Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pepe Reina Sure That Time And Patience Will See Liverpool Improve

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina is sure that the Reds will improve after a disappointing opening to the campaign which has seen them pick up just six points from their opening six Premier League games.

The Spaniard points to Roy Hodgson's recent arrival as manager as the cause, with the team going through a transitional phase as they restructure after last season's disappointments.

However, he is confident that things will pick up as players begin to gel in new patterns and alongside new personnel.

"Six points from our first six games is not what we wanted," Reina told LFC Weekly.

"People who criticize us about it should look at the fixtures we've had. It has been a difficult start. Arsenal at home and then going to play Manchester City, Manchester United and Birmingham away was never going to be easy.

"Not many teams will go to the City of Manchester Stadium, Old Trafford or St Andrew's and win. Those three teams have very good records at home."

Reina feels that any team would struggle to cope with the amount of recent changes at Anfield and is calling for patience from supporters as the new structures at the club begin to bed down.

"When you have so many changes moving in a new direction under a new boss, things don't happen instantly. It can take between three and six months before you see improvements. Obviously the quicker we adapt and improve as a team the better it will be for everyone," he added.

"That doesn't just happen overnight. Each of us has to adjust to working in a new way. With the passing of each day I get used to it and what the manager wants.

"It's the same for all of us. We need to be patient."

Martin Skrtel Convinced Liverpool Can Reach Next Season's Champions League

Martin Skrtel remains confident that Liverpool can seal a top four finish this season despite a disappointing start to their campaign.

The Reds have picked up six points from their first six Premier League games under the management of Roy Hodgson so far, but the centre-back feels that a little time and patience is all that's needed to see things right.

"A lot of people think that when a new manager comes in everything should be perfect but we need time," Skrtel told his club's official website.

"Our aim is to fight for a place in the top four. That won't be easy as there are a lot of good teams also going for it, but if we continue to improve as the season goes on, we can get back into the Champions League - that's our aim.

"A lot of things have changed here. We have a new manager, new players, new medical staff and some different people around the team. It's always going to be difficult when you change so much.

"People expect instant results but it doesn't work like that. We all need time - the manager and the new players who have come in - to work together.

"Every game is difficult in the Premier League, but we know we have to win our home games. We were close to beating Arsenal, we won against West Bromwich Albion, and we are all working hard to improve with each game."

Skrtel, meanwhile, has been the subject of some mistaken identity at Anfield recently because of his shaven-headed resemblence to Paul Konchesky.

He explained: "I think people get confused when we play together because we are both near the same side of the pitch. Even my girlfriend said she kept getting the two of us mixed up when she was watching a game on television."

Liverpool Target £7m Surprise French Top Scoring Wing-Wizard

Liverpool have reportedly had their scouts following the French top division’s leading scorer Dimitri Payet who is on the verge of winning his first senior international call-up. The St Etienne winger can play on either flank and has been a revelation for his club as they surprisingly lead the French top division after just seven matches.

Roy Hodgson has been linked with a number of talented wingers in recent weeks with Galatasaray’s Arda Turan and Valencia’s Juan Mata on his radar. However, Payet is a far more realistic target with his price-tag reportedly set at a modest £7m.

The 23-year-old is enjoying by far his most productive campaign with seven strikes in seven games which includes a hat-trick against Lens and a brace against Montpellier. His previous best return for the club was four league goals in 2009. Payet’s sensational start culminated in a stunning curled free-kick which enabled St Etienne to finally beat local rivals Lyon last Saturday for the first time since April 1994.

The French U21 international is being tipped to break into Laurent Blanc’s senior side ahead of the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers. Payet is renowned for his pace, trickery and long-range shooting. He is predominantly right-footed and would offer a more vibrant alternative to Maxi Rodriguez on the right-flank who has been disappointing since arriving at Anfield, scoring once in 21 league appearances for Liverpool. Hodgson may have to move swiftly to secure Payet’s signature as clubs in both Spain and Italy have also begun to register an interest.

Liverpool Rookie Set For Southampton Loan Switch

Liverpool’s rookie right-back Stephen Darby looks set to join Southampton on loan - but the 21-year-old is desperate for a return to Swindon.

Darby, a product of Liverpool's youth system, has made seven appearances for the club, with his latest coming against Rabotnicki in July's Europa League Qualifying third round.

Las season, Rafa Benitez allowed the cultured right-back to spend three months on loan at Swindon during their promotion push, which eventually ended at the hands of Millwall in the League One Play-off Final.

And, after a series of impressive performances, Darby endeared himself to the fans by scoring the decisive penalty in the Robins' play-off semi-final shoot-out victory over Charlton.

It is believed that Liverpool's new manager Roy Hodgson is willing to let Darby leave on loan again this term in a bid to gain further first-team experience.

But, although Darby is apparently very keen to rejoin Danny Wilson's Swindon, fellow League One side Southampton have emerged as the front-runners to land him.

De Gea Wants Torres To Return To Atletico Madrid

Manchester United target David De Gea hopes to one day play in the same side as Atletico Madrid hero Fernando Torres.

The promising Atletico keeper, 19, has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks.

But De Gea has revealed that he would love to team up with Liverpool striker Torres, who left his boyhood club in 2007.

At the time, De Gea was only a youth teamer but he is now firmly part of Atletico's first team and Spain's Under-21s.

"If he returns one day I hope I will be here," De Gea told Radio Marca. "I hope he comes back.

"Fernando Torres is one of the best forwards in the world - any Atletico follower would like him to return."

Daniel Agger Set To Step Back Into Emergency Left-Back Role At Liverpool FC

Daniel Agger is ready to reprise his emergency left-back role in Holland tomorrow – with Paul Konchesky ruled out of Liverpool’s Europa League trip to FC Utrecht and manager Roy Hodgson refusing to put a date on Fabio Aurelio’s return from injury.

Centre-back Agger had already made four highly effective appearances at full-back this season, and came on in that position again against Sunderland last weekend when Konchesky limped off.

It is a position the Dane is almost certain to have to continue in against Blackpool on Sunday as well.

Konchesky has targeted the Merseyside derby on October 17 for his return from injury, but Aurelio’s comeback is still clouded in uncertainty. For the latest LFC news, click here to follow our Tritter account.

The Brazilian sustained an Achilles problem during the 1-0 success over Trabzonspor last month and manager Hodgson admits he is reluctant to rush him back too early.

“Where Fabio Aurelio is concerned, caution and prudence have to be the words that we use,” he said. “He is progressing all the time and his efforts are very commendable but we can't bring him back too early.

“We took him off against Trabzonspor as a precautionary measure, as we didn't want to run the risk of him sustaining a serious problem.”

Liverpool FC Royal Bank of Scotland Debt Deadline Looms Large For American Owners

Liverpool FC’s American co-owners may have just 17 days left in control at Anfield.

The deadline for repaying their £237m debt, the majority of which is held by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), expires next month.

October 16 has long been the deadline day in many fans’ diaries for Tom Hicks and George Gillett to repay their debts. But the Daily Post understands that Friday, October 15, is the earliest date the Americans’ debt will be called in by chief creditor, RBS.

And even that provisional deadline is likely to slip a further seven days as the bank seeks to facilitate an orderly transition of power at the club.

It is understood that the bank would rather that the club is sold to a new owner by October 15.

But given the over-optimistic £600m- plus valuations that Hicks, in particular, has placed on the club, it remains likely that a sale will not be complete by that deadline.

Talks with two serious prospective bidders are thought to be at a relatively advanced stage, although formal offers are some way off. Chairman Martin Broughton, managing director Christian Purslow, and commercial director Ian Ayre are understood to be keen to not just accept the highest bid.

Instead the trio, who have a majority on the board, want to secure investment in the playing squad and a new stadium, as well as paying off the club’s debts.

Ultimately the bank could force the holding company which owns LFC into administration and seek to sell the club itself, but this is seen as a last resort.

The prospect of getting little or no profit from the sale of the club has led to Hicks carrying out a worldwide trawl in a bid to refinance the debt. It is feared the creation of an investment company, Hicks Acquisition II, is part of his plan to retain control.

Papers registered with the USA’s Securities and Exchange Commission, show Hicks Acquisition II is seeking to raise $230m (£145m).

Shares are being offered for $10 in the “newly organized blank cheque company formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, capital stock exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses.”

The initial public offering papers also warn prospective investors that “investing in our securities involves a high degree of risk”.