Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gerrard Paves Way For Successor

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard believes that Manchester City winger Adam Johnson has proved in training that he is worthy of a place on the plane to South Africa despite not yet playing for England at full international level.

The former Middlesbrough man has been an impressive top flight force since his £8 million move to Manchester City, fully proving his ability to take the step up from the Championship to the Premier League.

A regular under Roberto Mancini, the 22-year-old is now being tipped to fill a wide left berth for the Three Lions; a position which Liverpool and Anfield hero Gerrard has made his own under during the Capello era.

Liverpool star Gerrard remarked:

"Adam has looked fantastic in training. He is a typical left-winger; he gets good crosses into the box, and is exciting on the ball.

"We will have to wait and see what players Fabio goes with in the final 23.

"But I am sure Adam has got a fantastic chance of going to the World Cup because he is a very talented player."

Fabio Capello has just over a week before he is forced to trim his 30 man provisional squad down the requisite 23 directed by FIFA regulations.

It is believed that Johnson's performance this evening and during Sunday's final friendly against Japan will be decisive in determining his chances of making the trip to South Africa.

Joe Hart, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gareth Barry are the other City squad members keeping their fingers crossed over the next seven days.

Rafael Benitez Shrugs Off Reports Linking Him With Coaching Role In UAE

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has refuted reports that he was about to be offered the role of national coach of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE were apparently set to offer the Spaniard a £5 million ‘golden hello’, and a house on Dubai’s exclusive Palm Island, in addition to an annual salary of £4m to try and tempt him away from Anfield.

But Benitez insists that he has no intention of leaving Anfield after holding discussions since the end of the season with the chairman Martin Broughton and managing director Christian Purslow about the future direction of the club.

"I was very surprised to read about this story but it seems more and more as if they keep happening from somewhere," said the Reds gaffer, according to The Liverpool Echo.

"I am very happy here in Liverpool.

"I have always been happy and I want to stay here for a long time – if it is possible."

Liverpool Set For £12 Million Swoop For Micah Richards

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is set to launch a £12 million bid for Manchester City defender Micah Richards according to caughtoffside.com

The Reds' boss is looking to entice the England man away from Eastlands with the promise of regular first-team football and a chance to break back into the international set-up.

The Anfield manager is hoping for an injection of cash this summer in order to land his man, but given the precarious financial situation the Merseysiders face, he might be forced to raise the funds through sales.

Despite missing out on Champions League football, the attraction of regular football may be enough for Richards to make the move, after seeing his career slightly derailed in the past season through injury and competition for places at Eastlands.

It is speculated that the likes of Phillip Degen, Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera will be offloaded to raise the required fee for Richards.

Steven Gerrard Could Be Mourinho's Second Pick For £30M Move To Real Madrid

Steven Gerrard could find himself only Jose Mourinho’s second pick for a £30m move to Real Madrid.

The Liverpool star admitted for the first time yesterday he was contemplating leaving Anfield.

That confirmed Starsport’s exclusive on January 16 which told you Real were favourites to sign him. Gerrard’s representatives contacted Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan and Inter Milan earlier in the season to see about the prospects of a summer move.

But Mourinho – who is quitting newly-crowned Champions League kings Inter for the Bernabeu – has pinpointed Roma’s Daniele De Rossi as his No 1 target, with Gerrard only a back-up option.

De Rossi, 26, was a major force in Claudio Ranieri’s team who pushed Mourinho’s Inter to the wire in the race for the Scudetto.

Gerrard has become increasingly frustrated about the lack of success at Liverpool, with no trophies since the stunning Champions League success in 2005.

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho built his treble-winning Inter side this season around the talents of Dutchman Wesley Sniejder.

But there is little hope of him returning to Real Madrid after just one season at the San Siro and Mourinho already has former Liverpool ace Xavi Alonso in that position.

Roma yesterday insisted they have no plans to sell World Cup-winner De Rossi, who wears the No 10 shirt for his club and country.

De Rossi scored crucial goals for Italy in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

For Roma, he plays more as a defensive midfielder but for the Azzurri he is given license to get forward in the style of Gerrard, with Gennaro Gattuso in the team to hold the midfield.

Mourinho refused to confirm he was the new boss of Real Madrid after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Bernabeu.

He said he planned to meet with president Florentino Perez today. He added: “Should I become coach of Real Madrid then this would be because Real Madrid are a club with a huge dimension. The club want the same as other clubs - they want to win.

”If you want to win important things you need this spirit and the availability of money to back the team. The team must work together. “

”This is the pride I have when I look at Inter. We became a magnificent family of football players. From the groundsman to the players, even the players who did not play for one minute, we are a marvellous family.

“I’ve seen that in other clubs I’ve worked at, when we have created a family feeling and that was the most important thing we did.”

Inter Milan Join Chelsea In The Race For Javier Mascherano

Treble winners Inter Milan have joined the race to sign Liverpool defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano, according to a report in Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.

Yesterday Chelsea were linked with Mascherano who has long been tipped to leave Liverpool with Barcelona reportedly interested last season.

Inter Milan are also after Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and also have also been rumoured to be interested in Rafa Benitez to replace Jose Mourinho who seems set for Real Madrid.

The midfielder made 47 appearances for Liverpool in the Premier League and European competition last season, scoring one goal and picking up 11 yellow cards. His contract is up in two years.

Fans React To ECHO Call For Hicks And Gillett To Leave Liverpool FC

Fans have bombarded the ECHO with their views following our call for Liverpool FC owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to get out of the club.

On Saturday we dedicated our front page to calling on the Americans to abandon their hopes of making a multi-million pound profit and to sell the club at a realistic price as soon as possible.

Reds fans’ concern about the amount of debt that the club has been saddled with since the duo bought Liverpool in 2007, and the absence of the promised new stadium in Stanley Park, has long since turned into anger.

The ECHO’S call for Hicks and Gillett to “get out of a wonderful, treasured football club which so many of our readers, plus millions more around the world, love and cherish so deeply” has been backed to the hilt on our messageboards.

levonboy wrote: “It takes years to build a great reputation and one act to ruin it. I hope Hicks and Gillett leave ASAP and never manage a sports team again with leveraged buyout.”

redvox wrote: “This article/comment appears to be the 'icing on the cake' of a series of stories the Echo has run this week.

“I think fans need to realise that Liverpool do indeed face the prospect of becoming another Leeds United.

“My big worry is that the people making the huge decisions which will dictate LFC's future don't actually give a stuff about LFC’s future – that presents a very obvious problem! The only way I can see us coming out of this, is with a City/Chelsea style take over. Unfortunately for us, but maybe fortunately for the game in general, they don't happen very often!”

Vic49 wrote: “Whatever the ins and outs of the matter let us find a way – as fans- – to buy our club. Even if we have to start below rock bottom. This makes Rafa look very loyal.”

Even supporters from the blue half of the city logged on to show their support.

cahill56 wrote: “Any Evertonians who have smiles on their faces with regards to the financial crisis at Liverpool should look at the bigger picture. Not only is it affecting Liverpool FC but it is also affecting the Liverpool as a city. Liverpool politicians need to bang their heads together and get the ball rolling at LFC as LFC is important for the economy of Liverpool and, likewise, Everton FC.

“Both Evertonians and Liverpudlians should reunite and defend any outside threats such as these so-called American investors. It’s in the interests of the people of Liverpool!”

Another non-Liverpool fan, mogger1, added: “Well done ECHO for speaking out, I am not a supporter but you can see they are taking the mickey.”

Chelsea Eye Raid For Liverpool Duo Yossi Benayoun & Javier Mascherano

Chelsea have made Liverpool midfielders Javier Mascherano and Yossi Benayoun summer transfer targets, according to a report from The Daily Mail.

With Michael Ballack and Joe Cole believed to be ready to leave Stamford Bridge soon, Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti has made the two Reds stars something of a priority.

The Italian also apparently believes that the offer of Champions League football gives him a real edge in his pursuit of the Reds pair.

Liverpool would reportedly prefer not to sell to the Premier League champions but may have little choice if they are to boost manager Rafael Benitez's frugal transfer budget.

Mascherano has apparently shelved talks on a new deal whilst Benayoun has acknowledged Chelsea's interest.

"Ancelotti wants me for next season and now everything depends on Liverpool," he is reported as saying.

"Chelsea will have to pay some £6 million but I believe that in the end I'll be moving there."

AC Milan Agony For Scorer Amoo

Liverpool Reserves crashed out of the RUHR.2010 Cup after AC Milan scored three minutes into injury-time to salvage a 1-1 draw.

The leveller proved to be the last kick of the game following a fine solo effort from David Amoo.

Incredibly the result meant Liverpool, Milan, Schalke and Bayern Munich all finished on four points and with a goal difference of zero.

However, Schalke and Milan progress having scored more goals throughout the group stages.

Manager John McMahon said: "Milan needed a draw and that's what they played for. We dominated the game but failed to kill them off. Perhaps there was a bit of naivety.

"There are long-term positives we can take and that's what we're all about. These young lads have learnt that they need to kill games off and that they need to be a bit cleverer in certain stages of the game.

"It's really frustrating but I've spoken to people who felt we were the best team in the tournament."

The squad flies back from Germany on Monday before enjoying an end-of-season meal on Tuesday night.

England Legend Roger Hunt Criticises Rafael Benitez's Rotation Policy At Liverpool

England World Cup winner Roger Hunt has hit out at Rafael Benitez's selection tinkering, claiming the Liverpool manager has gambled with the club's future participation in the Champions League.

A desperately disappointing Premier League campaign saw the Reds finish seventh, failing to build on 2008-09's second-place finish, unable to replace Xabi Alonso at the hub of midfield and suffering with injuries to their leading lights that exposed a chronic lack of depth in the squad.

This thinness of resources made Benitez's insistence on rotation inexplicable to many, who felt Liverpool could only win consistently with their best eleven on the pitch - a suspicion perhaps confirmed by the club's dismal season.

"I have been a big fan of Benitez but I have told him that he makes too many changes," Hunt told the Sunday Times.

"There is nothing worse for a player than playing well and yet knowing that you are going to be subbed.

"Call me old-fashioned, but I believe you play your best team all the time: that is what Bill Shankly used to do.

He added: "it will be even harder now to get back into the top four, especially with teams such as Tottenham and Manchester City.

"It won’t be easy for Liverpool."