Friday, September 03, 2010

Jamie Carragher Nearing Agreement For A New Contract At Liverpool

Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher has confirmed that he is close to signing a new contract with the club.

The defender had been in talks with the club over a new deal, but it had to be put on hold during the summer. Reds boss Roy Hodgson had later conceded that the defender's contract would become a matter of priority once the transfer window came to a close.
And with the window shut now, the 32-year-old believes that the two parties have made significant headway in recent discussions, as he is in the last year of his current contract with the club.

"I have spoken to the managing director, Christian Purslow, and we've had a good chat about the new contract," said Carragher, according to The Guardian.

"I'm sure it will happen.

"The most important thing was for the club to get the ins and outs sorted before the transfer deadline. That's done now so I'm sure we will have something sorted out in the next week or two."

He added: "I want to push on, I want to get in the top four and I want to win a trophy.

"Liverpool supporters haven't been to Wembley for a very long time because of the Cardiff situation a few years ago and I want to play at Wembley for Liverpool. I've never done that and that is one of my aims for this season. We don't want to be treading water, I certainly hope not."

Carragher made a surprise return to international football following his previously self-imposed retirement, but he insists that playing for the Three Lions during the European Championship qualifiers is not on the cards.

"No. England will be all right," he said. "I think [Phil] Jagielka is a great player, [Michael] Dawson has done great for Tottenham and [Matthew] Upson is back in the squad now.

"England knew the situation at the start. It was a one-off thing for me going back. They were in a bit of trouble and so they asked me. I liked the idea of working with [Fabio] Capello and to have another chance of playing in a World Cup. I honestly thought England had a chance of winning it – can you believe that!"

Meireles Backed For Success At Liverpool

Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz believes new Liverpool signing Raul Meireles will prove a success in the Premier League.

Liverpool moved to sign Meireles, 27, from Porto after Alberto Aquilani joined Juventus on loan and Javier Mascherano made his long-awaited switch to Barcelona, and Queiroz feels he could be the ideal replacement for the duo in central midfield.

"I think Raul Meireles is a fantastic player in the national team," he said on Liverpool's official website. "He's one of the pillars of the Portugal team. He's a great player and an excellent professional. He has all the conditions to be a success in English football at Liverpool.

"They have just signed the services of a player who stands out for his application, his professional dedication, his technical and footballing quality, and will be very successful for the Liverpool team.

"He's a box-to-box midfielder, he's hard-working, creative, is a good finisher, he's consistent, very solid, a great team player. He's a great person who is serious. He's a player who has a lot of capacity to communicate. He'll be a great reinforcement for the Liverpool team."

Roy Hodgson Reveals Inter Wanted Javier Mascherano More Than Dirk Kuyt

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has revealed Inter president Massimo Moratti was more interested in signing midfielder Javier Mascherano than winger Dirk Kuyt.

Mascherano eventually moved to Barcelona for approximately €21 million, and the former Fulham boss believes the Nerazzurri could make an offer for the Dutchman during the January transfer window.

"Moratti insisted more on trying to get Mascherano than Kuyt," Hodgson told Sky Sports. "What demonstrates this is the official offer that arrived from the Milan-based club for the Argentine.

"It was an offer that did not satisfy us or meet or valuation of the player.

"As for Kuyt, I hope that Inter do not come back and try to lure him away during the next transfer window," added the tactician.

Jamie Carragher Rules Liverpool Out Of Premier League Title Race

Jamie Carragher has revealed Liverpool stand no chance of lifting the Premier League title this season.

Carragher, 32, is about to celebrate his 14-year career with the club with a testimonial against Everton this weekend. During this time, he has yet to finish top of the domestic standings despite being crowned a Champions League, FA Cup, Uefa Cup and League Cup winner.

The Liverpool legend has admitted he doesn't expect new manager Roy Hodgson to be able to drag the squad from seventh to first place.

He said: "People have said 'You've done this and that for Liverpool' but we've not won a trophy for four years and that is annoying me a little bit.

"I certainly don't want to go on another couple of years not winning one before I finish at Liverpool.

"I don't see any reason why we can't win a trophy this season or the next couple.

"The one I haven't won is the league but I suppose that will be very difficult this season going from seventh last season.

"But I see no reason why we can't have a good go and have a trip to Wembley."

Steven Gerrard Pledges His Allegiance To Fabio Capello

It is Steven Gerrard's way to take responsibility. Maybe, sometimes, with that deep worry frown and his desire for the 'Hollywood pass' when on the pitch, he tries to accept too much.

On Thursday the England captain dealt, unequivocally, with two theories that have developed around Fabio Capello post-World Cup – that the manager is unable to communicate properly with the players and that he has lost the dressing room. For Gerrard, Capello is not, as he has been portrayed, a "weirdo" or a "jackass".

Turkeys do not vote for Christmas. And footballers do not, usually, accept blame. Their primary concern is their own performance – and after that the team's.

And neither was Gerrard going to pour out his innermost thoughts on the eve of England's crucial opening Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria.

But he is a plain dealer. "All the players believe in this manager and are right behind him," Gerrard said. "Everyone's desperate to put things right together."

But can he, amid the claims, strongly rejected, of disenchantment and dislike, truly say that?

"I don't know if everyone is totally 100 per cent behind him, of course, because I can't control what's going through every player's mind," the midfielder added. "But I've not seen anything that makes me think they're not.

"It seems as if there's a lot of blame going towards the manager. But it was the players who under-performed out there [at the World Cup].

"People talk about tactics and stuff, but there's only so much that a manager can do. The players have to deliver, and the players never delivered in Africa.

"Of course, everyone knows in football that the manager eventually gets the blame if things don't go well, but for me, we should get behind him now."

That starts against Bulgaria on Friday evening, at what will be a nervy Wembley, and, next Tuesday, away to Switzerland.

There is an appetite in some quarters for Capello's blood. Does it feel to the players that the manager's future may be decided by the next two games?

"I hope not," Gerrard said emphatically. "It has happened before but, hopefully, that won't be the case again. Hopefully we can get two good results and start slowly building.

"It'd be a knee-jerk reaction to sack a manager after one bad tournament, then think everything will be rosy when you start with a new guy and we'll go on and win the Euros.

"It's crazy to think it's as easy as that. I want him to stay. I have a lot of belief in him."

But can Gerrard understand – as the Football Association, somewhat oddly, has already publicly stated – that Capello's successor should be English, or at least British? "Not just yet," he said.

"It's important that Fabio is still given a chance. For me, he's a fantastic manager. Who out there that's an English manager has the CV that Fabio Capello has got?

"The communication is not a problem. He talks to the players individually, and the team, and the message does come across."

Certainly some of the attacks on Capello have not only been personal but vindictive.

He is, after all, not only probably the most decorated coach in European football but one whose methods and approach were being lauded by some of those same critics prior to South Africa.

A terrible tournament changes many things, of course, but perspective has been lost.

Nevertheless, has Capello been urged by the FA to soften his style, and be more approachable? Has he changed? "No, not at all," Gerrard said.

"The routines are quite similar. We've been through the mistakes we made out there and things we need to improve on."

Hasn't the criticism affected Capello? "It doesn't seem to me that it affects him," Gerrard added of the 64 year-old who has actually appeared more combative recently.

"He's got a lot of experience and he's handling it quite well. It's up to the players to ease the pressure and take the focus off him, and make us a better team, more successful."

And neither, he added, did any of those players play a part in deciding Capello's future after the World Cup. Gerrard, certainly, was not consulted.

"We shouldn't be contacted," he said. "It's got nothing to do with the players." Time will tell. "The only way we can recover is to improve results and try and qualify smoothly out of this group," Gerrard added.

"Then we've got to try and prove to people in the tournament, if we get there, that we can do a lot better than in South Africa. I'm 30 and there's still an opportunity for me to go out on a high with England."

Starlets Shine For England

Michael Ngoo scored on his debut and Jonjo Shelvey netted a sublime free-kick as the duo helped England U19s to a 2-0 friendly victory over Slovakia at Crewe Alexandra FC on Thursday night.

Shelvey captained the team and had a superb match in the centre of midfield and defender Andre Wisdom also made his debut for the U19s.

Former Southend United youngster Ngoo opened the scoring after 16 minutes with a clinical finish.

The Academy striker had an impressive outing and figured for the opening 62 minutes.

Shelvey added the second goal in the 73rd minute with a superbly curled home free-kick.

The former Charlton Athletic starlet then left the field three minutes later and fellow Red Wisdom proudly took over the skipper's armband.

Sangria Star Set To Return

Luis Garcia could be set for an emotional return to Anfield in Jamie Carragher's testimonial against Everton on Saturday.

Our former No.10 played a major role during our glorious Champions League win in 2005, and was a big favourite with the Kop.

The Spanish ace is set to join a whole host of former Reds who are set to feature in the game including another Istanbul hero Jerzy Dudek.

"Luis wants to be involved so hopefully he will be back at Anfield and I'm just waiting for a call," Carragher told

"It would be great to see him again. He played an important part in our success in 2005 and he never really got the chance to say goodbye because he was injured and then he left the club.

"It would be great for Luis as well to get a welcome back from our crowd.

"It will be also be nice to see Jerzy back in goal. Michael Owen will be up front with Emile Heskey, Danny Murphy will be back in central midfield. We'll also have Steve Finnan and Stephen Warnock playing so we've got a few familiar faces."