Sunday, July 04, 2010

"Turkish delight" Favours Liverpool Switch Over Spurs

Galatasaray winger Arda Turan has revealed that his priority this summer is to move to Liverpool. The Reds announced that Turan is eager to join the new era at Anfield, while Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger are also monitoring developments.

Turan has been consistently linked with a move to the Premier League with Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham the reported chasing pack. The 23-year-old admitted in January that it was his ‘dream’ to play for Liverpool issuing a come-and-get-me plea to the Kop. However, the rumours over the Spaniard’s future had cast doubts over whether the Merseyside club would make a move for the Turkish international. However Turkish reports this morning suggest that Liverpool and newly installed manager Roy Hodgson are the front-runners for the player’s signature, while concerns over the futures of Steven Gerrard, Javier Maschernao, Fernando Torres, and Yossi Benayoun continue to manifest. Spurs and Arsenal are considered to be monitoring the situation, although the Gunners are rank outsiders for the Turkish international with Spurs and Harry Redknapp considered the main challenge to Hodgson landing Turan.

Reports last month suggested that Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was ready to offer Mexican midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos plus an undisclosed sum for Arda Turan; a deal which the Turkish giants were planning to reject. Meanwhile Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is dealing with the Cesc Fabregas situation while making strengthening his leaky defensive a priority. Turan has been consistent and vocal in his ambition to play for Liverpool, stating on several occasions in the Turkish media that if he left Gala his ideal destination would be Liverpool.

Yossi Benayoun Excited To Begin New Premier League Season With Chelsea

Flying winger Yossi Benayoun admits he is eagerly anticipating the start of the new Premier League campaign after sealing a move to champions Chelsea.

The 30-year-old signed from Liverpool on Friday and is Carlo Ancelotti's first acquisition this summer.

The Israeli international will link up with his new team-mates on Monday when pre-season training gets underway and he admits he can't wait.

"Everything looks lovely. It is a great training ground and you can see it is one of the best clubs in the world from the way the people here treat you," he told Chelsea's official website.

"I met a few of the staff and the players I know a little bit from playing. It is a good challenge for me and I am ready for it.

"There are a lot of good players, big players. For me it is the beginning and I have to work hard and prove I can bring something to this club.

"The only thing I can promise is I will work hard and do my best, and hopefully it will be good enough."

Benayoun's last appearance for Liverpool at Anfield was against Chelsea in May where the Blues won 2-0, something which lingers in his memory.

"The last home game I knew it would be my last for Liverpool," Benayoun added.

"I tried to do my best but Chelsea were strong. All the years here in England, five years, Chelsea were always a difficult side to play against with big players and that's why they are always there at the top, fighting for trophies - that's why I am glad to be a part of it now."

The Israeli conceded that there were many offers for him on the table to consider, but his choice was straightforward and he is happy to have signed a three-year deal at Stamford Bridge.

"I had offers from a few teams, but when Chelsea came in for me it was the obvious and only thing to think about, and I am glad it came out in the end," he added.

"I leave a great club at Liverpool and I had a great time there, so I am very grateful for them also."

Carragher Confident For Next Season

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher is confident star players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will still be at the club next season.

The pair have both been the subject of speculation this summer following the Reds' failure to qualify for the Champions League and the departure of manager Rafael Benitez.

Some observers believe retaining their services is one of the first tasks facing new boss Roy Hodgson but Carragher expects them to stay at Anfield.

The 32-year-old told talkSPORT: "I think there is a lot of talk about this but the people who say these things, a lot of them are doing this to create a bit of pressure around the club. I don't think anyone knows these people personally to come out and say that.

"I am sure they will still be involved at the club next season and if they are the aim for the club will be to get back into the Champions League. We didn't just miss out, we finished seventh. That is a big disappointment.

"If we could get back in there that would be a great achievement for the club and the manager. It is going to be a tough season but if we keep the players we have got and get back to where we were a few years ago I am sure we will give everyone a run for their money."

Carragher is looking forward to working with veteran boss Hodgson, who led Fulham to the Europa League final last season. "I think it is a great appointment by the club," he said. "I am sure we can move on from this and it will go well."

Roma Striker Stefano Okaka Will Not Reunite With Roy Hodgson At Liverpool

Roma striker Stefano Okaka is not set to make the surprise switch and follow Roy Hodgson from Fulham to Liverpool, according to his agent.

Okaka, 20, scored two goals for the Cottagers last season after joining the club on loan in the New Year. His former manager was announced as Liverpool boss and had been linked with taking the player with him to Anfield.

Speaking to, agent Domenico Scopelliti stated any reports of such a move were wide of the mark.

"Interest from Hodgson at Liverpool? If only it were true," Scopelliti said.

"Currently there are only just rumours, and I have not heard anything from an English club. Certainly we couldn't say no to Liverpool, and the boy would be enthusiastic to continue his adventure in England with Hodgson.

"There is also a friend there in [Alberto] Aquilani.

"Bologna? I believe that the negotiations should not be made in the newspapers.

"I have not been contacted by anyone, and I think Roma have not heard from anyone from Bologna, because they would have told me."

Barcelona Jump Ahead Of Inter In Race To Sign Liverpool's Javier Mascherano

Barcelona are in pole position to sign Liverpool hard-man Javier Mascherano, according to a number of sources in Italy, as Inter look set to lose out.

In the last few hours, Barcelona has stepped up their chase after the departure of Yaya Toure to Manchester City. Coach Pep Guardiola is keenly interested in the Argentina captain as the replacement for the Ivory Coast midfielder, according to Italia.

Inter were originally thought to be the favourites to land Mascherano as coach Rafael Benitez wanted to bring in one of his former players from Liverpool, but the Blaugrana are reportedly more ambitious to secure his signature under new president Sandro Rosell.

The Reds are likely to sell at least one of their stars after failing to qualify for the Champions League after a disappointing season.

Hodgson Thanks Fans

Roy Hodgson today thanked Liverpool supporters for their messages of support as he stepped-up his pre-season work on only his second day at Melwood.

The new boss was at Melwood on Thursday morning to greet the returning players for their first day back. After overseeing training Hodgson then travelled to Anfield for a photocall and to meet the world's media.

He then held a series of meetings with club captain Steven Gerrard, vice-captain Jamie Carragher and technical staff including Sammy Lee and Kenny Dalglish.

Yesterday he met with medical and fitness staff before overseeing training again at Melwood.

He told "I have had a terrific welcome from supporters and staff. I always knew Liverpool fans were special and the reception I have received from them has been superb. I would like to place on record my thanks to them."

Roy Hodgson Makes An Excellent First Impression As New Liverpool Manager

First impressions last. It might be one of life’s oldest, most-used maxims but, time and again, it rings so true.

Take the foyer of Liverpool’s state-of-the-art training facility at Melwood. Ask anyone who has stepped through the doors for the first time in the past 12 months what their abiding memory is. Invariably the answer will be the same.

Upon setting foot on the welcome mat, your eye is instantly drawn to a gleaming silver trophy, standing tall and proud in a glass cabinet with lights strategically placed to maximise the impact – it is, of course, the European Cup.

If that is not enough, you then find yourself looking at one of Bill Shankly’s most famous quotes; painted carefully on the wall in deep, red paint are words that reverberate again and again.

“Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory,” it reads. “Who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say “We are Liverpool.”

Even for a man with almost 35 years experience as a football manager, it struck a chord with Roy Hodgson and stopped him in his tracks; the sentiment behind the message won’t have been lost on him.

It is quite possible to argue, after all, that his is the most significant managerial appointment since TV Williams whisked Shankly in from Huddersfield in 1959, as Liverpool, undoubtedly, stand at a crossroads.

A section of supporters are wondering whether he is the right man to guide the club through these troubled times; though the job he had done at Fulham was commendable, the task he faces here is something completely different.

Debt, finances, investment and internal politics dominate this particular landscape and Liverpool, unfortunately, have become more synonymous with controversy in recent months than anything else

The doubters – sceptical about the process behind his appointment, disillusioned by Rafa Benitez’s departure and bewildered that Kenny Dalglish was not considered for the manager’s role – will have been looking for early signs of weakness.

And nothing, of course, can expose flaws like being interrogated under the glare of spotlights by a curious media, with cameras flashing and questions pouring in; even the slightest slip is seized upon.

Hodgson, however, never put a foot out of place; he spoke with humility and dignity yet exuded an authority to match his clear ambition; aside from that he was realistic without ever sounding defeatist.

Here, clearly, was an intelligent, experienced man, totally at ease with the complicated situation which he had been thrust in to; a man who will provide a steadying influence just when it is needed.

That is unlikely to placate those who yearn for Benitez to still be at the helm, as recollections of those incredible European nights, the miracle of Istanbul and the drama of Cardiff continue to burn bright in the memory.

Those adventures, coupled with his empathy for supporters and the affinity he has for the city, ensures his place in Liverpool’s history will never be forgotten; don’t think be fooled into thinking his six-year reign was full of failure.

It wasn’t. Aside from making Champions League football the norm and masterminding two of the greatest cup victories in the club’s history, he also brought a number of outstanding players to Anfield.

But he is now in charge of Inter Milan and the time has come to move on; Liverpool are not a club like Newcastle, where the fate of managers can be determined before a ball has been kicked, and Hodgson deserves patience and support.

Expectations for what he can hope to achieve in his first season might be different to those of previous incumbents – that a title-challenge is not being considered by the masses shows how things have slipped – but don’t think he will settle for mediocrity.

The first impression Hodgson made on Thursday, you see, was that he won’t stand any messing nor will he rest easy just because he has landed “the biggest job in club football” – if he gets help, support and unity, there might be hope for Liverpool yet.

Liverpool FC Borrowed Too Much Cash, Says Boss Of RBS

Liverpool FC’s American owners borrowed “too much” money when they bought the club, the boss of the bank which loaned them the cash has said.

The bulk of the Reds’ £237m is owed to the government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Tom Hicks and George Gillett bought Liverpool from majority shareholder David Moores in 2007 for £219m.

But they incorporated their borrowings into the club’s debt and the interest costs have seen the original figure soar.

RBS and another lender, Wachovia, were originally expecting £100m to be repayed this summer.

But in the spring, they allowed Mr. Hicks and Mr. Gillett another six months to find a buyer for the club and repay the debt.

In an exclusive interview with the ECHO today, RBS chief executive Stephen Hester said before the credit crunch too many businesses, including Liverpool FC, took on too much debt.

He said: “With hindsight, I think there are some businesses which borrowed too much money and Liverpool FC was one of them.”

His comments came less than 24 hours after Anfield chairman Martin Broughton admitted there had so far been no offers for the club.

But he added: “There are a number of interested parties. There is no specific deadline. We are looking to the middle of July-ish for a first round of bids.

“The process is well underway. I have been brought in to oversee the sale process.

“The two owners have stepped aside. Barclays Capital is running the process.”

Mr. Hester was speaking after addressing members of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast event at the city’s Hope Street Hotel.

Recently he found himself on the receiving end of an email campaign by Reds’ fans urging him to reconsider the financing deal with the club.

He added: “It is very clear Liverpool FC has a huge resonance with many people.

“We understand that and we try to be extra-sensitive in the way we behave.

“I think like any business we have to be sensitive to the context in which we are doing business.

“That is why we have been exceptionally understanding when working with this issue.

“It seems to me that it is in everyone’s interest to have an early resolution.

“Everyone involved is working hard to try to get that but it has to be the right resolution.

“I think obviously the club needs to have stability for the future and that is not just a question of ownership.

“It is not just about who owns the club, but also about what their plans are.

“We have not starved Liverpool of money and we have been working closely with the owners.

“But I think all football clubs in the UK would say borrowing in the future is likely to be lower than it has been in the past.”

Spirit of Shankly Liverpool FC Independence Rally Set For St George’s Hall

It was on the steps of St George’s Hall where Bill Shankly made one of his most famous speeches.

As a reported half a million Liverpool supporters gathered, the legendary Reds boss boldly stated: “Chairman Mao has never seen the greatest show of red strength.”

The famous city landmark would again play host to similar scenes when the triumphant Champions League winning team returned from Istanbul in 2005.

What was so striking about the turn out back in 1971, however, was that Liverpool had actually lost in the FA Cup final the day before.

Arsenal’s Charlie George had broken Scouse hearts but that wasn’t going to deter the masses from giving Shankly and his team a heroes’ welcome home.

Together with Shankly’s defiance in defeat that day, it was at St George’s Hall where one of the most iconic images of the legendary manager was snapped; Shankly stood with his arms outstretched as the crowd went wild beneath him.

The bond between Shankly and the fans is why Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly take their name from the great Scot.

And all of this is why they have chosen St George’s Hall as the venue for a rally tomorrow.

The ‘Independence Rally’ gets underway at noon on St George’s Hall plateau and is an open forum for Reds supporters to voice their concerns about how Liverpool Football Club’s ownership under American Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The line-up for the rally includes addresses by Shankly’s granddaughter and Spirit of Shankly patron Karen Gill; Liverpool legend and Share Liverpool board member John Aldridge; MP for Walton and former Lord Mayor of Liverpool Steve Rotheram; actor and star of One Night in Istanbul Neil Fitzmaurice comedian John Bishop; plus Spirit Of Shankly representatives who will issue a ‘Declaration of Independence.’

There will also be live music from Ian McNabb (Icicle Works), John Power (Cast and The La’s), Peter Hooton (The Farm), John O’Connell (Groundpig), Pete Wylie (The Wah!) and the Sons of Anfield.

A Spirit of Shankly statement read: “The rally is an opportunity to get together and talk about plans for our independence from the American ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

“As fans grow increasingly angry at their lies and false promises, and the club continues to lurch along, we will be talking about how we plan to ensure the club’s future.

“The day is for everyone, of all generations, to come together and hear how we can protect our club and its future.

“This event is for everyone who cares about Liverpool FC, our current predicament and our future to make sure the current situation is resolved and never happens again.”

Also on the agenda will be plans for supporter ownership and a credit union that will allow all members and fans, a protected, affordable way of saving and safe-guarding their money, which can then be used to buy a share in any future takeover/share purchase plan at the club.

Added the statement: “We are continuing discussions with Share Liverpool about how the two organisations can work together to truly ensure a united voice, speaking out on behalf of Liverpool supporters.

“This is our club. This is our chance to make our feelings known. This is our Independence Day. Make yourself heard and be there. Help save and protect our heritage, our history, our traditions and most of all, our football club.”