Friday, May 21, 2010

Carragher - Liverpool Will Bounce Back

Jamie Carragher is bracing himself for a summer of discontent at Liverpool.

The long-serving Reds defender is acutely aware that, after recording a disappointing seventh-placed finish under Rafael Benitez this season, the critics who love nothing better than taking a bite out of Liverpool are starting to bear their teeth.

"I know what it is like after a poor season. There is a lot of negativity," he said. "We have had it all season and I am sure we will have it again throughout the summer. Obviously I want to enjoy the World Cup and do well. But I can't wait to get back to Liverpool and try to put it right."

The depths to which Liverpool have startlingly plummeted are shown up starkly in the knowledge that their return to action will come during July for the third qualifying round of the Europa League, exactly the same stage as Fulham entered this term.

Benitez might have committed himself to the club after strong links with Juventus, but the futures of star men Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres continue to be discussed, along with combative midfielder Javier Mascherano.

With uncertainty over the club's ownership position continuing to linger, Reds fans could be forgiven for being severely worried about the months ahead.

However, Carragher insists they have no need.

"I want the people to come back who want to be there. If anyone doesn't want to be here, no problem. No-one is bigger than Liverpool Football Club," he said.

"People always talk about players leaving and saying 'this is the end of Liverpool'. No chance.

Rafael Benitez Still Uncertain How Much Cash Liverpool Can Spend This Summer

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez does not know yet whether he will have money to spend in the transfer market this summer after meetings with new Reds chairman Martin Broughton.

Broughton, a man brought in to oversee the sale of the club, has apparently informed Benitez that his kitty is dependent on how many players the Reds can sell this summer.

"I have had a couple of meetings with the new chairman to clarify the situation," the Spaniard told reporters in Madrid.

"We need to know how much money we have, and that also depends on (player) sales."

Meanwhile, following another attack on his management style from Reds outcast Albert Riera, Benitez insisted that his communication with his players worked well and he was not aloof as Riera had claimed.

"It is a lie that I don’t talk to the players," he asserted.

"He [Riera] made a mistake in an interview and I have witnesses and video of something that I will not count."

Carragher's Warning: Pack Your Bags If Not Committed To Liverpool

Jamie Carragher has told any players who wish to leave Liverpool that they should go if they are not committed to the club's future, a message which suggests he does not think the Reds will be served by Fernando Torres or Javier Mascherano staying under sufferance next season.

As Carragher's manager, Rafael Benitez, provided the first firm indication yesterday that he is preparing to take the biggest gamble of his 24-year managerial career by staying in place for the challenging battle ahead at Anfield, the defender made it clear he expects commitment from all quarters as Liverpool strive to "get back", as he put it.

Torres is a £60m player whom Roberto Mancini has made it clear he would dearly love to sign for Manchester City but he is not bigger than his current club, Carragher insisted. "The people who want to be there will come back," the 32-year-old said. "If people don’t then no problem. There will always be a Liverpool Football Club. People always talk about players leaving, about 'is this the end of Liverpool?' No chance. Better players than the ones we have now have left and we have replaced them. Anyone who doesn't want to be there, no problem, but we'll start next season with the players who want to do well."

Quite what Carragher has made of Benitez's representatives' choreographed dalliance with Juventus over the past few months does not need much imagination, but Torres has also hinted at dissatisfaction – publicly declaring that Liverpool require "four or five" new players" this summer to compete at the top of the Premier League – and Mascherano painted a graphic picture of his family's unhappy life in Liverpool last weekend. Liverpool can take some comfort from Barcelona concluding the £30m purchase of David Villa yesterday, which seems to rules out one possible destination for Torres, while some sources at Chelsea have suggested the club's interest in Torres is less substantial than has been reported. Torres will look painfully of out place in July's Europa League qualifying round, but Steven Gerrard's appetite for more struggles is also questionable and Yossi Benayoun has been equivocal about his whereabouts beyond this summer.

But Carragher, a part of whose heart was with his beloved club side even as he discussed the recall to the England set-up after a three-year absence, said he is expecting a summer of "negativity" where Liverpool are concerned and wants to put it behind him to get on with the next campaign. "As soon as [Liverpool's last game of the season] at Hull finished I wished the start of next season was the next day," Carragher said. "The best thing is to forget it and get on with it. I know what it's like on the back of a poor season. There's a lot of negativity all summer. We've had it all season and I'm sure we will again through the summer.

"During the World Cup I want to enjoy [international football] and do well but I also want to go back to Liverpool and do well there and get the club back where it wants to be. I just want us to get back. People will come back at different stages."

Carragher expects Benitez to be in situ – "Yes, I think so. He's said nothing to me to say he won't be," the defender said – and the Spaniard bore out that opinion. "My future is Liverpool, I have four more years of my contract and I want to complete them. I hope to make this team competitive again," Benitez said.

Stuttgart Consider Bid For Want-Away Liverpool Winger Riera

Stuttgart have shortlisted Liverpool's Albert Riera as a prime transfer target, according to German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

The 28 year-old launched a scathing attack on Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez in March, saying, "The team's playing badly and needs changes. It is a sinking ship. But in the two years I have been here Benitez has never managed a situation with a player by talking to him."

A proposed move to Russia then fell through and although Riera was frozen out by Benitez for the final two months of the season, he remains a Liverpool player for now.

However, Riera has made his intention of leaving Anfield clear, saying yesterday, "I did not play the last two months [of the season] and right now my objective it is to go to a club were I can feel appreciated and where I can win trophies. I am not worried about the money now or the country I go to."

According to Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Riera may find that Stuttgart is an option. Coached by former Spurs boss Christian Gross, they may make a move for Riera or Napoli's wide midfielder Jesus Datolo.

Riera joined Liverpool from Espanyol for £8m two years ago, but he made only fifteen appearances this season, having been a first-team regular during his first season at the club.

Agent - Aquilani Exit Unlikely

Alberto Aquilani's agent believes only a huge bid would tempt Liverpool to sell the midfielder.

Franco Zavaglia has reiterated the creative Italian has no desire to return to his native land this summer despite ongoing speculation the Reds are prepared to offload the player they paid £20million for last year.

The latest rumour has suggested Juventus are back in the hunt the 25-year-old after naming Luigi Del Neri as their new manager and the Turin giants are said to be prepared to offer Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo as part of a swap deal.

But Zavaglia has dismissed his client's latest link with a Serie A comeback and expects the former Roma man to be plying his trade at Anfield next season.

He told Tuttomercatoweb: "For now Alberto was not required and I think it is not easy to bring him to Juventus.

"In this season, when he did not have ankle problems, he has always played and never had any problems, either with Benitez or with Liverpool.

"So they won't part with Aquilani unless they receive very heavy offers".

Juventus Will Have To Increase Bid To Capture Liverpool's Aquilani

According to Italian daily Corriere dello Sport, Juventus have already made an initial bid for Alberto Aquilani, but will have to increase their offer for Liverpool to let go of the midfielder.

25 year-old Aquilani had a difficult first season at Anfield and was hampered by injury. Although he began to find his form towards the end of the season, rumours have persisted that Aquilani has not settled in England.

Juventus, who finally appointed a new coach this week, Luigi Del Nieri, have expressed an interest in Aquilani, who moved to Liverpool from Roma last summer in a 22 million Euro deal.

Corriere dello Sport claims that Juventus have already made a bid of 11 million Euros for Aquilani, but that Liverpool want to recoup a larger chunk of the fee they paid for him last summer. However, they describe the initial offer as a "starting point for discussion", indicating that Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is willing to see the winger leave Anfield.

Aquilani made 23 appearances for Liverpool in Premier League and European competition last season scoring two goals and providing four assists. If he is to be sold, Aquilani will have cost Liverpool roughly one million Euros per game.

Liverpool And Everton To Fight It Out For Ajax Ace

Everton and Liverpool are competing to sign Ajax centre-back Jan Vertonghen.

Goodison boss David Moyes is eager to land the Belgium international, who has inspired his club to the Dutch FA Cup and second place in the league.

And Toffees officials have tabled an opening £9m bid for the 23-year-old, which Ajax turned down - but they are willing to accept £11m for him.

Vertonghen is under contract until 2013. He has been recommended by his national team-mate Marouane Fellaini, Everton’s record signing.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez is also a big fan of Vertonghen, who helped Ajax concede just 20 goals in 34 games.

But his city rival Moyes leads the chase for the powerful defender, who has admirably replaced Thomas Vermaelen since his fellow Belgian quit Ajax for Arsenal in a £10m deal last summer.

Athletic Bilbao Sign Liverpool Defender Mikel San Jose

Primera Division outfit Athletic Bilbao has secured the services of young defender Mikel San Jose from English side Liverpool for an undisclosed fee. The 20-year-old has signed a five-year deal with the Basque side.

The highly rated defender is a product of the Bilbao youth academy, but left the club for an adventure at Liverpool in the summer of 2007 before making any first team appearances.

San Jose failed to break into the first team at the Reds though and was therefore farmed out on loan back to Athletic Bilbao this season. The defender made 25 appearances this term and convinced them to make his move permanent.

Bilbao finished eighth in the league table and head coach Joaquin Caparros is determined to add some fresh blood to his squad this summer in order to fight for the European places again next season.

Liverpool FC Legend Billy Liddell Will Never Be Forgotten

A true Liverpool legend is set to be honoured this weekend with a memorial garden unveiled in his name.

Billy Liddell is one of Liverpool's most prolific goalscorers of all time.

Liddell was recommended to the Reds in 1938 by former Liverpool player and future Manchester United manager, Matt Busby.

Busby had spotted Liddell playing for his local amateur league side Lochgelly Violet and persuaded Liverpool to tempt the teenager south from his home in Townhill near Dunfermline.

It was a tremendous find. Less than two years later, Liddell made his senior debut. Over the next two decades he went on to score 228 goals in 534 appearances for Liverpool - the only club he played for as a professional.

Although he spent the last six years of his career playing in the old division two, Liddell was revered among his contemporaries for his strength and bravery as much as his goalscoring.

A Scotland international, Liddell joined Stanley Matthews in 1955 as the only two players to have the distinction of representing a Great British select XI twice some eight years after their first GB appearing.

He was inducted into the Scottish FA's hall of fame two years ago following a campaign by a group of his supporters, the Billy Liddell Memorial Group.