Sunday, June 27, 2010

Marseille Reveal Liverpool FC Approach For Manager Didier Deschamps

Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier has revealed Liverpool have approached him about the availability of manager Didier Deschamps.

The head of the Ligue 1 champions claims that Reds managing director Christian Purslow contacted him on Thursday to enquire over the prospect of taking the reins in the Anfield dugout.

Despite Fulham manager Roy Hodgson remaining the firm favourite to succeed Rafael Benitez, Dassier insists that Deschamps is the man that Liverpool really want but were turned away as the 41-year-old is not leaving the Stade Velodrome.

He said: "It's true, Liverpool's executive director, Christian Purslow, called me Thursday morning. He speaks French very well, is very polite.

"I was expecting his call because I had heard of Liverpool's interest in Didier. He asked me if I would allow him to meet Didier and (agent) Jean-Pierre Bernes.

"I replied that I would never forbid anyone from meeting whoever. I also kindly indicated to him that there wasn't the slightest chance for him to pinch our coach. Even in his dreams.

"With Didier, we have a trusting relationship. I hope he will commit himself to us for another year. I'm not worried.

"It's true also that Didier is flattered to see a great European club interested in him."

World Cup winner Deschamps is highly regarded as one of the best coaches on the continent and led Marseille to a French league and cup double in his first season in charge.

He has previously taken Monaco to the Champions League final in 2004 and Juventus to the Serie B title in 2007.

Benitez: The People Of Liverpool Are Fighters

Rafael Benitez has spoken for the first time about his departure from Liverpool on the day that bookies have shortened their odds on Fulham manager Roy Hodgson taking over from the Spaniard in the Anfield dugout.

Newly installed as coach of Inter Milan, Benitez described how the news of his pending exit was relayed to him while he was on holiday but made clear that he maintains utmost respect for the ‘amazing’ supporters of the Reds. Liverpool won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FA Cup during the six years Benitez was in charge on Merseyside in an era which also saw Steven Gerrard persuaded to commit his future to the club and the acquisition of the exceptional Fernando Torres.

A victim of an off-field power struggle which left the club struggling to match their rivals financially, Benitez left Liverpool after his worst season in charge at Anfield. The Reds finished in seventh place in the Premier League and suffered humiliatingly early exits from the FA Cup, League Cup and Champoins League before falling in the semi-final of the Europa League.

Speaking about his time on Anfield and his ambitions for the future, Benitez revealed:

"It was really sad [leaving]. I was on holidays so it was a surprise that everything was going on in this way, but at the end of the day it has to be like this because Christian Purslow now is in charge so he decided to do it in this way, and that's it.

"But you have to move forward. I always say to my family that we cannot complain too much and the people of Liverpool are fighters. When I came here I was fighting from the beginning until the end so now I have to do the same [with Inter]. I have to think about the future.

"Again, I will say that I was really pleased here and the fans were amazing but now I cannot stand up and just complain or thinking about the good memories. I have to move forward and do the best for my new club."

Liverpool FC's Faithful Daniel Agger Is An Equal On World Stage

WHEN there is so much negativity and misery hanging in the air, it is often easy to lose sight of the good things in life.

With the memory of the way Liverpool limped across the line last season still fresh and the club embroiled in a summer of upheaval, many supporters have a deep sense of foreboding about the forthcoming campaign.

But the close season provides a chance to take stock and, contrary to popular belief, it is worth remembering Rafa Benitez has not left behind a squad full of duds – you only have to count the number of Liverpool players at the World Cup to see that.

For starters, there are the Reds’ three English Lions Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson; Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina are with Spain and a brace of Argentineans, Maxi Rodriguez and Javier Mascherano.

Then you can throw into the equation Martin Skrtel (Slovakia), Dirk Kuyt (Holland), the soon-to-be-unveiled Milan Jovanovic (Serbia), Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Greece) and – last but by no means least – Daniel Agger.

Agger might have suffered crushing disappointment, when Denmark capitulated against Japan and tumbled out at the Group stages for the first time in their history, but his own form means he can fly back from South Africa with his head held high.

Mind you, similar sentiments applied when he trudged out of the KC Stadium on May 9 after Liverpool brought the curtain down on a season of woe with a dispiriting 0-0 draw at already relegated Hull City.

Though it is often said foreign players cannot fully appreciate the emotions felt by supporters, that theory does not really ring true; Liverpool’s recent history, after all, is littered with continentals who have a genuine feel for the club.

Torres and Reina, for example, are on the same wavelength as those who idolise them; similar sentiments applied to Xabi Alonso, Dietmar Hamann, Vladimir Smicer and Sami Hyppia.

Going further back, Agger’s compatriot Jan Molby, whose brogue is more Cantril Farm than Kolding, showed it was possible for a foreigner to become a local and Agger – in terms of his thoughts on the Reds – is cut from a similar cloth

Molby’s position as Liverpool’s greatest Dane, of course, remains safe for now but there is no doubt Agger has started to show in the last six months he can blossom into the Rolls Royce defender many hoped he would become.

Strong in the tackle, imperious on the ball, quick and blessed with the ability to read the game, Agger took his form to a different level in the final weeks of last season, making light of being asked to play as an auxiliary left-back.

Footballers notoriously do not like being moved from the position in which they feel most comfortable but Agger went without fuss, putting the needs of the club before his own – throughout April and May, he was a regular man of the match contender.

If that approach was impressive, so too were his words when he was asked to look into the future after he had played a starring role in Denmark’s 2-1 win over Cameroon in Pretoria last Saturday night.

“I have no thoughts about leaving Liverpool,” said Agger, when the subject of Benitez’s departure came around. “I have a four-year contract, I intend to stay and I want to stay, no matter who the manager is.

“Of course, I hope it’s a manager who believes in me. I will have to show what I can do, I know that. I like Liverpool as a club, I like Liverpool as a city and I have no reason to leave.

“And I think my team-mates feel the same way. Everybody knows that Liverpool is a big club, a great club. From the inside, I can tell you it’s a great club.”

Words can get lost in translation when players do interviews on foreign soil and some are aware they have a platform to speak their minds if they really want to, so for Agger to assume such a stance is significant.

It would be foolish to try and say things at Anfield are perfect but if others show the attitude Daniel Agger has displayed, the prospects of recovery will be all the greater.

Milan Jovanovic Will Prove His Passion By Signing Contract

It is doubtful there has ever been a transfer in Liverpool’s history that has rumbled on longer than Milan Jovanovic’s impending switch.

First spoken to in January, the Serbian striker has yet to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the three-year contract that is waiting for him at Anfield, meaning some fans are becoming anxious over whether he will actually turn up at all.

Stories linking him with Inter Milan earlier this week set alarm bells ringing but it is worth pointing out that both Liverpool and Jovanovic are committed to completing the transfer.

Jovanovic – who once scored a penalty for Standard Liege that knocked Everton out of the UEFA Cup – will be a handy addition to the squad.

Rafael Benítez Blames Christian Purslow For Liverpool Exit

Rafael Benítez has blamed Liverpool's managing director, Christian Purslow, for his departure from Anfield and the club's financial problems for last season's dramatic downturn on the pitch.

The former Liverpool manager accepted a severance payment worth up to £6m to leave Anfield this month, following a miserable campaign that yielded a seventh-place finish in the Premier League and saw the club drop out of the Champions League for the first time in six years.

Benítez endured a fraught relationship with Liverpool's co-owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, during his final years at Anfield and the pair tried to replace him as manager with Jürgen Klinsmann. However, the new Internazionale coach said the man responsible for his exit was Purslow, who joined Liverpool in June last year and is now overseeing the search for the Spaniard's successor as manager.

"It was really sad," Benítez said when discussing his departure in an interview with Radio City today. "I was on holiday so it was a surprise that everything was going on in this way, but at the end of the day it has to be like this because Christian Purslow is now in charge and he decided to do it in this way. That is it. It is really sad but you have to move forwards. I said to my family that we cannot stay talking too much or complain too much; we have to move forwards.

Roy Hodgson is expected to become the club's next manager once the terms of his departure from Fulham and contract at Anfield have been resolved, but Benítez said the problems of last season will not be eradicated simply by his exit. "It's strange. This year everything changed from the beginning," he said.

"People in the club changed and the approach to everything was different. Clearly it was a question in the beginning of controlling the money we could spend or not, and everything was different to the past. We were so close to winning the title the year before that everybody was expecting something more but we couldn't do it. We had some problems from the beginning with injuries and some performances, and there was a little bit of frustration. At the end the atmosphere was different and we can see now during the summer that the fans are not very happy."

Benítez kept open the possibility of a return to Merseyside, insisting he has no plans to sell his house in Wirral. He added: "I can guarantee one thing – I will not sell my house. It is our home and we will come back. I don't know when but we will come back for sure."

Birmingham Looking To Hijack Liverpool's Striker Deal

Birmingham have put Serbian striker Milan Jovanovic back on their radar after Rafa Benitez's exit from Liverpool.

Mirrorsport revealed on November 30 that Brum boss Alex McLeish was eying Serbian pair Jovanovic and Nikola Zigic to play together in the Premier League.

City finally got 6ft 8in Zigic, 29, earlier this month in a £6million deal from Spanish club Valencia.

And fellow Serbian World Cup star Jovanovic, 27, is set to leave his club Standard Liege this summer on a Bosman.

The forward was expected to go to Anfield on a free transfer to work under Benitez after talks in January.

But Jovanovic's future has been thrown into doubt following Benitez's move to Champions League winners Inter Milan.

And now Brum would like Jovanovic to come to St Andrews to link up with his compatriot Zigic.

Agent Barry McIntosh confirmed: "Birmingham wanted Jovanovic in January and I tried to make it happen but he wanted to run his contract down.

"Now a move to Birmingham is a possibility once more."

Brum are also interested in Tottenham forward Robbie Keane and Fulham's Bobby Zamora but he is expected to pen a new deal at Craven Cottage.

Torres And Spain March On

Fernando Torres can look forward to a World Cup last sixteen clash against Portugal next week after Spain sealed qualification from Group H with a 2-1 victory over Chile.

First half goals from David Villa and Andres Iniesta secured victory for Del Bosque's men, who have recovered from an opening match defeat to Switzerland to top the group ahead of Chile in second place.

Rodrigo Millar pulled a goal back for Chile in the first minute of the second half, but by that time they had been reduced to ten men after Marco Estrada was dismissed for a trip on Torres and despite pressing for an equaliser they were unable to find the goal which would have changed the dynamic of the group.

Torres was on the field for less than an hour before being replaced by Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and it remains to be seen whether or not it was an injury which forced his early withdrawal and whether he is a doubt for Spain's mouth-watering knock-out clash with Portugal next week.

Liverpool FC Fans To Hold July 4th Rally Against Tom Hicks & George Gillett

Hundreds of Liverpool FC fans are expected to attend a rally outside St George’s Hall in protest against the club’s American owners.

A line-up of politicians, ex-Reds footballers and musicians have been assembled to speak on July 4, an event billed as “Our Independence Day”.

And the day will signal the launch of a new supporter ownership scheme as part of a bid to wrestle control of Anfield back from reviled Liverpool bosses Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Credit unions are on the verge of being set up to help supporters raise the £500 necessary to buy a share in the club.

A week on Sunday, Karen Gill, Bill Shankly’s granddaughter, John Aldridge, new Walton MP Steve Rotheram will attend the rally with music from Ian McNabb from the Icicle Works and John Power from Cast and The La’s.

Fans group Spirit of Shankly have been in discussions with Share Liverpool who, in 2008, launched a proposal for 100,000 Reds fans to buy a share for £5,000 to raise the £500m necessary to purchase the club. Over the past 24 months, that figure has been reduced to make the idea more affordable to every day supporters.

It has been suggested for supporters to pool their financial resources together to raise enough cash for a share, or even pay by installments.

The credit union could be set up in the coming months to allow interested Reds to structure payments in installments to secure the money.

Exactly how much is needed before the supporters union could approach Hicks and Gillett with an offer of investment is still being finalized.

James McKenna, spokesperson for Spirit Of Shankly, said: "This day is our chance to truly have independence from the current American owners.

“On what is a symbolic day, we hope it will represent the future of Liverpool Football Club, all fans coming together to make supporter ownership a reality.

“Our plans for supporter ownership, using the credit union format, means it is accessible to everyone.

“We can be custodians of the football club we love, and there is no reason to suggest why we shouldn't be.

"Karen Gill, John Aldridge, and Steve Rotheram, like Spirit Of Shankly, have spoken out about the current ownership and the problems they have caused.

“Now is the time for change at this club, and we want to achieve that.

“We want all fans to come to the rally, hear what is said and make their own mind up."

Figures show Liverpool has £351m debts and huge uncertainty surrounds the transfer budget available to the Reds next manager in the pre-season following the departure of Rafa Benitez.

The Reds failure to qualify for the Champions League last season hit the club’s finances hard and the prospect for a new stadium in Stanley Park has stalled with no cause for optimism on the horizon.