reds actually moved above Manchester City on goal difference into fifth spot with a share of the spoils but have played two games more.

In contrast, it was a precious point for Wolves in their battle to stay in the top flight.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, whose agent has played down reports linking the Spaniard with a move to Juventus, saw his side dominate the opening 45 minutes in terms of possession.

But, in the absence of the injured Fernando Torres, they lacked a decisive cutting edge despite the return after a hamstring injury of skipper Steven Gerrard who was well policed by Michael Mancienne.

McCarthy opted for a change of formation with record signing Kevin Doyle the only striker in a 4-5-1 formation and they frustrated the Reds throughout the first 45 minutes with veteran defender Jody Craddock outstanding.

But after the break Wolves played with increasing belief and fluency and it was their turn to enjoy large spells of territorial dominance.

Doyle was a constant menace with his pace and power unsettling the Reds rearguard despite often being outnumbered.

Liverpool, who had taken 10 points from the previous four games, were quickly into their stride.

Gerrard's second minute corner was met by the head of Albert Riera at the near post but his effort flashed across the Wolves box.

Dirk Kuyt, bubbling with confidence after his double against Tottenham, tried his luck from 20 yards out but Craddock was able to make an important block.

Reds goalkeeper Jose Reina was booed every time he touched the ball by Wolves fans who remembered his part in the incident when Stephen Ward was sent off at Anfield on Boxing Day.

Liverpool enjoyed the lion's share of possession but Wolves coped comfortably and the best chance of the opening half fell to Doyle after 33 minutes in a Wolves counter-attack.

Jamie Carragher was isolated in the right-back role and unable to prevent Matt Jarvis from getting past him and sending in a low cross to the near post.

Doyle made a run across the Reds defence to attack the ball at the near post but poked his shot just wide.

Jarvis was posing the biggest threat for Wolves and another teasing centre picked out the run of Kevin Foley at the far post but his header was directed straight at Reina.

Christophe Berra got in a great challenge to halt the run of Maxi Rodriguez into the Wolves box at the expense of a corner just before half-time.

Gerrard was a peripheral figure for most of the first half but threatened after the restart when he seized onto a ball in behind from Lucas Leiva only for Berra to be alert to the situation.

Marcus Hahnemann had to be alert when backpedalling to palm away a looping first time effort from the edge of the area by Riera.

Ward then almost played the home team into trouble with a mis-timed back pass but Hahnemann raced 20 yards out of his box to clear from Kuyt.

Doyle was impressing whenever Wolves ventured forward but would have been disappointed not to hit the target after he found some space outside the box.

Wolves were playing with increasing fluency and the belief was starting to grow amongst their young players.

Kuyt curled a 20-yard shot past the post after Gerrard enjoyed some rare freedom and the game was more of an entertaining spectacle.

Benitez made his first substitution after 67 minutes with David Ngog replacing Riera and Kuyt moving into a wider role.

The impressive Doyle drilled a left-foot shot past the post after getting past Martin Skrtel.

Skrtel was booked after 73 minutes for a lunge at Ward.

McCarthy replaced Nenad Milijas with David Jones a minute later.

Liverpool Coach Rafael Benitez Is Juventus' Prime Target

Juventus' search for a new coach continues and the latest developments in Turin have seen Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez shoot to the top of the wish-list, according to reports. claims Ciro Ferrara has reached the bottom line at the club and will be ousted once directors line up an adequate replacement. Juve are planning to piece together a bid to lure the Spaniard to Turin.

However, they face a big task. On Monday Benitez's agent Manuel Garcia Quillon failed to confirm a concrete interest from Juve, but neither did he rule out a move there, responding "never say never" when prompted on the Italian link.

Furthermore, there are financial obstacles to overcome. Benitez earns around €4.5 million per season and he has four years left to run on his current deal at Anfield. It is said the Old Lady are not prepared to offer more than €3.5m.

But, reports in Russia on Monday had claimed Juve had made a €5m per season offer to Guus Hiddink, fuelling speculation that the club are willing to manouevre in order to bring in a top coach.

The reports remain unconfirmed though, despite mounting pressure at Vinovo.

What Does This £300m Sale Mean For Liverpool FC?

The news filtered through this weekend that Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has sold his baseball team, the Texas Rangers for a price of over £300 million following lengthy negotiations. Hicks was pleased with the deal, stating

“Together we have worked exhaustively since last month to attain this agreement; it’s a complex business deal that positions the franchise positively for the future.”

Obviously we’re all thrilled that Hicks has managed to make a complex business deal but, more importantly, does this mean anything for Liverpool? £300 million is a lot of money and, even though there’s a possibility that Hicks may not possess it until April due to hold-ups in the deal, Liverpool would be more than justified in expecting one of their owners to provide for the club using such a fortune.

The transfer window has brought Liverpool just Maxi Rodriguez on a free transfer when a lot of strengthening is clearly required. £300 million would deal with debts, bring in as many new players as needed and could help re-ignite talk over a new stadium.

But chances are none of that will happen. A similar deal occurred last year when George Gillett sold his ice hockey team for £323 million and how much of that money did Liverpool see? None of it, that’s how much.

You can see why there’s so much criticism of the American owners given how they regard the club; whilst other owners like Roman Abrahamovic, Randy Lerner and Carson Yeung care for their clubs and give them the money they need, Gillett and Hicks are solely looking to make themselves money and are putting the club in danger in doing so.

What’s next? A £40 million sale of Steven Gerrard followed by each owner pocketing £20 million? They’d happily go along with that.

I would be very surprised if Hicks put one penny of the money made from the sale into Liverpool and thus the sooner Liverpool get bought by someone else who actually cares for the club the better. There was a time when football club’s owners actually had an interest in the sport but it’s owners like Gillett, Hicks and Manchester United’s Malcolm Glazer who screw their clubs over, taking all the money and only putting money in if they think it’ll pay dividends for themselves and the protests around Anfield should keep on going, even if it’s just to show Hicks and Gillett how unwelcome they are.

Rafa Benitez To Juventus? You Never Know - Agent

Coach Ciro Ferrara's future is increasingly uncertain after Juventus were defeated 2-1 by Roma on Saturday evening at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin.

Several coaches have been linked with his post and one of the most recent names is Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez. However, the manager's agent, Manuel Garcia Quilon, has admitted that such a move cannot happen until at least June - even if Benitez is committed to the Reds.

"Benitez to Juventus? In football you never know," he explained to

"I don't know what will happen in four to five months. In football everything changes quickly, but the basic principal is that Rafa still has a four-year contract with Liverpool."

The under-fire coach has been linked with an exit from the Premier League outfit, as they, much like Juventus, have not met expectations this season. But is a switch to Turin really a possibility for the former Valencia coach?

"Right now, that hypothesis is not correct, because he is a very important figure [at Anfield]. The idols of the fans are [Steven] Gerrard, [Fernando] Torres, and Benitez."

Rafael Benitez Insists That Steven Gerrard Is Staying At Liverpool

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has insisted that Steven Gerrard will not be leaving Anfield any time soon.

Rumours continue to circulate that the England international is unhappy with life at Anfield after a disappointing season that has seen the Reds stumble out of the Champions League and struggle domestically.

But his manager maintains that there is no reason to doubt Gerrard's commitment to the Anfield cause, and the player's preceived lack of form has been due to injury worries.

"I don't have any doubt at all about Gerrard's commitment - and nobody at this club has," Liverpool's manager said, accoriding to The Daily Mirror.

"Yes, he can maybe play better or he can play worse, but he will always try, that is absolutely guaranteed.

"People have talked about his form, but the consistency of form is something you can only find when you train every week and have training sessions in a row.

"If you are injured and have to start again, and injured and have to start again, then it's difficult for any player to show his best, be it Gerrard, (Fernando) Torres, (Yossi) Benayoun or whoever."

Rooney: I Would Love To See Gerrard In A Manchester United Shirt

Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has admitted he would love to see Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard play for the current Premier League champions at Old Trafford.

The Manchester United talisman claims the Liverpool captain would be a brilliant player under Sir Alex Ferguson, but admits it would be impossible for the Anfield hero to move to Old Trafford because he is “a Liverpool man through and through”.

Wayne Rooney claims Steven Gerrard had trials with Manchester United before he joined Liverpool, and in addition to being a brilliant player, Rooney claims he and his Anfield counterpart are good friends.

When asked which players he would like to team up with at Old Trafford, the Manchester United star told “It’s not for me to say because that’s the manager’s job, to bring the best players to Manchester United.”

“I’ve played with some great players in the past and would have loved to have played with some legends of the game.”

“Steven Gerrard is a very good mate of mine and he had trials at Manchester United as a kid, it would have been great to have had him at United, but that will never happen because he’s a Liverpool man through and through.”

“He’s a top-class player.”

The Manchester United hero, who recently scored four goals against Hull City to take his tally in the Premier League this season to nineteen goals, also suggested he would have loved to play with Real Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane.

Rooney added: “I’d have loved to have played with Zinedine Zidane.”

“I’ve played against him and I was just in awe.”

“But playing against him gave me a lot of confidence because it gave me the belief to say ‘I can play with the best, and I’m just going to chill out and let my football do the talking'.”

Benitez Says Liverpool Keeper Reina Crucial To Resurgence

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has praised goalkeeper Pepe Reina and emphasized his importance to the Reds both on and off the pitch.

Reina will be looking to claim his fourth clean sheet in five matches this evening against Wolves to boost Liverpool's bid for Champions League qualification.

Benitez told the Liverpool Echo, “In a top side you have to be a top keeper and have great character. He is always pushing his team-mates and he is a leader on the pitch too.

“Pepe has had some (injury) problems but he has been playing and doing really well. At Stoke we only played him at the last minute but he was nearly man of the match.

“It’s important to have Pepe and it’s important to have Stevie back too. He has desire and he can see his team-mates working hard and you will see him do the same on the pitch.”

Commenting on negotiations over a new contract to keep the Spanish keeper at Liverpool, Benitez said, “We have had a conversation with Pepe’s agent (over a contract) and he knows our idea.

“The conversation will continue and I’m sure it will be easy to finalise and have an agreement. His mentality is very good and it is not just that he is a good keeper."

Ian Rush: Rafa Benitez Needs To Make One More January Signing For Liverpool FC

The transfer window will soon slam shut and it is inevitable that a number of deals will be struck in the next six days.

What part Liverpool play remains to be seen but I would still love to see Rafa Benitez bring in a striker, even if it is only a short-term loan.

If he can’t do that for whatever reason, it will put a big demand on the players already at Anfield and they will have to be prepared to work that extra bit harder to make up for the shortage.

That said, it was pleasing to see David Ngog make an impact as a sub in the win against spurs; he may just ease some pressure.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos Finally Stepping Out Of Sami Hyppia’s Shadow

Zabi Alonso was the biggest departure from Anfield last season but Sami Hyppia’s move to Bayer Leverkusen was also a huge blow.

However, it could be that, at long last, Sotirios Kyrgiakos is ready to fill the void left by the Big Finn.

I’m not for one moment comparing the two, as Sami was rightly thought of as a Liverpool legend.

But Kyrgiakos has shown in his last two performances that he has similar qualities and is right man to fill the role Sami would have occupied this year.

You won’t have many bigger aerial tests as a defender than against Stoke and Peter Crouch but Kyrgiakos passed both with flying colours.

The jury had been out on him but he is starting to get to grips with the Premier League and is well capable of playing his part for the rest of the year.

Steven Gerrard Waxwork To Appear In Madame Tussauds

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been transferred to an exclusive London club - for just £150,000!

But before Reds fans worry too much, it is only his waxwork which will be moving to the capital at Madame Tussauds museum.

Gerrard will appear in the interactive Sports Zone in his Liverpool kit and boots which he donated.

He said: "It is an absolute thrill to have my own wax figure at Madame Tussauds."

The wax model has been worked on since October last year when sculptors met Gerrard at Liverpool's Melwood training ground.

During the sitting, the team took over 300 precise measurements and a catalogue of reference photographs to work with. The figure is nearly ready at a cost of £150,000.

"We’re delighted to be welcoming Steven Gerrard to the attraction in this World Cup year", commented Liz Edwards, PR Manager.

"He will join his England team-mates David Beckham and Wayne Rooney in our Sports Zone and guests will be able to test their own footballing skills with a "shoot out" challenge over half term".

As well as his fellow footballers, Gerrard will join an all star sporting cast of greats from past and present in Madame Tussauds’ Sports Zone - from Lewis Hamilton to Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Ali to Jesse Owens.