Saturday, September 18, 2010

Joe Cole: Steven Gerrard Deserves To Win The Premier League

Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole believes Reds captain Steven Gerrard deserves to add 'Premier League champion' to his list of achievements at Anfield.

The former Chelsea player joined the Reds this summer on a free transfer after constant speculation linking him with moves to Arsenal and Tottenham.

The 28-year-old, who scored his first goal for the Reds during a 4-1 win against Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League this week, believes that Gerrard excels in his role for Liverpool.

"He's a tremendous player. I've known Steven since I was 17 or 18 and I obviously trained and played with him for England for 10 years so I know what he's all about, but when you see him in a Liverpool shirt he's even better,” Cole told talkSPORT.

"He's a fantastic player and if he plays well the team plays well and it's up to me now to assist him and try and help the club move on. A player like him deserves to win the Championship, I know that's what he wants over the next four to five years at the club.”

Liverpool go head to head with rivals Manchester United on Sunday, and Cole is expected to return to the side at Old Trafford after serving a three match ban after his sending off against Arsenal.

"All the lads here have got belief in what the manager wants us to do and the new signings have looked good. It's a re-build for us but we're doing alright, and we just need to keep improving slowly and gradually."

Lucas Bouyed By Cole's Return

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is looking forward to Joe Cole's return to domestic action just in time for one of the biggest matches of the season.

Cole has been suspended for the last three Barclays Premier League matches after his red card in the season-opening fixture against Arsenal.

However, the free-transfer summer signing from Chelsea will be thrust back into the team for the short trip to Manchester United on Sunday.

The 28-year-old warmed up for the occasion by scoring Liverpool's fastest European goal - after just 25 seconds - in Thursday night's 4-1 Europa League victory over Steaua Bucharest.

His reintroduction to the side will bring some much-needed creativity and is welcomed by Lucas, even if it means he will have to settle for a place on the bench.

"Having Joe back from suspension is a big advantage for us," said the Brazil international, who scored his best goal for the club with a 25-yard drive against the Romanians.

"He adds a lot of quality to the team and hopefully he can make the difference.

"We know it will be a more difficult game than Thursday when we go to Old Trafford, but we will go with confidence and try to win the game.

"After drawing our last game against Birmingham, we want to win this game.

"It won't be easy because it's a derby but hopefully we can do well."

Striker David Ngog will drop back down to the bench as the rested Fernando Torres returns but he does so with his confidence boosted after two goals against Steaua.

He now has six for the season, and five in as many Europa League matches.

"It is always nice for a striker to score and I was happy to get a couple and help the team," he said.

"It was a good performance and we are pleased to have got off to a good start in this group.

"We know United will be a tough game because they are strong at home but we can get a good result."

David Trezeguet Reveals Liverpool Wanted To Sign Him In The Summer

Hercules striker David Trezeguet has revealed that he snubbed an offer from Premier League outfit Liverpool in the summer to join the newly promoted Spanish Primera Division side instead.

The former World Cup winner joined Hercules on a free transfer after mutually terminating his contract with Juventus. The 32-year-old stated that he could have stayed in Italy or moved to the Premier League.

"Lazio and Liverpool were interested," Trezeguet told L'Equipe. "But things went on.

"The English club waited to sort out the transfer of [Javier] Mascherano before starting anything else.

"Anyway, after 10 years in Turin, above all I needed to find sun and sea again. And the fact that my wife is from the region also played a part in my decision."

Sir Alex Ferguson Denies Having Tried To Sign Joe Cole

Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted he had no interest in signing Joe Cole over the summer.

The England international left Chelsea in June after failing to negotiate a new contract with the Premier League champions. A host of clubs, including Manchester United, were linked with Cole, but the midfielder eventually decided to join Liverpool.

Yet Ferguson has revealed he was never in the hunt for the 28-year-old’s signature, despite reports.

"We were approached by Joe Cole's agent at one point but we didn't enter into it at all," Ferguson told reporters.

"It was complicated to get involved in that."

Ferguson has also shed light on his recent decision to remove the captain’s armband from Gary Neville and permanently hand the responsibility over to centre-back Nemanja Vidic.

"As I explained last week, what we wanted was someone who was consistently available for us," Ferguson told MUTV.

"Everyone recognizes Nemanja Vidic would always be there. He has been fit all season and you don't leave him out of the team unless you are going to rest him.

"He started the campaign as captain and it will stay that way."

Despite the two rival clubs harbouring different ambitions this season, the United manager is adamant Sunday’s encounter with Liverpool is still one of the Premier League’s showcase games.

"I sound like a parrot but this is the fixture. There is no question about that," said Ferguson.

"It doesn't change. The form fluctuates quite a bit but we won the last game so hopefully that turns it back towards us again."

Stopper Joins Rovers

Peter Gulacsi has taken a short journey across the Mersey to join Tranmere Rovers on an emergency loan.

The Hungarian stopper spent a successful loan spell with the Wirral club last season and played a major part in helping Les Parry's side regain their League One status.

Gulacsi joins on an emergency loan because Tranmere's two experienced 'keepers Gunnar Nielsen and Simon Miotto are both injured.

The reserve team stopper is expected to start in tomorrow's Prenton Park meeting with Charlton Athletic.

His emergency loan is due to expire on October 18.

Parry said: "Peter did really well for us last season so I'm pleased to be able to bring him back to the club.

"Peter showed his qualities in the five games he played for us last season and I'm sure he will do just as well this time."

Roy Hodgson Maintains Friendship With Manchester United Boss Sir Alex Ferguson Despite Club Rivalry

Roy Hodgson believes his long-term friendship with Sir Alex Ferguson has not been affected since he took charge at Liverpool.

Hodgson and Ferguson meet for the first time as managers of arch-rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday, but the Liverpool boss believes the occasion will be different from previous hostilities.

"I certainly regard him as a friend. Whether he regards me as a friend you'd have to ask him," Hodgson told reporters.

"I spoke to him in a jocular way, I asked him the question 'Does it mean now I've taken the Liverpool job that we don't speak to each other?' - he didn't put the phone down but he made some cutting remark.

"The friendship hasn't been affected by me becoming Liverpool manager.

"I'm sure he will offer me a glass of wine when I go to the game on Sunday and I'll offer him one when he comes here.

"But during the match there is no room for sentiment and I'll be hoping desperately things go our way and he'll be hoping things go his way."

Following the war of words between former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and Ferguson in previous seasons, Hodgson has bucked the trend by praising his opposite number.

"The crowd turn up to watch the 22 actors on the field, not Alex or myself," he added.

"But I think Sir Alex is the greatest of my generation, certainly within English football.

"It is always difficult to compare with foreign managers and what they have done in other countries, but for me, in my working lifetime as a coach, I regard him as the greatest British manager."

Hodgson has acknowledged he is aware of the intensity of Sunday’s game and admits his record in similar encounters overseas has not always been prosperous.

"I've been involved in some big derbies in my career and you know how much they mean to the fans," said the former Inter Milan coach.

"It compares with Inter v Juventus. The Milan derby was a big occasion but the derby d'Italia was the real killer one, as it were.

"I didn't like losing in those games, which I did quite often. I did poorly so it would be nice to change that.

"This game certainly compares with that in terms of the interest it generates not only in the two cities but in the rest of the country.

"It transcends the north-western rivalry and becomes even global because both clubs are so big outside of England."

Liverpool's Board Will Attempt To Block Tom Hicks' Attempts To Stay In Control At Anfield

Liverpool’s board is expected to attempt to block Tom Hicks’ efforts to remain in control at Anfield, but could be powerless to do so if the Texan refinances the club’s debt with Royal Bank of Scotland.

The board’s anticipated opposition to any proposal that involves continued debt and the involvement of the American owners signals that the club is effectively in a state of civil war.

As disclosed by Telegraph Sport, Hicks met Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton on Wednesday and told him that he was attempting to raise finance to buy out RBS, whose credit line to Hicks and co-owner George Gillett is understood to expire this month.

Sources said Hicks is understood to have been in talks with GSO Capital, a division of private equity giant Blackstone run by Bennett Goodman, about forming a consortium to buy out RBS.

Hicks’ move comes with Gillett attempting to retain control of his 50 per cent stake in the club after a $75 million (£48 million) loan secured against it was called in by lender Mill Financial.

Gillett is understood to maintain that he remains a controlling partner in the club and is supportive of Hicks’ refinancing efforts, but there are suggestions that any default by Gillett would leave Hicks in sole control of Liverpool’s Delaware-based holding company.

Any proposal that would mean Hicks remained in control using further debt would be resisted by Broughton and directors Ian Ayre and Christian Purslow. They blocked a refinancing attempt in June but if RBS is removed from the picture, their powers may be limited.

The board had to take independent legal advice in the summer before it opposed the owners, but it would have to have solid grounds for opposing the will of the shareholders.

Hicks and Gillett owe RBS at least £237 million, and Broughton has been engaged in a search for a buyer to remove them from the club. Thus far he has failed to find a credible bidder able to repay the debt, satisfy the Americans’ price expectations and put money into stadium investment and transfer fees.

Rafa Benitez Had To Leave Liverpool, Admits Dalglish

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has said it was right that Rafael Benitez left Liverpool in the summer and that he feels no sense of hurt that he was not chosen to succeed him as manager.

Dalglish, who has not managed since leaving Celtic a decade ago, put himself forward as a contender to return to the job he quit in February, 1991 when exhausted by the demands of constant success and the weight of the Hillsborough disaster.

“Rafa was right to go,” he said of the man who appointed him as club ambassador last year. “It was time for him to move onwards. He changed jobs, everyone changes jobs, and he changed when the time was right.

“He began magnificently here, winning the European Cup and the FA Cup but, like everything else, there is a sell-by date. His leaving was beneficial for both parties and that is not to undermine what he did or what he brought.”

Perhaps mindful that his return to Parkhead had not been a success, Dalglish's application was given short shrift by Christian Purslow. Liverpool's managing director said he wanted Dalglish, whose relationship with the Kop is that of an unalloyed hero, to continue to be the club's public face, advise the academy and be given more responsibility for player development. The latter is still to come to pass.

“I have not been given an extended role but that is not to say I wouldn't want one — but the delay is totally understandable when you see what Liverpool have been through recently with a new manager coming in and players being moved out,” said Dalglish, who yesterday launched his account of his 33-year relationship with the club, entitled My Liverpool Home.