Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kenny Dalglish Puts Himself In Contention For Remarkable Liverpool Return

Kenny Dalglish has appeared to pave the way for a sensational return to the manager’s job at Liverpool after informing the Anfield board of directors that he wishes to step down from the selection panel.

The club had issued a statement that Dalglish would lead the search for a successor to Rafael Benítez alongside managing director Christian Purslow but the Scot was thought to be so unimpressed with the shortlist that he decided he would make a better candidate himself.

The 59 year-old’s passion for Liverpool runs deep, having won eight league titles with the club before his departure in 1991, and he is apparently convinced he is the man to recover their fortunes after a tumultuous season in which they could finish only seventh.

Although Dalglish has emerged with remarkable speed as the man to replace Benítez, Liverpool are understood still to be seeking permission from Fulham to meet their manager Roy Hodgson by the end of the week.

Hodgson had been viewed as the favourite to succeed Benítez and the 62 year-old has not concealed his desire to take on one last high-profile job, whether as manager of England or at one of the Premier League’s leading clubs.

Liverpool were riven by in-fighting last season and the hierarchy are desperate to put an end to the tensions by appointing an experienced figure who would win over the club’s disenchanted supporters. Fans were incensed yesterday after learning that season-ticket prices would rise by seven per cent for next season.

Inter Plan Liverpool Right-Back Glen Johnson Signing

Inter Milan are interested in signing Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson, according to Calciomercato.

New Inter coach Rafael Benitez is already looking for ways to strengthen his recently-inherited side and he has been linked with a move for several of his former Liverpool players.

Johnson, signed from Portsmouth last summer, was a regular first-team member at Anfield under Benitez, making 35 appearances in his first season with the Reds.

The England international's arrival at the Giuseppe Meazza would prepare the way for the departure of Maicon, who has been strongly linked to Real Madrid.

Reports in Italy indicate that Johnson would cost Inter a fee of €15 million, a figure which would not pose a problem for the treble-winning side as they hope to sell Maicon for almost twice as much.

Harry Redknapp: I’ve Got No Intention Of Leaving Tottenham For Liverpool FC

Harry Redknapp has distanced himself from speculation linking him with the vacant Liverpool job and backed Kenny Dalglish to take over at Anfield.

Former Reds striker Robbie Fowler is among those who have hailed the Tottenham manager as the perfect replacement for Rafa Benitez at Anfield.

Redknapp has transformed Spurs from relegation candidates to Champions League qualifiers in the space of 18 months.

However, the 63-year-old insists he has no intention of leaving White Hart Lane for Merseyside and wants to sign a new contract to extend his stay in the capital.

“I am not being presumptuous turning down Liverpool, because I haven’t been offered the job and haven’t spoken to anyone about it,” he said.

“There is no need, as I have one year left on my contract at Tottenham and I am not thinking about anything other than being at White Hart Lane next season.

“I can tell you that I have not been offered a new contract, but that doesn’t mean I am looking to move on – far from it.

“I am loyal to Spurs, I want to stay at Spurs and I have a contract with Spurs, and I’d be happy to sign a new contract at Spurs if I was offered one, but in any case I have one year on my contract.”

Redknapp believes Dalglish, who is leading the search for Benitez’s successor, is the ideal candidate to take over as manager.

He added: “Why not give it to Kenny Dalglish? I am sure he would want it, and why not?

“He is Liverpool through and through. He would be a good man for the job.

“He has experience, he knows exactly what is needed at Liverpool and the players would love it, especially someone like Steven Gerrard who would, I am sure, respond to the appointment of Dalglish as manager there.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool legend Ian St John has called on the board to appoint a British manager. He wants the Reds to look closer to home after six-year spells for Gerard Houllier and Benitez.

St John said: “Personally I hope we get a British manager. We’ve had over 10 years of foreign managers. Take away the night in Istanbul and the whole club seems to have changed.”

St John has backed the club’s decision to end Benitez’s reign.

“Rafa can’t really complain – he had six years and spent a lot of money,” St John adds. “At the end of the six years he didn’t have a squad strong enough to win the Premier League or to finish in the top four.

“The way the team had been playing in the last couple of seasons I just felt we had hit the buffers. The football that we always went to Anfield to watch was mundane.”

Former Liverpool FC Manager Rafael Benitez Agrees To Join Inter

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has confirmed Rafael Benitez has agreed a deal to become the club’s new coach.

Moratti revealed negotiations with Benitez had not taken place in person and said the Spaniard was due to arrive in Milan this week ahead of finalizing his move to the European champions.

The Inter president revealed an announcement has been made on Wednesday to confirm when Benitez would be unveiled as Jose Mourinho’s successor at the San Siro.

“We have agreed the final details, which were not important things,” Moratti said.

“All that is needed now is a counter-signature.

“On Thursday we will tell you when he will be presented.”

Benitez has been in talks with the European champions since his six-year spell as Liverpool manager was ended by mutual consent last week.

Moratti revealed on Monday that a deal with the 50-year-old had been “more or less done” and had been confident the details would be finalized today.

Reports in Italy had suggested Benitez, who had four years remaining on his contract at Anfield, would sign a three-year deal worth five million euros per season, but Moratti dismissed those claims as “off track” in terms of “duration and the amount”.

Gerrard: This World Cup Could Be My Last

England and their fans are preparing for their first match of the 2010 World Cup, against the USA on Saturday, but already their talisman Steven Gerrard is thinking about life after South Africa.

Gerrard, now captain as a result of Rio Ferdinand’s knee injury and John Terry’s previous indiscretions, admits it frequently crosses his mind that this could be his last World Cup.

“I’m no spring chicken,” muses Gerrard, 30, speaking exclusively in the new issue of FourFourTwo - out now. “I have to think that this could be my last World Cup and give it everything I’ve got.”

If this wasn’t enough pressure, the Liverpool captain hasn’t failed to notice that expectations for England to do well are high. What’s more, he has set high expectations himself.

“The way we’ve been playing, we need to be reaching the last four,” he claims.

“When you get to the knockout stages,” he continues, “it’s small details that decide the outcome. In 2006, a set-piece by David Beckham got us through and in the quarter-final we went out on penalties. If we get to that stage this year it’s all about having that extra bit of determination to get the small details right.”

These are brave words from a man who missed a penalty in the last World Cup, as England crashed out in the quarter-finals.

“I’ve learnt from my miss against Portugal in the last World Cup,” Gerrard insists. “Hopefully if we’re faced with penalties again we’ll be more successful.”

At least the temperature won’t be a problem. There are been questions over England’s aptitude at high altitude, especially after several players admitted to breathing difficulties in the 3-0 win over Platinum Stars in their final warm-up game.

But heat is less of an issue, and Gerrard is looking forward to the first winter World Cup since 1978, adding it “can only help England’s chances."

“I’ve played when the temperatures have been hot and it is difficult. You can feel a bit leggy and this around we won’t have that problem.”

Martin Skrtel Keen To Impress Next Liverpool Manager

Liverpool and Slovakia defender Martin Skrtel has expressed his regret at seeing Rafael Benitez leave his position as manager at the club and believes he will have to train hard to convince the next manager of his qualities.

Skrtel, who has made 28 appearances for Slovakia since his debut in 2004, has also calmed any worries pertaining to his newest injury, one sustained in a friendly at the weekend.

"Rafa was the one who had confidence in me and he was also the one who took me to Liverpool so I can only thank him and wish him all the best no matter where he goes," Skrtel told the club's official website.

"I will train hard to show my new coach my qualities.

"I want to make sure that I will be a stable member of Liverpool next term."

Skrtel spoke of the injury he picked up against Costa Rica in a friendly on Saturday, one he believes will see him miss just a few days of training.

"It is just a sprained ankle," he added.

"I guess I can be back to full training in three or four days.

"It is not a serious injury."

Skrtel made 29 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions before breaking his metatarsal in a Europa League game against Unirea in late-February.

Current Regime Puts Fans At Odds With Club

Outside of human tragedy, is it at any other time than sporting triumph when the opinions of a team’s supporters, players and commentators collect as one in hearts and minds?

The sheer audacity of facing down such overwhelming odds was set against potential glory in Istanbul – as triumph revealed the greatest ever spectacle in European club football. And Benitez’s connection with LFC and that historical night is immortalized.

Yet those who cannot detach themselves emotionally from the past, I suspect, are the same people at odds with the decision to cut ties with a leader who has lost his way (without Ayesteran, in my opinion). Those who can take a step back have a different perspective.

I’m guessing if our disillusioned captain couldn’t be persuaded to spurn the advances of Real Madrid and (once again) Mourinho, then certain others would follow. The money recouped would be used to service the club’s debts prior to its sale. And for how long LFC would kick about in football’s second tier is something nobody wants to consider...

No tragedy Benitez’s going. What awaited if he had stayed?

Frederick Doyle, Garston

Just like many in Liverpool I am outraged at the way Liverpool FC, one of the greatest football institutions, is being run.

The recent unfair ‘mutual sacking’ of Rafa has proved a step too far. We don’t dismiss managers after one bad season. We are different.

Similarly we are very worried about the future of the club – we have no new stadium, we are in a mountain of debt, our chairman supports our rivals, the asking price is too high, and we are sick of being kept in the dark.

The time for sitting back and being raped is over. We want Broughton, Purslow, Hicks and Gillett out ASAP and we will not stop, we will fight until the end starting with the planned ‘LFC Independence Day’.

The media should not underestimate the anger, contempt and passion of Liverpool supporters. We would appreciate it if you could in some way show the hatred we feel towards the owners/board room and publicise the upcoming protest. Or simply reassure Liverpool fans that you yourselves are committed to keeping alive a football institution that is dying a slow and painful death, because at the end of it all, it is fans like us that keep you in a job.

Lots of people are talking about Ottmar Hitzfeld as a possible replacement for Rafa Benitez.

He has all the qualities for the Liverpool job – he has won so many league titles, the Champions League twice, UEFA Cup, he’s with Switzerland at the moment at the World Cup, and would be available after it.

He’s a winner, and what Liverpool needs.

Niall, via email

If Alan Hansen’s right and Benitez has left the playing staff in it’s worst state for 50 years, could he also tell us why the club isn’t facing another two seasons of second division football?

Club propaganda is one thing but outright lies serve no useful purpose and have played a bigger part in bringing Liverpool FC to its knees than any player or manager.

Alan Hansen should look after his reputation and stay a million miles away from any justification of the current regime.

Peter Furmedge, Liverpool 9

Removing Rafa in the manner they did speaks volumes about how unprofessional LFC has become.

Waiting for him to go on holiday with his family before plotting his sacking was cheap, shabby and cowardly. The fact that Broughton was a major player in all of this AND he’s touting Fernando Torres to his beloved Chelsea suggests his brief to sell LFC is a smokescreen for an entirely different agenda.

I no longer recognize this 'LFC' and consequently will not put a single penny into this club until the Owners, Broughton and the Board have removed themselves from the club. No doubt any number of those who are singing the Board's praises for sacking Rafa can take my place - after all, I only used to travel to all the European home and away games, as well as domestic cup and home League games. Incidentally, I used to sing and chant loudly, so, if maybe 2 of you could take my place? Thanks!

Rob Whittaker, L7

Liverpool FC Season Ticket Prices To Go Up 7%

Liverpool FC fans were last night contemplating a 7% rise in season ticket prices at Anfield.

The club announced the complete price list which sees Kop tickets pushed up to £680 and Anfield Road, Centenary and Main Stands peaking at £722 or £732.

Those prices are available to Liverpool supporters who renew their season tickets online.

Fans who instead choose to pay by post, phone or visiting the ticket office will have to pay a further £52.

Last night, Liverpool FC told the Daily Post that inflation, currently at 3.7%, and the restored VAT was responsible for the 7% rise.

Some fans suggested people unable to go online might be penalized by the new system.

An Anfield spokesman said: “We are sympathetic to people who have not got internet access, but the majority of people do have the facility either at home or at work.”

Speculation has spread in recent weeks about the price of the season tickets, with some fans last week wrongly suggesting prices would go up to £790.

The release of renewal prices came eight days later than last year, but Anfield bosses were forced to put confirmation of season ticket costs on hold due to Rafa Benitez’s departure from the club last week.

Officially, season tickets will be available after the stated date of June 25, but Liverpool said there was no guarantee a customer’s regular seat will be available after that, or a season ticket will be available at all.

The spokesman said: “When you look at these prices, they compare with those of most other Premier League clubs.

“As for booking online, like airlines or train companies, buying over the internet is a modern, progressive way of doing things.

“People have a couple of weeks to come back to us, a similar timescale to last year.”

Ticket prices for people over 65 are significantly lower and they will not have to pay extra if they do not renew online.

Last night, Liverpool fans were also keen for clarification about how away tickets for Premier League games would be allocated.

Currently, credit is accumulated by supporters who regularly attended away matches in the previous season, giving them first refusal for away tickets for the forthcoming campaign.

Richie Pedder, chairman of Liverpool FC Supporters Club, said: “These rises are a bit over-the-top, particularly in this economic climate. I would have thought they would stay at the same level.

“Fans will make their own decisions based on lots of factors. Many were fed up with the way the team was playing last season.”

Success At Liverpool Would See New Manager Treated As A 'God'

Former Liverpool defender Mark Wright claims it is a very exciting time for any manager to come in and take over at the club following the recent departure of Rafael Benitez - who has become Inter Milan coach on Wednesday.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is reported as being the bookies' favourite to take over at Anfield with friend Kenny Dalglish having been put in charge of finding Benitez’s successor.

While Wright believes the new manager will have landed a very fortunate and attractive position, he sees the new manager as needing a lot of quality to unite a group of players and bring a failing club forwards.

"Managing Liverpool is still one of the biggest jobs in world football and it's a great time to come in," Wright told Liverpool's official club website.

"They haven't won the league for a long time and they've just finished seventh, not won anything and haven't had a good time.

"The person who comes in and turns that around will be a God.

"Is this one of the biggest and best jobs in football? Of course it is.

"We have got one of if not the best bunch of supporters that you could ever have, and they deserve more than what they've been getting at this moment in time.

"For everyone's sake I hope it's a quick process rather than a slow one.

"The new manager will need a lot of quality.

"It needs a very good man manager to unite that group of players they have.

"I think it is very important to get everything right behind the scenes now like it was with the old boot room. Manager's can come and go but the unity and everything that goes behind the club is constant."

Wright made 158 league appearances for Liverpool in the centre of defence during the 1990s.