Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sammy Not Giving Up

There may be only four games left to play, but Sammy Lee isn't throwing the towel in on Liverpool's target of a top four finish.

Despite the odds being stacked against them in the race for the final Champions League place, the Reds' assistant boss is remaining optimistic and clinging to the belief that a sharp turn in fortunes could be just around the corner.

"We need the points and we need to stick to our task and keep up on fight to finish as high up the table as we can," he added.

"At the end of the day it's our responsibility to make sure we get maximum points out of every game, and while it's still mathematically possible we won't be giving anything up.

"The crowd won't allow us that and we won't allow ourselves to give anything less than 100 per cent in every game."

Liverpool's next text will be on Monday night when relegation threatened West Ham United visit Anfield.

Despite their problems at the wrong end of the table, Lee knows from his time with the England national team that in Carlton Cole they will possess a striker who can cause damage if given the chance.

"Carlton is an excellent player with pace and a good touch," Lee told

"He has strength and there is a lot more to come from him and let's just hope he doesn't do it on Monday night!

The assistant boss also spoke of his admiration for Gianfranco Zola, who has come under pressure at Upton Park as the Hammers bid to stay in the top-flight.

"He is a lovely man and a good football person," Lee added.

"It's not for me to get involved in the politics of that football club but one thing is for sure and that is he will prepare them right alongside Steve Clarke and this will be a tough game.

"He is a young manager and I think he is doing very well under extreme circumstances.

"West Ham are a good footballing side and they got a good point away at Everton which isn't the easiest of places to go.

"They beat Sunderland in a real pressure game and they have had a bit of resurgence. I say this every week but there are no easy games in this league. It will be difficult and they are fighting for their lives."

Consortium Claims Gillett Scuppered £420m Liverpool Takeover Six Weeks Ago

The Middle East consortium bidding to buy Liverpool last night claimed George Gillett reneged on a £420million takeover after a deal was agreed.

The group, backed by one of the UAE’s ruling royal families, says Gillett’s partner Tom Hicks was ready to green-light the proposal until Gillett scuppered the agreement.

Gillett and Hicks yesterday put Liverpool up for sale.

And the Americans deny claims by the group – fronted by former Syria international Yahya Kirdi – that they nearly did a deal six weeks ago. Former Celtic captain Andy Lynch, who is the go-between for the consortium and the club, claims Kirdi and his backers remain interested.

“It was all done and dusted until that late swing in events,” said Lynch. “Recent events, which have seen Liverpool put on the open market, prove they need new ­investment.

“And there do not appear to be any other bidders bar ourselves. I’m ready to go at the drop of a hat.”

Hicks and Gillett, who have plunged the Reds £237m in debt, dispute Lynch’s claims and say they are selling up because Liverpool need new owners to take them to the “next level”.

In a joint statement, which has been welcomed by Kopites who have campaigned for the unpopular Americans to go, they said: “Having grown the club this far we have now decided together to look to sell the club to owners committed to take the club through its next level of growth and development.”

Industry heavy hitter and BA chairman Martin Broughton has been brought in to oversee the sale as the new chairman.

Hicks and Gillett have been forced to put Anfield on the market after rejecting the Rhone Group’s £110m offer for a 40 per cent stake.

John Aldridge: Lack Of Firepower Has Cost Liverpool

The stalemate with Fulham was so frustrating and it underlined what I’ve been saying all season - we don’t have enough firepower.

When Fernando Torres doesn’t play, we struggle for goals. David Ngog might be one for the future but he isn’t dynamic enough.

I don’t think Torres will be risked against West Ham on Monday as Rafa Benitez will want him fit to face Atletico Madrid on Thursday.

And without Torres I can see it being another tight game. I’d put Dirk Kuyt up front as we need someone up there with a bit of punch and guile.

We’re playing for pride in the league now and we need to go into an intriguing tie against Atletico on the back of a decent win.

John Aldridge: Liverpool FC Can’t Move Forward Until Club Is Sold

Liverpool are now officially up for sale and the sooner we get rid of the American owners the better.

We can’t move forward while Tom Hicks and George Gillett are still in charge and hopefully the appointment of Martin Broughton as chairman will speed up their departure.

Broughton is clearly highly regarded in the business world and we need him to find decent people who want to own the club for the right reasons.

We’ve been going around in circles for years now and it’s time we got everything sorted.

Our club is in desperate need of new investment.

We’ve got to get that stadium built in Stanley Park and we need cash to strengthen the squad.

The new ground is vital if we are going to be able to compete financially with the other top clubs.

But the priority has got to be the team and this season has shown our weaknesses.

We have to get rid of those who clearly aren’t good enough and get better players in.

There’s a lot of speculation about Rafa Benitez’s future with Juventus obviously keen to secure his services.

But whoever is in charge this summer must be given a decent transfer kitty. We can’t be relying on cheap buys to make us competitive.

We’ve got no chance of getting fourth place now and with no Champions League football next season there’s massive concern that Fernando Torres may decide to move on.

A top striker like Torres wants to play on the biggest stage but I think he should give Liverpool 12 months grace to see if we can move forward.

Even if we win the Europa League next month this hasn’t been an acceptable season.

However, sometimes you need to take two steps back in order to take three forward.

This club needs stability and hopefully we’ll soon have owners in place capable of helping to putt us back where we belong.

Broughton - Stadium Vital

New Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton has revealed that any potential buyer for the club will have to commit to building a new stadium.

Reds co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks confirmed their intention to sell Liverpool on Friday after a controversial spell at the club.

Broughton has been appointed chairman and has the task of finding a buyer for the Anfield outfit, who are £237million in debt.

The 63-year-old Chelsea fan hopes to oversee a quick sale process but insists a new ground is of utmost importance.

"We want to do the right thing for Liverpool and a new stadium is doing the right thing," he told The Times.

"It will add long-term value to the club and if we are looking for a new owner, which is something they will have to accept."

Barclays Capital is to advise Liverpool on the sale of the club while the Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed to continue with its present loans.

Broughton, the current British Airways chairman, has moved to calm fans' fears that American owners Gillett and Hicks are not sincere in their intent to sell.

"They are committed to a sale at a reasonable price, although I am not going to define what a reasonable price is," he added. "I would not have come in if they weren't serious.

"Everybody wants to know straightaway who the buyer is, but I am asking for a bit of patience on the part of the fans - give us a few months to get the process under way.

"Liverpool is one of those great institutions. Not only do they make football great, but they also make the Premier League great.

"I am excited and honoured to be taking up this position.

"I think the fans will be big enough to know that I've come here to do the right thing for Liverpool FC.

"They will also be big enough to respect the fact that I am a Chelsea fan.

"But this (the decision to find a new owner) is good news for the manager, it's good news for the players and it's good news for the fans.

"There is no need for a fire sale (of players), there is no need to do anything hasty."

New Chairman Martin Broughton And Christian Purslow's Partnership Is Crucial For The Future Of Liverpool FC

The burning question on the lips of every Liverpool FC supporter regarding new ownership today is ‘Who?’ But just as importantly, arguably more so today, is the answer to the conundrum: ‘How?’

Because just how Liverpool Football Club goes about the business of finding a new owner in the coming days, weeks and months is a complex, yet utterly vital question.

Inevitably, the process itself is the key precursor to just who might eventually be chosen and anointed as successors to Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

If Hicks and Gillett have been a monumental mistake - and for the entire PR gloss of the past 24 hours try finding a true Liverpool supporter who feels otherwise - it is a mistake that can never, ever begin to be repeated.

So Liverpool Football Club and those in a position to influence its fortunes just have to find the right answer to both questions - or the Reds’ future will simply be too bleak to contemplate.

For a football club famed for its harmony down the decades - yet one driven by factionalism and in-fighting among its changing component parts in the last few years - how Liverpool select the right suitor now is the critical issue.

Last year the first sign of a break in the dysfunctional ownership and management deadlock which has shackled and strangled Anfield, emerged.

As Rick Parry and Rafa Benitez parted company after several seasons of un-Anfield like attrition, with Parry resigning; and as Hicks and Gillett’s relationship deteriorated past the point of breakdown, in came a new man at the top.

Appointed as Managing Director, he was the man charged with plotting the great escape for the club he had supported since boyhood.

For the past eight or nine months he has been working not just to help oversee the day to day running of Anfield affairs, but lining up potential new investors to break the deadlock and change the dynamic.

Many fans will wonder now just what his role is given the appointment of British Airways Chief Martin Broughton as Liverpool’s chairman, a man charged with selling the club in just the same way as many perceived Purslow has been trying to do.

More cynical fans may see yesterday’s appointment as bad news for Purslow. More optimistic, maybe even more shrewd analysts will see it as good news. There is now one more British businessman and football fanatic on Liverpool FC’s board to help understand and shape its future.

Broughton was yesterday very quick to point out his admiration for the expertise of the management team at Anfield - Purslow, Commercial Director Ian Ayre and Financial Director Philip Nash. All of them remember, appointments signed off by Hicks and Gillett and the men responsible for those commercial figures which the Americans can actually signpost as vastly improved during their controversial tenure.

Broughton quickly insisted the day to day running of operations at Liverpool remains in their hands, and that his remit is to get this sale deal done - done right and done quickly.

Of course the right bit matters more than the quick bit, whatever the desperate thirst for change on the Kop and the appetite for a formal ending of the Hicks and Gillett era.

And getting it right will only be achieved if Broughton and Purslow work together with others to ensure this new sale process is conducted flawlessly and well.

For the sake of one of the world’s greatest football clubs - one still with so much untapped potential, for all its wounds and troubles and battered reputation - it has to happen that way.

If there is one thing Liverpool fans can applaud today, then it is the business expertise and the football fanaticism that both men bring to the table.

Broughton has a hugely significant reputation, not least on the diplomatic and problem solving front. And while his love of all things Stamford Bridge will not naturally endear him to Kopites, which may yet turn out to be of no real consequence.

Purslow, a Harvard and Cambridge modern languages graduate with a huge pedigree in the world of banking and business is hardly a slouch in these areas either.

For all their qualifications and their impressive career portfolios, what matters most now is that they - and those executives around them - can work together as a genuine team on behalf of Liverpool to begin to get it back on track.

It’s no flat track.

The road ahead for the Reds remains paved with high hurdles and bear-traps. The journey towards a place of relative safety is uncertain and long.

In short, for all the danger signs ahead, if they actually care about Liverpool Football Club, its traditions and values then there is reason to hope and believe they will get this monumentally important process right.

If they understand how they can both go down in history as the key men who saved the Reds from a footballing storm of biblical proportions, they can yet pull it off.

But it won’t be easy.

Martin Broughton will be present at Anfield on Monday night and will no doubt learn a lot from his first visit as Chairman.

Had he been present 48 hours ago - as Purslow was - at the 21st memorial service to the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster, he would no doubt have learned even more.

He’d have learned that Liverpool Football club really is an impressive family - a family still united and one that holds an incredibly special place in the hearts and minds of its supporters.

When you see Margaret Aspinall telling those present that she and they are the eyes, the ears and the voices of the 96 Hillsborough victims, you’d be heartless and stupid and wrong to ever class football these days as merely a business, as so many people do.

As Bill Shankly might no doubt have declared, it isn’t.

It is far more important than that.

And it’s time for everyone who loves Liverpool FC - or who is in a position to map its future - to understand the burden upon them, to put the club first and to get this difficult process right.

There will not be a second chance.

Liverpool FC Has Chance To Include Fans In New Era

Bill Shankly made the people happy. It goes without saying, Tom Hicks and George Gillett haven’t.

There was a significance when one of Shankly’s grandaughters joined a recent campaign to oust Liverpool Football Club’s (now outgoing) owners.

In an e-mail sent directly to the movers and shakers involved in the club’s current financial plight, Karen Gill made an impassioned plea to the Royal Bank of Scotland to stop bankrolling the Americans’ debt-laden tenure at the club.

It was nothing we haven’t heard already via countless protests. The benefit of Shankly’s aura did add a bit of clout though.

Wrote Gill: ‘During the past three years, time and again Tom Hicks and George Gillett have shown that they are not fit and proper custodians of the club that my grandfather loved and devoted 15 years of his life to.

‘The business model operated by Hicks and Gillett is unsustainable with debts of £237million loaded onto the club, crippling the clubs ability to progress both on and off the field, with the new stadium and regeneration of the Anfield area seemingly further away than ever.

‘I call upon the chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland - Stephen Hester to stop supporting the current ownership with the renewal of crippling loans and urge Gillett and Hicks to sell the club with immediate effect to more suitable custodians who can help provide the future that Liverpool FC and the Anfield area so desperately need.’

Within a week, the club has been formally put on the market with the hope Hicks and Gillett are about to ride off into the sunset.

It would be far-fetched to claim Gill’s intervention was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

Of course it wasn’t.

But the fact the ball has finally got rolling in the wake of the Shankly family’s involvement does have a spooky resonance about it.

For fear of sounding like Derek Acorah though, the point here is that it was Shankly who first embraced the Liverpool supporters as a vital component within the ethos, identity and, of course, the success of the club.

In light of the damage that has been caused during the Americans’ three year reign, there is now a chance to build some bridges between the club and its core fanbase.

While cautiously optimistic that this is the beginning of the end for the Hicks/Gilett circus, supporters groups Spirit of Shankly and Share Liverpool were both quick to highlight the need for greater supporter involvement if and when the club moves forward under new ownership.

One of Hicks and Gillett’s failings at Anfield - and there have been many - was to underestimate the strength of feeling of Liverpool fans for their club.

As Shankly once said, ‘it’s a way of life, a religion to them.

That’s not something you mess with like a rich man’s toy.’

Many lessons can be learned from what has been and - until the club is finally sold - will continue to be one of the most turbulent periods in the club’s history.

The importance of respecting the values upheld by the supporters should not be lost on any new owners.

Newly appointed independent chairman Martin Broughton has done his homework when insisting he’s ‘not simply looking for an owner. I’m looking for the right owner.’

The ‘right owner’ should be willing to cooperate with the club’s supporters and not view them merely as passive consumers who should be seen and not heard.

Responding to the news of the club officially being put up for sale yesterday both the Spirit of Shankly and Share Liverpool pointed to a section in the Labour party’s election manifesto that pledges to explore the concept of giving supporters first refusal on an option to buy up to 25% of a club’s shares should it come up for sale.

A cheap political gimmick or genuine concern for the way the game is increasingly being mismanaged? We won’t know for definite unless Prime Minister Gordon Brown remains in office.

Given the problems at Liverpool in recent years, it is an idea that has been roundly welcomed on the stands inside Anfield.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions that the fans will rightly demand answers for.

It’s a case of once bitten twice shy and they will want guarantees that the best interests of the club are pivotal to any purchase.

But while the Hicks and Gillett’s of this world may come and go, one constant will always remain; the fans.

'Performance Not Acceptable'

Liverpool Reserves captain Steven Irwin pinpointed poor defending as a major reason behind the 3-1 defeat to Burnley at Turf Moor on Friday night.

John McMahon's side gave three sloppy goals away, two of them from corners, and were second best on the night.

They remain nine points behind Manchester United in the race for the Barclays Premier Reserve League North title, and with just one game in hand this defeat was a severe blow to their hopes.

"It was a disappointing night and the performance from us wasn't good enough," Irwin told

"The goals we conceded were poor. We work so hard in training on defending from set pieces and to concede two identical goals and then make a mistake for the third goal was very disappointing.

"You have got to defend well and we never did that and it cost us in the end.

"They played very well and they wanted it more than us on the night which is the sad part. They dominated midfield, they were first to most things and they won more tackles than we did."

McMahon's side must now bounce back against Everton in the mini-derby at Prenton Park on Tuesday night.

"We have got a massive game against Everton on Tuesday and we have got to make sure we turn up on the night and put in a much better performance than we did against Burnley," he added.

"Hopefully we can put a lot more effort into that and win the game. We know we have got some technically gifted players in our squad but first and foremost you have got to work hard and fight as a team."